Nov. 18 – the day my life would change. I awoke and was short one foot. The infection in my foot had turned into the flesh-eating disease. Uncontrolled diabetes fueled this.

After the operation, they sent me to a rehab hospital for two weeks. Sent home, I was confined to bed for three months with only my wheelchair to get about.

When I got home, I began my journey into the government assistance process via an application for disability. I started with an hour-and-a-half-long questionnaire online. Two weeks later, I received a packet of papers regarding my work history and my abilities to function with my disability.

The history broke down your workdays by each hour of the day, like how many hours a day you sit, stand, crouch and walk. Describing the impact on my daily functions was easy – I was restricted to a wheelchair. Three weeks later, the decision on my application for disability came by mail – denied!

People said they deny everyone the first time. Next, I retained counsel. I put two and two together: I was a part of a collusion between Social Security and lawyers.

The government denies benefits the first time around for a couple reasons. One: It deters people from continuing their fight and they save money. Two: They know you’ll get a lawyer who’ll collect 25 percent of back pay. Lawyers stretch it out, fattening their pockets. Collusion. They’re this machine that handles each case the same without facts.

It’s been four months since my amputation, with thousands of dollars going to bills that weren’t covered by Obamacare. I have no money and need help.

I’ve begun the process of procuring a prosthetic leg. I hope It will make my life easier. For now, I sit in awe of a government system that failed me. The system is broken.

Paul DiMillo

Portland