Jody B. Cutler Achievement Award Story

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Jody B. Story

I am very grateful to My Employment Options and my counselor, Kimberly Bounds, for enabling me to become part of the workforce after many years. This is my story.

I was 21 years old, enjoying my sophomore year of college, when my whole world changed. I had been dealing with periodic vomiting and pain in my abdomen for several months and had been treated for everything from pelvic inflammatory disease to a urinary tract infection. The next thing I knew they were rushing me by ambulance to the hospital.  After emergency surgery, it was discovered I had had a pin hole in my appendix that was leaking into my abdomen for months. I was septic and almost died. They removed my right ovary, Fallopian tube, and appendix, all of which were all adhered to my intestines. My internal organs had to be removed, cleaned, and put back in my abdomen.

I was the only person in my family living in Tennessee at the time. It was pretty scary, but the worst part was the pain never went away. It took years for doctors to identify the nerve damage I had suffered, but by then I had been given narcotics pretty steadily. I did manage to graduate from college in 2001, but by 2004, I was taking 240 mg of morphine per day. I could no longer work or drive, so I moved in with my mother.

After 5 years of fighting denials, I was finally granted disability in 2011 and qualified for Medicare insurance. We had been paying out of pocket for doctor visits and prescriptions before then, and almost lost our house several times.

I decided to wean myself off of the morphine, with my Mom’s help. At this point, she had been locking my morphine up in a small safe because I was very much addicted. It took me a year to get off the morphine, and then the doctors had to try and find a non-addictive alternative for my nerve pain.  A neurologist prescribed Lyrica, which has helped.

My head was finally semi clear after 16 years.  So in 2016 I decided to go back to school online. It was very intimidating. I was not that great with computers, but I managed to figure it out and keep a 4.0 GPA. I got my certification in Medical Coding & Billing in October 2017, but was terrified of going back to work. I knew I wasn’t physically able to go back to work full time, and I did not want to lose my insurance. I applied for billing & coding jobs, but without work experience, no one would hire me for a Work From Home position.

I discovered My Employment Options researching The Ticket to Work Program through Disability. I chose My Employment Options because they deal with reputable companies that allow you to work from home. I was able to find a job in my area and began working from home in March 2018. Has it been hard? Yes! Am I tired? Yes, but being able to better my situation after so long is very fulfilling!