I don’t have anything new to report for my October update, but I thought I should check in. I didn’t want you guys assuming the worst about my absence.
The Fight Against Lincoln Financial Group
The legal junk with Lincoln Financial Group continues. I have nothing new to report, just another reminder that they are awful and you should tell your family and friends to never do business with them. If your employer offers disability insurance benefits through Lincoln Financial Group, you might even want to mention why you won’t be taking those benefits and ask them to reconsider even offering such an insulting “benefit” to the people who give up 40 hours or more of their lives for The Man every week.
This Here Blog
I won’t be updating here much for a while. I don’t have the money to keep up my WordPress subscription, so it’ll revert to the free offering when my current subscription runs out next month. You might not even notice a difference if you stop by the site after that, but just in case you do—you’ll know why.
In an ideal world, I’d be able to scrape some money together and go back to a self-hosting situation—take back full control of things at emilysuess.com again—like back in the day. But as you know, this is not an ideal world. I’m not giving up on that dream altogether, though I have accepted that it won’t be happening real soon.
So, bottom line is: just expect me to post around here super infrequently until I get other parts of my life sorted and have some time and energy to weigh my website/blog options. I promise if anything major happens, I’ll slap something up and let you know.
Jesus, that site is a cesspool these days. I haven’t been on there much lately either, which is where I was sure I was going to land when I quit doing Facebook because Mark Zuckerburg is an unscrupulous taint on society. But I seem to be losing control over the content showing up in my feed there too, and Trump and the bots have just ruined what used to be a good, fun thing for me. So fuck Jack. I turned off my notifications.
I still make the occasional appearance there, but mostly to self-promote or watch the videos of baby goats jumping on beds that Dan drops in my DMs. I try my damnedest to avoid the depression that accompanies the 24/7 inanity of what Twitter presumes I want to see day in and day out. I tried to tweak my feed to my liking there for a while, but either I’m not as adept at those things as I once was or Twitter has just trashed The Damn Algorithms.
I will respond to your DMs and don’t mind getting them there, but if you need a response quickly it’s best just to text or email me. If you don’t have my number or my email address, ask—or use the contact form on this site. It goes straight to my gmail account.
Patreon and My Memoir
This is the one thing I am determined not to let slide. I promise to forge ahead with my serial memoir on Patreon once a month. (In fact, Chapter 8: Good Luck with That just dropped yesterday.)
It’s simultaneously the least and the most I can do right now. I’d like to be able to post new chapters maybe a couple times a month, but I can’t handle it. People who write memoirs about their life’s traumas are beating themselves up, and I—a depressed woman with no money and a brain tumor—am no exception. Reliving certain hells is even harder when you’re chronically sick.
But I need the money.
Don’t get me wrong, though. It’s not a 100% awful endeavor. I am rewarded by accomplishing things. Even if it’s only writing 1800 words a month. And I really get a boost when a patron comments or messages me that they relate to Who You Gonna Believe? in some way. I know it’s just small-time, but I hope to find a wider audience for it someday. And hopefully not posthumously!
Around the holidays or maybe for the new year, I’m pondering running a limited-time offer of some sort to get more people to join my little Patreon community. We’ll see.
Anywho, if you want to read the sordid details of how my first marriage fell apart right flipping now, you can do it for a buck. You can read the preface and all eight existing chapters in a day if you want, then unsubscribe when you’re done. You can come back eight chapters later and do the same thing if you want. In fact, I encourage it. I mean, that’d be $2 I wouldn’t have otherwise!
That’s all I can think of for now, and this weather we’re having is giving me all the aches. Bed is calling.
Until next time, Happy Halloween!
Support Emily with a one-time donation at paypal.me/EmilySuess
Things are changing around here, and I’ve been meaning to update you all on my Lincoln Financial Group appeal for a while now. Better late than never, right?
The first thing I have to report is that last week I signed a retainer agreement with a law firm, and I now have legal representation in my fight against the jerks at LFG. It took me a good long while to find an attorney. I’m too tired to explain why lawyer shopping feels like such an insurmountable burden, but just trust me: it is. Having brain cancer doesn’t help, but that’s not even the only reason why it’s so hard.
The important thing is that now there’s someone else out there to deal with the Anns and the Sherris of the world. Those loyal, dutiful insurance company employees who (I assume) must pretend every day that they wouldn’t be scapegoated in a heartbeat by their corporate overlords.
Ahem, sorry. Promised myself I wasn’t going to give in too much to the anger today.
In the meantime, I’m going to try to enjoy the fact that I no longer have to restrain myself from signing off every email to Ann or Sherri (or whoever the hell it is this week) with, “Thank you for your kind attention to this matter. Now get diarrhea, you miserable cow.”
