Vince's face says it all.
I'm going to try really hard to remain civil. I apologize in advance if If am less than perfect in my attempt.
Some of you may have been following the deplorable media frenzy over a certain Russian 'band' that decided to stage a blasphemous protest inside the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. For those of you that haven't, do yourselves a favor and simply skip this particular entry so you can remain blissfully unaware that such disregard for common decency exists in the world.
A couple months ago, members of this feminist group trespassed on sacred Cathedral grounds and brassly went up to the main sanctuary to the soleas (the platform in front of the gates that enclose the altar) and shrieked out an incredibly offensive string of lines aimed at denigrating Christians under the guise of opposing Putin.
Judging from the lyrics (and really... don't search them out unless you really want to upset yourself), they were mostly looking to humiliate Christians and drag our beliefs through the mud. To do this in front of the main altar where Christ is present... oh Heaven! Forgive us this travesty.
When these yahoos were finally brought before a judge, they were found guilty of hooliganism and sentenced to two years in prison.
Of course everyone and their brother cried foul over this. The media kicked into high gear blasting the government for stifling freedom of speech. Instead of being viewed as a hate crime aimed at humiliating Christians, folks painted the picture of innocent women who just wanted to speak out against the injustice of Russian big-wigs.
How anyone could possibly write this off as simply the government trying to stifle free speech is beyond me - especially given that these same women have landed themselves in prison before. The ONLY reason they've attracted so much attention this time around is because of where they staged their antics.
They chose the central Cathedral of Moscow because it'd garner the most publicity. And instead of just staging this in front of the cathedral (where I doubt I'd've had an issue with it), they chose to go INSIDE the church and dare to go up to the sanctuary.
I won't even go near the sanctuary, and I'm a practicing Catholic!
And yet everyone who I've spoke to about this defends these women because the media is portraying this as an issue of free speech. Instead, the media completely neglects the incredibly horrible injustice done to the Christians of that community. Because most folks don't care about the beliefs of these people, they don't CARE that this injustice has been done.
*Shakes head* That really worries me.
An incredible article that details just how distrurbing this is was written by Janice Shaw Crouse of The American Thinker.
In attempting to explain this to atheist / agnostic / disagreeing friends, I likened it to a stunt orchestrated by a Christian in the middle of a homosexual support group. Let's say Bob wants to protest President Obama because he believes President Obama is in bed with the homosexual lobby. Instead of protesting someplace normal and open to the public, he decides to break into a homosexual support group meeting (or support community home) and yell anti-homosexual things.
Should Bob be arrested? YES! For goodness sakes, he trespassed with the willful intent to denegrate homosexuals! He'd be immediately labeled a homophobe, would probably be arrested and charged with a hate crime, and face an extremely publicized trial that would laugh at his attempt to use "freedom of speech" as a defense for his actions.
This is because most folks are in agreement with the homosexual lobby. Most folks would rightly be offended that anyone would THINK to enter such a safe, sacred spot and begin bullying homosexuals in so offensive a manner - even under the guise of raging against the President.
Why, then, is this same outrage not shown to the Christians who are now left with months of restitution to serve in atonement for the treachery committed against their community by these women?
Ah yes - because it's perfectly acceptable to bully Christians. It's perfectly acceptable - respected, even - to humiliate and denigrate Christianity.
Again - this should be HIGHLY alarming to folks. It certainly is to me.
As if that would've helped.
Final installment of the Accident SeriesSo Monday was the start of my "trial." What they don't tell you is that "trials" are really nothing like what they show on TV.
My "trial" never even made it to trial. I spent a couple days sitting by myself in a room as my lawyer flitted in and out to review things with the defense attorney and the judge.
The newest lawyer in the chain of those I'd dealt with since signing on with this group happened to be one of the partners. He was knowledgeable and very nice, but I could tell he was looking to get in and out. That's fair. As a partner, I'm sure he had about a million other things he needed to be doing. At least he didn't make me feel like he was rushing me. It's just something I kinda got from all the back and forth he was doing.
