Ray of Sunshine

No updates this past week because there hasn’t really been that much worth talking about. I did go to my first appointment with the WC doctor at the new facilities. About a month ago they moved to the brand new FMC-connected health care center / emergency room building, from the older medical center directly next door. It’s quite the upgrade. Big open waiting room areas with tall ceilings and tall windows, many more rooms to see patients, and even a few new doctors on the payroll.

But, especially right now, anything revolving around my workers comp case kinda has me anxious – so I did the typical thing the night before, where I couldn’t fall asleep at a reasonable hour and then I also woke up way too early. πŸ˜’ The appointment went fine… they always do… but it also involved going over some things about the rebuttal report that he’s going to be writing for the upcoming IC hearing – and to say that I’m tired of thinking about, talking about, and working on that topic… that would be an understatement.

After not getting enough sleep that night, it managed to shift my schedule to where I’m falling asleep around 8p each night, and then waking up around 3a… while also getting interrupted throughout the night by shitty, stress-themed dreams. (Of which I can’t even usually remember the details.)Β πŸ˜• I’m hoping I can shake things up this weekend and get out of thatΒ rut. Several people I know haven’t been feeling good, a couple friends got some crappy news that they didn’t need, my knee and shoulder are still meh… it’s just been one of those weeks for a bunch of us. 😟 Crossing fingers that next week will bring some positive change.

So, yeah… πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ that’s about it. I mean, there’s been positive things this past week too… got a new mailbox (that I’ve yet to try and install), the little ring of grass around the light post is actually growing, I got the trash cleaned out of my car, completed some random light chores around the house, etc. But yeah, like I said, not stuff that’s really worth blogging about. (I know… when have I ever let that stop me… heh) 😏

World Mental Health Day

(Just got done writing this one. Heh… sorry, it turned out way longer than I anticipated, but here we go…)

Any time you get on Twitter and scroll through your feed, you see any number of people posting something because it’s a “National (whatever) Day” of some sort. Usually it’s not… but it gives folks a good excuse to post cute pictures of their cat, dog, kid, or whatever – but after seeing several posts and doing a quick google, it turns out today really is World Mental Health Day.

It’s meant to raise awareness, show support for folks getting or needing mental health care, and to also reduce the stigma that’s sometimes involved. Often involved, actually. πŸ˜’ For example, a while back at one of my primary care doctor appointments I was discussing some of the things in my life that were causing me anxiety. My disability, pain, the (then) newly discovered cancer, Mom being sick and now having passed, other close friends dying from cancer, dealing with workers comp, etc… 😟 like I told her – stuff that would probably cause anyone to feel stressed. I was just telling her so she’d have the full story, but she said she could refer me to a counselor if I wanted to talk to someone about it. πŸ‘©πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Seemed like a good idea to me. Sometimes just being able to let out your stress or anxiety to someone that’s not involved in your life in any way… it can just take a little bit of the weight off. I saw her like once a month for a few months, and she said she could refer me to their in-house doctor to see if there was any medication that might be able to help. I wasn’t really interested, since I was feeling an appropriate amount of “bleh” in regards to the stuff that was causing it… but I went ahead and took her suggestion.

I now see that doctor about once every six or eight weeks, and I’ve actually got an appointment with him tomorrow where I’ll need to make a decision. πŸ€” Because, despite this feeling like a normal series of doctor visits – just as if I was dealing with a physical health condition – the fact that this doctor gives me medication to help with my anxiety is now being used against me. 😠 And being used against me by the last person that I would expect to further the stigma surrounding mental health care… another doctor. ☹️

And when I say “mental health care” … I don’t even take any type of super serious medication, and I haven’t been diagnosed with any extreme disorders. Until this hiccup happened, I looked at this doctor and my treatment there as “Yeah, I guess it makes me feel a little better maybe… or at least I know it’s not making me feel worse… so I guess I’ll continue going.” Like, in my mind, it was barely a thing, but I continued going since it was now part of my current medical routine.

But when I had to go to the independent medical evaluation for the workers comp system (a week or so before getting that second radioactive iodine dose and scan for my cancer followup) one of the things discussed with that doctor was what medical treatment I was currently getting, and from who. (Regardless if it was related to my WC injury or not, to get a complete picture…) So of course I talked about the cancer doctor and treatment, my WC doctor and treatment, and then my PCP doctor and referral regarding the mental health care.

