Watching them is an exercise of fascination; with nimble flight, to jump from a rooftop to the tip of a branch 10 feet away; scurry up and down trees with little thought (or is that merely a human projection without justification?) and no hesitation between the daredevil act and the graceful landing; and then to sunbathe in the midday warmth on a protruding ledge of the fence.
What a carefree existence; or so it would seem. For, upon an extended observation, one realizes that there is never a moment when the squirrel is unaware of its surroundings, and that the anxiety-filled existence of human beings is not too different from that of the animal kingdom from which we conceptually separate ourselves, but of which reality forces a recognition of kinship.
One wonders how the ordinary individual can survive the daily stresses of life; but in turning to an uncomplicated animal such as a squirrel, you quickly realize that we are created as a bundle of stress-resistance nerves. For the squirrel, the probability of a predator ready to pounce requires a heightened spectrum of awareness that approaches constant vigilance. For the individual human being, the technological, artificial, but nevertheless just-as-real “stressors” of stimuli which require minute-by-minute responses, are readily received by the evolutionary adaptation first developed in the dangers of wildlife.
Thus, it is little wonder that when a medical condition hits an individual, the quickened pace of deterioration and progressive chronicity of the condition turns to debilitating impact. By then, the stress-overload has reached its maximum impact.
For the Federal and Postal employee who is beset with a medical condition such that one must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the time between the onset of the medical condition and the need to file is often short. This should not be surprising, given that the Federal and Postal employee has often ignored or otherwise overcompensated for the warning signs of impending consequences.
OPM Disability Retirement can take some time to obtain. Whether under FERS or CSRS, every Federal Disability Retirement application must be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and the waiting time tends to be arbitrary, but in each case, somewhat lengthy. Given that, once the crisis point of “needing” to file has been identified, it is important to take the next giant step and initiate the process.
And, like the squirrel of whom we imagine is merely frolicking in the sun, the lack of outward appearance of a need is never the true indicator of what is going on underneath.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire