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Punished for being 51 and saving a student from an Assault

Started by slukes on 04/18/2011 5:33am

Employment Position: Highly Qualified Texas Certified Social Studies Teacher
Hire Date: 08/2004, length of employment 7 years
Prior to the injury on 10/14/2010, I was in excellent health. I played golf, was a rock climber, scuba diver, cyclists, walked my dog approximately 20 miles per week, and led an active rich and fulfilling life. I did not have any back problems, never complained about my back, was not treated for any back problems, nor took off a single day of work for anything related to my back, neck, legs, and hip in the seven years I have been employed at Grand Prairie Independent School District.
On 10/14/2010 I was standing in the hallway outside of my classroom during passing period (as required) when students started running toward a fight a classroom down the hall from me. I ran making my way through the many students to see a larger student assaulting a much smaller student. The larger student (the aggressor) had the smaller student (the victim) pinned in a corner portion of the hallway on the floor with the victim under him. He was punching this student rapidly and hard enough for me to hear the blows landing. I identified myself and attempted to stop the assault by grabbing the arm of the aggressor. The student did not stop hitting the victim nor could I control his arm as the student was much stronger than me with the back force of his arm hitting me. I wrapped my arms around the upper portion of the aggressor’s chest and attempted to pull him off the victim, yet he did not budge and continued hitting the victim.
From a standing bent over position, I exerted all of my strength pulling him up in backward direction, yet he still held onto the victim continuing to strike the victim. This action resulted in both of the students falling back on top of me to the concrete floor since I could not maintain my balance or the weight of this violent encounter. As they landed on top of me, I noticed that the aggressor was holding on to the victim and continued hitting him. With my arms firmly wrapped around the aggressor’s chest from behind him, I wrapped my legs around his lower body (his legs) using one of my legs to somehow push the victim away from his attacker. With my arms and legs tightly wrapped around the aggressor from behind (I had his back) using all the energy I had, I attempted to restrain him, yet he continued to resist my efforts as we (for no better words) flopped around on the floor. The whole time I was telling this student to stop fighting. We flopped on the floor for maybe 30+ seconds while I held onto him with all my energy fearing not only my safety but mostly the safety of the victim who was now standing in the area. Finally, the aggressor stopped trying to break free of my hold on him saying “ok ok let me go”, which I replied I will as long as you do not attack the victim, which he agreed to.
I released him and quickly stood to my feet fearing that he might go after the victim again, but he did not as he quickly walked away from me. I told the student to stop and tried to follow him when I felt severe intense pain shooting throughout my body, which caused me to fall back down to the floor on my hands and knees and I crawled to the wall gasping for my breath and in agonizing pain. The large crowd of students began to disperse and one of the principals arrived asking me what happen. All I could say was that there had been a fight and remained on my hands and knees at which time the principal asked me if I was okay, and I said no. The principal call for the school nurse, opened the door to the classroom I was near, and I tried to stand to enter it. I am not sure what happen then exactly, but I remember being on my knees and resting my upper body on the seat of a chair in that classroom. I said to the principal and the nurse to give me a few minutes and I’d be okay since I know I had a class full of students that I needed to get to. The principal told me not to worry about my class and that I needed fill out an accident report and go to the doctor. The nurse asked me questions pertaining to my current condition.
After several minutes maybe 10 or 15, I was instructed to make my way to the main office where I would receive directions to the doctor’s office. I was asked if an ambulance was needed, which I declined thinking that the pain would stop soon. I stood and slowly hobbled to my classroom to get my personal belongings a small cooler and my work bag. I thought I could carry these things to the main office since they were very light, a pound maybe, but I could not since the pain in my back and legs were severe. I asked a student to carry them and walk with me to the office. I slowly walked or hobbled to the office where the accident form was completed and I was instructed to go directly to Care Now to see the doctor. The school secretary made all the arrangements and the nurse carried my belonging and escorted me to my car.
I somehow drove myself directly to Care Now where they evaluated my condition and determined that I needed to go to the emergency room at once. I went to Harris Methodist ER in Mansfield Texas where a CT scan and x-rays were taken. Really I do not remember much from shortly after the fight until I got home the night. I remember being asked what hurt and I said my back and legs hurt real badly and I told them that I had surgery on my low back in the mid 80’s. I was prescribed Hydrocodon 750mg and Valium 10mg, and directed to follow up with my treating physician at Care Now. The next couple of weeks are foggy to me. My daughter came to take care of me at my home for the next week or so.