Now, these exams, they’re initiated by my former employer’s insurer, so of course they’re rarely going to be helpful to my cause. So I expected him to say certain things, but I never expected that being treated by a doctor for occasional anxiety would essentially be “weaponized” and used against me the way that it is. 😟😞 Because this doctor took the names of the two meds I’m prescribed, and picked some of the absolute worst possible reasons that I may be taking them. You know how almost every medication has one “thing” it is known for treating, but then it can also be used for treating a half dozen or more other things?

You could even do this test on yourself. Just grab whatever meds you take, get on WebMD, pick out the most extreme, “worst case scenario” possible uses for each medication, and see how close that sounds – compared to what you’re actually taking them for. 🧐 That’s what this doctor did to me. Taking what is run-of-the-mill, minor anxiety treatment to me, and twisting it into all sorts of implied, speculative, “concerning” mental conditions that could be so severe that they even affect how I interpret / talk about my pain and disability. πŸ˜§πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜  Reading those things in his report was honestly shocking. πŸ₯Ί

The funny thing is, for most people… just the pain that I deal with each day, and the sheer amount of things that I can no longer do due to the disability in my left shoulder and arm… just those things alone are enough reason that a person might want to include anxiety treatment in their normal medical routine. And I was doing it mostly because another doctor suggested it, and it sounded like a “might as well” thing, rather than me desperately needingΒ it or seeking it out. And now it has bitten me in the ass. πŸ™„πŸ˜’

Well, maybe it has bitten me in the ass. (Maybe the commission will see right through it, as they should.) I won’t know how his report will affect my worker comp case until the hearing is scheduled and all of the doctors’ information (from both sides) is reviewed. But now I’m stuck, wondering if tomorrow I should let this doctor know that I no longer need his services. πŸ˜ŸπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ He probably helps me a little bit, but it’s certainly something that I could do away with if it’s going to damage the treatment that I get for my work injury. It’s obviously more important (and logical) for me to want to keep the treatment that keeps my pain to a minimum, which also helps keep my stress and anxiety to a minimum.

Yeah, so anyway, it’s a bit of a clusterfuck… and, unfortunately, anyone that reads my story here… anyone that may have been considering seeing a counselor or psychiatrist for the first time… they’ve now got something to add to their mental “nope” list when it comes to the pros and cons of seeking any type of mental health treatment. πŸ˜’ I don’t take it personally, what the “independent” doctor wrote. I understand that his job is to come up with all of the “worst case scenario” stuff that he can, since my doctors will obviously be talking positively about all of the ways that my current treatment is as effective as the WC situation will allow.

I guess I look at those types of doctors the same way that you might look at public attorneys who are appointed to defend obvious criminals in court. They still have to give that defense their maximum effort, even if it goes against what many people would consider to be “right.” That doctor has chosen that job for reasons only he would know… so I can only hope that sometimes he stops to think about the effect that his actions have on us folks who rely on our WC treatment to keep our pain and lives at least tolerable. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜Ÿ

Happy World Mental Health Day 2019. πŸ˜’πŸŽ‰

You Never Get Used To It

(Oh yeah… this is quite a rambling one.Β  Strap in…)

While I was off of my thyroid meds, losing energy with each day that passed, preparing to have my second cancer scan done, as you may remember – I still had to drive over an hour up to NW Columbus, to go to the “Independent Medical Evaluation” initiated at the request of my former employer’s WC insurer. πŸ˜’πŸ€’ For those who haven’t been through it, it’s essentially one of the methods that can be used to try to get medication or treatments disallowed from a claim, based off of a report from a doctor (like in this instance) who has seen you as little as one single time. 🀨 That almost always sets up an Industrial Commission hearing, where (in my case) that report will be compared against the records of my own doctor, who has been treating me consistently for this work injury and disability for well over a decade. 😯

Of course my thoughts were more focused on the upcoming cancer scan at that point, so I went up, had my exam, went back home, and then mostly forgot about it while I dealt with my other medical concerns. But upon collecting my mail from the box a couple of days ago – I saw that enough time had passed for that doctor to have generated his report, which is easily 30-40 pages (if not more), and have copies sent to me, my attorneys, and my own doctor. I waited a few days to open it, because I knew there would be nothing good about it, nor would there be anything that I could do about that fact. 😟 It might as well have been labeled “Envelope Full of Frustration” but I finally made myself open and read it all yesterday.

I’m going to sugar-coat the shit out of this as I continue. πŸ™„πŸ˜ For my second pass through this thick report, I grabbed a yellow highlighter and began to mark and number the areas where more info was needed. 🧐 Whether it was adding context, pointing out inconsistencies, noting conflicting statements within the same report, or bringing attention to things that were implied, inferred, or assumption… I ended up with 48 different sections that required a response. And, unfortunately, there were several things that were simply false. Absolutely false. But still written in this report as if it were fact. 😠 I’m not saying that this doctor just pulled some things straight out of his ass, but it’s a shame how many “inaccuracies” were made by someone that shouldΒ have the presumption of being knowledgeable and accurate, especially given the duty that he’s performing and the way it could affect the future of anyone that he evaluates.