(I probably don’t need to say this if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, but if you’re new here you should know that my Lincoln Financial Group appeal doesn’t exactly bring out the best in me.)
OK. So. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m not actually able to sue LFG yet. I have to complete a second appeal before that can happen. (But I got an email with the subject line “Suess, Emily v. The Lincoln National Life Ins Co” and thought it would make a nice blog title.
Anyway, if they win the appeal for me, my benefits will be reinstated, and the law firm will deal with LFG representatives from here on out. I never have to talk to them again. (Sounds nice, right?)
However, if this appeal is denied too, then I can sue. (That’s the way my long-term disability policy is written.) At that stage these kinds of things typically get settled out of court. I’m no expert on why that is, but having been around the block now a time or two, I’m reasonably confident they settle because 1.) it’s cheaper, and 2.) THEY FUCKING KNOW THEY’RE WRONG.
But this isn’t really about right and wrong for the insurance company, is it? It’s about shareholders and CEOs and making easy money off the backs of the sick, poor, and disabled.
Quick aside: This is your daily reminder not to give your money to Lincoln Financial Group.
Moving on to thing two: I have a new oncologist. She is local to me here in Champaign-Urbana and part of the same health system (Carle Foundation Hospital and Physician Group) that employs my primary physician.
I’m not so much dropping my first oncologist as I am just adding a new one. I will get MRIs and the results here locally, but she will confer with the guy who, at this point, knows my tumor better—you know, if the need arises.
Although the drive to St. Louis wasn’t impossible—and everyone I’ve dealt with at Barnes-Jewish was pretty amazing—it was hard to make that routine trek to Missouri. Plus, finding the money for traveling even just a few hours is a problem when you’re unable to work and the disability benefits you’re owed are revoked by insurance company clowns and the profiteering MDs they find to make false claims about your health, MDs like Samuels and Hartner.
So Dan and I met with my new oncologist, Dr. P, on Monday, and although I was a little nervous about it (I have anxiety issues when it comes to doctors as a result of some terrible experiences) I really liked her. Dan did too. As a result of the consult with her, I’m picking up yet ANOTHER doctor.
Tomorrow morning, at Dr. P’s suggestion, I will be meeting with a palliative care doctor. When Dr. P first said the world “palliative” I was like, Ack! No! But it was because I was mistaken about what it meant. I thought it was terminal care, but it’s actually getting help with managing the symptoms of a serious and complicated illness like cancer.
On the drive home, I wondered out loud to Dan why my other oncologist had never mentioned this to me before. But, you know, maybe he did and I just was so overwhelmed I couldn’t or wouldn’t consider it? Or maybe they assumed I was already getting something like that at home? I honestly don’t know. But maybe the palliative care doctor will have some ideas about helping me with the laundry list of chronic symptoms I’m always dealing with. I’d kind of given up on that sort of thing. Most of the time when I tell a doctor that I’m in chronic pain or my nerves don’t work right or I have migraines, I just get shrugs. Maybe this will be different.
Did you go through a Lincoln Financial Group appeal? How did it go?
Dear Penn Medicine Doctors,
If Lincoln Financial Group was paying, would you say a woman with an inoperable, malignant brain stem tumor was “not disabled” and in “remission” despite her attending physician’s professional opinion to the contrary?
If the price was right, would you pretend you know best when even the patient’s own oncologist defers on the matter of her disability?
If the paycheck was fat enough, would you attest to a lie that stripped a disabled person of the long-term disability insurance benefits she paid for?
At least one of your Penn Medicine colleagues would. Shoot, he’d probably even say you don’t know how sick or disabled your patient is if the gig paid enough. I mean, it’s so easy for him to do when he never has to look anyone—doctor or patient—in the eye. He just fills out a report et voila! Robs another cancer patient of her financial security, pads his own wallet.
I wonder if, when typing up his misleading report about me in May, Dr. Lee Hartner figured I’d be too timid or weak to hold him accountable for his profiteering side hustle.
(He should’ve Googled me first. I’ve been writing open letters, blogging about cancer, and just generally sticking up for myself for years.)
Anyway, because individual bad actors like Hartner make it possible for Lincoln Financial Group to rip off disabled consumers and besmirch the good name of do-no-harmers everywhere, I asked Dean J. Larry Jameson to comment on the issue. The way I see it, this is a matter of public interest. If this sort of behavior is the kind of thing Perelman School of Medicine looks for when hiring faculty, maybe patients and med students ought to know.
Unfortunately, Jameson won’t even acknowledge I exist. I guess he can’t be bothered to comment on how Hartner’s lies reflect on Penn, on the Perelman School of Medicine, and on the profession.
