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  1. #1
    kellie Guest

    Default Cannot Get Treatment Out Of State For A Wyoming Work Injury

    In May of 1990, I was 18 years old. A friend and I decided the summer after our Freshman year at the University of Wyoming was not to be spent flipping burgers. We wanted to work in an environment with people, we were after all psychology majors. The day after interviewing at the local nursing home we received phone calls confirming our hire date and the first day of a half dozen days of training.

    In June of 1990, I lay in the emergency room unable to feel my legs but very much aware of the terrible pain coursing from my mid-back to my toes. A 350 pound female patient had a seizure while moving from her bed to her wheelchair (used only because she did not like walking). The full weight of her body lurched back and pinned me up against the dresser behind us. I held her up for a moment, but my 5' 11'' 120 pound frame gave in. We slid down the front of the dresser until I hit the floor and 350 pounds landed on my stomach and crushing my hips and lower spine to the ground.

    The first physician said pulled muscles and injected numbing agents, the next cried strained ligaments and conducted an epidural. Eventually my spine ended up in the hands of a terribly incompetent surgeon who diagnosed me with ruptured discs at Lumbar 4 & 5, but conducted a surgical procedure on L3 & L4, which significantly weakened L3. We did not know about this error until he had also conducted a procedure that removed the disc tissue at L4 &L5, leaving massive surgical scaring, severe damage to nerves to my right leg, bladder and bowel nerves and weakened the disc structure at L3 and S1.

    I am now 33. I completed my Sophomore year from bed with lecture tapes and copies of lecture notes. A move to Las Vegas resulted in graduation with a BA in psychology (summa cum laude) and an Ed.S. in 1996 (top of my class). The most difficult element of attending classes and working was my inability to sit for longer than 30 to 60 minutes without significant pain. Frequent severe pain episodes put me in bed for hours to days and sometimes weeks. But through it all I accomplished my dream to work as a school psychologist regardless of the noncompliance of my spine.

    Before the field of school psychology became a dream I had plans of working for the FBI or the criminal justice system; however, the fragility of my spine ended such desires. I found tremendous satisfaction in working with families, students and educational professionals - especially developing programs and educational systems for empowering learners with different strengths and weaknesses and especially teaching them self advocacy skills that would help them reach their own dreams.

    One dangerous element of my choses and beloved profession was the need for --- sitting. A simple skill for others was a pain sentence for me. I recreated my office, meeting and testing environments to protect my hidden 'disability.' Through the years doctors were frequently impressed with my achievements given the weaknesses in my spine (from the accident and surgeries). The inability to not carry a child was something my husband, also an educator, came to terms with and instead dedicated our 'free-time' to the children and students we worked with.

    In January 2002, I had to face the fact that my spine was not as stable nor as stubborn as my desire to 'save the world.' Soon I found myself just trying to 'save me.'

    In September 2002, I was officially put on medical disability. I never closed my case with Wyoming Workers' Comp (WWC). and soon my monthly compensation was provided. I had been earning over $60,000 and was shocked when I received the first WWC check for $491.24 - the 2/3's amount of my salary from my original injury date in June of 1990. At first I didn't care - I would soon receive appropriate medical care, have a surgery or what ever and be back to work. How foolish I was.

    During the fall of 2002, while my attorney fought to have my most recent salary used for compensation, my husband and I started searching for a physician. Wyoming Workers' Safety and Compensation had changed since my original injury and they now no longer provided 'pre-authorization' for medical treatment. After having exhausted all of the local neurosurgeons and spine centers near my home (obviously not in Wyoming) we started looking more globally.

    During the winter and spring of 2003 we contacted 57 national neurological and spine speciality centers. We were denied EVERY SINGLE TIME FOR ONE REASON - WYOMING WORKERS' COMP. WOULD NOT PROVIDE PRE-AUTHORIZATION FOR MEDICAL SERVICE/TREATMENT!!!! That is in capitals because it is the only reason I am submitting this today.

