I’m wondering aloud, again, "When will I ever learn?"
|All the Time
By Marilyn Mackenzie
I’m wondering aloud, again, "When will I ever learn?" The correct response, when someone says, "God is good," is to answer, "all the time." I’ve known that for years. Why do I forget?
Back in October, the Texas Worker’s Compensation Commission decided that a foot doctor should evaluate how my knee was healing. I fretted about that for two weeks and my attorney and I both protested, to no avail. People all over the world prayed for me, though, and God was, indeed, good. That doctor was a Christian who didn’t like having to evaluate my knee any more than I liked having him do so. The foot doc decided I had not reached "maximum medical improvement" and recommended another one or two months of physical therapy. I wrote about the incident. Even called that story, "Why DO I Worry?" .
You’d think I might have learned from that incident. You’d certainly think so.
Still, when I was faced with seeing a plastic surgeon who specialized in hand problems, I protested once more. I know he’s a medical doctor, but would he really know what’s best for my knee?
The evaluation was different than every one I’ve had since last March. Not any wonder, considering this doctor does not usually see knee patients. He was angry with the worker’s compensation people, too. They insisted he had seen me before, but he knew he had not. TWCC didn’t get my file to him until just shortly before my evaluation, and he had to take my file home with him.
This doctor was angry – with TWCC and with me – for invading his personal life. He’d already made up his mind before even seeing me that he would label me as having reached maximum medical improvement. As I sat in his office, he told me my knee and leg were as good as they were ever going to get. He acknowledged that I still had much pain and told me that as a 50-year-old, I needed to come to grips with the fact that I am now an old person. And old people hurt – forever.
Contradicting himself, though, he told me he was also going to recommend that I only work four hours a day for the next six months and six hours a day for six months after that. I tried reasoning with him about these terms. Once he deemed me, labeled me, "as good as it gets," I would stop receiving worker’s compensation income and medical care. But labeling me only able to work four hours a day would mean that any employer who hired me for more than that would in danger with their own insurance. And I certainly could not support myself and my son, on part time pay. Was I supposed to go on welfare too? Get food stamps? His decision was firm, he informed me.
That was on Monday. It was too late that day to reach my attorney, but I did talk with him early the next morning. My attorney told me that we’d wait for the report, but if it read that way, I would, indeed, have my benefits cut off immediately. In fact, I probably would not receive another weekly check. He also explained that since I am now 4% permanently impaired by this injury and resulting surgery, in Texas that means I’ll receive another 12 weeks of income to compensate for that 4% loss. There’s no telling how long it might take to get that compensation. Especially if my attorney decides to fight the decision.
In the meantime, I’ve just been informed that my rent has gone up $42 a month and we will now be asked to pay for our own water. I’m still rather blessed to have a 2-bedroom rather large apartment for under $600. And I’ve been blessed that all utilities and cable had been included in that amount. I’ve only had one bill to pay for the past 5 years, and didn’t have to pay deposits to utility and cable companies. That was a blessing. And, the message could have been worse. We could be facing paying our own electric and cable bills as well. That’s probably coming in the future. Sure, we’ve been blessed, but apartments in two other towns nearby have much lower rents. I probably should have moved long ago.
Since Monday, I’ve been rather disturbed about this last evaluation. Today, my regular orthopedic surgeon examined me at my regular once a month check-up. He hadn’t received any report of my evaluation, but asked about the results. When I told him, my doctor just smiled. He took out his pocket tape recorder and started dictating, so I could hear.
"We haven’t received the MMI yet. If it does say that this patient has reached MMI, I have to disagree. If it says that this patient should return to work part time, I have to strongly disagree. Said patient is a single mother with a son to support. She cannot be expected to do so on part time pay. An on-the-job injury and subsequent surgery should not hinder her lifestyle. My recommendation will be that she remain off work for the next two months with full compensation, and that physical therapy continue 3 days per week for those two months. My recommendation for physical therapy will be a more strenuous therapy, work conditioning. We will await the full report of the evaluating doctor before we respond formally to the TWCC."
The doc then patted my arm and left the room smiling. As he entered the next room, I heard him inquire of his next patient, "Are you feeling any better today?"
I have to admit this doctor and I haven’t always been in agreement. He informed me at the beginning of our relationship that he was not my doctor, but the insurance company’s doctor. Still, he acted in my best interest today.
And I’m left with the reminder that God is good...all the time!
Note: Even though this doctor will dispute the findings of the evaluating doctor, I might still be left without income during the dispute. The evaluation report will signal the conclusion of any benefits. But I’m trusting God that my attorney and my new advocate, the knee doctor, will set things right.
Update March 23, 2003: The evaluating doctor did finally submit his report, leaving out that I should only work 4 hours a day. (That would have been helpful!) On February 17, I received my last worker's compensation check. The doctor I've been seeing regularly continues to disagree as does my attorney, that I am ready for work. They're both right. Just standing at my kitchen sink for 5 minutes while I rinse the dishes makes the pains shoot from my hip to my foot. My knee is in constant pain, and rather than take pain medications, I am living with pain and getting used to it. Even desk jobs sometimes require one to stand at a copier or fax machine for a few minutes. Fortunately, I did get a good tax refund this year, and I am living off those funds until my attorney and doctor can get worker's compensation reinstated. I pray that won't take long.