Chronic Pain Patient's Rights and Services Available in regards to Job Related Issues

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New Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 8/6/2008 10:43 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello Everyone, my name is Angela and I am new here and was wondering if anyone could help me or point me in the right direction. I fell at home down cement steps back in July of 2006 and shattered my right leg Tib/Fib which needed surgery (bar and screws) and my left index finger. Since then I had 3 surgeries with the initial surgeon (just a general ortho on call who in the end ended up re-breaking my left inde finger during manual manupulation so never went back to  him but that's another entire story in and of its self), after 6 months of being out of work I had gone back fulltime in Jan 2007. I was back just over a year and during that time my pain had increased drastically so I in March of this year went to my regular GP doctor and he suggested I get another Ortho onboard for a consult and also go to pain management. Long and short of it is I didn't like new Ortho as by this time had a bad taste in my month but ended up finding a really great pain management doctor who has really been so helpful to me and the first dr. in a long time to actually care. He also referred me to Physio and an ortho foot dr. as majority of my pain was stemming from right leg making it impossible for me to use steps and just do daily activities such as walking, standing etc. Back tracking before I went to him in March my company was doing construction during day in the office I worked, and the elevators were not working and I had to make myself use the stairs (3 floors up) and then there would be all sorts of construction tools in hall making it dangerous (my company is non-union)... well the pain management dr and foot dr. ended up finding I had also now sustained a severe fallen arch along with the chronic pain diagnosis and together they pulled me out of work on temp. disability. I have yet to return but my temp. benefits are running out. Last month I also had another surgery on my left index finger with a new hand specialist to try and undue the damage the other surgeon caused, and now have been attending both physio for leg and OT hand therapy inbetween all the other dr. appts I'm sure you all know very well. I have been told my leg/foot is making progress but the pain dr. also admits I have something that isn't going away anytime soon. Due to all of this I have become so depressed and I believe the medication is making me exhausted. I don't eat, can't sleep correctly and haven't even been able to really hang out with my friends (by the way I'm 33). So my question is this, I actually want to be productive and try to work but don't feel right now going back to full-time is going to be possible. I am so confused on what steps to take or what rights I have. I am considering giving up my apartment and moving back home (which I've been on my own since I'm 19!) just to maybe be able to part-time and hope in time I can get the pain under control enough to go back full-time and get myself back on my feet 100%. I feel like everyone is telling me different things, like there is disability insurance I have through work - but would they supplement my income if I had to cut back my hours, would my employer even allow this, if I have to leave my job of my free will because I just can't do what is expected of me, what then can I do? I don't want to be without health coverage god forbid... also my current insurance only covers PT and OT for 60 days a year which I am just upon, what if I need more sessions for the year? Could I get unemployement if I leave on my own, or maybe file for welfare and get help that way... friends have told me to call social security disability lawyers etc. I am so confused and am getting more stressed out and depressed because I don't know who to turn too. My finger isn't making the recovery they thought and most of my current job that I am on leave for is computer related - typing etc. and to top it off they are moving my job to the city, which would also make it nearly impossible for me to do (i.e. dealing with public transportation, walking city blocks etc. and getting to be able to attend my  appts needed). I don't want to give up on me and it upsets me that some people have the nerve to tell me I'll just lazy when they have no idea how much I struggle just to do life-needed activities. I have no idea who to turn too. Thanks for listening and for your help and comments. I really appreciate it!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 639
   Posted 8/6/2008 10:58 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi, Angela. I am sorry to hear of your accident and the pain you are suffering. We are always sad to see someone new have to join us, but still want to welcome you to the group. You have come to the right place. I do not know much about disability and worker's comp, but I know that there are many here who have had extensive experience with it. I am sure many of them will be along soon to give you sage advice. I just wanted to tell you hello and let you know you aren't alone out there.