Upon returning to Care Now I was treated by Dr. Ellen Dahl Associate Medical Director who ordered an MRI, prescribed medication, and referred me to referred me to Bruce I. Prager, M.D. Orthopedic Surgeon. A few days later I had the MRI done and saw Dr. Prager shortly after that who evaluated me, prescribed oral steroid medication, 800 mg ibuprofen, and physical therapy.
A week into physical therapy (approximately 3 weeks after the injury occurred) I received a diagnosis letter (extent of injury) from TASB Risk MGNT FUND, adjuster Ann Datcher, stating the extent of injury being a low back sprain and age related degenerative disc disease, which seemed to me to be an understatement of the severity of my injury due to my symptoms and severe pain. I contacted my adjuster Ann Datcher who informed me that this was determined by her company, which I contested since it seemed like there was much more wrong with my entire back that was not being addressed. She informed me that I had age related degenerative disc disease that was not caused by the injury, which I disagreed with to her.
I returned to see Dr. Prager about one week later showing him the TASB Risk MGNT FUND extent of extent of injury diagnosis letter, and he disagreed with it saying I needed to contest their findings. He informed me that I had at least one herniated disc and it would take much more then minimal invasive surgery to fix it. I also informed him again of the pain in my mid back and neck which was now much more apparent to me, which he said was caused by the initial injury, but that he could not address it since the extent of injury diagnosis did not cover that area. He referred me to John C. Milani, M.D. Orthopedic Spine Surgeon who I saw for the first time on 12/07/2010.
I have seen Dr. Milani several times since then, I have always complained about my mid back and neck pain. Dr. Milani told me from the first visit on that he could only treat me according to the extent of injury report provided to him from TASB Risk MGNT FUND. To me, it seems like he has always disregarded my symptoms, and on one occasion he told me that a small herniated disc would not be causing all these problems, which I replied to him with what about my neck and mid back pain, and he told me that it was not part of the extent of injury. Dr. Milani focused on SI injections and the sacroiliac joint instead. He did request and re-request SI injections, and following the Designated Doctor’s Report of 01/19/2011 an MRI of my upper and neck area, and pain management treatment, but these were all denied by TASB Risk MGNT FUND each time.
Even the Designated Doctor’s Report of 01/19/2011 referred to my herniated disc or discs as degenerative disc disease a preexisting condition, but made several recommendations that were always denied by TASB Risk MGNT FUND. I was instructed by the Workers Compensation Commission that I had to attend medical examination evaluation that was requested by TASB Risk MGNT FUND. It took place on 03/28/2011 at Exam Works 12001 N. Central Expy #800, Dallas TX 75243 preformed by Juan Capello, MD. After reviewing the report I find it to be an attack against my character let alone false and inaccurate. I can cite several portions of it that were vague discrediting statements made toward me, which could have been asked by him to me during the examination but were not needless to say ending up in his report. Juan Capello, MD seems to have disregarded the Designated Doctor’s Report of 01/19/2011, overlooked the complete lack of any treatment provided to since the physical therapy ended, and has declared me 100% well ready to return to work even though the severity my condition has not changed at all since 10/14/2010 in my opinion I have gotten worse.
On 03/29/2011 I had a scheduled routine follow up appointment with my Care Now treating physician Dr. Fleischer. After the prior day’s medical examination evaluation, I was in severe pain suffering from muscle spasms to my neck, mid and lower back, horrific shooting leg and hip pains all of which were present the day before but at a lower level of severity. Dr. Fleischer suggested a cortisone injection and I agreed to it. While waiting for the nurse to give me this injection, the muscle spasms became so bad that I could no longer stand, and I attempted to lay down on the bed/table in the room. I could not lift myself onto it, and since I felt like I was about to pass out from the horrific total body pain, I laid down on the floor in the fetal position. I called out for help and finally someone arrived, I believe it was my nurse. The nurse (a large male) called for the doctor and together they both lifted me to the table where I laid in the fetal position in tremendous pain and when questioned explained what happen and how I felt.
Dr. Fleischer added a separate pain injection (Toradol) to the cortisone injections and the nurse stayed with me for quite some time afterwards. Another 15 to 30 minutes passed before I was released to go home. Like always before Dr. Fleischer ordered me off work for three more weeks. On 04/01/2011 I returned to see Dr. Fleischer on my own accord since my pain level was very high, and I thought that receiving the injections of 03/29 again might help since it was the most treatment I had received since 11/2011. After discussing it with Dr. Fleischer, I learned that the cortisone could only be given once every 3 months, but he could give me another Toradol pain injection. He then went on to tell me that he had just received the medical examination evaluation report as he read it over to himself, I asked him what it stated since the whole time I thought the medical examination evaluation was to help TASB Risk MGNT FUND corroborate the Designated Doctor’s Report of 01/19/2011 to finally start some kind of treatment for me. I thought this because my adjuster Ann Datcher of TASB Risk MGNT FUND told me that why they had requested it, a blatant lie on her part to me.