So now my copy of that doctor’s report has 48 highlighted areas, to go along with a numbered “rebuttal report” that I created to address each of those problem areas. So when I give it to my attorneys, they’ll be able to read my comments right along with the numbered and highlighted areas on the original report. πŸ€“ And despite having another doctor appointment at 11am this morning, I was up until after 2am last night… because correcting or clarifying (what I believe to be) inaccurate things in that report is really the only thing that I can do right now when it comes to “defending myself” or possibly helping my attorneys with their argument points. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜ž But yeah, once I started, the areas that needed my attention just kept coming, and I wasn’t going to stop and go to sleep until I had addressed everything that I felt needed it.

Of course my doctor will write a rebuttal report… something that he’s done many times before, to the point where he’s often repeating himself – because the facts are the facts, and they don’t change over time. But when there’s a hearing, it’s just expected that the doctor of record will submit a report, so he’s unfortunately stuck in this situation just like I am. πŸ˜• Thankfully, my doctor is awesome. And like me, he’s not a fan of having his words twisted, his knowledge and methods belittled… and he’s definitely not a fan of any claims, implications, or “facts” that seem to be based on little-to-no actual evidence. So not only will he write a truthful and accurate rebuttal based on all of the medical evidence, but it also serves as a way for him to “defend” himself – which is the same feeling that I have, and why I wrote my index of rebuttal points. 🀨

I have a ton of other things that I would like to say about the doctor’s report, but it’s in my best interest to just stop at this point. I’ve covered the basics, and you’re more than welcome to imagine the non-sugar-coated version… but even if you did that, there’d still be some things that would legitimately shock you. So now I can only hope that my rebuttal points will be helpful and useful to whichever attorney ends up representing me at the actual hearing. πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€πŸ’ΌπŸ‘©πŸ»β€πŸ’ΌπŸ—’οΈπŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš–οΈΒ (And I’ve always felt the “commission” folks do seem to care as well.)

But the law firm that represents me is great, and we’ve (knock on wood) got a great track record from the beginning through today… so I know that they’ll have already picked apart many of the same things that I’m bringing attention to, but there still might be something that I say here or there that will contribute to the arguments that they use on the day of the hearing. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ And at the very least, having more information “straight from the horse’s mouth” will be beneficial in general, since we usually only have about a half hour to sit and quickly discuss the case before the hearing starts.

It would be hard for anyone to find the words to accurately express the feeling and level of frustration that comes along with this situation. πŸ™‡πŸ»β€β™€οΈ To have decisions being made by other people, about things that will dramatically affect your future, knowing that “the truth” is the only weapon that you have… it’s such a helpless feeling, especially when you’re already feeling pretty damn helpless most of the time, due to the disability and pain that this whole thing is about in the first place. 😒 So other than the info I’ll be giving my attorneys, it comes down to sitting, waiting, and hoping… and there’s nothing relaxing or reassuring about that. 😞

Any good luck or positive juju that you want to mentally send my way is greatly appreciated. πŸ€žπŸ»πŸ™‚πŸ™πŸ»

Roll With The Changes

So I tried the Impossible Whopper on my way home from my workers comp doctor appointment today. It’s strange… I don’t know exactly what to say about it. πŸ€” It was different than a normal Whopper, which you’d assume, but not in a way that made it any worse or any better than the traditional kind. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I suppose the only thing that I’d have even noticed, if someone had just brought it to me and let me think it was a regular Whopper, was that it was a little dry / less greasy.

But by the time the cheese, lettuce, mayo, ketchup, etc is added – it’s honestly hard to notice any difference. And if it is legitimately more healthy (or at least less un-healthy)… something which I never bothered to Google… then yeah, I’d probably always order it over the “normal meat” Whopper. I think White Castle has the same kind of “fake meat” in a version of their sliders, so I might have to give those a try sometime as well. I’ve got no problem reducing my meat consumption as long as it tastes basically the same and isn’t detrimental to my health. πŸ„πŸ€ πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

As for my appointment today, again I suppose that I just took for granted that it wouldn’t be much different than any of my other visits with the workers comp doctor. But since it was with his PA (also a “real” doctor, of course) there was a set of “fresh eyes” on all my info. πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ”Ž He actually did that because the first time I saw him, many months ago, when I was originally going to be moved mostly to his schedule, I wrote a summary letter for the past decade and said I’d appreciate hearing if anything jumped out at him which may not have been something that me and my original doctor had been addressing.