One small bit of logistical advice for posting on the site... When you have a longer post, try to break it up into smaller paragraphs. That makes it a bit easier to read on the computer as people track the text. :-)

Once again, I welcome you to the forum. I hope you will find the answers you need and support to get you through the rough times.


tom inpain
Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 239
   Posted 8/6/2008 11:14 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Angela: First of all I would like to welcome you !!! Your problem is one that all of us have had to face sooner or later. you have a long depressing road ahead of You and if I may ?? I would try and mitigate Your financial pressure as much as possible. If I could have moved home I would have. Sounds to me ( other's may disagree ) that You will have to file with Social Security which based on Your medical history-- S.S. will shoot You down for the first and second appeal and this is time consuming so you will need to manage Your money accordingly. First time approval for Social Security benefits are only given to horrible medical conditions like mine. But everyone I'v ever talked to got turned down the first and second times then the third try according to Your lawyers ability and Strong medical reports and Your treating doctors reputation You may prevail. Now that I depressed You ! the positive news .... For help and understanding You have found the right place for again we all have gone thru what You are going thru and I may be 100% wrong as I filed years and years ago and things may have changed ? Plus, You will find out by reading the posts I write I'm a total nut ! but the others in this forum are trustworthy, understanding, educated, good people will advise You the right direction to follow. I look forward to watching You succeed and get back to work and live a long pain free life. Best of luck to You Tom
Tom Lasko

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2317
   Posted 8/6/2008 11:14 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi, Angela.

I don't really know anything about SSI, but if you're looking to keep your job maybe I have an idea. A friend of mine got really bad carpal tunnel. She applied through the State & got them to order her a special program that converts speech into text (I think it's name had "Dragon" something in it). There are a lot of those programs. If your company is large enough, they might be required to provide it for you as a "reasonable accommodation". If it's a smaller company, maybe your State will cover the cost.

Also, at least in my state, there is a special insurance program for people with disabilities who are working part-time. The premiums are super low (based on ability to pay -- I think my friend pays $17/mo.) and co-pays are also super cheap ($3 for office visits or meds, $10 for hospital). It did take her a couple months to get everything lined up with that. Hopefully you can afford COBRA for that time (you know probably already know, but COBRA is a federally mandated program where you get to keep your current insurance with your employer for up to 18 months regardless or reason for termination, voluntary or involuntary, except you do have to pay however much it costs because once you're not employed the company doesn't have to kick in their part anymore).

Wish I knew more. Hopefully you will find something that works for you.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 1713
   Posted 8/6/2008 11:53 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Angela,

Welcome to the chronic pain forum. We are glad you are here and hope you continue to post with us.

As for ss disability. you can try tp apply for it. I think you meet the critieria. I urge you to fill out the tedious forms with exact and measured information. In other words, the duration of pain, the duration of time it takes to do daily functions , the duration of limitiations. They are looking for details. I was told my paper work was the best my local office had ever seen. I got my disability on the first try within six months. So it can be done. But be specific. You can try without a lawyer the first time if you are up to it. Just fill out the the forms online. I also suggest that you get someone, perhaps a family member, to help you. Two heads are better than one.

I am glad you have a pain management doctor helping you and that your pain is somewhat controlled. Keep staying positive and try try try to search for answers. I hope I have helped a little.

Gentle Hugs,

Moderator Chronic Pain
Believe in yourself.  Be kind to fellow humans and animals.  Take time to smell the flowers and the coffee.
And by all means, when you are down, ask me for help.  I will be there.

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 8/7/2008 3:30 AM (GMT -6)   

Wow thank you too all of you, I never expected to get so many people to respond so quickly - guess I'm not alone in the being up all night department either!

All good advice, guess I am just so overwhelmed right now and have been in a deep depression the past couple of weeks. My best friend just took a break from me because she seems to think I have all this energy for all my other friends but her, what she doesn't understand is I cancel on them all too, because it's hard for to plan in advance because I just don't know if that day will be a good or bad pain day. Then lately my dad, whose been my biggest supporter, said he actually thinks part of me is just being lazy and it really hurt - I just can't seem to explain how tough it is and how much the pain takes it toll physically and emotionally. I am sick of hearing myself ***** and moan, so some days I just withdraw and find it easier to just stay in at home and watch TV all day because then I don't have to face the pain and what I can or can't do that day and don't have to deal with explaining myself to anyone else.

