Monday, September 12, 2011

Life Changing Injury

I've certainly had my share of injuries, many of which were serious, but by far the worst and most serious injury I've had was in 1991, when I hit my head on an iron pipe that ran along a step on a staircase which went through a storage closet in the medical office where I worked. 

Part of my duties consisted of billing workers comp cases. It was a Monday morning, and since it was an Urgent Care facility, patients were lined up from the check-in desk all the way to the front entry door.  I was hurrying to get back to work, and needed some forms from the storage closet. I squatted down to get the forms I needed from the box where they were stored. When I stood up, I hit the right-front of my head against the two inch pipe, knocking myself to the floor. I don't think I was actually knocked out, but I certainly sustained a concussion. I managed to get up, and make my way back to the door. When I opened the door, every one looked to be about an inch tall. I was not really able to walk across the waiting room, so I waited a bit, until I could get my wits about me, and carefully walked through the line of patients, and went to the break room. 

Everyone was so busy, that no one noticed me, and that I was obviously not myself, or they would have taken me in to see Dr. Smith, immediately. I did not realize at the time how seriously I was injured. I sat in the break room for maybe fifteen minutes, and had a cup of coffee. 

It took about two weeks for the full impact of the injury to raise it's ugly head. Again, on a Monday morning, when I awoke, I was wracked with pain from head to foot, and really felt like going back to bed, but being a Monday, I dare not stay home, as the office would be packed again as was normal for Mondays. 

I managed to make it through about half the day at work, and finally just broke down, crying and doubled over in pain. I was taken to the back to see Dr. Smith, but by then, I really had pretty much forgotten about hitting my head in the storage closet, so I could only think it was from excessive use of the telephone, supporting the receiver with my shoulder, and tilting my head to talk with patients while doing paperwork, etc. 

Dr. Smith took me off work for two weeks, and had me go to Physical Therapy daily, as he also knew I already had three herniated L-spine discs, from being rear-ended in 1979, which still was of concern. 

P.T. seemed to be helping, until they started me on little devices known as the finger ladder, and the shoulder wheel. I was to use my fingers to walk up and down this little ladder, and to slowly crank the shoulder wheel. I never made it to the shoulder wheel, and when I used the finger ladder, my whole body fell apart, and pain shot through my body, from my neck to my lower back. 

The Physical Therapist I had was really well qualified, and immediately called Dr. Smith, who wanted me in his office immediately. He wanted to schedule a MRI, but so far, they office administrator was handling my problem as something that my HMO would pay for, and they had not yet turned my case over to the Worker's Compensation carrier. So, the HMO required a second opinion, which was performed by another doctor in my group. This was Dr. Dada, who was a real male chauvinist, and who most women hated. I have to say though, that Dr. Dada was fair to me, as he realized I was really injured, so approved my MRI. It took about a month or so to get the appointment and it was about forty miles from my home. I had a ride there, as I was already falling down from time to time, and having neurological symptoms even into my abdominal muscles. Still, I kept working, until I could no longer stand it. One day, while I was doing lighter work in the office, just getting along as best as I could, I was called into see Dr. Smith, and the Office Administrator, each separately. Dr. Smith told me I was in serious trouble and needed neck surgery, like yesterday. The Administrator wanted me to agree to let them cover my medical costs through my HMO, and tried to get me to say that I had injured my neck while riding my horse, which certainly was not the case at all. 

I had a friend and co-worker whose husband had recently had back surgery, and suggested that he was very good, and that I should see him for my problem. I was not able to get a fast appointment with him, but when I finally did, I was a real mess. I not only passed out from pain riding lying down in the rear seat of my friend's car, but was not even able to sit up in the waiting room at the doctor's office. 

When I was finally seen, he referred me to his associate, Dr. John Seely, who was a Neurosurgeon in San Diego, CA. Dr. Seely was a great doctor, and performed the surgery as soon as he could schedule it, at Scripps Hospital in San Diego. 

We were all concerned when, while I was somewhat better afterward, but not nearly as much as was hoped for. Dr. Seely said that if I had not had the surgery, I would have either died, or been in a wheel chair for the rest of my life, and that my neck injury was like that of many football players, who either died or were paralyzed for the rest of their life.

I slowly began recovering from the surgery, but within about a year, I began getting worse, and then much worse. I had a myelogram, and was told that I needed immediate surgery, again. Dr. Seely did not go into detail this time, but since it was now a worker's comp case, I needed to see the AME, and EME (Agreed Medical Examiner, and Expert Medical Examiner) before approval would be given for the second surgery. The AME I saw was a Doctor Ronald Kent in Moreno Valley, CA. What that man did to be was not only reprehensible, but also illegal. I have since discovered many of his patients who were also lied about, and maltreated in his office. My own son-in-law was also one of his victims, as was another man who has been bedridden ever since Dr. kent lied about his diagnosis, and one other man who lives not very far from me, whom I have come to know well. All of us were lied about, and misdiagnosed to say the very least. 

Dr. Kent said I was permanent and stationary, and needed to return to work, which Dr. Smith, as well as Dr. Seely both said was impossible. My two doctors even wrote letters to the Medical Board of California on my behalf, when I filed a complaint against Dr. Kent. They said Dr. Kent's license should be revoked at the very least. 

Once Dr. Kent became aware that he was in real trouble, he denied even seeing my myelogram films. When he tested me for neurological response, he turned the machine up to the point, and I passed out, from the pain. My Neurologist had already tested me, and said that my tests were absolutely were far from normal, and agreed with my neurosurgeon that I needed immediate neck surgery again. 

Eventually, when Dr. Kent claimed he had never seen my myelograms, the hospital where they were performed, send him a second copy. Then, and only then, did he say that I did indeed need the second surgery. It took more than a year to get the permission after my doctors diagnosed the problem, as a bone spur that had developed from my neck being in such spasms, that I no longer had a natural curve to me C-Spine, 

When I finally had the second surgery, it took more than twice as long as it normally would have, as Dr. Seely had to remove one tendon from my neck, as the bone had destroyed it, and the bone had grown all the way through my spinal cord, as well. 

It's been twenty years now, and though I have been through more than I would ever want to relive, I am finally doing better than I have been for all those years. I can still walk, and am no longer on medications, such as Duragesic or Morphine, which I was on for many years. I also had to be on hydrocodone, for breakthrough pain. When the medications stopped helping, and Oxycontin never did help, I asked my doctor to take me off of everything. He said that there was no way he could take me off the medications, and I was in such a mess as it was. I had also been seeing a pain control specialist, Dr. Kay Erdman, in Murrieta, CA. In 1997 he implanted a spinal cord stimulator in hopes of controlling the pain, at least somewhat. That's a whole other story, as the Keflex he gave me post op nearly killed me, too. 

So, I deciding that that junk was slowly killing me, since it had to be affecting my liver, and my general health, I decided to stop the medications myself. 

Slowly, I reduced my medications, and finally was off of all of them. It's now been since mid 2009, that I have not taken any medications, other than my Asthma Inhaler occasionally. I have not even seen my primary care physician since mid 2009, either. I will be making an appointment to see him, and let him know about what I did, and to get some allergy tests run.

Sure, I still have pain, but you know what? It's not nearly as bad as it was when I was taking all that junk, and my general health has improved as well. I am careful about what I eat, avoiding anything such as GMO foods, and processed prepackaged products, as well. 

That's my story, and it's more than most people know about me and my health issues.

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