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Thread: Untreated scoliosis and back injury at work

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    illinois
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    766

    Untreated scoliosis and back injury at work

    Hi to all of my friends,
    I have been following the site for the last six years. In the last year I have posted some, but I have had to remain silent most of the time. I have just finished a six year long workers' comp case. I had untreated scoliosis and then had a major back injury at work. A steel support beam fell and stuck my head and spine. It would be hard on anyone, but the scoliosis made the treatement harder. Some of the details I still cannot share as I had to sign a GAG order.
    I live in Illinois, and states do vary on the way workers'comp works. After I was hurt--it took over a year to approve the surgery{I am sure because it is so costly}. I was sent for 5 different opinions{I live near Chicago} so that was easy to have some major doctors take a look. All 5 said surgery was needed. and it still took a year. It is almost 5 years since the first BIG surgery. And just my luck--6 days after the first surgery--I fractured through the vertabrae above the fusion. And boy did workers comp fight that one. Probably because of the bills from the first surgery. So the spine remained like that for 2 very long painful years. My private insurance then paid for the second surgery and then sought to have the money paid back to them when the case was finished.
    It is what happened--but workers comp pays the bills, but THEY GIVE YOU A VERY HARD TIME. Now you have pain,surgery and mental distress. Now adding to the doctors and hospitals and therapy--you have lawyers and judges all saying their opinions. I have seen my lawyer so many times that he is now well educated on scoliosis. My employer's lawyer fought like a man possesed about things no one in his position can know. The county that the case was filed in has never seen a 16 level fusion and had no idea how to rate that for settlement. THIS LIST GOES ON AND ON!
    You do get paid for awhile--but ask yourself is the money worth the hassle? This is difficult surgery,made harder by people that do not know what it is they are fighting.
    MY choice of surgeon was the doctor that workers'comp sent me to{the first one}. That did not make it any easier and made him force me back to work at 7 weeks after t10-pelvis fusion. I had so many work restrictions that all I could do was stand there,but I had to go. I think it only made me take longer to heal. And you had to go. I was so sick for the first year I really blame that. This surgeon was connected to a scoi specialist{He is the president of the Scoliosis Research Society} and he is the doctor I wanted.

    I would say to everyone working to be careful.This accident was caused by someone's neglect--but work accidents do happen. Young people--I would say make a good choice in your career. I had two very active jobs, that I did return too, but could not do. I am not working now. After returning to work at 7 weeks--18 months to the day I was sent home. I still do not know why. I am told that the employer never will tell me--because it would make them admit fault. So I guess I will never know.

    I also know this treatment is expensive, but all of the time, all of the hassle ,all of the paper work , all of the court dates,doctor dates, lawyer dates isn't always worth the $$$$.

    We all have a story of how we have come together and this is mine. Workers' comp ----very hard to deal with when you have a major spinal issue. Just Saying! People making desicions for you,based on MONEY--not what is right.

    The one thing I have,when I made the choice for surgery--is all 5 doctors said it was the right thing to do. Maybe that made it easier to make the choice.

    The case is mainly over--just medicare issue to finish..Maybe soon?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Yacolt, WA
    Posts
    1,525
    Jackie: what a nightmare! Welcome back to the world of the living!
    Susan
    Adult Onset Degenerative Scoliosis @65, 25* T & 36* L w/ 11.2 cm coronal balance; T kyphosis 90*; Severe disc degen T & L stenosis

    2013: T3- S1 Fusion w/ ALIF L4-S1/XLIF L2-4, PSF T4-S1 in 2 surgeries
    2014: Hernia @ ALIF repaired; Emergency screw removal surgery for Spinal Cord Injury at T4,5 sec to PJK
    2015: Revision Broken Bil T & L rods and no fusion: 2 revision surgeries; hardware P. Acnes infection
    2016: Ant/Lat Lumbar diskectomy w/ 4 cages + BMP + harvested bone + prayer

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    illinois
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    766
    Thanks Susan,

    Some things I forgot---Every doctor I saw--The first words out of his mouth were Who Is Your Lawyer? Not about me or my problem,but about the legal side. The the lawyer's first words--Who is Your Doctor? Never in my wildest nightmares did I know what a Huge Business workers' comp is. As a person--every part is broken into $$$. If you lose a part it is so many $$$. Since you can't lose your spine--it varies on the problem. Then on how much you lost and how much you made at work. One of the lawyers I spoke to{did not hire} knew the next doctor I would be sent to,because if the company fights{AND THEY DID}-it is predictable that they will keep sending you to a different doctor until one says no to the treatment. None of them ever did though. That lawyer also told me that the original workers' comp doctor was willing to take care of me because of the money he would make. I did not hire that lawyer.
    I did use the origanal workers comp doctor because of the specialist within that practice. I had a team of spine specialists{The scoliosis specialist Is DR. Kamal Ibrahim and current president of Scoliosis Research Society} And He is the one I wanted.
    You are not finished after surgery--then you have to go back to these IME'S{Independent Medical Exams} Then they say you are done because you can't get any better. Everyone that has had surgery knows it takes years to get better. They don't give you that long.
    I know some people may abuse the system, but it is very hard on the people that don't. I had a very heavy steel beam fall on me--you can't fake that!!!An accident that was witnessed and documented---but what a fight. It Has been Six Very Long Hard Years. Not all the way done--but closer.Amen!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    3,261
    Makes you wonder what has the world come to. It's not much different here in Australia.

