Friday, February 27, 2015

Health Care, insurance workers comp

I have had health issues through the passage of my 50 plus years on this planet.

Many years ago, I hurt my back, and went to a health care provider.  I was examined briefly and diagnosed with strained back muscles, and told that I could work 4 hours per day despite my protestations.

So I worked a couple of four hour shifts-I will add here that my injury was not work related-

After three hours I was barely able to stand, and my boss/owner took one look at me, asked what the doctor said, and told me to get myself down to the ER because something was not right.

Luckily for me, the ER doc was sympathetic and suggested a MRI in a few days from a travelling unit that would be coming to the ER.

So I signed up , and lo and behold I had not one but TWO herniated discs in my spine.

Well, I was pretty mad at the first doc, and of course it became a situation where the docs all scrambled to cover him because they are all terrified of malpractice suits...although I was just venting and not planning on legal recourse.

I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon, and he examined me with a series of pinpricks, asking me if it hurt here, or there? and in my ignorance, I agreed hesistantly at one point and the doctor announced I was lying and not a candidate for surgery and basically tossed me out of his office.

I was officially diagnosed with degenerative disc disease at that point.

So I spent a couple of miserable years raising toddlers, with a cranky back, babying the kids as well as myself, learning to get by on next to nothing.

Learning  to sleep with a pillow between my knees, rolling a tennis ball while lying flat on the floor on my butt cheek to lessen the excrutiating pain of sciatica.

I also fell down a flight of stairs with the Firebird in my arms and fractured my sacrum during this time...

All the medical community fought me-I had to go to physical therapy which left me in tears on the floor of my living room, one of the few times I had to resort to prescription painkillers, and I had to get off the floor and drive a forty mile trip to pick the script up from the doctor and then have it filled at the pharmacy.

I credit the tennis ball deep tissue massage-which I picked up off the internet-with finally curing the last of my back issues

Fast forward another decade to my current employment.

About ten employees not counting the owners including myself.  The last month all the building equipment chores have fallen on my shoulders, and pain started to occur in my elbow.  Still I was pressured through the grapevine of command to achieve a certain goal, and being a proud person, I kept wailing away at the project.

My arm started falling asleep at night, waking me throughout the night, pins and needles, being so bad in the morning I could't move my hand.

The owner was due back in a few days, and I bent to task.  Then he reappeared and decided to  convert the project into an assembly line, and asked me to pre drill 500 holes by hand with a cordless drill.

I drilled 20 holes, put down the drill, gathered my things, and told him I could not possibly do that because my entire arm was seized up.  He stopped me, and said I could work on another part of the project, which involved more drilling an screwing, and then left.  My pride injured, I applied myself to the task for the remainder of the shift and went home in agony.

The following day I called in and went to the local health care center, where I was seen by a new staff member, not a doctor, not sure what his title was because he was so new his picture was not up in the waiting room.

I explained to the receptionist, and then the nurse, my symptoms.  The nurse initially found the pulse in the affected arm was 10 beats per minute slower than my other arm, then convinced herself they were the same, although it came it at 62, when my normal resting heart rate is 80.

I was subjected to a barrage of questions about smoking and quitting smoking options, and I note that although I reported smoking less than a pack a day, in my discharge papers it said I was a heavy smoker.

Then the not-a-doctor came in, and turned out to be touch phobic.  I explained I had pain radiating from my shoulder to my hand, loss of strength and feeling in that hand.  He performed a few cursory taps checking for carpal tunnel, which I subconsicously wondered if that was the issue, but the pain radiated down the center of my forearm.

He asked a couple more questions, I pointed to the tip of my elbow as being particulary painful, and then he declared tennis elbow, prescribed the RICE treatment-rest, ice, compression, elevation.

I asked if I should take off work, and he said, well, most people have to work, wear an elbow support, ice afterwards, anti-inflammatories before.

I went home and started doing some internet research.  Yes, I had tennis elbow.   But the most painful point was indicative of golfer's elbow, another tendon.  The pins and needles, loss of feeling and strength, pain in the shoulder?  Radial nerve tunnel syndrome-a potentially crippling condition.

I knew there was no way I could hold a drill another day, so I called in.  I took the following week off at my own expense. I rested.  After a week my arm was no longer falling asleep at night.

Another half a week and I decided to return for "light" duty. I worked yesterday merely weighing out 14 pounds of chamomile blossoms into half ounce portions and bottling them.

Last night my arm kept me up half the night.  My forearm was burning and swollen.

I called in again today.

I am on agricultural pay, so I am not covered by worker's comp.  Even if I was, the doc said to go back to work, and if I was not better in 2 weeks to have physical therapy.  After that, surgery is the only option, scraping the involved tendons with limited success.

Well, if you are still with me, here's the beef:

Instead of paying me to take three weeks off, and stopping these small businesses from abusing their help as slave labor, the system decides that I should continue working, suffer, pay for physical therapy, and then expensive tendon surgery=more than the job would pay me in three years-all in the name of productivity.

That is one messed up system.  Instead of paying me to rest, an insurance company would pay the therapist, the doctors, the surgeons....(well their pay is taxable income, after all) follow the money baby.

Monday, February 23, 2015