Archive for the ‘Workman's Comp’ Category

Even though I have not reach MMI with the plastic surgeon, and Dr Waguespack has not released me, (She did say I was MMI), my lawyer and AIG/Chartis have started the back and forth or trying to work out a settlement. Of course, nothing can make up for all the pain of loosing a 20 year career as a truck driver, but we had to start some where. So, my lawyer made the first demand of $79,000. That was two months ago. The other day they came back with an offer of $47,000. I keep telling my lawyer that I am not asking them to support me for the rest of my life, I just want to be able to make it through college without loosing everything I have. He made a counter offer of $68,000. I know they are not going to agree to this either.

I have discovered that Workman’s Comp is really not set up for someone that is hurt as bad as I was when I shattered both my wrists. It is not set up for people are injured so bad the they loose their career. It is set up for more minor injuries. Something really should be done about this. I am not sure where to start, but I plan on doing some research and see. I know it is not going to help me right now, but it may help someone else down the road.

In the mean time, I will just have to try and fight with them and see what happens. Sadly, I know I am going to get screwed!

Today I had to meet with a gal from Workman’s Comp for a vocational evaluation. This assessment was to see what my skills and limitations are. There were a lot of questions about my hobbies and activities before the fall and what of that I can do now. It is this lady’s job to take what learned from me today and the doctors notes and go out and look for me a job that I can do within those limitations. After an hour and a half I broke down and cried when telling her my frustration at not being able to do the things I did before and not being able to drive a truck anymore. Trying to explain to someone that has never driven a truck what it is like to do and then to loose it is not an easy task. I know many of you have heard and read me talk about how trucking in more than just a job, it is a way of life and a life style. The nomadic nature of drivers in ingrained in them so deep that it becomes part of who they are and of who I am. Over the last couple on months as I have started school and had to try to integrate myself into the “real world”, I have had days that I hate my life. I have had days that I am angry at the world. I have had days that I ask why me and want to crawl into a whole and hid from all these crazy people that just don’t get me. I try to hang on to that fact that now I am chasing another dream I have had for several years. If not for the fall I am not sure that I would have taken the step to go to school and try to start another career in radio. I remind myself that I am smart, personable, and that the only one holding me back from chasing this dream is me. But it doesn’t always work. Even though I am doing well in my classes, I think I have at least one A, several high B’s and a C, I get scared. I wonder if I can really do this. All of this came out when talking with this lady today. I think that this meeting is another slap in the face that this is really happening, I am not going to back to truck driving, and that hurts.

The thing that made it even worse was the meeting with my lawyer after the lady left the office. My doctor has give me a 6% medical impairment rating. To get a rough dollar number as to what that means for a settlement we have that the 200 weeks that are allowed for a scheduled member, multiply that by the 6% (which equal 12 weeks) and then multiply that result by what I am getting per week from AIG for workman’s comp. That comes to $4787 for each wrist. Shane, my lawyer, says that it what I can count on getting at the very least. But that total will be multiplied by 4 or 5 because of the impact the injury has had on my life. So if we go with the hopeful number of 5, that total is $23935 per wrist. That is a total of $47871. Does that seem fair for how much of my life has been impacted by this injury? These are just base figures. Shane say he is going to shoot for 100 week times what I am getting weekly to start off with. That still only comes out to be $39893 per wrist for a total of $79786. Of course, he gets 25% of what ever settlement I get. This news did not go over well with me. I was really expecting more. I don’t want enough money to live off of the rest of my life, I just want enough that I don’t have to worry about how I am going to live while I got to college the next four years. Shane told me that workman’s comp laws are really not set up to deal with severely injured people. they figure that if you are severely injured, you will be going on social security disability. when I asked him I qualified for that, he said that they really are not set up for a partial permanent disability. He says that I do have a winnable case, but it would be a fight to get it. When I asked him if a lawyer would even touch it is it was going to be such a fight, he said they would, but that I didn’t want to start that until after the workman’s comp case is done.

So, I sit in limbo once again, not knowing what is going to happen and how I am going to survive the next few years while I try ti finish college and start a new career. But as much as there are days that I really want to give up, I am just not that kind of person. I am a survivor and a fighter. One way or another, I will adapt and overcome!!

