Re: just starting the fight
- Hello Sarah,
If I were in your shoes, I would get written diagnosis from medical
professionals stating that my TB was caused by, or strongly linked
to, the medical condition that originated while serving as a PC
volunteer. Without that documented link, my guess is that it would
be harder to have a successful claim.
You are fortunate in that you returned from PC service so recently.
As a general rule, in the insurance industry, the longer the time
span between the medical condition and the alleged cause, the harder
it is to make a successful claim. There are hundreds of veteran
armed forces personnel with possible 'Agent Orange' claims that
probably would nod their heads on this.
Workers comp only covers us for injuries related to PC service, so
establishing that link, in the strongest way possible, would be my
focus. Then correspond by certified mail and keep copies of
everything. The few dollars extra to send certified is well worth it
if you ever need to take legal action.
Just my humble opinion,
P.S. This is a public message board. If there's something you don't
want PC to know, it's probably best not to write about it here.
I'm dealing with a bronchial infection and leaving for Florida as my dad is ill. I'd like to personally correspond with you when I get back in about 10 days. I was in Chile from 1980-82 and had bovine TB in my lymph nodes from that experience. I had other illnesses, as well but that was the one that did me in. I've never found anyone in the world who has suffered from this so I'd like to share some personal health experiences with you separate from the OWCP struggles. I didn't get a true diagnosis or treatment for a couple of years until after my return and nearly died. It took forever to make a causal link but I did get a claim initiated and have maintained one ever since. It IS POSSIBLE and very worth fighting for.
I can give you some ideas when I'm in less chaotic shape, myself. I'm sorry for your suffering and glad to have found you.
Check out an old website I created years ago at: http://www.members.aol.rpcvhealth (just remember that it's an amateurish attempt and 5 years old now.
I also went to free clinics for years as I had no money. Am not getting bills paid at the moment again and am back to those clinics. I also have neck and back issues. It all gets very muddied but in my brief and hurried moment I think you need to get whatever you can get, wherever you can get it to get healthier and as you go through these clinics, the main thing is to get people to document and write up brief narratives (a paragraph on letterhead) stating that you have xyz and are being treated with xyz. It has been my experience that EVERY TIME you have anything done, it's not the bills that matter (well, of course they matter!) but for documenting and claim it is the narratives.
The crazy thing is that the more you have written down, the more the next doctor is willing to put her or his signature on the next narrative and so forth. I've found that I can "write" the essay for the doctor or clinician and then ask them to rewrite it on their letterhead saying something like "Peace Corps just asked if you could do this." I've been utterly desperate and whatever works is the key.
Save your Rx bills and keep a paper trail going. And if you are too sick to work (and too busy doing all this crap) you need to get a claim initiated and then get "temporary loss of wage earning capacity" which means, if you're not aware, that you can receive 66.6% (if you're single) of a GS7 salary valued at your COS date. It's not a hell of a lot to live on in LA (or NY!) but it's something. Around $16,000 or so and tax free but you have to NOT work.
Don't give up. The free clinics won't hurt you as long as you trust the medical care. I can talk more personally with you about this. In my opinion, I wouldn't worry about what happened where regarding the other issue. Once you get some doctor somewhere to state that you got in the car accident (is there a record of any treatment in the PC country of service? - and if so, contact PC and get those very records) and that you got TB in the Peace Corps you're on the right track and well on your way. I really suggest that you write the initial letter and have someone in your treatment group write it on a letterhead with some medical jargon. Get as many separate letters as possible from anyone and everyone who treats you and the mass builds.
Does this help?
I returned from Kenya in Dec 2003. I'm in Los Angeles now and
getting really frustrated with OWCP. For having a great experience, I
came home in rough shape. I have active TB but it's in my lymph
nodes, not my lungs. PC can't seem to get it through their heads that
just because my chest x-ray is clear doesn't mean I'm healthy. I also
have permanent liver damage from the original bout of anti-TB drugs.
The response I got was basically "sucks to be you." It took 3 weeks
to get a call back from OMS and that was only after I left a message
saying I was going to infect all of greater LA with TB if they didn't
do something. Right now I'm stuck and so am dealing with free clinics
and a county hospital for medicine and surgery. Will this hurt my
chances of getting my claim approved? I've gotten a lot of stuff for
free, cuz, well, I'm broke.
I also have neck/back injury from auto accident. I start messing with
that next week. There's not much documented in PC files other than
the occurance of the accident. They gave me a once over when I
finally went in and then would only really talk about mental health
aspects of the accident. I got the "brufen and icy hot" treatment and
sought physical therapy on my own.