    September 2003 passed by and I had declined from bed rest and walking to bed rest and walking with a cane. I had stopped driving long before as I could not trust the strength of my right leg to press hard enough on the brake pedal.

    In October 2003, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism brought on by a medication that had been prescribed for too long a time period. By November 2003 I was diagnosed with chronic bronchitis and suspected adult on-set asthma due to inactivity and a compromised immune system. I had not had a menstrual cycle for a year and had many related symptoms.

    In December 2003, I took my last steps, which had become walking with a cane and my husbands arm. It had been months since we had gone to dinner, the movies, or had a beautiful cabernet with dinner. For the new year I received a rented wheelchair, my husband and I not ready for permanent wheelchair use continued renting it until it was too obvious I would need one until I could get to a physician.

    Every six months we would contact the initial 57 clinics (identified as the best spine centers by US News and World Report), but rarely made it past the appointment or billing desk without the pre-authorization for medical care. New illnesses arrived and became chronic.

    July 2004 I was hospitalized for an unknown Candidia infection, which became systemic. I had been through 7 pain medications as most had such terrible side effects I could only tolerate them for a few months at a time. My pain management physician grew increasingly frustrated as pain treatment trials were attempted, but failed. He wrote letters, made phone calls to my case manager and even to spine centers literally begging physicians to see me.

    In August 2004, I was put through an Independent Medical Evaluation per Workers' Comp. It was not only far from 'Independent' it concluded that I was not disabled. The evidence of being wheelchair bound with complete bed rest, being diagnosed with eleven chronic illnesses and prescribed 24 medications, I had been approved for Social Security Disability ON THE FIRST APPLICATION in January of 2003.

    After the denial (which was performed by one VERY unprofessional and incompetent individual) I landed a phenomenal attorney and knew things would start moving. My husband and I had lost a number of immaterial material items like a house, a vehicle, my salary, a social life, traveling and many community activities from many volunteer hours with several social organizations, after-school programs for students, parents and teachers and the time or strength to publish an educational intervention system.

    Beyond material items we lost contact with some fair weather friends and my beloved profession, we watched as my body literally decayed before our eyes and tried not to notice the gradual loss of our a passionate and beautifully ornate love life. Before long, my nights filled with constant pain led to different bed rooms so my husband could get some sleep. Some evenings drag on past two and three in the morning as he holds and rocks me and this lifeless, over weight and ugly body.

    I am a political prisoner. My jailer is Wyoming Workers' Compensation. Recently, it was decided that my IME would be reviewed by a medical board - that was decided some time in October. I have learned most recently that they will get back to my case over the holidays. They will decide whether or not I deserve a new IME. And it is so good of them to wait until after the holidays so that they are not burdened with the meeting or discussions that may lead to my freedom, my first chance at getting to a physician after almost three years of pain, suffering and loss.

    I am a Christian, I am a healer, I am a giver, I am a believer. I cannot understand how or why an agency is able to get away with the murder of life, the slow decay of hope. I cannot understand how my husband must feel standing by completely helpless as his wife screams and cried in daily pain, sometimes so intense he is forced to slap her face to bring her around.

    My husband is terrified every morning as he leaves for work. Will I be breathing when he gets home? Will I have fallen off the toilet and been laying helplessly on the floor for hours. Did the physical therapist remember to lock the door after doing my two hours of physical therapy?

    I think having a spine injury, less severe than the beloved Christopher Reeve, but severe enough to keep you in bed and wheelchairs if you are denied medical care is what makes this so difficult.

    This is not a popular disability. There are no 'failed back surgery walk or run competitions." I have never heard of a ruptured disc fundraiser or a Workers' Compensation Prisoner 'sit-in' -- but there should be!



    *** By the way, there are three or four other states with this policy and one of them just lost a HUGE class action law suit for doing it - a bunch of people who were being denied appropriate medical care sued to have the law re-written and for financial losses caused by delays in medical care.

