Tag Archives: doctors

Workers Compensation: A Fallacy

There are probably many people reading this who know someone or have themselves experienced a workplace injury and WCB’s attitude toward compensating the worker. In fact, the Workers Compensation Board changed their name to WorkSafe BC, to reflect the greater scope of their reach and because they’re known for not compensating workers, or cutting compensation off arbitrarily.

This could all be hearsay but I do have direct experience. I have had to file twice in my life. The first time was for a repetitive stress injury to the soft tissue of my hand (my fingers and hand swelled) due to writing so much in quintuplicate for the movie industry (with one period that consisted of about 30 hours straight). In this first case, WCB did cover treatments but only until they thought I should be better. A known fact about the human body is that people heal at different rates and many other factors come into play. So I had to somehow manage to get better, without affording the therapy while still working.

The second time was perhaps harder to pinpoint but indicates the arbitrary decision making of case workers. I was working inside underneath three air conditioner vents. I have a couple of conditions, the major one being chronic myofascial pain syndrome (MFS). It is similar to fibromyalgia but more treatable. I can be fine for a long time and then experience a relapse brought on by certain conditions. Then I will proceed into a chronic pain cycle, which can take years to get hrough. I can function but am often in pain all the time.

Myofascial pain can be triggered by various events, some of which are: stress, cold, injury. This means, at the onset a person can try to work through the pain with exercise, which can backfire, causing more trigger point cascades. A trigger point is an area on the body that when pressed refers pain to other areas. People with myofascial pain and fibromyalgia have specific spots on their bodies which will be major trigger points. Each person may not demonstrate pain in all of them but may in most of them. A trigger point is often a hard knot. I’m not a medical expert but from what I’ve read it involves muscle tissue and fascia (the thin membrane that covers muscles [like you see on chicken]). A trigger point cascade can occur where one trigger point starts a progression of spasms and knotting that create other trigger points.

At my worst, I was trying to work out and increased the problem unknowingly. I had trigger point cascades down my arms and back, to the point where I could barely hold a fork or chew. That was an extreme episode that I don’t wish to visit again. Overall, my muscles will spasm and knot up and will forget how to release. I had ten years of chronic pain before the combination of the right muscle relaxant (many painkillers and analgesics don’t always work on this type of pain), a massage therapist who understood how to work with trigger points, and about four months of very warm weather which took me out of the chronic stage.

As I’ve mentioned, stress, injury or cold can trigger myofascial pain. Other conditions can be associated with it, such as Reynaud’s syndrome. Reynaud’s is also called red, white and blue because it will be brought on by cold and the vessels in the extremities (fingers and toes) will constrict, causing the limbs to go from red to white to blue as the blood flow is suppressed. People with this condition will experience sharp, knifelike pain and numbness. I have found, when I experience Reynauds, that the only way to bring circulation back to the extremities is to bring up my core temperature.

I have given these two examples here to wind back to workers compensation. The three air conditioner vents that I was sitting under blew a lot of cold air onto my back. I’m more susceptible to cold, but was the only person in my area who was under three vents (no one was under more than one). Because the muscles tightened up, when I moved suddenly, sitting at my desk, I threw out my back. I was a contract worker so I couldn’t really take time off but I filed a claim. I went to the chiropractor a couple of times but couldn’t afford more than that.

Recognizing that this could be another chronic pain onset, I wanted WCB to cover therapy for a couple of weeks. In all, if I had had treatment right away I could have put off the chronic pain. It would have taken probably a month at most, consisting of chiropractic to adjust my back, and massage to keep the muscles from tightening up and pulling my back out again (believe me, I live with this often, muscles pulling my ribs out while I sleep).

My case worker was on holidays so I talked to someone else first. When the case worker came back, he didn’t even talk to me but denied the claim straight out. I wrote back citing the specialist that had originally diagnosed me. I was willing to be examined, get letters from the specialists about the condition and other documentation if needed. I said that the cold of the air conditioning was the problem and the case worker wrote back and said that cold never hurt anyone. Never. Cold.