He reviewed the case with me and dropped a few bombshells. Apparently there had been an issue with my doctor's testimony. On the little pull-down menu report, he had accidentally chosen "non-permanent injury" instead of "permanent injury." Later, during his own testimony (videotaped in advance), he corrected his mistake and apologized for the "clerical error." However, because of that, my case was hurt because the jury would likely see his testimony as non-credible.
As I read through the transcripts, I saw that he was paid $3,000 for his testimony, and another $3,000 for the report. So $6,000 of any money I see from settlement goes right to the guy who screwed up my case for me? AWESOME!
And what burns me up more is that I specifically requested my lawyers change that doctor because I, myself, didn't think he was altogether there. Yet another thing they neglected to do for me even though I requested this on two separate occasions.
My lawyer also gave me the stellar review of the defense's doctor. He said that if he were the jury, he'd believe that guy way before he'd believe my doctor (the one THEY sent me to after I had specifically requested anyone else).
Talk about epic-facepalm.
As if reading the expression on my face, he followed up with, "But your doctor wasn't bad. He was pretty passionate about your injury, too. My 17 year old would believe him over the other guy. So maybe if we get a bunch of people like her on the jury..."
I need a step above "epic-facepalm" for that one. Sheesh.
Needless to say, things did not go well from there. However, I was at least able to reach a settlement that ensured All-State couldn't drag this out for another few years. I had to fight tooth and nail for it, but I made All-State pay out more than the $1200 they originally tried to write me off with (and $5000 more than what the judge thought I'd ever see from a jury).
Tips for those facing this sort of lawsuit:
- Make sure you've got ONE good lawyer. Do not let them pass you around like a hot potato. Mine did. I had four different lawyers from when I signed paperwork with them until I reached settlement.
- Make sure you keep meticulous, organized records. List things like names, dates (include day of the week), times, how much you spent (co pays), how many miles you traveled to get to wherever you needed to go (for gas mileage), etc.
- Keep those records organized by DATE.
- Even if you don't have to, keep a monthly log of the unique struggles you face as a result of whatever injury you have. Be honest and open about all of it. Don't be afraid to detail the type and duration of the pain.
- In the file folder that you have all your records in, keep all phone numbers, addresses, account numbers, confirmation IDs, etc listed so they're all easy access. You'll likely be asked for them during deposition.
- Force your lawyers to prep you before deposition. Do not accept the "arrive an hour before deposition and we'll prep then" instructions. You'll need more than an hour to properly prepare for the emotional and psychological warfare the other lawyer is mounting against you.
- If you don't feel comfortable with a doctor or caregiver, request a new one and don't let up until they consent. I made the mistake of thinking that I had no real say when they told me no. I now realize that I had a lot more power over that.
Okay, that's kinda it for me on this. On the way home, feeling as though I'd been raped by the system set up to help me out, I thought of a well-known "Letter From Hell." It was supposedly written by the friend of a German nun. This friend had died and found herself in Hell. She was compelled to send a detailed description of Hell to the nun-friend because she was still on Earth praying for the repose of her soul. On thing always struck me about the letter. In it, this soul detailed that she had, in fact, done real good in her lifetime. God, in His mercy, rewarded her for her good deeds while she was alive because He knew that her soul would choose Hell upon death (due to all her evil tendencies in this life). Her reward was a large inheritance that she promptly spent on frivolous things. I couldn't help but wonder if maybe God was protecting me from an earthly reward that would have me seal my own Hellish fate. My reward should not be earthly, and I would do well to remember that. So as I grumbled about the perceived injustice I was a part of, I forced myself to stop and realize that all is part of God's plan, and maybe this, too, was meant to remind me that I'm not supposed to be holding out for earthy riches. I'm supposed to be holding out for Heaven. Honestly, that really did make me feel a lot better. Not better about being raped by the "justice" system, but certainly better about not receiving fair compensation for all the physical therapy I'll no longer be able to have on account of All-State.I'm not perfect, that's for sure, so I haven't been perfectly offering this mortification up for some greater good like I should be. That being said, God is good and He's allowed me to at least remember that this is an opportunity for grace. This is an opportunity to offer up something in return for the purification of both my soul, and the souls of those I love.So I guess that's my last suggestion if ever you're in this situation (which I really, REALLY hope none of you ever find yourself in). Whatever your trial, remember to offer it to God. It's been given to you for a reason.
