Los Angeles RSI Support Group
Comments to Sorehand Posted by TrinaWhile Sorehand often focuses on the medical aspects of RSI, it is important to remember that we all face medical complications which are a direct result of being run through a wood chipper by the WC system, hostile insurance carriers, and circumstantial problems directly stemming from these abuses (stress, financial problems, destabilizing of relationships (friends and family), sexual problems, increased pain, deteriorating conditions, etc.). Being overwhelmed in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds also affects the healing process, once the struggle to *get* care has been successful.
reprinted with permission of the author
Learning how to be one's own best advocate (learning the questions to ask, keeping records as evidence, etc.) is another tool in working towards health. It is *as important* for all of us to share this information as that which is medical/physiological. I would ask that other Sorehanders add to my suggestions anything they have learned which is helpful in this area. And to keep passing it on to other, newer Sorehanders, as a way to minimize, as much as possible, anyone having to learn these things the hard way.
The best of Sorehand is the generosity of spirit and information--let us be thorough.
Gimp Grrrl Guide
Bureaucratic Swampland Tours
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 1996
Subject: Re: Workers' Comp Hell
Get a lawyer. RSI is too complicated to deal w/in WC alone. A "few" PT appts. aren't enough. But you need to document that. Do some research; have your MD do some research.
Keep careful--VERY careful records--of all conversations, condition, pain related to work, content of MD visits (esp. w/insurance carrier MD) etc. What state are you in? This makes a lot of difference.
Consider getting Job Damaged People: Surviving and Changing the Workers' Compensation System. It deals w/WC on a national basis.
Contact your nearest COSH (Committee on Occupational Safety and Health) and ask for referral to an injured worker group near you for info and support. --Trina
Date: Fri, 1 Nov 1996
Subject: Surviving Workers Comp hell
On Tue, 29 Oct 1996, Linda wrote:
> Thank you for this helpful information. I have called a few lawyers who
> seem to think my claim isn't big enough to justify their attention.
> I have tendinitis and possibly carpal tunnel, but the EMG evidently did
> not show nerve damage.
The idea is to get medical treatment so that your condition does not deteriorate to the point where it *does* show up on an emg. DAMAGE IS DAMAGE IS DAMAGE. Keep looking for a lawyer. I know it's discouraging to call and be turned down repeatedly, but keep trying. post to the list your area and ask if anyone knows a good lawyer. Contact your local COSH group (they often have lists of WC lawyers). Take a deep breath and keep calling till you find one.
> It's hard to keep such good records when you feel demoralized,
> but clearly I need to do that.
Good records are your best defense. Those who are your adversaries are attempting to demoralize you--this makes you less able to fight back. If you can be made to feel powerless and without control over your circumstances, half their battle is won through your sense of despair. Many injured workers become very isolated and trying to traverse WC Hell w/o knowing where to turn can make the process even more difficult This process is *very* destructive, try not to assist them in this process.
Join or form a support group so that you have resources, practical and emotional, upon which you may draw when necessary. Try to do a little each day (maybe call one lawyer a day, if that's all you can handle). Sorehand is also your support group.
Insurance carriers rely on people NOT doing this. Keep a running list of everything. Calls made, to whom, answers. Jot down enough that you remember what occurred. KEEP ENVELOPES. They have the postmark; note under the postmark the date a letter or check arrived (sometimes postmarks are moved back, even though this is illegal). This is especially important when carriers stop checks (you have a record to take to hearings regarding this improper practice).
I reduce bulk in my files by just keeping the face of the envelope (w/the postmark/address, etc.) and I staple it to the correspondence or check stub.
Think of this process as your new full time job (because it is). Your assignment is to get the medical care you need to get well. This means doing research, evaluating health care practitioners, understanding your medical and legal rights and maintaining proper records of all transactions.
Keep records of the NAME (and, if necessary, title) of everyone to whom you speak. Begin all conversations by giving your name and asking theirs (ask them to SPELL IT, even if it's "Smith" which might be spelled "Smythe" for all you know. Get a first AND last name; there could be seven people named "Mary" at Wekillem Insurance, Unltd. This way if a conflict develops, you *already* have the person's name.
Try to minimize the stress to which you subject yourself by trying to reason w/people whose job it is to sideline you. Politely state, "I understand you are unable to help me. What is your supervisor's name, and please transfer me to him/her". Do this BEFORE you have to be peeled off the ceiling. If somebody makes you unhappy, put your complaint IN WRITING, mail it to the person, and to their supervisor and to any governing board which is relevant (State Insurance Commission, Medical Complaint Boards, etc.) It is ONLY through documenting abuses that change can begin to occur.
Get and read copies of all medical records and reports. If you dispute the contents (such as in a report by an insurance company "purchased opinion"), put it in writing. Keep a log of any med appts. and what occurred (what part of you was examined, "I said, he said...)
NEVER let any piece of paper out of your hands without having a copy of it. It will end up being the one piece of paper you need and which will turn out to be irreplaceable.
Take a break. Rest between phone calls. Drink a glass of water. Lie down, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Then start again.
How well you survive this situation is going to depend on your ability to hang on as long as it takes. The carrier is relying on the fact that they have a lawyer (well-paid), all the time in the world, all the money in the world and they are not in pain. I was recently told of an injured worker who is dying whose insurance carrier rep told him, "We don't have to pay you, you're dying..." They're hoping he'll actually die before they have to pay any bills. RSIers, on the other, aren't dying. We can live and remind them that we're not dead yet. :&
Remember, your new job is making sure you survive, get better and remain vaguely sane...
In case you need a bit of inspiration, here's some from Rousseau (in a letter to a friend whose name I don't recall at present):
"I go on living simply to annoy those who are required to pay my annuity." --Trina
I cannot tell you how strongly I feel about this issue of information getting to the people who need it. The isolation makes us all sitting ducks and unaware that others are in the same boat. Our only protection is each other and the mutual support we provide. Without that support we are all endangered. And since everybody has different tools we need to share them so everybody has added coping mechanisms and ways to fight back effectively.
And it's easy to forget in all the Sorehand talk of the medical aspects, just how much the bureaucratic aspects damage and destroy, and how they affect our ability to get well. --Trina
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Created 2 November 1996
Site updated 10 October 2003