Written By: Walter Twohorses
Correspondent

After 20 years of being a member of what truck drivers call the I40 social club, (I ran I40 a lot), I came off the road to get married, settle down and try to have what society considers to be a “normal life”. I found a small company that hauled limestone but it did not pay much. So I took the job and kept looking. Not long after that I found Trimac and decided that the oil fields were where I needed to be to make the real money.

In July 2007 I started training where I learned how to run the pumps, measure the oil and several other required duties. After two weeks I was turned loose with my own truck. It was a ‘96 Freightliner FLD that was originally an OTR truck and had been converted to run the oil fields. It was probably the biggest piece of crap I have ever driven and should have been “retired” a long time ago. I suspect that instead of buying new equipment, they would purchase older, worn out trucks from other branches of the Trimac company to show a profit and saved the company some money.

I drove this worn out Freightliner for a year with the air-ride seat bottoming out an average of 3 to 4 times a day. The impact to my spine took it’s toll over that amount of time.

One day I got out of the truck to hook up my hose. When I stepped down it felt like someone had stuck a very sharp knife in my back and I went down. I could not move. Other drivers at the pumping station helped me get up because I could not do it on my own. I have never experienced pain like that before and it scared the hell out of me. It was about half an hour before I could move. The other drivers helped me get back into my truck and I drove myself the 35 miles back to the yard. Good thing I know how to float the gears because I could not push in the clutch due to the pain and weakness.

I took a couple of days off work thinking that maybe I had just strained some muscles. I was wrong! A few days later I was at the Greely Medical Clinic being pumped full of all kinds of pain killers. Two weeks later my boss called and asked me to come back to work. He did not want me to be a black mark on their safety record. I agreed to come back to modified duty. That meant driving truck from the yard to the truck wash every day. How much pain could that cause? Lots, because I did not last a week.

It was two months before I got my first workman’s comp check and medical treatment because my boss had told the insurance company, AIG, that I was back at work. It was another 3 to 4 months before I was sent to see a back specialist. This doctor gave me the news that my 20 year truck driving career was over. The L3, L4, L5 and S1 discs were damaged beyond repair. No words of anger can describe how I felt. I wrote that truck up for faulty equipment more times than I can count and it was ignored by Trimac.

From July to November 2007 I received regular workman’s comp checks and medical treatment. But all the doctors that AIG sent me to wanted to fill me full of pills, mostly naproxen, and cut on my back. I did not want an invasive surgery. In November they shut off the checks and medical treatment because I would not take a modified position in the Trimac office. I was also informed that if I did take the office job, I would have to pay back the company back for keeping my insurance premiums up to date. I felt like this company did not car a bit about me and my injury. Why would I want to work for a company that did not care about it’s employees?

In March 2009 I was given a disability rating of 15% by the doctors AIG had sent me to. With this rating, AIG began sending me $1000 every two weeks, but that did not last long. August 2009 they stopped payment when I went to an independent doctor and he gave me a disability rating of 26%. This makes me wonder if the first doctor was taking a pay off to keep the rating as low as possible.

I really liked this independent doctor because he seemed to understand Native people and agreed with my continuing the homeopathic treatment I had started on my own. This treatment included acupuncture, chiropractic treatments as well as spiritual help. But AIG had it’s own ideas about my treatment and send me to yet another doctor. Once again the doctor just wanted to push pills down my throat.

Being frustrated and jerked around as much as I have, I went off on the doctor at my last appointment. The police were called and he sent me to the psychiatric ward for observation to make sure I would not harm anyone or myself. The doctors there kept me for six hours then released me.

My lawyer in still in negotiations with AIG for a settlement and says that with this incident she is upping the amount. I still have a long road ahead of me in reaching a settlement with AIG. Because of the restrictions on my back, getting and holding a job is not an easy task. With AIG jerking me around as they are, I am in danger of loosing everything I have. I have already lost my Harley and my credit rating has been ruined.

