Saturday, November 19, 2005

Corporate greed and the human condition

A few years ago, my mother had an accident at the WalMart where she worked as the Personnel Officer. She was coming down some stairs, and someone had spilled oil on the steps, then attempted to clean the oil with a wet mop. My mother hit the oil-and-water-slickened painted concrete steps, and fell down the stairs, injuring her back, arm, and hip. She became permanently disabled, in constant pain. She has had numerous surgeries and torturous treatments to try to fix this problem, but nothing works, and according to the doctors, nothing will ever work. She will be in pain, or doped up, for the rest of her life.

Now, stuff happens. That's the way life is. My parents are not strangers to suffering, having lost one adult child to a car accident, and almost losing another (me) to a car accident when I was four years old. Their house burned down when I was four, too. Life hasn't been kind, but they are survivors.

But WalMart - the Corporate Great Satan - has been doing nothing but trying to stop her disability payments for years, ever since the accident. The latest episode has them taking my parents to court to stop payments to her, medical care payments, and payments to my father for providing full-time care, because she has reached the age of 65.

My mother and father had their lives irrevocably altered by this incident which disabled my mother. She was always a lively, dynamic, hard-working woman. She loved walking in the fields beside their home, working in her flower beds, playing with her grandchildren. But all of that changed in an instant.

Now, she must take pain medication every day. She has a very sensitive system, so the kinds of medication she can tolerate are limited. She has to take special sleeping medication because the pain medication causes her to have nightmares. Her memory is fading - she will often repeat herself many times when telling things, because the medication simply causes her to forget. She has a special lift chair now. She can't sit for more than about thirty minutes at a time without getting up and walking around to relieve the pain, yet walking for very long causes her agony, too. She has had over fifty epidural spinal injections over the last six years, when doctors recommend that the safe level of such injections is no more than two per year.

Her nerves have been affected by the pain medication, the surgery and the implanting of a neural stimulating device in her spine to combat the pain, so that now she cannot bear a loud noise without being reduced to a quivering mass. They had to buy a special vehicle, expensive, to carry her motorized wheelchair around. The motorhome they had purchased before sits mostly unused, because the trips they had planned on after retirement are too much of a strain on both her physical condition and their modest income.

I am NOT recounting all the suffering, all the sleepless nights, all the tears, all the pain, all the craziness that my father and mother have had to endure because of this - the endless rounds of questioning at hearings until my mother broke down in tears. I am, as it were, only hitting the lowlights.

Now, the wheedling, supercilious, $250 per hour %@#*&!! lawyers who work for WalMart want to try to take away my parents support and stop paying for her constant medical care. Is this a great country or what???

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