03:25:18 am on
Monday 27 May 2024

Car Accident Part 2
Matt Seinberg

If you've never had surgery, know you must do much before the wonderful event. The main pains involve pre-surgical testing. This is where you go to the hospitals off-site facility to answer many questions, ingest medications and get poked and prodded.

• Paperwork and red tape.

I also had to go for medical clearance. As my primary care physician doesn't take no-fault insurance, I had to find one that did. My chiropractor recommended someone in his building; I made an appointment.

The referral physician was nice enough, but it was mostly a repeat of what the other facility did, except she wanted some sort of blood tests. I was going to use a lab by my house, but the hospital wouldn't have the results in time. I had to go to the hospital itself to get it done.

Then on the day of surgery, everyone was in a panic because there was no cardiac clearance. They had to get a hold of my cardiology group to make sure they would clear me for surgery. They did.

The last thing I remember someone was wheeling me into the operating room and then nothing. Blackness. A great sleep. Serenity.

The next thing I knew I was awake in my room, but groggy. There was no pain down my legs like there had been previously. Propped up, slightly, I could feel the difference. All I wanted at that moment was to go back to sleep.

The surgeon came in later to ask how I felt. I told him that the pain down my legs was gone, but the lower back pain was still there. He said that should go away over the coming weeks.

I was in the hospital for three days and my first roommate would not shut up. All I wanted was peace and quiet, but he kept talking and talking. Finally, at 11 pm I told him that I wanted to sleep and, please, do not talk to me.

The next day he was gone. My new roommate was an older fellow. He had family visiting him during the day.

All I wanted to do was watch some television, read, listen to music and sleep. Did you know it's not that easy to sleep in a hospital; the nurses are coming by every couple of hours to take vital signs and such. My nurses were great and I was grateful for the great care I received. The first two nurses were young, blonde and gorgeous.

After I oriented myself, I realized that I had to urinate, badly. I just couldn't get it done, so the nurse asked if I wanted a catheter. Yes. So imagine the scene of two young, blonde gorgeous nurses inserting a catheter. At that moment you don't care if a stranger is handling your junk, you just want relief.

When the highlight of the day is a sponge bath, it's time to leave, but I had another day to go. Then the physical therapist came by to get me out of bed, into a walker and guide me around the floor to ensure I can walk. He even tested me on a small set of stairs.

I finally went home on Friday. They ordered a walker delivered to the house on Saturday because I couldn't use a cane yet. I had taken approximately nine weeks off from work and it was the beginning of the summer!

That Sunday morning, I woke up in excruciating pain. I had a terrible pain down my left leg. My wife called the surgeon’s office and got the doctor on call. He told us to go the ER. When we got there, I couldn't walk and they put me in device that's a handcart for people.

The first thing they did was an ultrasound to make sure I didn't have a blood clot. Then they gave me morphine for the pain. They didn't find anything wrong and sent me home; armed with instructions to rest and take the Oxycodone.

• Neighbourly help was necessary.

When we got home, I was still in pain and couldn't even get out the car. Luckily, our next-door neighbour was outside; he helped my wife get me in the house. I finally got some sleep, and started taking the Oxycodone more frequently than instructed.

Here's the problem with opioid-based painkillers; for every one day you take them, there are two days of constipation. I was on it for five days and it took me ten days to get back to normal again. Ever since then, I avoid taking them.

I used the walker for roughly two week and then I switched to a cane. It was at that point I could walk slowly and do more things for myself. Taking a shower was a pleasure. Getting outside, relaxing on the chaise reading and listening to music was the best yet. I napped outside and even got a bit of tan.

After being home for three or four weeks, I started physical therapy (PT) at a facility just a couple of minutes from the house. For the first week or so, someone took me back and forth, as I could not drive myself for medical reasons. The PT helped, and I became more mobile.

The surgeon cleared me to drive five weeks after the surgery. The only place I really went to was PT.

Finally, after being home for nine weeks, I returned to work part time, working just four days instead of five. I had to build my endurance back up. I did that for a month.

The no fault insurance was paying for everything, including PT, chiropractor and other appointments. All good things end and with insurance companies those are called Independent Medical Exams (IMEs). The purpose is for an insurance company paid doctor to say that treatment is no longer necessary.

These exams are quick and perfunctory. The patient never wins. The game is rigged game and that needs to be changed.

PT ended. Insurance no longer covered the chiropractor. At this point, I felt well enough that PT wasn't necessary.

Lawyer Stephen was always in contact with me and said that settling my case could take a long time. I had time to let him do his job.

The other insurance company wanted an IME and lawyer Stephen met me at that office. He wanted to make sure my examination went properly and I didn't answer any questions with wrong answers. That exam took all of five minutes and was a waste of time just like the other ones.

Let's fast forward to November 2018. Lawyer Stephen is in deep talks and negotiations with the insurance company. He said things are getting close. Finally, in December 2018 he e-mails, asking me to call him. He tells me they finally made a decent offer, but it was my decision on whether to take it or not. The number was more than I thought, but less than I had hoped.

Then we find out there are two liens, one from my insurance company and one from my chiropractor. Stephen gets more money to cover both liens, which means I get more money.

I am not a frivolous person and I have that money earmarked for certain things. The first was paying off our home equity line of credit, which will eliminate that monthly bill. Then we're going to do some work around the house and maybe take a vacation. Some dental work is in there as well.

• Final advice.

Let me close with some advice if you're involved in a car accident. Get a police report. Don't go to work; go to the ER. Find a good lawyer. Seek as much medical treatment as possible. Hope for the best results and know that it could take two-to-three years for a settlement.

Click here to read part one of this story.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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