Once you get past the fact that you have had a sever on the job injury and that you are going to be out of work for a long time, you then have to face dealing with Workman’s Comp. Even if they give you most everything you need medically, the amount of time you spend making sure that you get your weekly checks on time, the prescriptions filled, keep track of your millage and so on can be a bit frustrating.

AIG was the workman’s comp insurer for F & H Trucking when I fell November 19, 2008. Having been a civilian contractor in Iraq for KBR in 2003/2004, I have seen how this company has treated some of the people I know when they were injured overseas. Some they took care of but many have had the fight of their life to be medically taken care of. My driver, Robert Rowe, on the night on August 21, 2004 was shot in the knee and until earlier this year, has been fighting with AIG to get the medical care he has needed. His fight started with being sent home to heal, going back before he was totally healed for fear of loosing his job, to AIG saying he needed to prove to them that he was shot in Iraq. Still walking around with several pieces of shrapnel in his knee, he has never gotten the physical therapy ordered in his settlement and received only a “few thousand dollars”.

To date, my dealings with workman’s comp and AIG/Chartis has been rather positive. Within the first two weeks of being released from the hospital, I was contacted by Arnissa, my workman’s comp adjuster. We talked about the fact that Dr. Waguespack’s office was 2 1/2 hours away from where I lived and I requested to find a hand specialist closer to home. Arnissa informed me that workman’s comp would rather I stay with the doctor that did my surgery in the hospital and that they would pay me millage for traveling back and forth. She said she would get in touch with Angela, a workman’s comp field nurse for the New Orleans area, for my medical care in the state of Louisiana and Debbie, the field nurse for the Mississippi Gulf Coast, for a doctor to fix my broken nose.

Arnissa asked me about my wages with F & H Trucking. The compensation rate for the state of Mississippi is 2/3 the Average Weekly Wage subject to the minimum and maximum in effect on the date of injury. Two-thirds of my income from F & H Trucking was more than the $398.93 maximum a week allowed for injuries in November 2008 and the millage pay was $0.585 per mile. This was a drastic cut in income for me. Arnissa got my mailing address and said she would send me the forms to keep track and get payment for all my millage.

Angela met me at my first appointment with Dr Waguespack two weeks after my release from the hospital. She sat in on my visit with the doctor, took notes, and told me to let her know if I needed anything. Even though it took me about an hour to bathe myself, I could not wash my hair and I needed help at home with personal hygiene at the very least. She said that she would get in touch with Debbie to get a Home Health Care Nurse in to help me a couple times a week.

It took about 2 weeks for my Workman’s Comp checks to get started. For the most part they have come every week, but once in a while they will be a week late. So far AIG/Chartis has not missed a week, but the inconsistency that the checks arrive can be a bit frustrating. For a few months they arrived at the house on Thursdays, then they started arriving on Tuesdays. Then, in the last few months, they have arrived any where from Tuesday to Friday and a couple of times not until the following Monday.

Getting millage pay is a bit complicated. I run the route on Google Maps or Map Quest to get the millage, they do not pay actual miles. I have to keep up with every time I go to the doctor. The form asks for the date, address of my house and the doctor’s office, what was the purpose of the visit and how many miles it was round trip. In the beginning, keeping track of all that was not a big deal other than I could not write, I had to get my Dad to fill out the form. I don’t sent this off every month, I usually wait till the amount of reimbursement is up around $700 to $800. Once I started Occupational Therapy (OT), it was a lot to keep up with. In stead of trying to write out every day that I went to OT, I would get the rehab center to write out a list of dates of visits and attach that to the millage form from AIG/Chartis. Once I mailed that form I am supposed to get the reimbursement check in 30 days. I have yet to get one in that amount of time, it usually takes about 45 days and I have to call Arnissa and get a bit nasty in the message I leave on her voice mail to get it then.

One of the biggest frustrations I have is getting Arnissa to return my phone calls in a timely manner. Usually it will take 2 or 3 voice messages left before she will call be back. Angela is almost as bad. I send her text messages through my cell phone because it is easier to get her to answer them, than it is to get her on the phone, but it can still take her 24 hours or more to answer those. Debbie is real good about answering my calls or text messages in a timely manner.

