06:01:12 am on
Saturday 20 Jul 2024

Dealing with Back Pain
Matt Seinberg

I had an accident at work in September 2016; that was four months after I had back surgery, the result of a car accident in February 2016. Did that fall aggravate my back? I just had it surgically repaired. Yes, it did. I received treatment for it from my chiropractor, physical medicine doctor and podiatrist.

Advice for the injured.

My first piece of advice is to avoid injury at work. The second piece of advice is, if you are hurt on the job get a good lawyer, right away. You will need a strong advocate that will fight for the care you need.

The dirty little secret of worker’s compensation is that the insurance companies pay for the treatment and then send the patient for what's called an independent medical exam (IME). Well, IME physicians are hardly as independent as you might think. The insurance companies pay those physicians to report the patient is fine and has reached maximum medical benefit from any treatment. The physician I saw examined me for ten minutes and billed twenty minutes. She's an orthopedist, but a hand specialist according to my lawyer.

My question was, how is she fully qualified to judge what's wrong with my back and ankle? To her, I'm just another dollar sign and not a person that actually needs treatment. What some physicians will do for a twenty-minute billing.

I wholeheartedly disagree with how worker’s compensation dealt with my case. My lower back and right ankle still hurt, all these years later, and without further treatment both will only get worse. An ex-ray of my right ankle revealed bone spurs and arthritis; the podiatrist gave me an ankle brace, which I use at work, to reduce the pain. I'm on my feet all day and that brace definitely helps, but it does stretch out my shoes.

There are two more herniated discs in my back that are causing numbness in the two little toes of my right foot. This will never get better, only worse. How many toes does it take to get numb before I have trouble walking?

Judges won’t wonder what-if.

Eventually, I'll need surgery on my ankle and back. Will worker's compensation pay for that? The lawyer said a judge couldn’t look into the future to see if surgery is necessary or warranted.

I'm thinking of reducing my workweek from five days to four days to take the stress off my back and feet. The question is will worker's compensation pick up anything to make up for the lost wages. Right now, that answer is big fat no.

The next step is to gauge the interest of the insurance company in making a settlement of the case. Some money would go towards reduced wages and some for medical costs. I'm sure that those medical costs would be much more than the settlement. I guess that regular health insurance would have to pick up the rest, if that's possible.

Then there is the possibility of my moving in the future. I would certainly like to move to Florida, as I am sick and tired of the New York City winters. The warmer weather might help my aches and pains.

Two issues hold me back, now. The first is my daughter Melissa is finishing her four-year degree and then finding a law school to attend. Because she gets the New York State Excelsior Scholarship, she has to work in New York for four years after graduating; otherwise, it becomes a no interest loan.

The other issue is my ninety-year-old father who is now living with us. When I told him my plan, he asked, "What about me?" My answer was simple. "You either move with us or by that time you're dead." He actually found that funny and morbid at the same time.

Now, it's hurry up and wait.

I can only hope the lawyer can pry some sort of settlement from the insurance company and I can be done with this mess. Insurance bureaucracies move slower than molasses. I hate bureaucracy almost as much as I hate kale.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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