After briefly reading over the report, Dr. Fleischer told me that it said I was “exaggerating my symptoms and ready to return to work at once”. Of course I was shocked and said “so what do I do now”? He told me that he was releasing me to return to work per the report’s recommendation and he was done treating me, but that the nurse would be in to give me the pain injection and he left the room. The nurse gave me the inject and returned in 10 minutes with my paperwork releasing me with zero restriction to work informing me that Dr. Fleischer and Care Now would no longer be treating me. Still shocked but also in severe pain (the pain inject does little to reduce my level of pain) I left Care Now. When I got home I read the release form and could not tell if I was to be released on 04/04 or 04/09 to return to work along with being total flabbergasted by this sudden turn of events I called Care Now to speak with Dr. Fleischer about it. I was transferred to his nurse’s voice mail where I left him a message regarding the matter. I never heard back from him that night. I called back the next day and spoke to his nurse who told me that she sent him, Dr. Fleischer, an email yesterday and was surprised he had not contacted me last evening. She went on to tell me that he was not in today but would be in tomorrow so she would send him another email. Dr. Fleischer never returned my two attempts to contact him.
I am appalled by the way I have been treated for the past five plus months. I received little to any real treatment to heal my injuries sustained on 10/14/2010 while performing my duties as a teacher for the Grand Prairie Independent School District and protecting a student for serious harm or possible death. I believe that Richard Fleischer, MD of Care Now, Juan Capello, MD of Exam Works, and TASB Risk MGNT FUND are Grossly Negligent in their care of my health and recovery to be at the same level of functional ability I had been prior to the work related incident on 10/14/2010.
My physical condition has not change and slightly worsened since 10/14/2010. It is difficult for me to even maintain basic life skill functions at this time, but due to the reports given to the Grand Prairie Independent School District by Richard Fleischer, MD of Care Now, Juan Capello, MD of Exam Works on behalf of TASB Risk MGNT FUND, I am expected to return to work in the morning 04/11/2011 for full duty with zero restrictions regardless of my actual physical condition as well as all benefits provided to compensate me while unable to work had been halted.
This past week 04/01/2011 until now, I have been trying to seek some kind of medical treatment for the severe pain I am suffering from that began on 10/14/2010 while performing my duties as a teacher for the Grand Prairie Independent School District and protecting a student for serious harm or possible death, but I could not be treated by any medical facility I contacted which includes the Texas Back Institute, my primary physician Dr. Coppel, and others. My employer the Grand Prairie Independent School District has informed me that if I cannot work tomorrow 04/11/2011 I will be placed in inactive status and virtually lose my job as a certified teacher for GPISD and be unemployed.
(*At this time*) I would like to commend the Grand Prairie Independent School District for supporting and providing me with all the possible help they could offer throughout this traumatic ordeal.
I spent over seven hours at Parkland Memorial Hospital’s emergency room last night 04/09/2010 to seek medication so I can attempt to attend a full day of work tomorrow, basically I will pretend I am better than I am so as to not be unemployed and not only be physically disabled but also have my career destroyed too. The ER doctor at Parkland Memorial Hospital advised me to attempt to attend work on 04/11/2011 using the medications prescribed at whatever level I feel I can perform and has referred me to Parkland’s Orthopedic Unit to begin treatment of the injury that took place on 10/14/2010 while performing my duties as a teacher for the Grand Prairie Independent School District and protecting a student for serious harm or possible death to make me whole again.
All I ever wanted to be healthy again and for this insidious painful suffering to end so I could have my life back, start living again, and return to my career as a teacher. My quality of life is below Human Rights expectations and been reduced to a living Hell. This is a despicable way to treat a human being. I am physically broken and emotionally destroyed due to this incidence that occurred on 10/14/2010 while performing my duties as a teacher for the Grand Prairie Independent School District and protecting a student for serious harm or possible death.
To the best of my knowledge this is an Account of the Injury Incident and Medical Treatment I have experienced within the Texas Workers’ Compensation System from 10/14/2010 through 04/10/2011
I returned to work for three day all drugged up, still in pain, limited range of motion, and rather useless. After each day I felt worse and worse until on Thursday morning when I had to crawl to bathroom, which I will not gross you out with any further. I sleep a few hours at a time, live in constant pain, can’t even get treatment due to Texas State laws the favor business and vilify the victims. No one will listen since I am only a drain on company profit and profit not ones health is all that matters anymore. My life ended on 10/14/2010 in all practical terms, and I guess I will be homeless soon since I no longer have an income.