Getting prescriptions filled in the beginning was a bit of a pain. The doctor would write the prescription, I would take it to the pharmacy and it would be about 3 days before I could pick it up. It took the pharmacy that long to get approval from AIG/Chartis. This was the process for refills as well. A few months back, without any notice, AIG/Chartis switched to PMSI to handle prescriptions. I received a phone call out of the blue telling me who they were and what they were doing. They mailed my refills and 2 weeks before I was due for another refill, I would get an automated phone call asking me if I wanted to reorder the prescription. This was good. Now I no longer had to drive into town, drop off the prescription, wait 3 days to get approval and drive back into town to get my prescriptions refilled, they would be delivered through the mail to the house.

That was great till I messed up on reordering once or had a new prescription. There is no option to delay reordering the medication. You either reorder, or you cancel. A few months agoI still had plenty of the Vicodin and didn’t need to reorder so I choose to cancel the order at that time. The next time I saw Dr Waguespack, she gave me a new prescription for Celebrex along with a few samples of the drug to tide me over till I got my prescription filled. When I got home I called PMSI, punched buttons till I got a real person and told her I had a new prescription, and asked how do I get it filled. I was told to “put it in the mail”! When I told her that I needed the medication sooner than that, she told me to have the doctor cancel the written prescription, and fax them a new one, ordering the Celebrex. I asked if they could call Dr Waguespack’s office and get it, I was told “no, they could not”. This frustrated me and I hung up the phone. I sent Angela a text message telling her the problem with getting the prescription filled. The next day I got a text from her saying she would get a copy of it from Dr Waguespack and send it to PMSI for me. It was two weeks before I got the first bottle of Celebrex. Celeberex is a medication that you have to take for 2 weeks before it has any effect. So the samples Dr Waguespack had given me and that I had used up a week before I received the prescription in the mail, were of no use.

At that last doctor appointment I still had some of the Vicodin and didn’t get a new prescription for it. A month later when I did need to reorder, I jumped through the hoops of the automated system but I could not figure out to reorder them. Again, I sent Angela a text message. When she didn’t text me back within 24 hours, I called Dr Waguespack’s office, told them what I needed and asked if they could help. They told me to get Angela to come get the prescription for me and fax it in. I sent Angela another text message and tried to call her. No answer. I needed the pain medication so I called PMSI again. I went through the automated system again till I got a live person. I explained the situation. She told me I was talking to the wrong department, but that she would help me anyway. She got Dr Waguespack’s phone number from me and said that they would have the medication to me in about 2 weeks. Angela finally sent me a text message back that afternoon saying she would talk to the doctor’s office. I text her back informing her that I had gotten it taken care of myself.

Now, when PMSI’s automated system calls saying it is time to reorder my medication, I just reorder it weather I really need it yet or not. Since I try not to take the Vicodin unless the pain in my wrists get to the point that I just can’t stand it any more, I am building a rather nice stockpile of Vicodin. Since medication will keep for an extended amount of time, I guess this will be less I have to pay for out of my own pocket, later on, when they cut me off.

In my last post about dealing with Workman’s Comp, two weeks after seeing Dr George, I was still waiting for Arnissa to approve the work hardening therapy. Again, I took matters into my own hands and called Arnissa and left a rather tart message. Amazingly, she called me back that same day. She told me that she had just gotten the orders a few days before and had approved them. I thanked her for calling me back so quick this time and called the Rehab Center to set up my first session.

At the date of writing this story, I have been to 7 sessions, a little over 2 weeks , of the ordered 8 weeks and will not be going to any more. The mission of work hardening is to work a patient up from 2 hours of therapy, 3 times a week to 8 hours of therapy each visit. They take a description of what your job physically requires and your therapy is based on that. Even though 3 doctors have told me that with the injuries I sustained to both my wrists I will never pull a flatbed and never drive a truck again, my therapist has to go by that guideline and try to get me to where I can do the job I was doing when I was injured. I have had pain with every therapy session. Some of the pain was muscle pain from a year of non-use, but some was injury pain. My last therapy session was to be for 4 hours. I was sent home after just 1 hour due to the pain in my wrists. The head of the therapy department told me to call my doctor and see what she wanted to do, either not be so aggressive, or stop the therapy. Dr Waguespack’s assistant called me that afternoon and told me that therapy should not hurt like that and I should stop. I have now exhausted every means to get more use out of my wrists.