It just cracks me up that I actually want to try and remain working just know my limitations and don't want to set myself up for any more failures - heck if my own family and friends are questioning I may just be lazy, then deffinitly stranger and employers aren't going to understand it either and just think I'm a crap worker - bad enough this stupid accident already ruined what was a good reputation at my job. So I want to work, and yet it's still hard, because I need someone willing to cut back my hours, or give me flex time or a work from home job, then of course there is the whole health insurance nightmare and the 'pre-existing' condition and if I have to take out my own policy how the heck am I going to pay for it etc. Going home for a bit, as tough as it is to face it, I agree with all of you, sometimes you just have to ask for help, and if going backwards to go forward is what I need to do, so be it... I just wish everyone would stop acting as I am who I was prior to the accident because I am not and probably never will be again. And just because I'm not a junkie or alcoholic or have cancer or something 'real' I wouldn't wish this pain on my worst enemy. I guess part of me is still angry this even happened... and then to have ended up with a greedy surgeon first time around who never once said I should get a hand surgeon for my finger and everyone I come across that had him since isn't heeled correctly yet I coudn't get any lawyer to take the case even after he rebroke my finger in another spot doing manual manupulation and left me in tears screaming something is wrong in the ER and forget to sign the perscription and to give me a note for work and I never ever went back to him and him nor his office thought once to give me a follow up call and now 2 years later I am still all messed up... ugh doctors! Like everything thinks Angela has been out of work since April and Angela is having a grand old time with the summer off. Too bad the reality of it is Angela has been going to appointments like they are going out of style, then Angela had yet another surgery and let me tell you how fun finger OT is, seriously they could use it as a torture device! And the best part of it is, my prize if I actually ever get the thing to move again? 2 more finger surgeries yay! Then all the paperwork is like a fulltime job in and of itself if you can actually doctors to fill it out, if its not in on time then you go into suspension mode get no paycheck at all, stress over money and then there's the fun side effects of the meds... but yet these clowns think I'm at the beach, when I just want to stay in bed and hide and aren't even allowed on the beach because I am not allowed to be on uneven surfaces!

On top of it that I've been in a long distance relationship with a surgeon no less and just broke that off and we were engaged. I don't even know who I am anymore, we've been together over 2 years and my significant other still doesn't have a plan in place for us to be together and being the surgeon and dealing with this all day, doesn't really get while I'm complaining either because after all it wasn't brain surgery... I love this person, and really thought they were the one, and I know they love me, but I have been so overwhelemd I feel like I can't handle anything anymore, I am so emotional and have no patience and may have thrown away something good, but if my fiance can't even be there for me now, what's the point?

Sorry for the vent guys, guess I needed to get some of that out hehehe...

So I take it most of you are dealing with similar things? Want to share your stories, vent etc? Any tips on surviving... thank god for my kitty cat LOL some days I feel like he's the only 'person' I like :)

Again thank you all so much for all the responses and help and for making me feel welcomed. I truly appreciate it and am really glad I joined, I think it will be helpful to be around people that can relate. I wish you all well and hope you all have a pain-free night/day (depending where in the world you are hehehe), that's one thing I know we all live for... those good days :) I'm game to listening to anyone - I am much better at helping others then myself!


New Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 8/9/2008 12:32 PM (GMT -6)   

Hey Marmite,

Not at all, did not take any offense to your post at all... guess I just didn't want to beat the dead horse and the more I look around here, the more I feel really bad that I am complaining, when it seems people are dealing with much worse -guess it just put it all into perspective for me and realized while I am dealing with chronic pain maybe its more so the depression issue that is bigger for me right now and keeping me down more so then the pain. I just don't want to say the wrong thing or offend anyone, because god knows for the little experience I have thus far dealing with this condition, not years like some people here, I am still green in some ways... I want to help others and motivate them, because I need that... but I also find in my day to day life if someone I love tries to motivate and does it in the 'wrong' way I end up getting upset with them saying they don't understand... just had this argument with my dad, and luckily we talked - in the end seems he just wants to help and doesn't know what to do and I explained to him that is how I feel most days about me! I haven't even cleaned my apartment in like 2 weeks, and if you knew me you would know it is driving me crazy because I am such the neat freak, so sitting here amongst the mess, dishes pilling up (again something I never did before) etc just makes me not care even more... I think I need to give myself the pep talk and start doing the things I know I can do and realize I do still have a chance to get better and instead of focusing on what happened to me, woe as me, fight it... it's just easier said then done. It's just scary. It's scary not knowing if I'll have a job, how I will pay my bills, and if I can ever do some of things I used to enjoy again and still enjoy them or just suffer  through them to fake it... although I still have remainded hopeful that in time it will get easier, that if I listen to my drs. and learn to push myself through some of the pain, for me that is the way for me getting some of me back...