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12 Responses

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This is in America, the land of the free, equal rights, compassionate citizens, etc? What does it teach us about helping others? This is why we hear about people being mugged and beaten in public with crowds just walking by.

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Hi slukes,

I read you post with both disbelief and horror. To be treated in this way IS inhumane. I am from the UK and I know the medical services are different in the US and from state to state but this is truly appaulng. I can empathise with the "whole back pain " senario and the feeling of dispare. I can offer no advice but to fight the decisions if that option is open to you.

But.....my primary reason for my post is to offer my support and some level of empathy.

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Excuse the "pun". I feel your pain. I thought this crap only went on in Michigan. These doctors don't really listen at all. They think that people in severe CHRONIC pain are all drug seekers. I guess they have to see blood or something to get it. WELL THERE IS NO BLOOD. There is just severe pain with herniated discs and for God's sake, if you're supposed to be a back surgeon, you should know that. I think that to qualify to be a back surgeon, they should have to have at least 2 herniated discs in their lives to know what if feels like so they can have compassion for their patients.

We are treated like numbers, not patients, not human beings like you said. And in your case, I WOULD BE ANGRY! You saved that boy from any further beatings and this is what you get. DOCTORS don't care. It's terrible because major pain naturally brings on depression and I have had on and off depression for a year now since my fusion surgery which did no good for my pain. They put me on NORCO AND THEN TOOK ME OFF OF IT. WOW! like here ya go you can have this right after your surgery then we believe that you are alright. WE BELIEVE YOU HAVE NO PAIN, WE DON'T CARE WHAT YOU SAY. HOW DO THEY KNOW HOW I FEEL? They think I am a drug addict. I went through the physical therapy which did really help and then WENT BACK TO WORK AND SCHOOL AND SAT ON MY BUTT FOR 9 HOURS PLUS MORE AND WOW DID THE PAIN ATTACK!!

I didn't have any time for any exercises cause I just came home and reached for the bed and the heating pad cause I have been in so much pain...and try to find a doctor that will listen to you......they don't . "You can't have pain this far after your surgery!!! It's impossible!!!" OKAY! I'm a liar. I have lost so much weight cause I can't eat and can't sleep but nobody is listening. I have bouts of depression and miss work -AT LEAST ONE DAY EVERY 2 WEEKS because of that - but nobody cares.

So i understand what you are going through. the only thing that is getting me through each day is prayer. I pray to my holy spirit every single day. That is the only thing that I can suggest to you. Find a good church and pray. I too will pray for you and hope you find the right help, the right doctor that will listen and you can find work so you don't end up homeless. I will definitely keep praying for you every single day. My heart goes out to you - I understand what you are going through and it is SO AGGRAVATING. HANG IN THERE AND GOD BLESS YOU!

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Excuse the "pun". I feel your pain. I thought this crap only went on in Michigan. These doctors don't really listen at all. They think that people in severe CHRONIC pain are all drug seekers. I guess they have to see blood or something to get it. WELL THERE IS NO BLOOD. There is just severe pain with herniated discs and for God's sake, if you're supposed to be a back surgeon, you should know that. I think that to qualify to be a back surgeon, they should have to have at least 2 herniated discs in their lives to know what if feels like so they can have compassion for their patients.

