An Open Letter to My Insurance Company:

Dear Company,

This is Jairus. You may remember me from a claim I filed over two months ago. As you may recall, I injured my leg while I was at work, and although I am not seeking workman’s comp related damages for this claim, I had asked for coverage under the ‘Short Term Disability’ coverage that I have with your organization.

This is taking some time. In the interests of resolving this situation quickly, allow me explain my situation to you.

As you may know, I earn twelve dollars an hour. After deductions for EI, CPP, taxes, insurance premiums, and various other costs, I receive an average of twelve hundred dollars take-home pay. I don’t know if you are familiar with the costs of living in Ottawa, but this income rate puts me beneath the poverty line, meaning I live month to month, or am ‘poor’. Having been without pay for over two months, therefore, is a problem to me. Not having any money would be my first problem, most of my other problems follow directly from that.

I cannot afford to take a cab to my doctor’s for continued monitoring of my injury. I cannot afford to purchase a leg brace which I have been prescribed by said doctor for treatment of my injury. Food supplies are reaching critical levels, and most of the food I own I cannot eat due to a pressing dental surgery need, for which I have no money. I am receiving threatening notices from my utility companies in a variety of colours which state in no uncertain terms that I must remit hundreds of dollars. This, although quite threatening indeed, is overshadowed by the fact that I owe my landlord a sum that is orders of magnitude larger, which if left unresolved will eliminate any need for paying future utilities, as I will not have a house to live in.

In short, this knee injury is ruining my life. If this pattern continues, it is not unreasonable to expect that I will eventually end up homeless, without the ability to receive the medical attention I require to recover fully.

The fear of a chain of events of this nature is what led me to purchase insurance coverage, some many months ago. In the event that I was unable to work, I thought to myself, an insurance policy will take care of my immediate financial needs, while allowing me to take care of my injury, so that I am able to return to work.


This cannot be allowed to continue. Every day that you stall for more information, hoping that my claim is frivolous or without grounds, hoping that I’ll tire of endless calls, faxes, forms, and touch-tone telephone prompts, my chances of permanent damage rise to approach certainty. Perhaps worse, every day that passes is another day where I lose access to critical resources, and accrue unreasonable and unnecessary debt.

This has to end. Soon.

I hear my bones grinding, the sound of dead wood escaping my skin. My reflection isn’t who I think I am, eyeballs looking out from grey, boney sockets, and a week’s worth of growth when I swear I shaved yesterday.

Seven in the morning, and another night without sleep.


It isn’t in my head that I feel these things. It isn’t in my heart, my gut, or my skin. I feel them only at a very great distance.

It hasn’t always been this way.

Within antiseptic hospital walls coloured to disarm, all I hear from Dr. Doctor is a low buzz; Something like a hum, but not nearly as sinister. Something that could not possibly hurt me, something that matters so very little as to be insignificant, to be nothing.

What matters is the translation: we don’t know what is wrong. if we try to find out, you may die.

That the odds are in my favour carries a remarkable lack of reassurance.

Dr. Doctor says these same words to a thousand people, and not all of them will live.

Have you ever been conflicted?

With winter pounding at the weak spot between your bones, and despair screaming static in your head, have you ever felt blessed?

Have you ever known beauty like this?

Has fortune ever forgotten her scales, and let slip something into your life that you could not have possibly earned?

Have the poets ever been where I am?

Did they ever have anyone like her?