I don't know if I mentioned this here or not, but the case manager for my long term disability spend hours on my account here a couple of weeks after she canceled my LTD claim. She printed off everything she could find here and placed it in my case file. The suggestion is that my ability to do fractals is somehow related to the reason for canceling my LTD claim. In other words, if you can render a fractal, you must be able to work and not be disabled after all. I thought it was important to address that notion in my appeal. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote.
I have been fascinated with fractals for years...way before I became disabled. After I became disabled, I was advised to try to find something that I could do that would make me feel productive. You are a lot less depressed over not having anything to show for your day if you can actually have something to show for your day. So I decided to use a free program to create some fractal images. I still do this to this day.
The images posted on my Deviant Art page in no way reflect my ability to work or earn half of my prior salary. While I have some of my better work posted on a stock photography site for sell, my entire earnings for all of last year total less than $100. In other words, the rewards for me are mental/psychological, not financial. And fractals do not reflect an ability to do any kind of "work" either. They are not a product of any kind of physical or mental ability, but the product of a computer. They are computer generated. The fact that I can render 500 fractals on my system while I sleep overnight in no way indicates how fast I can work. The fact that some of my more recent pieces can take up to a week to render on my computer does not reflect my endurance or strength. It is the computer doing all the work, not me. At most, and on average, my fractal images took less than 5 minutes of my time to select which fractal formulas and which colors to use and randomly generate some until I found one I liked. It is no more complicated or time consuming than to set up the taping of a TV show.
The only truly original thing on my Deviant Art account that I can take sole credit for is a short tutorial that I wrote. It was for people that did know know how to write scripts ("recipes") for the fractal program and wanted to learn. It took me about two weeks to write, and the most difficult thing it did was tell people that when they look at the parameters of their fractal and see something like "bubble=1", that you can set the same thing in the recipe by saying "transform.bubble := 1". It's basically that simple. Still took me weeks to accomplish and write it out where it made sense though. I only had/have enough mental concentration to do a little bit each day.
Ultimately though, my Deviant Art account was a great find for the case manager. My journal there is full of entries describing my limitations and what I am going through. There are multiple posts where I am telling people that I won't be around or posting anything for a while because it was too demanding for me to even push the "random fractal" button enough to find an image that I wanted to render. Far from wishing that they had never been found, I encourage my case manager and the quality review unit to read my posting there. Never realizing that Sedgwick CMS would one day be interested in what I did on Deviant Art, it is a great insight to what I was going though and shows that my condition as shared with my online friends is no different from my condition as shared with Sedgwick. Posts like the following one that was done immediately upon being told for the first time that my claim was being canceled (04/18/08) speak for themselves:
I really appreciate the outpouring of support from my last journal piece. I apologize that I am not up to thanking each and every one of you on a more personal basis. I just got off the phone with the decision-maker on my disability insurance. He has reviewed my case and has stopped any auto-termination of my benefits. He will have some medical folks review my case as well. If anything changes, he will be in contact with me. But this whole thing has left me really wiped out. For example, it took four attempts to even spell "disability" properly. I just can't think. I'll probably spend the weekend in bed. Sure wish DA was more mobile-friendly. So keep me in your prayers. I'm feeling really weak and washed out right now. Reality seems to be grasped in fleeting glimpses through a heavy brain-fog. And I don't even need drugs to do this! LOL
It was the post following the initial discussion with my case manager which I mentioned in my journal as well. That journal post ended with the following:
The stress over this isn't good for me. I'm having to go lay down now because my entire head is numb and I'm having chest pains. If you don't see me around much over the next couple of days, you'll know why.
I mention the stress in another post during that same time period:
Stress could kill me. Literally. I already have a problem with blood pooling and not circulating properly. This causes my heart rate to go up. Add to that the fact that I have 3 liters less blood than I should, and it makes my tachycardia even worse. When you are under stress, the stress hormones raise your heart rate even further and concentrates blood in your muscles, which makes my heart rate even worse because it is already fighting against pooling problems, volume problems, and now re-direction problems and hormonal stimulation. It's a recipe for a coffin.
So I encourage Sedgwick and anyone else to spend some time on my Deviant Art account. What you will see is a steady decline in my participation there. My last script modification was about a month before I was called that my claim was being canceled. I haven't had the concentration to do any after that. My last fractal in the program that I had used to that point was last summer. The program expired and the additional stress from my LTD situation made it impossible for me to figure out some of the new things in the new version. I had to give it up. I'm still doing fractals, but with a far simpler program that requires a great deal less thought. Far from showing that I am somehow not disabled, my Deviant Art account clearly reflects a long history of my trials and tribulations recorded as they occurred in a forum that I never knew Sedgwick would ever find or take interest in. It's only "evidence" value is evidence of a guy with serious issues that is doing everything he can to still feel like a productive part of society even though the artistic and financial value of his "production" is questionable.
I used to feel like I had accomplished something with a dozen mouse-clicks and a couple of hours of computer rendering time. I thought I was doing a good thing. It made me feel productive and gave me a better outlook on my life. But by including that small pleasure in my case file, Sedgwick CMS has ruined even that. I can't even make a fractal without the feeling that my ability to do so is being scrutinized and challenged by someone that has no idea how little effort is involved and what joy a sense of accomplishment can be to a disabled person that is otherwise parked in the emergency lane of life.
It is not enough that my disability robbed me of a productive life. It is not enough that Sedgwick CMS robbed me of financial stability. It is not enough that Sedgwick CMS made my physical and mental condition even worse with all they have put me through. They had to go and ruin this one little outlet for me as well. And the sad thing is that someone in the bowels of Sedgwick CMS probably feels a bit of satisfaction and accomplishment for doing so.
She may never read my appeal. Lord knows that she ignored most of what I sent her. But I'm hoping that her "spying" on me here may cause her to come across this. Maybe it will do her some good. Maybe one day she will wake up and realize that destroying the lives of people that are already disabled is not something that nice people aspire to.