    This year we are sending out Christmas Cards. We haven't for two years. There didn't seem to be anything positive to say. Although there is even less positive news to share this year we are sending everyone a card with an angel - and I am coming out of the 'injured closet".

    Being injured, disabled, or less than what you were or want to be - when it is out of your control - is something very very difficult to deal with. So, this year I am going to try to be unashamed of what has happened to me, to my husband and to our life.

    There is power in numbers and maybe with my and your humble cry, we will be heard when we demand treatment that is governed and provided for better than the animals that roam the plains, hills and mountains of Wyoming's pristine and beautiful land. The introduction of wolves in Yellowstone has experienced more press than the lacking worker safety and real compensation or treatment of Wyoming's people.

    At the risk of sounding too negative or dramatic please consider this - the UNINJURED, NOT YET INJURED and the INJURED WORKERS OF WYOMING - MUST STAND TOGETHER and demand not just safety and compensation - but the 'insurance' of APPROPRIATE safety and compensation - WHICH REQUIRES NO BARRIERS TO MEDICAL TREATMENT........




    THE LEGISLATORS CANNOT CLOSE THE DOORS TO NATIONAL MEDICAL CARE, they cannot be allowed to deny medical treatment to a worker who has to move out of the state for work - the legislators cannot deny care to workers who need treatment in another state BECAUSE WYOMING DOES NOT POSSESS the extremely diverse LEVELS and specialities OF HEALTH CARE or TREATMENT AND THEY CANNOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST WORKERS injured while working in Wyoming WHO cannot continue to live in Wyoming their entire life.

    I met with federal level Wyoming electorate assistant in June 2004. When they heard my story -- especially the critical portion about me being injured at the age of 18, in a position that was only a summer job -- they had a single answer ..........Well, why don't you MOVE BACK TO WYOMING????? I am not kidding!!

    When I informed this worker that given my unknown injury effects (as I have not been able to have any testing completed because they will not provide preauthorization), even if I lived back in Cheyenne, where I spent my childhood and was an East High School graduate, I would STILL have to look to Denver, Salt Lake City or the darn MOON to receive the care my original injury now required.

    They had no response.

    If you work in Wyoming, if someone you love works in Wyoming, make sure no one gets hurt on the job for there is no medical treatment over the state line, no treatment provided with authorization (which means no medical treatment in these days of malpractice) if moving from Wyoming is ever dreamed of.

    Permanent residency or political prisoner is not equality, not fair and not necessary for the fine people of Wyoming - native or just visiting!

  2. #2
    edk Guest


    God Bless you for taking the time to write your story so eloquently. God be with you through this continuous battle.

