In approximately 2004, I was in a work related accident (due to no fault of my own, I was simply standing in a hallway and a very large developmentally disabled man fell on me causing me to fall to the ground) and sustained nerve damage in my right shoulder as a result. I told the doctors and the insurance company that the pain was in my shoulder and they argued with me and told me that I had pulled muscles in my neck and that it just felt like it was in my shoulder because it is all connected. The physical therapist that I was sent to hurt me more. When I told him that I couldn’t do certain things because of the pain in my right shoulder and arm, he told me that it was because of the muscles in my neck and that I would have to suffer through the pain before I could get better. He reaffirmed what the doctors and insurance agents were saying…that they was nothing wrong with my shoulder. I requested an MRI of my shoulder and was refused. Finally, after months of different procedures, physical therapy (actually only weeks of physical therapy, it was too painful to continue), and doctors visits with no improvement, my insurance agent (worker’s comp), who had always been very nice to me until I saw another one of their doctors who treated me horribly and I reported him. He left me waiting in the waiting room for about 45 minutes, then in a paper gown in an exam room for over an hour. When he finally came in, he began his exam, with him standing behind me. He pressed a few places and asked me what the pain level was. Then after about 30 seconds of nothing, he grabbed me suddenly from behind with both of his hands slapping/squeezing the sides of my stomach which caused me to jump a little, partly out of the pain and partly out of being startled. He then said sarcastically something to the effect of ‘I bet that hurt too, huh?’ He told me he would be back and to get dressed. About 20 minutes later, he returned. He asked me to sit with him at the desk that was in the exam room and then he turned on his tape recorder. He began asking me questions not about my pain, but rather about my lifestyle; such as how hard it must be to be going through a divorce and raising my two children alone and how much easier it would be if I didn’t have to work but could still maintain my income. When I told him that it would certainly be ‘easier’ but that I loved my work and had been doing a great job of managing raising my children, finishing college and working full time for the past several years, he became upset and his tone became more accusatory and irritated. He asked me questions about the types of things I liked to do for entertainment, about my sex life, etc. Some were very inappropriate, but I answered, although I told him that I felt the questions were inappropriate and unrelated to my pain, but I felt that if I didn’t answer it would look like I was trying to hid something. He made a comment, on tape, that he didn’t want to ‘out me’, but that he had to do his job. Immediately after leaving, I called my insurance agent and reported everything that had happened, which she recorded, and asked me to put in writing. I did, but she later said she never received it and because she never received it in writing there was nothing that could be done about it. After I called her and reported the doctor that she had sent me to, she began not being so nice to me. She did, however, order an MRI of my right shoulder, telling me that she was going to rule our my complaints about my shoulder and prove that I simply had pulled muscles in my neck. Well, much to her dismay, the MRI showed nerve damage in my shoulder. At that point, I got an attorney to recoup my loss of earnings from missed work. He advised me that I should also ask for a settlement as well, because it wouldn’t be worth his time and efforts to get a percentage of merely my missed time from work. He told me that I didn’t have to only see their doctors, and that the main purpose of their doctors was to prove that I was ‘faking’ and that there wasn’t anything really wrong with me. He told me that I could see my own doctor, and I did. With the images that my doctor requested from the lab that had done them, he suggested a surgery to fix my shoulder. However, it came with a very large risk. I could lose all function in my right arm. I already had limited function in my right arm (still do) so that was not a risk I was willing to take. He sent me to a good physical therapist which was mostly moist heat, electronic waves from a tens unit, a tens unit to use at home, and a one time cortisone shot, which I never got again because it was so painful that I literally passed out and had to be awakened by smelling salts. He eventually released me to return to work, with limitations and I was awarded my missed income from missed work, medical bills paid and a large settlement from worker’s comp.
About two years later, I started experiencing a great deal of pain all over, primarily in my back, neck, shoulder and arm (which had been a problem since the original accident), hips, knees, ankles and wrists. I tried to chalk it up to my long commute to work, an uncomfortable office chair, the original accident, etc. I continued to work, but I had to take days off often or leave early due to the pain being unbearable. I finally went to see my doctor and he put me on an extended leave from work, and I was able to receive short term disability from work. I tried a couple times to work from home, or go in for half days, but it wasn’t going well as the pain was getting worse with each passing day. I was referred to a specialist who did a few different surgical procedures on me with little to no relief. She then said I would need to see a rheumatologist for further examination. It was proving very difficult to find one in my are who accepted my insurance, and one office manager told me that I could see an pain management doctor to get the same evaluation. Within a few days, I had an appointment with a pain management doctor. For the first time, I felt like I was being treated as a person with a real problem and not just a payment. He ran a battery of tests on me, discovered that I had Epstein-Barr Syndrome/Disease, a severe vitamin d deficiency (he said that if I did not take the high dose of vitamin d every day that he prescribed, I would have osteoporosis within a few years), arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis and fibromyalgia. He set up a treatment plan of medications, physical therapy and bi-weekly visits. It was then that I applied for social security disability because he said that I would likely not be able to return to my field for well over a year and I had already been out for about six months. He later moved further away from my house than I could drive (I tried it twice, but after driving there, being examined and driving home, I was in such severe pain and so exhausted that I was useless for the next couple of days). I then started seeing my current pain management doctor, who was named one of the best doctors in the country, and I am on a similar treatment plan. So you are up to speed…and the blog begins…..