- Request copies of EVERYTHING. That includes the police report. If there is a mistake on anything, speak up and get it fixed immediately. I didn't know you could request a police report be altered. But apparently you can. I wish I had known that BEFORE my deposition.
Part 5 in the Accident Series
Nothing in the world could have prepared me for deposition. I had read up on them. I had tried to study my materials so I was up-to-date on times, dates and names of doctors (because there were plenty). I had asked my lawyer about them (to no avail, might I add).
However, I was NOT prepared for the deluge of nastiness that sprang forth from the defense attorney.
The guy who hit me was present for this deposition. His "testimony" lasted about 20 minutes. I, on the other hand, was in there for HOURS. Can you imagine that??? I had no idea deposition could last that long for a freakin' car accident.
But oh, it can.
He asked me every possible question he could think of. And while he didn't flat out accuse me of lying, I'm not an idiot when it comes to intonation and follow-up questions. You can ask me the same thing in as many different ways as you want, but I'm still going to tell the truth!
That didn't stop him from trying to trip me up, though. And I understand that's part of his job. However, I draw the line when you start asking me questions about my intimate sex life in order to rile me.
I mean, seriously??? They're allowed to ask you things like that? I was horrified and completely humiliated. I don't talk that in-depth with my best friends regarding my sex life, and this guy is entitled to ask as many sordid things as he wanted? I kept looking to my lawyer for guidance, but he just nodded his head and told me to keep on keepin' on.
I cannot tell you how incredibly humiliating and dirty that experience left me. Even thinking about it makes me cringe. I feel like I should've gotten at least the going rate for a prostitute after the hours I spent answering those questions...
Anyway, I held it together until he brought up testimony I had made about Vincent. He noted that my doctor highlighted issues I was having carrying Vince or hoisting him into and out of things. Proving this guy has no soul, he snarkily asked if I couldn't perform the duties of motherhood as a result of the accident.
Even typing that question and understanding the ramifications makes me tear up.
I admit that I lost it then. Yes, I cried. It was a combination of intense anger and boiling guilt.
YES, this herniation has caused me to feel like failure as a mother. YES, there are things I simply cannot do as often or as well as I'd like because of this injury. YES, there are nights where I cry in frustration because I can't help but realize that I'm dealing with this on a daily basis while your client is probably still rubber-necking on the highway.
My lawyer, at that point, spoke up and requested a break.
But that, dear friends, is what you can expect for both deposition and arbitration. Because the same thing happened at arbitration a year later - just in a briefer span of time.
And so are lawyers.
Part 4 in the Accident Series
So I started the process of suing All-State. I made it clear from the beginning that I didn't want to sue the guy, himself, because I didn't think it would be fair to completely gut a kid (turns out he was only 17) for an (admittedly) stupid mistake.
I kept meticulous records of everything and even wrote a monthly update to my lawyer describing the different things I'd struggled with as a result of the herniation.
I was sent to the orthopedic surgeon, a neurologist and continued on with my chiropractor. Everyone said the same thing. I was permanently injured and short of invasive surgery, nothing would help fix the problem. I was basically stuck with the pain.
So I did everything my lawyer said to do and then some. Turns out my records were kept better than his. I constantly called into the office to ensure they'd gotten paperwork and would ask questions to ensure they were on top of things. I wanted to make sure I knew as much as possible about the proceedings so I could be aware of what to expect.
Nothing - NOTHING - can prepare you for some of the underhanded stuff they do to you when you threaten insurance companies with a lawsuit.
They dragged their heels on EVERYTHING in an attempt to basically wait me out. They sent me for the most ridiculous tests. They accused me of faking things. Then, their doctor accused me of trying to pin my pain on a spinal tap done before the accident (as if a spinal tap has ANY POSSIBLE WAY of herniating a disc).
