After I Tripped; Medical Specialists Madness (Friday Series #5)

I spent the next few years seeing every specialist my doctor could think of. Neurologists, rheumatologists, anesthesiologists, and one chiropractor. I saw physical therapists,  acupuncturists, and ‘healers,’ the laying of hands type. My doctor enrolled me in a pain clinic. I continued pool therapy and massage therapy. I started going to a psychologist who then requested I meet with a psychiatrist as well, I did. I followed every recommendation. I went to every appointment.

I wanted to be cured!!!

“B” decided we needed a lawyer. John W. was one heck of an attorney! He was very soft-spoken, and he was wise. John became my friend as he guided me through the legal process. I was ordered to see the insurance company’s medical specialists, and I did so without hesitation. (Who knew? They were ‘specialists.’ Maybe they could tell me what was wrong with me!) John handled the collection of all my medical records, and short and long-term disability payments through my employer. John went before the judge and fought for me. John would call me weekly, just to check on me. He was and still is a great man.

With all of the above going on, I was still trying to work! I’d be at work for two or three days one week, put in a week, then out for a week or two. I was utterly exhausted. I was in pain. I was all over the map! I needed help from “B,” but he was not able to help even himself. He had his second back surgery, and I don’t think he ever really recovered. He had become an agitated, angry person.

And still, I had no diagnosis to explain the chronic nature of my pain.

I did end up with an array of ‘secondary’ diagnoses due to the car accident. Ready? It still is so unbelievable to me. Chronic pain, chronic fatigue, restless leg syndrome, closed head injury, concussion, post-concussion headaches, movement disorder, lower back disc displacement, a fractured pelvis, severe whiplash, clinical depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

I was imploding.

I was going to get fired.

(To be continued…)

IMG_0462~Kim

Who Has Your Back?

The Issue:

You need a medical advocate.

Who will speak for you when you are vulnerable? What do I mean by vulnerable? Sick. Needing medical attention. In a fog. In incredible pain. It is import to find yourself a medical advocate; spouse, partner, sister, brother, parent, neighbor, friend. An advocate for situations when we are physically and mentally vulnerable, it happens to us all. When you find yourself in this kind of vulnerable position, ask someone you trust to accompany you to medical appointments. If you are admitted to the hospital, you need an advocate to be with you for the first few days you are in the hospital.

You may need more than one advocate. I currently have two, my spouse and a social worker. You can find a social worker through your health clinic’s website. Since the clinic pays their salary, there is no additional cost for his/her services. My spouse handles the medical visits, and in-patient hospital stays. My social worker helps me with my medical paperwork. Signing up for coverage, coverage issues, and billing questions.

My Goal:

I will always be prepared for hospital visits.

The last time I was admitted to the hospital, it didn’t go well. My husband was on his way to the hospital, but he can’t be with me 24/7. He has to work. A situation came up, and I needed someone immediately when things went from bad to worse. I have been reliving this nightmare. I will never allow myself to be so mistreated again when I find myself at the mercy of others while I am sick and so incredibly vulnerable. 

The Outcome:

I found forms to assist all of us when we are dealing with hospital personnel.

I found the Chronic Pain Disease and Palliative Care Forms that you can get your primary doctor, even your nurse, to fill out. You can get your copy hereI have updated my medical paperwork to include the fact that I am a chronic pain patient and list the medications I am prescribed and need to receive, to combat this disorder. I keep copies with me at all times. You never know when you go from having an ordinary day to needing medical attention.

Additional Task:

On site patient advocates are available.

The one other resource I have overlooked and want to share with you is the in-house hospital social workers, called patient advocates. They are on-site. Their hours vary. But you may ask for one at any time during your stay! It is in the ‘patient bill of rights’ that we may request a patient advocate at any time. This is a resource that is underutilized. We don’t think about this when we are in a vulnerable state. If you find yourself alone in the hospital, request a patient advocate.

Question:

My question is how to remember to do this? When we are in a crisis state, we often forget the simplest things! How can we remember to request an advocate? Write it in our medical papers? Make “I want a patient advocate” cards to keep in our wallet? What would you suggest?

IMG_0454~Kim