I have an appointment with Dr Waguespack on January 18, 2010. At that time I will give her the letter from the Rehab Center. It states that I could only lift 10lbs instead of the 20lbs that we thought I could do before and all other limitations they have seen though the work hardening therapy. At that time Dr Waguespack should give me a disability rating with my limitations and we will move to the settlement phase. With this milestone comes a whole other set of problems. AIG/Chartis could cut off my weekly checks, no longer send me medication, and refuse to pay for the doctor visits I will need for future pain management.

The Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission has a web site that gives all the information a person could need about the laws and regulations for the state. After spending hours and hours reading the laws governing Workman’s Comp for the state of Mississippi, I have hired a Workman’s Comp Attorney. I know I have had a much easier time dealing with Workman’s Comp and AIG/Chartis than many others have had, but the laws are very hard to decode and understand without some legal knowledge. In the next installment I will try to decode the law a little so you can understand what I am facing in trying to get a settlement out of AIG/Chartis on my Workman’s Comp case. It is very possible that even with the very low limitations on the use of my wrists, I could get less than $50,000. That settlement would include future medical visits due to this injury, future medications, and a lifetime compensation for the disability.

I am going to write several posts on dealing with a traumatic on the job injury and my experience with Workman’s Comp. I am also going to talk about facing the end of a 20 year Truck Driving career, and the overwhelming problem of trying to figure out what new career to start at the age of 44 when you have heavy physical limitations.

On November 19, 2008 the day was going well. I had dropped and hooked in Orange, TX and was in Avondale, LA. I was going to drop that trailer and grab one going back to Pascagoula, MS. It was getting close to shift change and there were not many people around. I couldn’t drop my trailer by the steel office so I had to move around to the main road into the yard to drop. I loosened the binders and was on the last one at the front of the trailer. I am not real sure what happened next, but I felt myself falling from 7 to 8 feet in the air……head first, off the trailer. I tried to stop the fall, but couldn’t grab onto anything. As the asphalt came rushing closer to my face, I remember thinking, “Oh shit, this is going to hurt!”

I don’t remember putting my hands out to break the fall, but I guess I did, because as I lay there, not only did my face hurt, but my wrist were in great pain. I yelled, “Oh God, somebody please help me!” I could feel the blood pouring down my face and I could not see out of my left eye. I was scared to move! One thing I learned through a first aid class in college, and the training in Iraq, was to not move anyone with a possible neck or head injury. People rushed up to me. I remember many faces coming into my line of sight and them telling me to not move. I cried and asked, “How bad is my face?”, “how messed up are my wrist?”

The NGSS emergency people arrived, cut the glove off my right hand and tried to get the left, but it hurt to much and I screamed in pain and begged them to stop. Finally they immobilized my wrist. Every time they touched my arms I screamed in pain! It was the worst pain I have ever felt!! They put me in a neck brace, onto a back board, then on a gurney and loaded me into their ambulance. They cleaned the blood from my left eye just to have it fill again. My mind was reeling! I knew my face and my wrist were messed up really bad even though they kept telling me that it wasn’t. Tally, one of the guys from NGSS Transportation, told me that they had called Vern, my dispatcher, and would take care of my truck.

The NGSS ambulance took me to the front gate where the local ambulance picked me up and we started the long ride to the hospital. I asked how long the ride was after being in the ambulance for a few minuets and was told about 10 minuets. They couldn’t get an IV in my arm because of how the guys at the shipyard had immobilized my arms. The ride seemed like it was hours long even though I know it wasn’t.

