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disabled body, disabled life; where to turn, so many questions
I live in NJ and was injured at work last summer (almost a year ago). It has not only injured my body, but my entire life; as I'm sure it has with most of us on here. Dealing with not only the pain from the injuries, but the emotional, social and financial ramifications as a result are completely overwhelming, and turn in to a vicious cycle as each one so much effects the others.

As stated, this happened just about a year ago, and I've been hanging on in all of these aspects as much as possible, but at this point it has really hit the fan and I'm not sure where to turn. I guess most of my questions right now are about continued treatment and the financial aspect, as my treatment as well as payments ended in November, and I've been "stuck" in trying to get continued benefits ever since. But, I guess some (or a year's worth (sorry)) background information is required first...

I fell off a ladder at work last summer, and injured my back. Workers compensation sent me to an orthopedist who said I had sprained my thoracic and lumbar regions. I received treatment, and went to physical therapy. My lumbar region healed pretty nicely (it only occasionally bothers me (but when it does, does it ever!)) after about 4 weeks of physical therapy, however my thoracic region never healed. The orthopedist stopped my physical therapy in October, as he didn't think it was helping, and I can't say that I disagreed. When I was first diagnosed with the sprains, he had told me there was an approximate 4-12 healing time, and when time and physical therapy didn't help, I requested an MRI multiple times (I had x-rays, but never and MRI), and wanted a diagnosis because I was unsure if I had been given a proper one. He kept saying there was no reason to do an MRI because there is no treatment (shots, surgeries, etc.) for that region (which I have since been told by other doctors this is untrue to begin with) so it didn't really matter anyway. He sent me for a functional capacity evaluation, which determined that I was permanently disabled; no prolonged walking, no prolonged standing, no climbing ladders/stairs, lifting over shoulder level, no lifting more than 10 pounds; sedentary work only. He gave me this news in the follow-up visit with him about a week after the test, at which point he also MMI'd me. Well, the limitations placed are pretty much my job description, and my employer was unwilling to modify a position for me for even a few hours a week (there were a few things I could have done a few hours a week that did not involve any of my limitations if the pain was managed (although I didn't realize getting pain management in this state when it starts as workers comp is impossible). Because he MMI'd me, treatment ended, as well as financial payments.

I had just turned 30 during the treatment, and all of my passions and everything I love to do has some physical involvement, and I was and still am unwilling to accept this diagnosis. First of all, I'm not sure I was properly diagnosed, and secondly, there has to be something to help manage the pain so I can function not only physically, but mentally as well (who can think straight when there in this much pain?)

It was now the first week of November, and I started trying to get a second opinion and/or pain management, and after being told there was no job for me with my limitations, tried to get temporary disability. When the workers compensation insurance adjuster finally got back to me several weeks later (he never returned my calls, and I was constantly calling to try to get information) he told me nothing involving a second opinion would happen until after the New Year. As far as the temporary disability goes, my employer (that also never returned phone calls or emails) was uncooperative with getting the form back to me. I finally submitted anyway, stating they were uncooperative, and let the state deal with them. They continued to be uncooperative (even with the state!) until early January. Finally, I got a disability check for one work week. I waited for another, that never came. I was then told that for one or the other or both of the following reasons I do not qualify for temporary disability: 1) I am not currently under a doctor's care 2) the doctor put me back to work light duty.

During this time, I had attempted to see several doctors for continuing care, only to find out that because it originated as a workers comp case, no doctor wants to touch it (scared of lawsuit maybe?) I recently tried again, thinking that now, maybe it would be considered an old injury, only to be denied treatment again. The only place that will treat me is the emergency room, to which I have made several trips.

In February, I was sent to two "need for treatment" doctors; one for my side, one for theirs, and I've continued to hold on to the hope that "any day now " treatment and/or benefits would come, but it still has not. In April the results of these two visits came back; their doctor saying no treatment needed, mine saying that she thought it was my neck and that an MRI of cervical and thoracic regions were needed. Workers Compensation Insurance continued to be uncooperative, but I was finally able to get an MRI for my cervical spine through my lawyer (who explained that we had to start there because even though my thoracic region bothers me more than my neck, thoracic is considered more degenerative than caused by injury). MRI results reveal I have multiple herniated discs in my neck, and we've been fighting to get benefits ever since. A motion was filed, and the judge ordered I be sent to another "need for treatment" doctor, this time someone neutral. I went, and he stated he thought I would benefit from injections, but also that I am able to work (which I just found out today), and there was another motion this morning where this information was given, and it was determined that I need to go see another "neutral" need for treatment doctor to determine eligibility, and this one will be the one to treat me (so not really neutral doctor, but a worker's comp doctor) should he determine I would benefit from it.