Crazy, right? I mean, if Dean Jameson thinks Hartner’s behavior is above-board and medically ethical, why wouldn’t he just say so? And if he thinks it’s unethical, why wouldn’t he release a statement quickly, before the Hartner Stink™ had a chance to get all over the rest of you?
Sorry for the tangent. Back to the original question, which is: Would you do it too?
P.S. Maybe you can help me out with another question I have: Why is it only insurance fraud if the patient lies?
I applied for SNAP food assistance benefits this week. For those of you who don’t know the joys of being disabled and impoverished just on their own, let me tell you how thrilled I am to have had the opportunity to jump through these hoops while working my way up to the second-worst migraine I’ve ever had in my entire life the past ten days.
Actually, let’s skip the part about my migraine. Unless you have them, you won’t understand, and I’ll give myself another trying to explain it.
In order to qualify for nutritional assistance benefits, you have to verify that you have no money. (Which seems weird, doesn’t it? Prove a negative! Demonstrate you’re begging for food assistance because you need to eat and NOT because you enjoy defrauding government agencies! Peasant!)
Oh! I should clarify, the individuals working at the Illinois Department of Human Services who helped me this week. They were lovely people, working to make sure humans get things they need to live. (Well, except for the security guard, but I think every government facility needs an antagonist, don’t you?) The people who treat you like trash are typically “pro-lifers”, libertarians, friends, and family.
Anyway, our case involved submitting 24 pages of supporting documents in addition to the benefit application itself. There were four ways I could submit those documents according to the letter: drop them off at the IDHS office, fax them, mail them, or upload them to the abe.illinois.gov case management thing-a-ma-jig.
Uploading them seemed like the best option, except it wasn’t actually possible. So then I was like, “Well, I’ve got one stamp left.” But have you ever tried to tri-fold 24 pieces of printer paper and stuff them in a business reply envelope? Then I figured, “Well, I don’t have a landline, but I could do one of those free fax services online. But turns out it costs money to send faxes exceeding three pages with those things.
“Dan! You’re taking me to IDHS today!” He was gearing up for a trip to the pharmacy. “Don’t leave without me!”
Can I just say that parking at IDHS in Champaign County is absurdly inadequate? Even with my accessible parking placard, there wasn’t anywhere to put the car. “Can I drop you off?” Dan hesitated. You could tell he didn’t really like the idea.
“Yeah, do it,” I said. “I’m not coming back here later.” I didn’t bring my mobility aid because in that particular building it’s easier to grab Dan’s arm. But without Dan’s arm? We were taking a bit of a risk.
I didn’t fall though, I just felt like I was going to fall for a solid 15 minutes. (You can’t just leave sensitive documents in a box somewhere, you have to stand in line and physically hand them to the guy sitting behind the Plexiglas.)
Anyway, here’s hoping we get approved soon. Dan and I can really eat well on this SNAP stuff. If it’s anything like 2017’s season of medical bankruptcy, we could get $15* a month. TO SPLIT BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE.
It’s a really good thing Dan and I have this social safety net here, since I didn’t bother to buy a long-term disability insurance policy in case something like a brain tumor ever happened to me one day
*Don’t buy toilet paper with SNAP benefits. I’ve never seen it happen, but legend has it conservatives and libertarians will sacrifice a kitten if you try.
As the news of my brain cancer and Lincoln Financial Group horror story garners interest, more people are asking how they can help—even complete strangers. I’m really grateful, but not always sure what to suggest. I figured if I created a list, people could pick what works best.
Donations and Financial Support
Social Media Platforms
- Follow me on Twitter @EmilySuess
- Follow me on YouTube
- Subscribe to this blog using the form in the sidebar
- Share this blog with someone
- Follow me on Patreon (You can follow my page even if you can’t make a pledge)
- Contact me if you or someone you know has also been harmed by Lincoln Financial Group, Dr. Brian L. Samuels, Dr. Lee P. Hartner, Professional Disability Associates, or Reliable Review Services.
- If your employer offers Lincoln Financial Group insurance policies and/or financial products, ask them to switch. Tell them you don’t want to be ripped off.
- Send an email to Dean J. Larry Jameson. (Copy & paste, takes 30 seconds.)
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper.
- Ask a journalist to cover the long-term disability industry.
Share Your Stories
- If you work for (or used to work for) Lincoln Financial Group, Professional Disability Associates, or Reliable Review Services and have first-hand knowledge of business practices, contact me or reach out to ProPublica.org.
- If you have a related story you would like me to share, whether you have brain cancer or another disability or illness, send me the link.
- If you or someone you know has a story that needs to be told but need a place to publish it, contact me.