Monday, March 10, 2008

The eye of the storm

Now that the surgery has passed and we are just waiting it out until the next step of treatment I feel like I can breathe again. The last two weeks have just been a whirlwind. Although I feel we managed pretty well, it's nice to have a break. We're still facing issues on several fronts, but we've had some people who have been absolute rainbows in the storm.

Medical- A made it through surgery and is home recovering well. He can only whisper and occasionally will make a nice croaking sound when he tries to talk. Some of the vocal cords were pretty damaged during the surgery so we are waiting to see if they heal. Surgeon said he could have just cut them out, but wanted to give them the chance to work again. He'll have a different voice next time it comes over the PA. Not having a thyroid is already starting to show its effects- he's sluggish, tripping more often and can't remember so well. We are having to switch Endocrinologists (his managing/treating physician for this ordeal) because the one he was referred to "doesn't do paperwork"- office policy. So she won't complete ANY of the paperwork we need for FMLA, short term disability, long term disability, FAA. We've got a referral to a new office and I am working on setting something up with them soon. The next treatment step is to wait for about a month and then take the radioactive iodine to knock out the rest of the cancerous cells.

Company- We've been in contact with HR, the Chief Pilot, the Base Administrator, ALPA Aeromedical committee, ALPA LTD/LOL committee, the LTD company, an FAA physician. Sometimes I feel like I am in a game of telephone because I only hear what gets filtered down to me and it is sometimes incomplete.

From what I understand, we are just weeks short of being with the company for 1 year (4/2 is our anniversary). Because we don't meet the year mark, we don't qualify for FMLA time, which would preserve our medical benefits for a few months. Instead, when A ceases to be paid and goes "inactive" we'll have to go on COBRA until the LTD kicks in to help us out. Also, the LTD pays out at a percentage of the rate you were paid while working. There is a huge difference between first and second year salary, so if we could just hold out until April, we'd see a lot more disability income. The pilot staff is doing their best to keep A active until April, but HR is being hardline about it. We brought up the idea of a sick time donation for A and had many positive replys from people willing to donate. However, the company doesn't have a sick time donation program so it seems like we won't be able to go that route. It's incredibly frustrating on our end, but there is not much we can do about it. So it remains to be seen whether we will meet the deadline.

Mostly, the company has been great. We were able to fly A's dad out to help us during the surgery push and we have had many well wishes come our way. A message about A was posted on the company pilot's forum and we were encouraged to set up a paypal donation account so people could donate towards our medical expenses. (Want to donate? Click HERE ) It's been wonderful to actually receive help from people we do and don't know as well as advice on things we need to watch out for. Several people we haven't heard from in ages have called to wish us well after seeing that post.

Friends- It's been interesting to see which friends have really come through for us and which ones seem to have disappeared. Our friend Bob who has worked to coordinate the sick time donation and forum updates. Our friends Erin and Tom (whom we only know electronically) helping us navigate company and ALPA info as well as recovery issues. My JetGirl friend Hillary and her husband for trekking out one evening to bring us McDonald's at the hospital even though they weren't anywhere near the hospital. And all our other aviation friends for sending their well wishes and calling and my local friends here in Jax for offering to babysit and more. Although we've been disappointed in some, I think A is feeling bolstered by the amount of people who have called with support.We were talking the other day about how generous people have been to us and how this is really a turning point for us to be more generous with other people as well. Although now is not the time for us, in the future we hope to be able to spend more time working with the same comittees that have helped us and giving more money to relief programs. Hopefully putting a face to the people who benefit from this kind of thing will make it more relevant for other people as well.

(related to old blog)-Some blog related issues- If you've been trying to leave a comment and were told you were spam, I'm sorry. I think the security has been raised on the site to prevent spammers. Nothing I can do about it, but I really do appreciate comments. I've been checking out other blog sites to compare so a move may be in the future.

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