We are treated like numbers, not patients, not human beings like you said. And in your case, I WOULD BE ANGRY! You saved that boy from any further beatings and this is what you get. DOCTORS don't care. It's terrible because major pain naturally brings on depression and I have had on and off depression for a year now since my fusion surgery which did no good for my pain. They put me on NORCO AND THEN TOOK ME OFF OF IT. WOW! like here ya go you can have this right after your surgery then we believe that you are alright. WE BELIEVE YOU HAVE NO PAIN, WE DON'T CARE WHAT YOU SAY. HOW DO THEY KNOW HOW I FEEL? They think I am a drug addict. I went through the physical therapy which did really help and then WENT BACK TO WORK AND SCHOOL AND SAT ON MY BUTT FOR 9 HOURS PLUS MORE AND WOW DID THE PAIN ATTACK!!

I didn't have any time for any exercises cause I just came home and reached for the bed and the heating pad cause I have been in so much pain...and try to find a doctor that will listen to you......they don't . "You can't have pain this far after your surgery!!! It's impossible!!!" OKAY! I'm a liar. I have lost so much weight cause I can't eat and can't sleep but nobody is listening. I have bouts of depression and miss work -AT LEAST ONE DAY EVERY 2 WEEKS because of that - but nobody cares.

So i understand what you are going through. the only thing that is getting me through each day is prayer. I pray to my holy spirit every single day. That is the only thing that I can suggest to you. Find a good church and pray. I too will pray for you and hope you find the right help, the right doctor that will listen and you can find work so you don't end up homeless. I will definitely keep praying for you every single day. My heart goes out to you - I understand what you are going through and it is SO AGGRAVATING. HANG IN THERE AND GOD BLESS YOU!

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Sorry to hear all this has happened to you. I'd like to say I'm shocked, but I'm not. Insurance companies routinely hire third parties to discredit and limit the scope of claims. They call you up and send you emails with well rehearsed speeches designed to present the appearance of caring for you, the patient. This is the big lie. They are caring for the insurance company's bottom line, period. This is especially common with workers comp claims and back injuries, as they tend to be chronic and long in duration, as well as expensive to treat. They also incur a high rate of disability claims.

I don't know if it's too late now or not, but you need to get yourself a high dollar ambulance chaser lawyer. Document EVERYTHING in minute detail. Gather as much corroborating eyewitness testimony as you can, etc. Get professional legal help. The only way they will begin to look out for your concerns is when it becomes more cost effective than ignoring you. And the only way that happens is under threat of a huge lawsuit. They need to be faced with the prospect of not only paying for your care, but also for damages and legal fees.

Best of luck to you. I hope you ultimately find help and get your life back.

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Jeez! You are a hero, and they are crucifying you! Perhaps you could reach out to the kid you helped, the one who was getting beaten up, and ask if he could testify for you? It would be a shame to not see you taken care of. I'll be thinking of you!

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Sir, the only thing that I can recommend is that you get a statement from the boy you rescued and seek an attorney who will help you win your case. Somewhere out there there has to be a good lawyer who cares and will help you out. DO NOT LET THE SCHOOL DISTRICT GET AWAY WITH THIS NOR SHOULD YOU LET THE INS COMPANY GET AWAY WITH IT EITHER. Some one has to be accountable for the injuries you sustained and the School District should have done everything in their power to help you. I Feel for You. I will pray for you and ask God to help you out and see that someone comes ( lawyer) to your aid. I pray that you will not go homeless.

PLEASE CALL AS MANY LAWYERS AS YOU CAN AND TELL THEM WHAT HAPPENED AND DO NOT GIVE UP---EVEN IF SOME LAWYERS DO NOT CALL YOU BACK OR TELL YOU THAT THEY CAN'T ASSIST YOU---KEEP CALLING TIL YOU GET SOMEONE WHO WOULD BE WILLING TO HELP YOU. I WISH I WAS LIVING IN TEXAS NEAR YOU --- I WOULD HELP YOU OUT IN ANY WAY I COULD. I AM A FIRM BELIEVER OF NEVER GIVING UP AND I AM VERY PERSISTANT.

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Please lawyer up right NOW!

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As an educator with back problems, I feel so sorry to hear this. My own prinicipal is adamant that teachers do not get involved in students fights, but call our campus security officers - they are trained in this and do come quickly. we are also lucky enough to have a police precinct right on our campus grounds.