I cried in frustration at that one. Even my own orthopedic surgeon was angry that such a ludicrous suggestion could be made.
Yet I swallowed every indignation and pushed forward. My lawyer kept telling me this was an open-shut case. All-State had claimed responsibility for the accident and should pony up at least enough to cover expenses going forward. Yet something was telling me that I was on this ride for nothing.
It was so frustrating. I was taking time away from my family for these tests (one of which included being "electrocuted" several times through my feet to test the nerves in my spine and all the while I was seething because the guy who hit me was coasting without a care in the world. There I was, going for test after test - therapy session after therapy session - spending money on gas, taking time off work, and enduring countless guilt sessions over my inability to be a proper mother / aunt, and what about him? What was he dealing with? A careless oblivion.
No tests for him. No therapy for him. Nothing to remind him of the greivous error in judgement he made that night when he chose to rubber-neck instead of drive like an intelligent person.
And who pays? Me. I'm the one with the mounting medical bills. I'm the one who cries at night when I count the many ways I'd failed my son. I'm the one who deals with the pain of every day life. But him? NOTHING.
It is such a frustrating feeling. And the fact that his insurance company was making it even MORE difficult to get a fair shake made it that much worse.
Part 3 in the Accident Series
The pain actually worsened in the months after I delivered Vincent. My chiropractor explained that it was partially due to how I was breastfeeding (I cradled Vince, so my shoulders naturally slumped over and rounded my back) and partially due to my ligaments falling back into place.
Also, I may not have been carrying Vince around inside me anymore, but I was carrying him around in a carseat while lugging around a diaper bag. So maybe my extra body weight was gone, but I'd replaced it with an equal or greater amount of luggage that threw my body off-balance.
Bathing Vincent was (and is) one of the most torturous activities for my back. It's SO incredibly painful to bend down to properly clean him. Hoisting him in and out of high chairs, shopping carts, and swings at the park all hurt. And it's not just a quick sharp jab to the spine, either. It's a lasting grinding that leaves me achy for hours (if not days) afterwards.
Then there's cleaning around the house. I'm typically a clean freak. I vacuumed at least three - four times a week (both floors) and scoured the bathrooms on my hands and knees. I'd run up and down three flights of stairs without issue carrying laundry and do grocery shopping without complaint. Now? All of that is painful to me. The twisting motion of the vacuum makes my back revolt, carrying anything for any distance (especially on stairs) is just asking for punishment, and scrubbing tubs and floors really does put me out of commission for at least a day.
I remember a few times when Vince was a baby that I had to have John take over bathing because my back gave out. The first two times it happened, I crawled into bed and just cried because I felt like a failure as a mother.
Then there were days in which I simply couldn't take him to the park like I'd wanted to because I had spent the day before cleaning.
I realized that my life had turned into a perpetual game of Tetris. I was constantly juggling tasks that needed to be done with my ability to actually do them.
- If I do two loads of laundry today, I won't be able to clean the bathrooms, but I might still be able to take Vincent to the park.
- If I hoist Vince up onto the slide a few extra times, I definitely won't be able to scrub the tubs, but I might be able to get him into his high chair for dinner. Right? Maybe John's home and can help.
- I can take Vincent to see my Mom in Philly, but I'll need to time myself so that I get home when John does so someone is there to pull Vincent from the car. I'll have to give up vacuuming this weekend, but at least Vince will see his grandmother.
Seriously - these are the types of thoughts that STILL go on in my head on a daily basis. It's a CONSTANT give and take that makes me feel SO angry. I shouldn't have to constantly gamble my abilities for Vincent's everyday living. And yet I do. They may not be for the same things as when he was a baby, but they still exist.
For example, he loves to do pony-back rides now. I can maybe give him two or three before I'm out of commission. He'll cry because he wants a few more rounds, but I simply can't. And yes, I still hate myself for that sometimes.
Then there are the times my neice will see me "airplaning" Vince. She'll demand a turn (which I happily give), but I know the inevitable, "I'm sorry, guys, but I can't do it again" will come and make them feel gypped of fun.
