1200 Miles For a Doctors Visit!
This post is going to be about my daily life because something really big just happened and it is going to set several balls into motion that can change my life. I just drove 1200 miles to go to a Doctors visit! To understand it all we have to go back to August 4, 2011. For the fourth year I was a campground host in National Forest Campgrounds. I had worked at this same campground for the same company for the last 3 years in the Sierra National Forest above Fresno, CA. I had 4 small campgrounds scattered across the Forest. I drove my own vehicle between them and the company I worked for reimbursed me for mileage. To save money on gas, that year I had bought a motorcycle and was riding it back and forth between campgrounds. On August 4, I was riding between campgrounds and had an accident that severely broke my wrist and shattered the elbow of my right arm—of course I am right handed. My boss took me to the hospital and I had my first surgery that night. A week later I had a second surgery, three weeks later I had a third and in May of 2012 I had my fourth and final surgery. Because I was on the job, all of my medical expenses were covered by Workman’s Compensation.
Because the damage was so severe, recovery was very, very slow. For 2 months all I did was lay flat on my back in my campground with my arm elevated. I had zero use of my arm and fingers, none of them could move. In October I began to go to physical therapy for just my fingers. At that time I could not move them even the tiniest amount, they were locked solid. It took over a month of painful therapy for me to be able to move my thumb an inch and touch my forefinger. It wasn’t until December that I could squeeze my hand and make a fist. All along my Doctor kept telling me that it was all up to me. If I worked really hard I could regain most of the use of my fingers and wrist, and if I did not I could lose it all. I worked hard!! Today I have regained nearly all use of my fingers and probably 70% of my wrist.
Three months after the accident, we started working on the elbow in physical therapy. We worked hard and it was very painful, but we made almost no progress. I’ll never forget the day the therapist told me that we probably would never see any improvement. Fortunately, he was wrong and we suddenly had a breakthrough and it did make a very slight improvement. While it wasn’t much, it did allow me to start feeding myself with my right hand, for which I am very grateful! The range of motion in that arm is pretty restricted. If you let your arm hang straight down and then lift it up to touch your shoulder, you have a range of motion of almost 180 degrees. I have about ½ of that or about 90 degrees. My Doctor discharged me last July of 2012 and said there was nothing more medicine could do for me.
Workmans Comp is obligated to make a settlement with it’s clients to make a cash reimbursement for loss of future wages. So if I am unable to work again, or will earn less because of the accident, then they must pay me for my future lost wages. That is all determined by one last visit to a specialist who determines my ability to work. He writes the final report that becomes the basis of that settlement. It’s been a long time coming, but I just had that final Doctors visit. Because all this happened in Fresno, CA. I had to drive back over to Fresno for the visit. The Doctors appointment was at 3:30 PM on Wednesday April 10. Because it was a 600 mile drive back from Prescott to Fresno, there was no way I was going to make it in 2 days and so I made it a three day trip. I left Tuesday, April 9 and spent the night in the desert outside of Mojave, Ca. The next morning I drove in Fresno, went to the appointment and then drove back to Mojave to camp in the same spot. Thursday I drove back to camp just north of Prescott: 1200 miles in three days. Fortunately, it was a totally uneventful trip!
The Doctors visit was surprisingly short and simple. He basically just went over my history, measured my range of motion and tested my grip strength. Not much to it! He also got new X-Rays in order to check for arthritis. That is one thing I have to worry about, trauma to a joint like this often leads to early and severe arthritis. He seemed very sympathetic toward me as the patient. He said that I would not be able to go back to work as a campground host because I had lost too much strength, range of motion and endurance. That answered a lot of questions for me. I really liked being a campground host and actually miss it. I liked the people I worked with and nearly all the campers I met. And of course, the money was good! So I have been torn about it and part of me wanted to try to go back to work. But this settled it once and for all; it simply is not an option.
We could be talking about a fairly large chunk of money in the Settlement, so I had already gotten an attorney. The next step is for my attorney and the Insurance Company to haggle out a Settlement. While I have no idea what it will be, $20,000 is a number that gets thrown around a lot. The attorney will get 15% of whatever it is.
Something else I need to do now is apply for Social Security Disability. I needed this final Doctors Report to apply, so now I can do that. From my research it seems like I have a very good chance of getting it. I have only had blue collar jobs, and of all of them campground host was the easiest. If I can’t work at that job, there is no job I have ever done that I could do now. I’ll be 58 soon and it is much too late to try to re-train me in a whole new field.
This isn’t the end of the saga of my broken arm, but it brings the end much, much closer; and as far as I am concerned, it can’t come soon enough!