I wonder what those people feel who suffer frostbite and hypothermia and die of exposure? One of the best ways to get through myofascial pain is to apply heat, along with therapy. This case worker didn’t consult any medical expert but made his own uninformed arbitrary decision. I would have had to go to a new level to fight this, to get the therapy that was now some time from the onset of the injury. And what else causes myofascial pain? Stress. Having already taken ICBC (our provincial car insurance company) to small claims court for not covering the therapy costs of the injury that originally began my relationship with myofascial pain, I knew how stressful that process was (I won, BTW). I didn’t do it and have spent several years getting out of another bout of chronic pain. And of course all the subsequent visits to my doctor for muscle relaxants (trying to find some that work), the few visits to the therapists, and days I take off work when the pain is too much, or for doctor appointments puts more strain on our health care and system. In the long run, it costs way more than what the initial treatments would have been.

This is just one example of how workers compensation is a fallacy. I have heard far worse stories. And I have only touched the tip of the iceberg on what myofascial pain is all about. It is a more accepted condition these days, very hard to diagnose and many doctors pooh pooh it still.  Wikipedia has a very short entry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myofascial_pain_syndrome  And should you have a workplace injury that brings on this condition, you can expect workers compensation to not compensate, to not help you get better, and like many other injured workers, leave you out in the cold.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Culture, drugs, environment, health, life, people, weather

Quacks, Doctors and Outmoded Thinking

I had a short discussion today with a naturopathic doctor who pointed out that doctors are scientists and as scientists they should always be exploring, knowing that our knowledge base can change. We were talking about books from the 70s and how the information on nutrition had changed a great deal. However there are doctors who make their practice religion as this person said.

And he’s correct. Those that learned one thing and have never changed it, challenged it or sought to find new information on it have indeed moved the medical sciences into the realm of their unchanging belief and tradition.

I had a doctor like this. He was our family doctor and as a child I suffered from constant tonsillitis. I’d get about four infections a year, and had colds all the time. When I was about eight I was scheduled to have my tonsils out but my parents, whose relationship was always bad, had a huge fight and the surgery was never rescheduled.

I continued through teenagerhood, suffering the same problem. By the time I was nineteen and in art college I had such a bad bout of tonsillitis that I couldn’t talk, my tongue was swollen and I had cankers all over the inside of my mouth, which negated eating too. I went to the college doctor and said I had tonsillitis. They didn’t believe me (because I wasn’t a medical professional) but scheduled me in. Of course the doctor took one look and said why didn’t you come sooner? Well, I was a student of course, working on projects with no time and not getting the right amount of sleep.

Through those early childhood years of tonsils being tortured, they actually grew holes, complicating things and making those colds linger. It got so bad that I could feel them when I swallowed because food would get stuck in the holes. I know, gross. Bad breath and infections. When I opened my mouth and looked in the mirror I could see a few of these holes and the white bits in them.

So I went to my doctor, my childhood doctor who knew my history, and told him the problem. He didn’t even look in my throat but said it was nerves. I’ve never been a particularly high-strung or nervous person and I said outright, It’s not nerves. Then he told me that all sorts of people got that. I was younger and politer but I left and went to another doctor, who took a look and couldn’t see anything but sent me to a throat specialist. He took a two-second look and said, when do you want to be scheduled for surgery?

That first doctor had not only lost his perspective but presumed he knew everything without looking at his patients. He did the same thing when I said I had a bladder infection and didn’t take a urine sample but told me I didn’t wash myself properly. WTF? That was the complete last straw. He should have been dropped by the profession and my mother surmised that he had grown to tired to practice properly. In some ways it’s too bad it’s so difficult to sue doctors in Canada.

But most of all this guy was working on the tenets of his medical religion, going on the faith of what he knew and no longer even investigating the physical condition of his patients. Or as my current doctor put it, someone has to graduate at the bottom of the class and those people practice medicine too. Go figure.

2 Comments

Filed under Culture, family, health, health care, life, memories, people

My Mental Health Day

Thursday was my health day. Because I work in one city and my doctors are in another, I try to get all the appointments together. So I took a sick day to see my podiatrist, my GP and get my eyes checked after the laser surgery.