I hate it. I hate everything about this. It makes me feel gypped as a mother / aunt because I SHOULD be able to do all these things without thought. It's not like I'm 60 years old. Argh.What's worse is that I had to give up my chiropractor because I simply did not have the money to put towards him. Copays are $50 per visit, and at three visits per week, that adds up to how many diapers? How many clothes? How many trips to the zoo? It didn't seem fair that I was taking money away from Vincent to pay for something that the insurance company should have been paying for. So I sued the guy's insurance for proper coverage - All State. It was like opening an entirely new hell for myself.
Vince's 4th month bump!
Part 2 in the Accident Series
In January of 2009, about two months after the car accident that left me with a herniated disc, I learned I was pregnant with Vincent. It was a surprise blessing - one that I was incredibly elated for.
However, there's a reason my Mom's response to news of her first grandchild was "Is that even safe?"
My chiropractor had warned me against getting pregnant with my fresh herniation because the weight and stress of growing a child within my womb would make a bad situation worse. John and I hadn't planned for Vincent, but we weren't going to shy away from the blessing now that we'd finally be granted him!
Armed with such determination, my wonderful chiropractor altered my therapy in consideration of my pregnancy. I was still going three times a week, but I was given different exercises in lieu of the electric shocks my back muscles typically received.
Almost instantaneously, my back pain intensified. I knew that during the first trimester, ligaments stretch and hip bones begin to spread to ready the body for labor. I was warned that my pain would be much worse than is typical because of where my herniation was. A small price to pay, in my mind, for a healthy child.
Midway through my pregnancy, I thought I was going to pass out from the intense pain. It was different from the normal pressure of the herniation, but the doctors kept reassuring me it was because of my herniation. Three times I went to the ER because the pain was too intense, and three times I was sent away with percoset because it was chalked up to the herniation. I refused to take the percoset because I was worried about effects on Vincent. No amount of "It's safe, I swear" could make me take those pills.
In tears, I told my OB that I needed to find some solution to the pain because there were times I had trouble breathing. She did an exam and set me over to the ER yet again because she was sure I had kidney stones.
That last one was what mine looked like.
She was right. The ultrasound showed hydronephrosis (which is an enlarged kidney typically due to kidney stones). The pain was being caused by my right kidney (it was over double the size it should have been). That's when I realized how bad having a herniation was.
Doctors kept writing me off (three times!) when they saw my charts label "disc herniation." They assumed any and all pain in my lower - mid back was caused by the herniation. No one ever thought to check me for kidney stones. I ended up freaking out over the prospect because I realized that I'd have to face this every time I had back pain going forward. Would doctors write me off because of the herniation? Would they mistakenly release me when I was actually dealing with a life-threatening gall bladder attack or kidney failure???
Considering this is how a friend of mine passed away (doctors misdiagnosed her kidney failure. The pain pills she took masked her symptoms until it was too late to save her.), I was an anxious wreck.
I was beginning to realize just how much of an effect this car accident was having on my future.
Fast forward to the end of my pregnancy. I was in such intense pain (Vince was a 9lb baby!), and I could barely sleep at night from the spasms my lower back was having. Again, my doctors told me this was part of the herniation and there was really nothing to be done to help alleviate it. I kept trying to remind myself that the pain was worth my son, so I offered what I could (begrudgingly, I admit) to God so long as I got a healthy baby in return.
Finally, my water breaks and I'm admitted into L&D. I was given an epidural, but the meds had to be administered THREE TIMES. The nurse explained to me that the reason it wasn't "working" is because of the placement of my herniation. Sometimes folks with herniations have difficult times taking to the epidural because the meds aren't able to get where they need to go in order to "flood out" the pain receptors.
Yet again I found my herniation causing my problems.
I luckily have a brief delivery and Vincent comes into the world. I figured my back pain would be a done deal now that the excess pressure was gone.
Yet God loves proving me wrong.
As I said on Facebook, the last few days sucked so hard they must have been subsidized by Hoover.
