Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

COVID – We’re Building Back Better

By Chris M. Ingram, LL.M., ESQ

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Due to the Coronavirus, many businesses all over the country, indeed all over the world, have been fighting to stay open, in fact many have been fighting just to keep their jobs. On top of that, many of my clients have been fighting to secure their visas so that if they lose their jobs, they do not also lose this country as their home. Talk about a massive amount of stress. So, in this article, I’d like to be vulnerable and transparent to you all by sharing my personal journey through COVID and Cancer this year. I’d like to share my personal challenges and how I have fought, and I’m still fighting to ‘Build Back Better’. We are all in this together, and if we pull together, we’ll get through this together.

COVID and My Family: So, at the end of 2019 my wife, Eva, went to the U.K. for New Years, but soon after she arrived, she got sick with a mystery virus and had to spend three weeks in a hotel trying to get well. The doctor came out and confirmed it was a virus but did no tests as the Coronavirus was not known at that point. After feeling just about well enough to get on a plane, she came home to California where I met her. My wife looked very ill, and so in the morning, I got her to a doctor and then immediately to the hospital where she remained for over a week, came out for a couple of days, and was rushed back again. After a battery of tests, they found blood clots in her lung that had passed through her heart, and had they lodged there, she would have died. So, after a few days, she was discharged.

So, how do we now know that she had COVID? Well, she had so many of the systems, like extreme fatigue, loss of taste and smell, fever, and so on. As Eva began to recover from the immediate danger, I began to get sick. For me, it was shortness of breath, fatigue, and my lungs felt like they were filling up with fluid. I was treated with antibiotics and high dose steroids and I felt better after three weeks or so. COVID is no joke.

Shelter-in-Place Order: So, as I was recovering and trying to get back to the office, by then COVID was well and truly getting established in California, and then out of the blue we got notified of the Shelter-in-Place order to close up shop that day by mid-night. This news came after 5.00 pm when my office, which was up until then full of employees, had gone home.

The Practice Manager and I had to quickly come up with a plan to move everyone out, except one or two essential staff to handle the mail in/mail out. The next day everyone came back to the office to collect an office computer and set up their home office. Truth is, whilst this was physically disruptive, I think we handled it fine and there was not that much disruption to the actual flow of cases, at least not initially.

My Cancer Diagnosis & Journey of Recovery: It was Monday, April 27th. I had a small hernia that was bothering me that day. I’d had the hernia for years, but that morning I could not pop-it back in. So I thought I’d go to the Urgent Care department at the local hospital – no appointment required. They’d take a look, pop-it back in and send me on my way, easy breezy. So, I got to Urgent Care really early like around 6.00 am, and it was like a ghost town, no one was there. Literally, within 10 mins of arriving, I was checked in, triaged, and in a consulting room waiting for the doctor to take a look. The doctor came in and said let’s get a scan of the hernia to make sure there are no issues. Within five minutes I was wheeled in to get my scan and within thirty minutes, I’d say, I was back in my room waiting for the doctor to give me the results. It felt like the hospital was empty.

So, the doctor comes in, and she tells me that not only will they need to do surgery that day to take care of the hernia, they also suspected that I had Lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes), and an Oncologist had been called already to talk to me about what will happen next. I was in total shock. I could barely breathe because I had on an oxygen mask. I had no family with me, my wife barely knew where I was because it was so early in the morning, and didn’t wake her to let her know I’d be going to hospital. I did not even have my phone charger with me, spare clothes, nothing. And I was devastated.

Later that day, the Oncologist came to see me with all smiles and positivity and said, “You’ve got cancer. But don’t worry, it’s not going to kill you. We’ll treat you, you’ll be fine, and you have nothing to worry about, but I need to do a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and severity of the cancer. But don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”

Fast forward, the treatment plan was grueling and consisted of six rounds of chemo every 21 days, and each round of chemo would last three days. Then I’d be ill for 10 days from the drugs, then repeat. Six months later, I’m cancer-free, and I’ve just returned to work full-time since October 1st, 2020. I have so much catching up to do, for sure.

COVID and My Practice: Whilst I was literally fighting for my life, I was also fighting to keep the law firm going. I had several key staff members also get sick with other serious illnesses, and over the space of my treatments, they were in various stages of recovery and gradually returning to work.

So, between March/April to October 1st, 2020, our law firm has been fighting for all its worth, just like many businesses up and down the country, and I’m sure some clients have been disappointed with how their cases had slowed down, or their caseworker kept changing or was slow. All this is true. I cannot tell you how sorry I am to any client who has been affected by the disruption caused by COVID. Our challenges were not borne from a lack of effort on our part. We have done literally everything to ensure that as many clients’ cases were processed under the circumstances.

Indeed, and this is the irony, more clients have poured into our firm than at any time in the last 17 years of practice. We have been inundated with work at a time when several members of our staff, including myself, had been ill. Between rounds of chemo, I was checking my work, reviewing cases, answering emails, calling into the office, but on a part-time basis. Our law firm is the sole source of income for many of my employees, so everyone has been fighting like crazy to deliver their best work. In 2020, we have set a record in the number of cases won, and in all this time, our win rate/ success rate has not once dropped below 95%. I could not be prouder of my staff for their heroic efforts through this COVID crisis, especially with their boss fighting and beating cancer. I would not have a law practice to come back to but for their loyalty, faithfulness, and courage. My staff are my heroes; they’re the best.

Again, I do want to recognize and apologize to all of our clients who were impacted by any delay to their cases over the last six months or so. Thank you so much for your kindness and well wishes, and thank you for your patience.  For those who felt somewhat let down, I hear you, and we’re going to make everything right, I promise.

Building Back Better: Now that I’m back full-time, I’m not only excited about being alive, but I’m also more motivated than ever to ‘Build Back Better throughout the practice. I cannot snap my fingers and make everything perfect overnight, but since coming back to work I have been working (a bit too much, my wife would say, as she has only just got her husband back) as hard as I can to look at the changes that need to be made in our operations and to address them as quickly as possible.

I’ve already implemented a number of changes that are already beginning to improve things and by the end of this October month, we’ll have more staff and resources than we had pre-COVID.

We’re not in a post-COVID era yet, sadly, so we will continue to work responsibly. Thankfully, none of our staff has contracted the virus except my wife and myself, although it was never officially diagnosed. And all of the staff that got sick have either returned to work or are working part-time until they get their strength up sufficiently to work full-time.

So, moving forward, I could not be more excited. We have such an awesome law firm; we are fighting the good fight. We know first-hand what millions of people are going through. We are right there with you and will support you as you have supported us. Thank you so much.

P.S. It’s nice to be writing newsletters again, and I can’t wait to keep them coming.

Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

US Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
Admitted in New York.
Practice Specializing in US Immigration Law
401 Wilshire Boulevard, 12th Floor,
[Cross Streets 4th and Wilshire]
Santa Monica,
California 90401
Tel: 310 496 4292

Everyday the Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram provides a comprehensive range of US Immigration expertise. We also provide a free consultation for our prospective clients.

Please note that nothing contained in this website or link therefrom shall be regarded as providing legal advice. Please contact us directly for legal advice specific to your situation. Thank you.

Specializing in the E2 Visa, EB1 Green Card, L-1A Visa and O1 Visa and K1 Visa Marriage-Based Immigration. Attorney Chris M. Ingram is dedicated to providing the very best in US Immigration legal representation. Enjoy our website.

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