This is the trip I’m planning to take in 2017. With or without the lawyer’s permission.
Will I be tired? Absolutely. Will I nap a lot while others get me from place to place? Absolutely. Does that ability to travel mean that I cannot be as sick as the numbers state that I am? No.
There is a huge difference between negotiating multimillion dollar deals, maintaining a 14-15 hour daily schedule for days / weeks / months on end, juggling facts and figures, using diplomacy and tact, in order to complete a time-sensitive deal, than in what’s involved in taking a vacation while ill. I can be ill anywhere. Being ill sucks. But, if the scenery outside my window changes to show me something new, to occupy my tired brain, that’s a good thing. Anything to keep me in a healthy state of mind and not depressed is a good thing.
While the lawsuit, “Jenkins v Price Waterhouse Long Term Disability Plan, LLP” terminated matching salary benefits for someone who traveled while ill, claiming that he was well enough to work and did not try to do so, it does not take into account all those people who travel for “Make a Wish” lifetime events as they work through their bucket list to complete their various goals, funds permitting, before they pass away.
In my case, if I was being paid my matching benefits, I’d be making arrangements to have the stem cell treatment that my health insurance won’t otherwise cover for costs. If the stem cell treatment worked out, I’d then be feeling better (and able to document that improvement) such that I could re-apply for work under some sort of protected status while we see what’s possible for me to do and if the exhaustion related to my COPD would be greatly reduced.
There’s a financial aspect to this whole thing that no one is considering. Working is wonderful. I am a highly-compensated worker, with a 6-figure annual salary, bonuses and profit sharing. As is any worker who falls ill, I am protected from being forced to work at a job that will pay me less than 80% of what I used to earn. I value that protection, as forcing me to earn a living that will exhaust me / kill me faster, for any level of minimum wage, is not reasonable. I worked hard for those benefits, and I should be able to use them now that I need them.
However, since I’m not being paid my matching benefits, I’m focusing on doing everything that I can do to achieve my travel goals outside of the USA prior to my money (and my health / mobility) running out.
I know the lawyer’s not going to be happy with my decision, but if I’ve only got 3-5 years left before I’m stuck sitting in a chair and breathing 24×7 until my lungs give out, then I want to get this promised trip in while the going is still possible. Memories are what sustain us in our dark days. My trip to Australia is one of those sustaining memories.
Having this trip to plan for gives me something good to hope for, and something to work for, when I’m having a crappy day and the battle to simply do more than breathe is getting on my nerves.
Yes, most days I look fine and can pass for normal. But, most days I’m spending upwards of 15+ hours in bed, sleeping. Or, in my car, napping. Or, catching a few winks in chairs and couches anywhere I may be as I just don’t have the energy and endurance to go, go, go without a break. When I go on vacation, it will be much the same. Yes, I may miss a lot of scenery as I sleep on the bus while the English, Scots and Irish countryside passes by my window. But, for those moments when I’m doing well enough to be alert and participate? The trip will be priceless.
Should my benefit provider ever determine that it will meet the obligations it owes me, I will use that money to pay for my stem cell treatment in the hope that I can go back to work.
Until we reach that time, though, I’m going to continue to wait and see and apportion my money for activities that are of more interest to me.
Once I’m in my new home, and we see how the lawsuit is going, we’ll see if I can get some sort of seasonable job in the good weather that will help me stay engaged with the world. For now, though, I’m waiting to see what the benefits courts will decide.