I finally reached settlement on a car accident I was involved in almost 4 years ago. Now that the entire mess is over, I can detail some of the more ridiculous points publicly in the hopes that it helps others struggling with the same disgusting process.
It was November 4th, 2008 - Election Night. John and I were on our way back home after visiting Nanny. I was waiting to make a left hand turn when a kid driving a Chevy van slammed into the back of my little Saturn coupe.
I had seen him coming. I have this habit of checking my rearview mirror when I'm at a stop, and I saw him flying towards us. He wasn't looking in front of him. He was looking at the car accident to our left. As a result, he didn't even bother applying the breaks. He used my car as a means to stop. Seeing him approach, I knew we were about to be hit. I said, "Oh sh*t, oh sh*t!" as I prepared for impact. John, not knowing what was coming, said, "What?" as he turned to look behind us. He whipped his head about half-way around as we were impacted. The force of the smash sent my car careening into oncoming traffic, well past the median. I almost crashed into the telephone pole across from us (where a gentleman was waiting for the bus). Thank God I didn't.
The force of the crash caused John to smash his head into the windshield and door. His body (as it violently lurched forwards and back again), completely broke the passenger seat. I, having prepared myself for the impact by wedging the break and bracing, felt nothing but ire for the driver who hadn't been paying attention. I turned to John and asked if he was OK. He said, "Yeah, yeah" as I put the car in park. I jumped out and confronted the kid who had been driving the van. He was young... maybe 17. I immediately asked "What the hell happened?" and he responded, "I'm sorry... I don't have anti-lock brakes."
Knowing it had nothing to do with his brakes (because I had SEEN him not paying attention), I replied, "More like an attention span."
At this point, the police officer from the other accident came over to make sure everyone was alright. It had started to rain (of course), so he asked us to get back into our cars and move them to the side of the road. I walked back to my car only to see John haphazardly trying to pick up the leftover pasta Nanny had sent us home with. That's when I realized John was loopy from the impact. I kept telling him to leave the pasta and sit down, but he couldn't understand why I wanted him to sit. He was so set on cleaning up the pasta that even the police officer had him taken to the ambulance for a quick once-over.
The EMT on-scene said he'd likely suffered a concussion. John waved him off and demanded I just take him home (as we were about 10 blocks away). Truth be told, we were both anxious to keep abreast of the election proceedings. Since the EMT cleared him with the caveat he remain awake for a few hours and get to a hospital if he feels worse in the next 24 hours, we made our way home after giving our report to the police officer.
Settled in front of the television, we began watching as state after state turned blue for Obama. John, however, continued acting a bit loopy, and I decided to take him to the hospital anyway. He protested, but I didn't want to chance a head injury.
At the hospital, we were taken back pretty quickly. We had the TV tuned to election coverage. The triage nurse suggested I get checked since I'd been in the accident as well. At first I declined because I felt fine. Then I realized that I should probably just get checked anyway since symptoms can sometimes be masked by adrenaline (which I certainly still felt from seeing a kid crash his car into my trunk).
They did a quick exam and took an X-ray. I was a little stiff, but I felt fine. I knew I'd feel achy the next day, but I figured it'd wear off in a week.
Boy was I wrong!
About two weeks later, my lower back was still really hurting. I went to my primary who sent me for an MRI. The MRI showed a disc herniation which explained the pain. When my chiropractor explained to me that this was permanent and would limit certain activities, I actually teared up. All of the activities he referred to revolved around children. Picking them up, bathing them, etc. He also suggested that I refrain from getting pregnant in the near future as pregnancy would be difficult with this type of injury.
I was absolutely crestfallen. There I was, 25 years old, and I was being sentenced to the life of an old-lady because some kid wanted to watch flashing lights instead of the road he was driving on. My doctor told me I'd either need eternal injections to my spine or an invasive surgery that fused two of my vertebra together. Considering neither option makes any sense for a woman of my age, the only other recourse was intensive therapy three times a week. I began therapy and continued with it for a year... even after my surprise pregnancy with Vincent.