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Hanging it Up — the Process Begins

Posted Nov 04 2010 8:25am

After talking it over with Gail and giving it a lot of thought, I’ve decided to begin the process that will result in my taking disability retirement under the Federal Government’s disability retirement plan.

I’ve printed out the excellent form the Parkinson’s Action Network provides and have asked my to fill in the parts he’s required to fill in.  I’ve also asked for the records that the say he will have to provide.  I’ve made the same request of the good folks at Vanderbilt who plugged holes in my three years ago.  Odessa says she’ll have a release for me to sign and get the stuff right in the mail.

In my note to my boss, I said…

I wanted you to be the first to know (other than Gail, of course) that today I’ve gotten the ball rolling towards seeking disability retirement.  I know that it’s a lengthy process, so I wanted to get the paperwork in play while I still have a few crispy cookies in the cookie jar, so to speak.  I’ve asked my doctors (here and in ) to provide me with the information I’ll need to make a formal application, and I expect to do so relatively soon.

You’ve no doubt noticed a decline in my production and performance.  In addition to the (the walking, the balance difficulties etc.), the disease has started to interfere with my brain’s executive functioning (planning, , task-shifting).  You’ve heard how it affects my speaking, and I’ve found myself making silly, idiotic mistakes – mostly non-work related, like pouring coffee grounds into Gail’s cup or trying to make coffee without adding the water, and a mess of other stuff I write about in my blog.  In an e-mail I sent you earlier today, on proofing it, I saw that I had typed the word “the” three times in a row.  I’m forgetting things, I’m easily distracted, I’m beginning to experience auditory and (nothing scary, stuff like rabbits where there are none and waking up to the sound of an old fashioned phone ringing).  My is suffering and I’m losing my ability to concentrate.  And most afternoons I get hit with a wave of fatigue that requires me to take a nap.

Meeting with my neurologist two weeks ago, he said that this is a sign of “” which is one of the early harbingers of “Parkinson’s disease dementia.”  He doesn’t think it’s “frank dementia” just yet, but it’s progressive, it’s insidious and it creeps up on ya!

I’m not looking for sympathy or for anything other than you’ve already so generously provided.  If my condition were to stabilize, I’m sure I could sit here for years and continue to crank out podcast after podcast.  But I don’t want to wait until I really start to stink up the joint before making a graceful exit.  I don’t wanna be a , in other words.  :)

I’m sure I’m still good enough to take the snaps and get the ball down the field.  But I don’t want to wait to be TOLD I have to hang it up.  I wanna go on my own terms.  It means a cut in salary I’ll get roughly 2/3 of my top 3 yearly incomes, averaged.  I don’t expect this to happen until summer or early fall, the way it takes these guys forever to make decisions.  I also have to file for , but it’s not necessary that I be approved to get disability retirement.

So, I’ll keep y’all informed and let you know how it goes.  This will be a long, strange trip indeed.

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