Diary of a Brain Tumor Patient's Wife

Aug. 4, 1998

Renette Davis

I talked to the benefits office at the hospital today. They recommended that we fill out 2 family medical leave forms - one for the bicycle accident and one for the brain tumor - and at the same time we fill out the forms for long term disability for the brain tumor. If the bones heal quickly and the tumor symptoms decrease and Paul feels like going back to work before the long term disability kicks in, then we haven't lost anything. If he's not able to go back to work, then we have the wheels in motion for the long term disability. I think if Paul agrees with this plan, that's what we'll do.

Paul has 3 months of family leave that he can use. It will include whatever sick time he has accrued, and can also include vacation and personal holidays that he has. I think I figured last night that he has about 3 weeks total sick time, vacation time, and personal holidays. His coworkers can also donate vacation time to him, which I'm sure some of them will do. After that, he can use short-term disability until the 3 months are up. He'll get 30% of his salary when he's on short-term disability.

There's a 90-day waiting period before long-term disability would kick in, which is why we should apply for that now as well. Those 90 days should be covered by the family medical leave, i.e., sick time, vacation time, and short-term disability. If by any chance it hasn't kicked in yet, Paul can take another 3 months leave of absence (at no pay, but with continuing benefits if we pay Paul's portion.) He'll get to keep all of his benefits during the short-term disability and also during the long-term disability by continuing to pay his portion. They will also continue to contribute to his retirement during both short-term and long-term disability.

I have decided to go to part-time starting now. I'll basically work 3 days a week, 7 hrs a day, for a total of 21 hours/week. That will allow me to keep my medical benefit, which is what allows Paul to see the specialists here at U of C. If Paul is able to go back to work, I can increase back to full time whenever I want.

I've explored some options for extra income during the time Paul is only getting 30% of his salary and I'm only getting about 50% of mine. We have a TIAA/CREF life insurance (separate from the insurance Paul has through work) that we can cash in if Paul is diagnosed with less than a year to live. Dr. Nicholas said he would be willing to write a letter saying that statistically speaking Paul would not be expected to live longer than that. He said he wasn't sure what TIAA would do if they gave us the life insurance and then Paul lived longer than a year!

Paul also has a retirement policy from when the hospital was part of the university (now it's a separate administrative unit) which I don't think anyone is contributing to anymore, which could be withdrawn without penalty if Paul goes on disability. So I think we'll be ok financially with reduced income.

I don't think Paul is doing very well. He's still in quite a bit of pain, which is to be expected, I'm sure. We haven't heard anything yet from the doctors whether they want to do surgery. I'm even more concerned about the tumor symptoms. They seem to be getting worse, and I'm wondering if there is some internal bleeding. The message that he sent out to the Davis family last night about biking was probably misleading. That was me typing - with him dictating and me trying to interpret what he was saying. He had tried to type a message himself, but it was completely jibberish.

I'm feeling pretty down today. I managed to get through the discussions with the personel office at the hospital ok, and then made my decision to cut to part time and talked to everyone here ok, but then I got an email message from a woman I've been corresponding with whose husband had a brain tumor like Paul's, in the same location. He died yesterday. I started crying at my desk and had to go lie down for awhile to get calmed down. Everyone here has been very supportive and I'm doing ok now. I'm also going to see my counsellor tonight, so that will help too.

Continue to: Aug. 5, 1998

Return to: Diary of a Brain Tumor Patient's Wife

Created and maintained by Renette Davis. Send comments to Renette by clicking here.

Created: May 31, 1999
Last updated: July 18, 2010