Be careful what you ask for, though… 😏 It’s nothing bad bad, but having new xrays and scans of the area from fairly recently – he took a good long look at them in comparison to the ones from before / recently after my original surgery, as well as whatever few that have been done between then and now. πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ’» It’s nothing that I’ll have to address any time soon, but as always expected… after over a decade of three of my vertebrae being fused, the one above it is just showing signs of eventually needing attention as well. πŸ˜• Nothing horrible, nothing urgent… and since it’s something that I was already aware of as an eventual and likely possibility, having him remark about it honestly just rattled me because it hasn’t been one of the things on my mindΒ lately… not because it’s an “Oh no, a new surprise thing” thing.

But I like this doctor… I mean, time will tell if I like him as much as Dr Walter… but he talked with me a long time today, despite knowing that I’m still somewhat radioactive, and in detail that let me know he’s aware (or at least assumes) that I’m able to understand more than the average patient. πŸ€“Β I think he’s even older than Dr Walter, so I’m not sure why he’s got a PA position there. It could be he does his “real” doctor-in’ on all the other days when he’s not at this particular office. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ But yeah, it’s fine… and if anything, I still think the “fresh eyes” are good… especially since he might end up having to write some reports that explain how my original work injury / surgery is what has caused this newer potential issue – because you can bet your ass that I’m going to do everything that I can to get it included into my current claim for wheneverΒ I might have to start doing things that involve it. 🀨

It Saves You Money, But Okay…

Woke up yesterday and finally dug into my mail, did my few bills, and presto – I now have double the doctor appointments in the next seven days. 😐 I guess it’s good I opened my mail when I did, but I now have more days reserved for doctors than I do for myself. πŸ˜’ The super-earlyΒ involuntary one is all the way up on the NW side of Columbus.Β Another “We want you to see our guy.” appointment mandated by workers comp, to determine (yet again… I’m losing count) if my injury/disability is worthy of the meds I’m being prescribed. πŸ˜”

Keep in mind, it was only a handful of months ago that my doctor was told WC was no longer going to cover my monthly doctor visits, because (as they were allegedly claiming) I missed appointments and didn’t pick up the meds that I am subscribed… just a bunch of nonsense stuff. πŸ™„ So me, trying to do anything to avoid more forced exams, more industrial commission hearings, the potential refusal of payment for my meds… I actually asked my doctor to switch me to something different, but with what sounded like similar positive treatment results. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈ I did this because I wouldn’t have been able to afford the monthly Lyrica prescription if they decided to stop paying, and also because I legitimately never feel good and was hoping that the change might not only help me feel better, but also cost my former employer’s WC insurer much less – a possible win-win, which I foolishly thought would make them happy and maybe leave me alone.

But no… just a couple months later, now I have to see another examiner under the premise of justifying what I’m now being prescribed. 😣 I hate that the shit they’re doing is working… almost always delays in getting certain meds filled, that weird phase where they were making false claims and threatening to stop paying for visits, etc… and it worked. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ It spooked me, so I made a change that I stupidly thought would make those things go away, and instead that’s probably what triggered this new exam. “If you were taking (that) for so long, why are you now okay with taking (this)?” is the direction I’m expecting this to go. Yeah, I’m sure the guy who will have seen me once will know better than my doctor who has been treating me forΒ over a decade.

Of course this couldn’t come at a worse time. More on that in a later entry, maybe. πŸ˜”

(Unrelated…) I honestly don’t feel like doing anything. My chill is pretty much gone for the day. 😠 Oh, and the “wait, there’s more” from my “Chaos” entry the other day, when part of the town was without power? Nothing surprising. Everyone forgot how to drive, everyone was in a hurry and mad at anyone who dared to treat a dead traffic light as a 4-way stop, rude ass people in the stores acting as if the fucking sky was falling, and just the general unraveling of all the fragile humans’ brains pretty much like you’d expect. (GREAT idea, Skippy… rush to the opposite side of town to buy a whole bunch of fridge/freezer food, while also complaining that you have no idea when your power will be back on. πŸ™„πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜’)Β And then while driving again, this bizarre woman who had the right of way at our intersection actually started waving her arm wildly, mouthing something at me with an angry scowl on her face… which was her “polite” was of telling me to go ahead and turn in front of her, I guess. Fucking humans, man… a few hours without electric and they’re basically fucking cavemen again.