    So very sorry you've had to endure all this. They say what doesn't beat you, makes you stronger. You must be tough as an ox. <smiley face>
    Surgery March 3, 2009 at almost 58, now 63.
    Dr. Askin, Brisbane, Australia
    T4-Pelvis, Posterior only
    Osteotomies and Laminectomies
    Was 68 degrees, now 22 and pain free

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Ames, Iowa
    Posts
    1,250
    Jackie--
    That just sounds so incredibly awful. I can't even begin to envision going back to work at 7 weeks. You have been through so much. I sure hope things are better for you very soon. Janet
    Janet

    61 years old--57 for surgery

    Diagnosed in 1965 at age of 13--no brace
    Thoracic Curve: 96 degrees to 35 degrees
    Lumbar Curve: 63 degrees to 5 degrees
    Surgery with Dr. Lenke in St. Louis--March 30, 2009
    T-2 to Pelvis, and hopefully all posterior procedure.

    All was posterior along with 2 cages and 6 osteotomies.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    570
    What an ordeal, Jackie. Sadly, so often it's all about $ for doctors and employers.
    I am stronger than scoliosis, and won't let it rule my life!
    45 years old - diagnosed at age 7
    A/P surgery on March 5/7, 2013 - UCSF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    illinois
    Posts
    766
    Yes, going back to work at 7 weeks was torture. Even though I did do my job or any job in my place of employment, I had to go. At that time it was winter and I live near Chicago--snow, cold, Ice were all part of that also. I was so cold from having this surgery--I would wear as many clothes as I could fit under the brace. Then put on a uniform and anything I could over the brace. I remember coming home and just laying for hours--I could not even care about eating or doing anything else until I rested.Lost a lot of weight.
    You can ask --why did the doctor say you can return to work--it is workers comp--the doctor writes up the restrictions--and it is up to your place of employment to find you a job or allow you to stay off work--mine did not allow me to be off. And the big kicker was--at 18 months to the day that I was brought back to work--I was sent home with the words--do not return to work until you hear from your lawyer.I never did return to work.
    Also, I am close to medicare and medicare will never pay for my continued care for my spine or neck. Not because it is prexisting but becase it is a workers comp case.I cann't get diability either because it is workers comp. WE{lawyer and company} are still working on that. A fund of money has to be created to pay for these expenses fo the rest of my life.
    Because of the GAG ORDER, I cann't say what I did or the name of the company.
    I stayed off of public record during the settlement phase as everything can be traced. I always{if I was out of my house} had to be aware that I can be monitered and recorded for what I did or said. I was aware at one time of being videoed. If you are doing anything that was against your doctors restrictions--they will use it against you.It is like Big Brother watching you and he was.It was difficult to live through for 6 years.
    The injury did not cause the scoliosis--but the scoliosis made it harder to repair and harder to have it repaired because of the cost. What a Nightmare.I am so glad that we have moved forward on this legal part as it was taking a toll on me and my family.
    Just venting!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    3,261
    Vent all you want. You have good reason and I hope it helps! We are listening (appalled.)
    Surgery March 3, 2009 at almost 58, now 63.
    Dr. Askin, Brisbane, Australia
    T4-Pelvis, Posterior only
    Osteotomies and Laminectomies
    Was 68 degrees, now 22 and pain free

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Grove City, OH
    Posts
    275
    Oh, Jackie . . . Not only were you in pain & trying to work, but you had to keep all of this frustration to yourself! Sending prayers for resolution for your future.
    Peg
    61 yrs old
    75 degree lumbar curve with thoracic kyphosis
    T3 - S1 surgery with Dr. Buchowski in St. Louis, on 10/27/14
    Working on healing in Columbus, Ohio!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    2,755
    I've been hurt at work a couple of times. I never collected a dime. The last time they did pay for a couple of doctor's visits and some PT. My doctor will NOT allow me to go back into that line of work in any capacity. I recently talked with him about it because I had thoughts of returning to school and he just shook his head and said, "No." For all the hassle you've been through, I'm really glad that I didn't try to file a claim against my former employer. It was totally their fault because they were WAY too understaffed and I had to do heavy lifting alone, which was against company policy.

    I'm really sorry for all that you've been through. I had NO IDEA that Medicaid and Medicare could refuse ongoing care because of a workman's comp claim. I would have thought that there would come a time when it would switch over and not be a "for life" deal. What if the company goes out of business? Then they won't be paying into workman's comp. It doesn't make sense to me. Please, don't answer my questions due to your gag order. I'm thinking out loud. I hope it works out for you. There's sometimes NO amount of money that can make things better. I hope you find the support you need here. BTW, I thought Lawrence Lenke was the president of the SRS? Hmmm... I'm sure you had a very good doctor. I can't believe that they made you run around with a broken vertebra for two years!!! That's outrageous! I'd better stop. I'm getting angry for you.