PICTURE: Taken just minuets after arriving at the emergency room at West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero, LA

Once at the ER, they went to work on me. I asked them to get my cell phones and call my Dad and a trucker friend, Walter. Both wanted more information than the nurse could give them at the moment. I don’t remember everything that happened in the ER. I remember a doctor telling me that I had a broken nose and he was going to stitch up my face. I got 5 stitches in my nose, one above my lip and 4 near the hair line of my forehead. The doctor told me that I had a hole in my forehead. That sucked and made me worry about how big of a hole it was. I barely remember them doing x-rays and a CAT scan. The only reason I remember the CAT scan is that they kept bumping my arms on the tube as they moved me into it. I guess somewhere in all the commotion they had gotten an IV in my right arm and given me pain killers.
I was told that they would set my nose in about 10 days and I would be having surgery on my wrist the next day. When I asked how bad my wrists were they told me that they were both shattered. I asked how many brakes and could I see the x-rays. I was told they couldn’t show me the x-ray and they wouldn’t give me a number. They just kept saying that they were shattered!

fall 2 fall 3

LEFT WRIST – Radiology Findings: There is a fracture at the wrist joint. There is an impacted, comminuted fracture of the distal radius which is angulated posteriorly.

RIGHT WIST – Radiology Findings: There is a fracture dislocation of the wrist joint. There appears to be a comminuted fracture of the distal radius which is displaced. Unfortunately, because of positioning it is difficult to evaluate the bone alignment. It is probably posteriorly displaced.

I was taken to my room and later that evening my Dad showed up. I was given the news that my surgery would not happen till Friday. I cried. I didn’t want to be in pain any more. I wanted my wrist fixed! I knew that once I had surgery, I would feel better and could start healing. I was in great pain and every time they took my blood pressure, it was high, way high! I was asking for something for the pain long before they could give me anything. I cried, I bawled like a baby.

fall 4 fall 5

Friday morning they did my surgery and I woke to pins in my hands and arms with external fixators and my wrists were wrapped with ace bandages. As my hands and wrist would swell, the tighter they got. Once again, I was in great pain, but from the pressure and no matter what I did I couldn’t get it to go down or to stop hurting. The nurses would not call my doctor when I asked them too and that added to the stress. I know it had to be hard on my Dad to sit in the hospital room and listen to me cry in great pain for several days. On Sunday, the surgeon came in and took off the bandages. What a relief! The pain eased right away and on Monday afternoon I was released from the hospital!

My Dad rigged things up so that I could do most things for myself. I had microwave meals and finger food. Dad had to come over and open my front door each morning because I could not turn the door knob. We went shopping and I picked up some clothes that I could get on and off myself. We got small containers that I could handle and he filled them up each morning for me. I did a lot of sleeping because the Percocet they gave me for the pain, knocked me out. I also fought infection in the pin sites for the full 10 weeks that I had them. I was board out of my mind and got depressed at times because I could not do much for myself. The feeling of being helpless is over whelming and depressing for someone such as me that is used to being very active.

I just about had my self weaned off the Percocet when I had surgery on my broken nose in January. He put me back on the Percocet since that was what I was already taking. Two weeks later he removed the 2 ½ inch long splints that he had put in both sides of the septum. When he removed them it felt like he was pulling my brains out my nose and I screamed and cried like a baby. Once again I started weaning myself off the pain killers. He told me that fixing the septum had straightened my nose but that I would have to see a plastic surgeon for the scars.

On January 30, 2009 Dr Waguespack removed the pins and fixators from my wrists and once again I was back on the Percocet. Each time I had to wean myself off the pain killers was worse than the time before. I went through painful withdrawal symptoms that made me sick to my stomach and greatly depressed. Some days I would just curl up on the couch and cry off and on all day.

It has now been a little over a year since my fall off the flatbed and Dr Waguespack told me at my last appointment, October 19, 2009 that my right wrist bones are 100% healed and the left are 90 to 95% healed. She also said that I am at MMI, maximum medical improvement. There is still the issue of not being able to lift anything more than about 20 lbs and the almost constant pain I have when using my hands for any length of time. (This story was written over several days due to pain when typing for long periods.) The doctor did not give me a disability rating yet, but she says that my limitations are: no lifting of anything over 20 lbs and no tedious or repetitive work with the hands or wrist.