At this point, other than my taxes, and the one disability payment I have had no money come in since November. What little savings I had are long gone, credit cards maxed, credit in the toilet, and am now facing eviction. Disability tells me to go to unemployment, unemployment tells me to go to disability (although I am not working, I have not been terminated, and still technically an employee), state assistance funds are presently frozen, charities have already reached their quota for the year...

I want to work, I need to work, and would if I was able, not only because of my workaholic nature, and mental well-being, but also because I desperately need to dig myself out of this financial hole. And although I live with constant pain, there are some times where I get a few hours where the pain is better than other times, and I feel I would be able. But, there are also a lot of times (especially when there is too much humidity or rain, or when it is too cold) that I can't get out of bed because the pain is unbearable. And who can think straight and function properly when they are in agony like that? There is just no consistancy, and how can one get and maintain a job like this?

Why are they being so difficult? Why can't they just give the pain management so I can return to being and feeling like a human being? What happens if this new doctor denies that treatment is needed? Can they really actually deny me having my MRI results?

Where does one in these situations turn for help? No one seems to have an answer. Is there really a hole this big in the system? I don't think my case is that (if at all) unusual. Can anyone speak from similar experience, or have any other ideas/suggestions or stories, on any aspects?

Again, sorry for ranting and the long (sob) story, but I really don't know what is pertinent information and what is not. Please, any and all advice and information is greatly appreciated!

First I want to welcome you to the forum, as i you will find some great info and support. I am sorry to hear of the hand your delt, some have an easy path and thier are some like you that have the hard way... Are you married, have kids...? You might be able to get free health care through the state..
have you spoken to a professional rehabilitation counselor? they can do occupational testing and counseling and make some employment suggestions.
don't pre-judge your situation or your condition and rule out jobs you haven't even considered.
explore every avenue and opportunity to find work: part-time, seasonal, work from home, etc. do not rule anything out.

don't describe yourself by what you can't do. define your new self by what you can accomplish; by your new goals and what you can overcome.
but you need professional help and guidance to show the way.
Reminder :
........Each state has their own comp system; POST YOUR STATE to get accurate information. Use the search feature to find information from similar questions.
Shy I have been caught in the middle where I could not get proper WC payments and did not qualify for anything else. I tore my L Rotator Cuff. It was an L shaped tear at 3.5". Got court ordered MRI after 8 months and surgery after 10 months. My R shoulder started to swell and hurt due to overuse and surgical failure L shoulder after 1 year following surgery. My health became worse and I was no longer eligible for any 'safe' surgery. My lawyers are one peg below idiots. I got 2 notices that they were going to shut off my heat and lights and 2 notices for repo on my car. Nine useless court dates and 3 IME visits. My injury was in 2005, Seven years ago. I still have to fight for p/t to keep the muscles from freezing up. Finally in 2009 the State picked up my case and I recieved SSD. I lost about 5,000. just in late charges. Finally I took action; Everyday I called my lawyer, Worker's Comp, & Sedgwick in that order. I filed papers for SSD, SSI, Food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid and unemployment. Two years after surgery failed I made such a fuss, SSD took notice and declared me totally disabled. I now get a small monthly check and Medicare, not a major win, but I have heat and lights, no car. What ever you do, don't give up. No one likes to put up with a pest, and I was good at it. Sorry I could not give better advice. Bernie
L shoulder torn 3.5" R shoulder damaged. Heart damage, carpal tunnel (L&R) cataplexy/narcolepsy, arthritis, hypoglycemic. +. Bernie
(06-21-2012, 01:37 AM)1171 Wrote: have you spoken to a professional rehabilitation counselor? they can do occupational testing and counseling and make some employment suggestions.
don't pre-judge your situation or your condition and rule out jobs you haven't even considered.
explore every avenue and opportunity to find work: part-time, seasonal, work from home, etc. do not rule anything out.

don't describe yourself by what you can't do. define your new self by what you can accomplish; by your new goals and what you can overcome.
but you need professional help and guidance to show the way.

I understand your desire to want to work and the frustration of a body that won't cooperate either thru pain or limitations.

Baby steps, time to slow down, re-evaluate the situation, make a list of what needs to be done. First thing is getting into like 1171 said, a counselor to see what type of work you are capable of doing. Find a free clinic that offers counseling for your psyque, to help you deal with the pain and anger.
When I was injured I went thru alot of anger and it took me a long, long time to get over it. Unfortunately we all go thru it but it's harder if you're doing it alone.

Ask your lawyer about applying for SSDI, not something most people want to hear when they're young like you are. But it's something to consider, and if it's approved it's doesn't mean that you're stuck on SSDI forever. There are programs thru vocational rehab to help you find a job or even re-train you to do something else. VR is paying for my oldest son to go to college.

Sorry we had to meet this way, welcome to the forum. You'll find alot of positive answers here.


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