I saw it from my mom... and me and my brother dismissed it, thought some of it was in here head, couldn't understand why she didn't just get up at a normal time, and try and get out because there would be times like after I got injured and she had come up for a visit and made us get her a wheelchair delivered then took her shopping without the chair that she had more energy then me, so I just assumed she could do it when she wanted and when she felt like not, she played that card... now I see it from the other perspective and I have been feeling so bad I didn't even understand my own parent... there are other issues she has that I don't want to go into on here but I do know believe she does have pain and I have learned pain is relative to each individual.

So no you did not offend me, upset me or anything at all. No worries at all :) Just have had a lot going on, and kind of have been in my own head space as of late trying to figure it all out.


Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16603
   Posted 8/13/2008 6:25 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Angela and welcome to HW. I am late in posting as usual. I will do my best to make this short. I noted that you are receiving what sounds like Short Term Disability thru an employer. If this is correct, then by all means please check with their Human Resources Dept. to see if you are entitled to Long Term Disability benefits. In many instances if one is offered then the other is too. Please check on this ASAP as you may have certain requirements to apply for the Long Term Benefits.
By all means get on line and apply for your Social Security Disability benefits. It can be a long drawn out affair for many. I applied and was awarded my benefits on the first go around. However, my disability was approved due to severe crohns disease. It is not necessary to hire an atty to file the inital paperwork, in fact most attys will not get involved until you are denied benefits. Be sure to make a complete copy of all forms that you file with SS. You will need to refer back to the old forms from time to time when completing the new forms they mail out. I also obtained a copy of all of my medical records from the drs that treated me relating to my disability and I kept my original and gave SS copies of the originals. I know SS requests your medical records, but alot of the time the drs office is real bad about putting the request in your chart and never sending in the copies of your records or they will back shelf the the request. Be sure to keep obtaining your medical records so your file is updated and I did send in my own copies as I received them. I was also assigned a case worker by SS and I kept this person informed on all of my visits to the dr and what was done or recommended. Be sure to obtain a print out from your pharmacy for the medications you need relating to CP.
When hiring an atty for a SS claim, they work on a contingency fee and there is a cap as to what they can charge you to handle the claim. This fee arrangement is set by SS guidelines. So, you should not pay an atty upfront any monies.
Kudos to you for deciding to work on what you are capable of doing on a daily basis, instead of dwelling on what you cannot do. It can be very easy to fall in the trap of dwelling on those things and in reality it just zaps your energy. We need all the energy we can muster to get by on a daily basis. Yes, you are right, quit expending that precious energy on the screw up from the first ortho and place that energy into efforts of making things better with your drs.
Depression and chronic pain go hand in hand. The percentage of us on this forum being depressed will blow your mind. It does not mean you are weak, in fact we are much stronger than most because of what we must endure. Get in to see your PCP or even your pain mgt dr and discuss the depression and try getting on medication to help you over the hump. Sometimes it may take trying several different meds but I bet they find one that will help you. 
Remember we are all here for you. No, friends and family do not understand chronic pain unless they are a chronic pain patient. They sometimes can and do make ugly remarks that hurt us deeply. Sad but true, you will find out who your true are and who were merely more than an acquaintenace, but do not let that bring you down. One good friend is better than 100 acquaintenaces. Invite your family and friends to this forum to see what CP people are all about, its good education for them. Take a family member to your pain mgt appt.
Above all be selfish and take care of yourself. Do what needs to be done to help you. If it means moving back home, so be it, its temporary. If someone volunteers to help, let them. If you need help ask.
Keep your new family here informed on how you are doing. If you have something on your mind, come here and talk about. Hugs, Susie

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