I told her that the Vicodin that she has me on for pain is not working any more. Instead of taking it every 6 hours on days that I hurt badly, I have to take it every 3 to 4 hours to get it to dull the pain. Since the weather has turned cold, I have been taking it every day. She put me on Celebrex twice a day and told me to continue the Vicodin for days that the pain is really bad. I see her again in January 2010 for medication refills.

I got a second opinion in October and his findings were the same. He suggested I get a FCE, Functional Capacity Evaluation, but Dr Waguespack says that I do not need it. She told Angela, the Workman’s Comp field nurse, to give her a list of jobs that they will retrain me for that I am interested in doing and she will tell them if I can do it or not. Angela wanted me to see a hand specialist and I agreed to go. That was the third opinion.

While Angela was getting approval for me to see a hand specialist, Dr George, in the New Orleans area, I had surgery on the scars on my nose November 2, 2009. Dr Miller, the plastic surgeon, said that this surgery would only reduce the appearance of the scars, not remove them. I went into the surgery with great hopes and anxiety. The stitches were left in for about a week. When he removed them I was very please with the looks of the scar on the bridge of my nose but not to happy with the one toward the end. It looked better before the surgery, but I won’t complain. Having the scar on the bridge of my nose look as good as it does now is a blessing. It looked very bad before. Luckily, after the plastic surgery, Dr Miller didn’t give me Percocet or Vicodin. He gave me Lorocet. I am still worried about becoming addicted to the pain pills and the problems that will bring if I do.

I had an appointment with the hand specialist, Dr George, on December 3, 2009. Unlike the second opinion, Dr George took his own x-rays. When he walked into the room he looked at them as he made his greetings. Then he said, “I can see the damage”, as he sat down, and asked me why I was there. Angela and I told him that we wanted a second opinion and we briefed him on what has been done so far. He told me that doing surgery on them would not benefit me enough to be worth it. That is when he gave me news that to this day, makes my stomach catch when I think of it. My radius bones have healed at an angle, the right at 5% and the left at 10%. He went on to tell me that he would have put plates and screws in to make sure the bones would have healed straight.

Unsuccessfully I fought the tears as I asked him, “If we had come here right after the fall and you had put in plates, would my wrists be in better shape?” He said that Dr Waguespack didn’t do anything wrong, using pins and external fixators are good for retaining the bone length. But as badly shattered as my wrists were, he would have used the plates.

He then asked about my range on motion. As I showed him how much I could move my wrist in different directions he said that he was impressed. He would not have expected for me to have as much as I do with the damage that he can see in my x-rays. I told him that I have worked very hard on it but the problem is that I still can not bear any weight. Dr George said he could see that I have worked hard and the reason that he is surprised is that, “Most people would just do what they have to do to get by”. He said that the only thing he could recommend doing now, a year out from the injury, was work hardening. “You will still never drive a truck again, but work hardening might get you to a place where you can lift more weight.” He told Angela and me that he would recommend 6 to 8 weeks of work hardening and then do an FCE. At that time, I would be MMI.

As Angela and I walked out of Dr George’s office, I looked at her and made the comment that we had talked about this the first time I talked to her after my fall, I wanted to go to a hand specialist and someone that was closer to where I lived. (Dr Waguespack’s office is 2 ½ hours away.) She told me that AIG wanted me to stay with the doctor that did my surgery and that they would pay me a millage pay for driving back and forth. So I stayed with Dr Waguespack. Don’t get me wrong, she is a great doctor, but her specialty is with the spin.

Since we did not switch my care over to Dr George, Angela had to go back to Dr Waguespack to get the orders for the work hardening. She got the orders December 10th and I started work hardening therapy on Monday, December 21, 2009. The work hardening will be three times week for eight weeks. It started with two hours of various weights, resistance bands and the elliptical machine. The goal is to be doing this for 8 hours each session in week eight. To do that we will have to add 1 hour each week. After 2 sessions, I am not sure that my wrists and hands are going to be able to handle that fast of a pace. My hands and wrist hurt so bad that I am back on the pain pills on a regular basis. It has taken those and several ice packs to get through the typing of this story.