***Sorry fellow followers but this chapter is going to be a bit of a snooze fest. Well not entirely, but it does represent a period that was logistically difficult. I was dealing with some of the densest people ever. I was just as disappointed and as I was irritated. Sick leave and health first, my ass!***
So the second #failed #bone marrow biopsy came and went but I failed to mention other things that were happening in my life. While I tried to enjoy the great sunshine London had to offer, not only was I #anxious about my third bone marrow biopsy but about my survival. And this time it had to do with #money and #logistics.
One would think that within large organizations, when an employee falls ill everything would be done to make the process as #easy as possible especially when the employee is facing a #life or #death situation. In my case, the process was neither easy, nor simple but rather a #nightmare. I #fought to get my Non-Emergency Medical Evacuation (NEME), which was bad enough. But once in London little did I know that things were only going to get harder. Mind you, if I am on sick leave then I need to be looking after myself, not dealing with #unnecessary #stress.
When I was granted the initial Non-Emergency Medical Evacuation (NEME) it was for a temporary period of 5 days. According to HR rules, I needed to be on sick leave or annual leave for 20 consecutive days and only then would I become eligible for Short Term Disability (#STD – I did not make up the acronym and every time I use it I #cringe). Meaning that I had to request all remaining sick leave and annual leave for that year in advance, leaving me #nothing. Which was not a bad thing because then I would still continue to receive a portion of my salary, which I really needed! But every 5 days or 7 days I had to get approval from my doctor in order to be allowed to remain in London.
Let me explain. My #oncologist only held clinics once a week on a Thursday. Therefore I would have to wait a week to find out results after every consultation. To travel back and forth form Istanbul to London, under my circumstances, was simply #not feasible. I understood there was an HR process but I wish I could have had someone*(see end of chapter) assigned specifically to my case to take care of the logistics. Every week, I had to have my doctor fill out a form. Then I would send that to HR in DC to approve ad additional #NEME extension. Then I would contact HR in Istanbul to have them extend my travel. On top of that I had to deal with the incompetence of the #ISOS team (International SOS team outsourced by the WBG to “take care” of employees in such situations) to find out where I was going to sleep every week. Who the# fuck wants to have to worry about where they are going to sleep while fighting cancer let alone how they were going to survive???
While on sick leave I was receiving my full salary and a per diem. However, as you already know by now, I was stationed in Istanbul at the time, which meant that my salary was in Turkish Lira. The exchange rate from Lira to GBP made me want to #cry every time I had to spend money. Furthermore I had my flat in Istanbul where I was paying rent, bills in Istanbul; but also bills in the US (student loans, etc.). I had a #shit ton of #responsibilities that I was taking care of. I was in no way prepared for living in London with my salary where I was not only taking care of myself but also my brother. After all he did come to take care of me.
Yet again I could not allow my #emotions to get the better of me. Sure I was not paying for my accommodation, but London is not cheap. I came with almost no clothing, as I had no idea how long I was going to be staying. I became #obsessed. Obsessed with every penny I spent and how much I had left until my last paycheck or unless I was able to get an advance on my per diem. I already was a complete nerd before all this. I’ve had a spreadsheet for years that shows my credits and debits, on all my various bank accounts and credit cards, forecasting at least 6 months in advance. But this was getting out of control. As you will see from the diary entries it was the first thing I would think about when I woke up and the last thing I would think about at night. I am not whining nor saying that I was entitled to more or even to what I was getting; there are individuals who don’t even have health insurance. I am #grateful that I had #insurance and an #income, but it is also not something that I am going to #apologize for either. I worked my #ass off for years to get through school and get to where I am in my career, starting from the bottom several times, even working jobs that had nothing to do with my studies. Again, life is about survival. Nevertheless, it just was not something that I wanted or had the energy to worry about during this time. It was #exhausting!
Anyhow, so the days passed as I waited for my 3rd biopsy and they continued to pass as I waited for the results. In the meantime I was having an extreme case of #cabin fever. I’ve lived on my own for more than a decade and have not shared a room with anyone, not even in college, since I was in middle school. So you can imagine how it was having to share a room with my brother. Boy can he snore. In the worst way possible. Lol! Eventually he started getting on my #nerves, and I assume vice versa, and that is when my ‘stay every night at the hotel bar until it closes’ started happening. I just needed space in some way or another.
So much for# space… My sister was arriving and also my father (whom I had not spoken to in over 3 years for other reasons which are irrelevant right now). That now meant all three of us in the same hotel room. – my dad got his own hotel. The worst #fight I had with Hannie was the night before my dad was to arrive and 2 nights before my sister was to arrive. Initially I could #not care or even consider trying to understand why he was so upset. I was #upset. I was #tired of #arguing with him. Of having to stay at the bar until 3am and then when I wanted to sleep in he would wake me up. I just wanted a break. I wanted to break down but I could not. It was only going to get worse… much worse…
*(After having survived this ordeal I would actually like to help others in similar situations. [I feel that I have an advantage and I could only help other and so some good. Everyone deserves it.] Had I had one person who handled everything from start to finish, things would have gone much smoother. When you are fighting for your life you don’t want to worry about having to speak with your insurance company, HR, ISOS teams to update them on a daily basis because they need to do that as part of their job. You already spend all day speaking with doctors, organizing appointments, speaking to family and friends – especially when you don’t want to-, worrying about where you’re going to sleep. In addition to that you are also corresponding with your employers to update them on when you will or won’t come back to work, when you yourself don’t even know. Fortunately for me when my sister finally arrived, I was able to provide her with full power of attorney. It was nearing the time when I was going to start my treatment and there was no way I was going to speak to anyone outside of my doctors, nurses and immediate family, unless it was absolutely necessary. I needed peace of mind to focus on my recovery. Period!)