Better Than A Telemarketer

Heh… should have seen that one coming… the moment I wake up, my phone rings. 😱 Almost like my subconscious knew that a call was coming. πŸ§™πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ It was the fella that will be doing the litigation for my court case here soon, responding to the e-mail that I sent him late last night. It was a great conversation though, and he filled me in on all of the stuff that’s been going on lately, along with what his plans are for the upcoming appearance. πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€πŸ« I can tell he’s a smart guy, and he didn’t dumb things down for me, which I appreciated. (It’s nice to have a conversation about something of importance with someone who absolutely knows what the hell they’re talking about. πŸ˜…)

He also blessed me with the knowledge that I don’t actually have to attend. Almost like I assumed, if I were to go I would end up just having to sit there and listen, which I don’t totally object to – but I’d rather let them do their thing and not put myself through the stress and probable pain of driving up to Columbus in shit traffic and snow, possibly still feeling side effects from the steroid injection two days prior, and then sitting there on my hands for 15 minutes while they bust through their arguments. πŸ˜’ Even just writing about this stokes my stress, which then stokes my pain.

Oh, I think that was the only surprising thing that he told me… the very limited amount of time that each side has to present their argument. 😯 The magistrate will already have all of the paperwork that he really needs regarding my claim though, so oral arguments basically just act as salt and pepper on the main dish. But man, sometimes just the right amount of salt can make bland mashed potatoes taste awesome. 🀀 So, as usual, I’m cautiously optimistic. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ He explained in detail the angle that he’ll be going with, and it does sound pretty solid.

Like I was thinking though, the ruling on this case will most likely set a precedent that many, many more cases will eventually rely upon in the future. 😬 I know that it honestly has nothing to do with me personally, but I’m still sitting here hoping that my case doesn’t end up being the one that causes problems for other injured people like me who will come along in the future. πŸ˜” Oh and get this, if the magistrate finds in my favorΒ – my former employer can still elevate this one more time, this time to the Supreme Court of Ohio. πŸ˜§πŸ‘©πŸ»β€βš–οΈπŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš–οΈπŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš–οΈπŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš–οΈπŸ‘©πŸ»β€βš–οΈπŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš–οΈπŸ‘©πŸ»β€βš–οΈ Just typing that sentence seems nuts. That court does have the option of telling them to just piss off though, so I guess there’s that. 😏

This was probably the easiest that I’ve transitioned into “handling unexpected phone call when you can’t even do phone calls” though. πŸ˜₯ Smart attorney who is also personable and is able to relate legal information to shlubs like me… that definitely helped. But between getting my brain topped up again and knowing that I don’t have to physically be in the courthouse for the process this time… that’s a call that I’m glad to have answered.

So Much Fuss

This is difficult. I have to go to court in about a week, in regards to the workers comp stuff that I’ve been dealing with for over a decade now. πŸ˜’ I have access to a crapload of documents that are directly related to this case, as well as information from past cases that may provide precedents that could either help or hinder the arguments coming from my side. 😐 But in this instance, for this appearance, all of that information that I could start digging into… it wouldn’t really do me any good, and that’s what’s difficult. 😣 Telling myself to just “let it go” because the attorneys are gonna attorney.

This particular phase has been elevated, because rather than just being about me trying to get a medication or treatment approved – this case is actually about whether all of the “powers that be” have been playing by the rules. 😯 I don’t want to get into too much detail, so it’s hard to explain it, but that’s why my input isn’t going to be needed. Because it’s more about making sure that every “T” was crossed, every “I” was dotted, and every rule was interpreted and followed in a way that should meet the court’s approval. 😬 There really is quite a bit riding on this.

So I could memorize everyΒ related case that came before mine, I could write an impassioned speech that recounts the trials and tribulations of this frustrating process over the entire past decade… but none of it would matter, because none of it is required. πŸ˜• None of it would even be welcomed (at least as far as it seems to me) because this time it’s all about the proper administration of my claim. πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš–οΈ To be honest, I’m not even sure why I have to be there at all.

So yeah, I’m a bit anxious… one of those situations where the cards have already been dealt, but we have to wait a week to see who’s hand comes out on top. πŸ™‡πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ It’s really starting to look like this might happen, too. It’s been delayed a few times for various reasons on both sides, but with the information dump that has happened and the lack of anything promising in regards to a settlement, I think it’s actually gonna go down on the date as planned this time. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Time to tighten my belts and keep my hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times.

(Did I mention that the trial date is two days after my cervical spine injection? πŸ’‰πŸ˜¨ Yay? πŸ˜…)