    I wish you all the best.
    Be happy!
    We don't know what tomorrow brings,
    but we are alive today!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    illinois
    Posts
    766
    Thanks for all of the well wishes. It helps to talk to people who understand what this type of surgery means. It has been a very long 6 years. I really can't say what I did, but I really believe that workers comp hassle is never worth it. No amount of money makes it worth needing to wait for everything to get approved. After my second surgery there was even medication that I had to get through a mail order pharmacy that they selected. I knew how to order and allow extra time to get a shipment--but waiting 10 days to get the approval from an adjuster--then waiting 3 more for ups pick up--then it arriving opened and damaged--the pharmacy would not refill it until I sent it back--they had to have me return it regular mail--bottom line was it is impossible to wait over 30 days for medication that I really could go to a pharmacy and pick up. This is the hassle of workers comp!!!
    I know it is hard to believe that medicare will not pick up the bill but they will not if it is a workers comp case that leads into close to medicare age.Basically when all is said and done the company has only 2 choises--fund the money that medicare approves or leave medical open for the rest of my life. This is one of the VERY BIG FIGHTS.
    WORKERS COMP is responsable for your medical from accident and a portion of your wage. No pain and suffering or anything like that. If the company goes broke--another huge problem.
    This case actually went as far as infringing on The American Disability Act and I have filled out papers for the federal government on that.{They contacted me} I did not ever plan to sue or anything like that--but they asked questions and I answered. What they do is what they do.
    As far as Dr Lenke being president of SRS--I went on web site and he is not listed as that. My Dr was from 2012--2013.Someone else is now. Dr Lenke was mentioned as having received an award. Both of these doctors gave a seminar in my area in Oct. I would have loved to have gone. This was during the time that our site was having a problem. I did so want to post about it.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    3,551
    Jackie

    With a gag order, Im not saying nuttin, but glad it all worked out.....

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 58, the new 53...
    Pre surgery curves C12,T70,L70
    ALIF/PLIF T2-Pelvis 01/29/08, 01/31/08 7" pelvic anchors BMP
    Dr Brett Menmuir St Marys Hospital Reno,Nevada

    Bending and twisting pics after full fusion
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    illinois
    Posts
    766
    Now Ed I was so looking forward with what you have to say. You make my day with you comments.
    Here's the latest--I need to see my Dr--we added an anti imflammatory drug about a month ago. I do have a hard time in the colder weather. I hope it is only that, but the upper spine--neck is so sore that the only thing that makes the pain go away is to lay my head down. Also my right leg gets numb when I sit--I just want the Dr to check it. So I called to get an appoinment--my lawyer said that my medicals have remained open--in other words workers comp pays the bill.I am still trying to find out if they will allow the visit. I think they have to, because it is a signed court order,but it doesn't mean that they won't make it difficult.
    Medicare hasn't approved my medicare set aside yet--so workers comp pays--here we go again!!!I have the doctors' office involved now--I should find out next week if they do what they are required to by law or fight it. Always a lot of fun!!!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    El Centro, CA & Baja California, Mexico
    Posts
    193

    Sorry to Hear

    Somehow, I never read this thread before and now that I have it makes me be mad for you and the pain you had to endure. Fortunately, I had never had to endure any government assistance in my life (but getting near that 65 Medicare age) but from what I have observed, the government is OK with sending out supplemental checks as long as you are on a list. (social security, dissability, whatever falls into the norm) but when it comes to claims, they hire those people like 'insurance' companies. Deny Deny Deny until it escalates without regards to the actual person in pain because you are just a piece of paper. Of course, there are the bunch that knows the system well and commit frauds thus making it hard for those who actually is in need. (those guilty should be shot together with a whole bunch of people that should never be let out of jail) Sorry, but I am also venting here.

    Life is hard enough to keep living normally but adding years of pain from scoliosis which for years doctors have told me that scoliosis do not cause pain. But, pain is bad enough without accidents and outside interference. There is also the mental pain that affects in ways that cannot be measure in quantity or in compensation.

    I am so sorry that you had to go thru all of this in this life but hope one day very soon you would put it all behind you with less or no pain and at least with good medical support and assistance.

    gardenia
    Gardenia
    Baja California, Mexico & El Centro, Ca
    pre-surgery 75 and 89 - post ?
    Dr. Bridwell Nov 27, 2012 @Barnes Jewish @62yrs
    T11 to Sacrum Dural leak at L2 & L3 ccmail4g@gmail.com

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    illinois
    Posts
    766
    Thanks for the kind words. It does help to hear from people who truely understand this type of surgery. You should hear the lawyers take on it. They have to rule on the medical part of the case--and have little idea what it takes to go through this. What made them think that I could go back to work at 7 weeks???{I didn't really have to do the work--just had to go} i was still very sick that early after the major surgery.But you have to play the game.
    Now we are back at it--but judge has signed the order--and they have to continue paying the medical bills. Amen!

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