My sister went with me, a few years ago now, to an insurance assessment (for want of a better word)! And I came away needing to do eleventeen blood tests and pee in a bottle etc. I also came away feeling angry as I believed this meeting was supposed to have been to assess the level of disability I suffered from the nerve damage, acute chronic neuralgic pain syndrome, epidural fibrosis, hypersensitivity and arachnoidosis (due to two failed surgeries – this is in a nutshell). I wasn’t supposed to be diagnosed again, surely! Why hadn’t the specialist received the right instructions as in: this is an assessment not a diagnosis – we know she’s fucked we just want you to tell us by how much. So he tests and pricks and squeezes and listens – asks a million questions and of course, being paid by the insurance company the implication is that I have had pre-existing conditions and that I was susceptible to this nerve damage = no pay out for Kait – no way to fix Kait – permanent and inoperable – Yippee for the insurance company – bad luck for me.
Anyway I kept my cool, I went for those tests, to more doctors, more reminders of how hard it is to get around, how dependant I am in certain circumstances, how limited I am – yadda yadda yadda. My sister takes time off from work again to take me to the second meeting which we have had to wait 5 weeks to get. We are shuffled into his office and he slowly goes through all eleventeen tests and …. all of my tests have come back clear.
I have always been fit and healthy and I have always known that I have never had a pre-existing condition. This is what they tried to do with me 17 years ago when I had my first treatment injury. I was supposed to have microsurgery – that’s what I signed for and what was explained to me by the registrar. I had a collapsed lung at the time so it was serious.
So I go into surgery and a practising thoracic surgeon who is not qualified yet, butchers me and gives me a major thoracotomy – stitches the tubes into my nerves in my lung . Then the tubes that drain off the excess fluid from your lung as you heal, must be removed after 3 or so days, the nurse pulls it out in one movement as you breathe out and supposedly out comes the tube….and yes the tube came out, after it was yanked so hard the nerves were dragged to the outside of the wound from the tube placement. Long story short – I am sent to hell. I never really got back. I am given several epidurals up and down my spine, Pethidine shots and all sorts of crap to control it. Apparently I almost died.
In order to be able to get home after 17 days in ICU I end up on mountains of heavily monitored medication like methadone, fentanyl, gabapentin, and loads of other stuff to just keep me like a zombie. So now it was a living hell, no medical support. I weaned myself off all of that shit over 5 years and they had told me I would be on it forever – that I would be an invalid for the rest of my life. I wasn’t that kind of person so I healed myself, taught myself, coped myself – with no support whatsoever from any medical background, just my amazing family who had to put up with me. That was in 1998 and then another failed surgery in 2013.
But what was interesting was when I argued that I had signed for minor keyhole surgery in 1998 I was told that because of my history of endometriosis the surgeon had to perform this open major surgery. Another scapegoat situation. I have never had endometriosis in my life before or have ever been diagnosed with it. It didn’t matter what I said I was stonewalled and back then just wanted to get my life back. No one guided or helped, they just left me hanging.
The implication I have been living with for the past two years has been also to try and identify that I had some pre-existing condition…but no, nothing, no heart attack enzymes, auto- immune deficiencies, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, my bloods and liver were 100%. Nicky and I knew this – this is why it has been such a devastating blow to be fit and healthy and then for someone to ruin your life. Twice…. But in trying to stay positive – the radium injection x-ray I had which highlighted all of the nerve damage that has been caused by these botched surgeries only made it even more crystal clear that the surgeons did the damage – my body has absolutely nothing wrong with it except for the damage they did to it. In which case, one would hope, the insurance company surely can’t deny that this is not my fault and it’s high time I was paid what was due. When you pay your insurance fees your whole working life to protect yourself from poverty, dependency and for every other reason you can think of, it really stings when you have no clout and see your life becoming pointless.
I have often felt re-victimised due to the treatment of the so-called treatment facilities that I have had to participate in. Anyway, as good as the news is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with me, it is equally as devastating as I should be living a normal healthy life, just like I was. I want my job back, I want to do my Masters – yet I still owe for my Criminology degree and get penalised again. It’s a double-edged sword – almost like if only I had some disease to be the answer for this happening to me – not just “a treatment injury” that is only worth so many dollars to someone who knows nothing about me….and worth absolutely zero to the surgeons who wouldn’t even remember my name.