Right now it’s warm to downright hot in Vancouver. An unusually hot day is anything over 30 Celsius. So yesterday was a nice day to take off. I stopped by Art’s Auto on Clark Dr. He’d worked on my burned out signal light earlier in the week but it still wasn’t working right so he said to bring it in Thursday. However, after I left that day, it seemed to work fine so I dropped by to pay him. He said, oh don’t worry about it. If you have problems, come back. Not only does he run a good mechanic’s shop but he does things like this. Saturn looked at my car and charged me $90 to tell me I needed to spend $600. Art looked at the same problem but when he couldn’t fix it, he didn’t charge me a penny for the time. Thanks, Art.

Then I mosied downtown to my GP’s. Unfortunately it’s one of those tune-up appointments where everything is checked and probed. The oh so fun pap smear and after a certain age, the doctor says, it’s best to check the anus too. Oh joy. But relatively painless if discomforting.  

I then had an hour to kill so I walked a few blocks down Davie. I haven’t gone along there in years. Many of the shops are the same and I just wandered in and out of a few stores in the sun. It amuses me that the stores that have men’s underwear in the windows always have mannequins with prodigious packages. Those gay boys. Then I went back to my podiatrist and he chipped away at the orthotic (unfortunately it didn’t work when I tried it later).

It’s nice to have a day off during the week and it’s been a long time since I have taken one. With a few hours until the eye appointment I decided to go to the Comicshop, my old haunting ground. I had worked there for years as a book buyer and it’s one reason why I get any score at all on a geek test. Well, that and being into science fiction and fantasy, even if I don’t dress like a Trekkie. I picked up a few comics that I still read: anything by Los Bros Hernandez, (the Love & Rockets related comics), Fallen Angel (though I’m starting to get tired of it), Castle Waiting and Echo (the new comic from the author of Strangers in Paradise).

After talking with the guys, Doug and Brent, for a while I decided to wander up and down 4th Ave. in Kits. This is the trendoid yuppie area. I used to know it well when I worked there but it’s been maybe a year since I went into the shops. The Bath Shop was gone. So was one of kitchen shops. Both are now clothing stores. Other shops had come and gone and by the higher level of trendification I could tell the rents had had been substantially raised. I found a little craft store, a charity run for people with disabilities. They sell all sorts of handmade toys and sewn objects. There were some sock monkeys so I checked them out for Kij, who always needs a source for more. The woman there confirmed that the rents had shot so high that many people had to leave. The charity had shrunk to a smaller space to survive. I figure it’s only a matter of time before the Comicshop can’t afford the rent. 

I did go into Capers when I saw there were lovely cream yellow and deep purple gladiolas and bought some for my place. It was also fun to just walk along and look at the people and the way they act. I bought a top and then drove downtown to the laser eye clinic for my checkup.

One bad thing is that it’s during a workday and rush hour. I actually found some metered parking that wasn’t too far. As I was about to put money in, the meter the guy who collects the coins came by. I told him to go first and then joked that he could just give me the money. He said, I’ll give you some free time. How much do you need? I said an hour but realized afterwards I needed less. He popped my loonie through the parking meter twice and then gave it back to me. Thanks, meter guy.

Eyes are mostly doing what they’re supposed to though my midrange is still dragging. I go back in three months to see if that’s improved. When I got home, I parked the car and then walked up to the Drive to buy some food for me and the wee beast, and to get some cider for a friend’s barbecue in the evening. It was just too nice a day to stay inside. And considering the worry I still have over my mutant tooth, which is healing slowly and which they say I might now lose (I’ll look like hillbilly trash if that happens because I can’t afford $3000 for an implant…so I’m freaked), I wanted to enjoy the full day.

That’s why I went to the barbee and sat around talking to a few people. I haven’t been in a great mood of late, too stressed by money issues and boredom. My mental health day was just really pleasant and low key. Those little acts of generosity by the mechanic and the meter guy were uplifiting. When I finally got home I was going to write my 200 words but I fell asleep with the laptop on my lap.

Leave a comment

Filed under cars, consumer affairs, Culture, entertainment, fashion, humor, life