That said, you are in a terrible fix, and should definitely fight this. Do you belong to a union? Even tho Texas is a Right To Work state, the unions do a great job with getting help and fighting for you. I would enquire with your local TEA, and if you are not a member, maybe you can join to get help throu their legal system. I would also chekc your benefits carefully, you may have access to an out-of-network provider if you are on an HMO, and get a second opinion. TEA could also help you challenge the current finding. I would also contact some local law schools and see if they take on cases; some lawyers also do pro bono or reduced cost work.

Do not give up. FIGHT THIS!

I wish for the best for you.

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Hey there, I can fully appreciate your plight! But do you want to hear something worse? I'm a single mum here in U.K. A neighbour, who I'd befriended in 2007, broke into my home in 2008 and bashed me from head to toe with a CROWBAR! And I wasn't given any emergency medial care, I was in too much shock, both mentally and physically. We, my son and I who witnessed the attack aged only 6, were taken to the police station where a police Dr. took photographs, no policeman offered to take me and my son home nor did they suggest I go to a hospital! The pain was everywhere. But , though MRI scans eventually happened (Christmas, 2009!) I wasn't even given correct results, being told my neck "IS FINE"! Bullshit. But, other gov. agencies got involved preventing me in effect from accessing proper treatment, I don't work you see, and as I've an old bi-polar diagnosis, heath authorities decided to conclude that this was what I was suffering from and treated or mis-treated me accordingly. All this time I was suffering PTSD, a fact completely overlooked. And the original scan results weren't made available to the necessary neurosurgeon upon my seeing him a whole year later. He discharged me for that reason! A neurologist discharged me on the grounds that "you're still able to look after your son"! And despite repeatedly falling, due to the imbalance, which was a direct result of the attack.( I was found to have a fractured skull, have become part=deaf with severe tinnitus to left ear). I am being told now, like yourself, that the disc degeneration to lower spine (Ihad a lump the size of a grapefruit in
that area) isn't necessarily due to the "attack"! Persistant fallting on an already damaged knee has caused a new condition to knee "clergymans knee"/ This in itself is very painful. You're lucky to have been treated at all. I haven't, but then I don't go to work! iI do empathise though in that here in England the mis-treatment or mis-dianosis, whatever you want to call it, is just as "humiliating, demoralising, etc". All the best. Ella in England

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Hey there, I can fully appreciate your plight! But do you want to hear something worse? I'm a single mum here in U.K. A neighbour, who I'd befriended in 2007, broke into my home in 2008 and bashed me from head to toe with a CROWBAR! And I wasn't given any emergency medial care, I was in too much shock, both mentally and physically. We, my son and I who witnessed the attack aged only 6, were taken to the police station where a police Dr. took photographs, no policeman offered to take me and my son home nor did they suggest I go to a hospital! The pain was everywhere. But , though MRI scans eventually happened (Christmas, 2009!) I wasn't even given correct results, being told my neck "IS FINE"! Bullshit. But, other gov. agencies got involved preventing me in effect from accessing proper treatment, I don't work you see, and as I've an old bi-polar diagnosis, heath authorities decided to conclude that this was what I was suffering from and treated or mis-treated me accordingly. All this time I was suffering PTSD, a fact completely overlooked. And the original scan results weren't made available to the necessary neurosurgeon upon my seeing him a whole year later. He discharged me for that reason! A neurologist discharged me on the grounds that "you're still able to look after your son"! And despite repeatedly falling, due to the imbalance, which was a direct result of the attack.( I was found to have a fractured skull, have become part=deaf with severe tinnitus to left ear). I am being told now, like yourself, that the disc degeneration to lower spine (Ihad a lump the size of a grapefruit in
that area) isn't necessarily due to the "attack"! Persistant fallting on an already damaged knee has caused a new condition to knee "clergymans knee"/ This in itself is very painful. You're lucky to have been treated at all. I haven't, but then I don't go to work! iI do empathise though in that here in England the mis-treatment or mis-dianosis, whatever you want to call it, is just as "humiliating, demoralising, etc". All the best. Ella in England

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Ella in England:

That is a terrible story to hear. I hope England isn't all like that, hope this was just a isolated incident. If it makes you feel better, this stuff happens in the US often too.

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