  3. #3
    james Guest


    Hey Kelly your not alone this is the way it seems to be with wyoming with the majority of their cases but you wont ever hear that from them. I wonder who runs that show up there ? I have been told that wyoming is the worst state in the country for medical benefits coverage. And of course they will deny you for even the breath in your lungs if they can get away with it. By the way you mentioned you had a lawyer that was very good but you didn&#39;t mention what he has managed to acomplish . My name is jim and I am a single father of two teenagers . I have been a professional boilermaker for thirty two years. I suffered a cervical injury in 2003, which has now since developed into a thoracic and lumbar problem. I too have seen the same treatment as you and possibly many others,&#40; probably thousands&#41;have been treated to. I live in colorado and have worked the major part of my professional carrear in the &#40;joke&#41; THE BIG WONDERFUL STATE OF WYOMING,HaH, I woundn&#39;t send my dog there to Urinate on that wind blown <FONT COLOR="ff0000">••••</FONT> HOLE, Their actions have been less than deplorable, and what the have done to my family&#40;my two kids&#41; without any remorse , will be reconsiled if it takes the rest of my breathing day THEY WILL NOT SLEEP SOUNDLY KNOWING THAT Legal action will will erraticate them all from their rats nest&#39;s THEY WILL ALL BE dealt with if I have to go back to law school for my voch rehab. I have notified them that as of this week the workmanscomp olyimpics will begin. I WILL NOT REST TILL THEY ALL FRY!!!!!!!!! LOOK OUT SUPREME COURT HERE WE COME!!!!!! If you have any info you can share, or compare please E-mail to LOVE you all that have the guts to fight back!! If any one else knows anything to share about wyoming attrosities, please Email me also SPEAK OUT THIS IS AMERICA DAMMIT LETS TAKE IT BACK AND PROTECT IT !!!! ANY GROUPS ALREADY FIGHTING THIS Virus called wyoming comp please sign me up! I want to be on the front lines when the attack begins!! YOU know I always thought that sheep and cattle were the most discusting things in wyoming but they dont hold a candle to the odor and refuse left in the aftermath of a workmans comp case administered by the wonderful people at WYOMING WORKERS SAFETY AND COMPENSATION&#62; KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! YOU PEOPLE ARE PRIME EXAMPLES OFTHE REASON FOR THE SECOND COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST!!! YOU WILL BE JUGED AND YOU WILL BE CAST DOWN WHERE YOU BELONG!! REST ASSURED! OH by the way when they pulled all this bull on me , in order to support my kids, I was forced to do anything possible,to earn a living. the left leg, being unstable because of all my injuries, decided to collapse under me while I was cutting on a table saw,&#40; can you guess the rest? &#41; NO MORE FINGERS NO MORE THUMB!!! SHAME ON YOU AS&amp;^%$#LES. when you deprive people of proper medical attention and benefits! READ THE WORKERS COMPENSATION ACT! TO AID AND BENEFIT THE INJURED WORKER AND HIS FAMILY UNTIL RECOVERY.

  4. #4
    aquarius Guest


    Just came across your message. I pray that something has been done since you wrote. I am curious who your case worker is. I too am fighting tooth and nail with Wyoming worker&#39;s comp. Also, am curious who James M. Cox has for a case worker. Best wishes to both of you. It is truely a sad day when one has to beg for medical attention from a system that is suppose to benefit the injured worker. And it&#39;s even more pathetic when a person has to beg to be compensated so we can keep the wolves off the doorstep and put a little food in the cupboard.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 1971


    Hello, Kellie:
    Add Massachusetts to the list of states where it is impossible to get the best neuro or orthopedic surgeons to operate on you because you have an open WC case. I am a nurse and know how to find the best doctors in Boston, a so-called Medical Mecca where people come from all over the country and the world to be treated. There is an orthopedic hosptital in Boston where NONE of the surgeons will see a patient on WC. You must CLOSE your case and give up your rights to be treated. This is perfectly LEGAL. The Medical Society here told me they &#34;stand behind their doctors to run their practices as they see fit&#34;. Many of the doctors in the major Boston hospitals are independent groups of providers not employed by the hospital. I have made the argument to several hospital presidents and patient advocates that the hospitals credential these doctors, allow them to have office space within the hospital, use their operating suites, in short, let them make a living in the hospital yet the hospital has NO control over them.

    BTW, for the interest of the reader, I read a recent survey and neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons are among the highest paid physicians; they earn a bit over $500,000 per year. A portion of this is on the back of the injured workers they refuse to treat.

    I was turned down by two dozen of the best doctors in 4 hospitals in Boston. I need a spinal fusion, cannot walk, sit, stand or lie without pain, cannot do an errand unless I&#39;m hunched over a shopping cart, take narcotics every day, and NO ONE will help me.

    I have spent the better part of the past 10 months calling countless state agencies, elected officials, hospital CEO&#39;s and the media, all to no avail.

    The laws in Massachusetts so blatantly favor the employer that there aren&#39;t many WC lawyers and they are paid so little that they basically work minimally for you. I am totally disgusted by this system and the lack of caring on the part of so many.

    I am reluctantly probably going to settle my case because I need medical care and cannot get on with my life without it. I have a lawyer with little interest in working hard for me; he sees every problem with my case as a major roadblock &#40;read: too much work, too little money&#41;, and if he can&#39;t give it his all then I cannot win a hearing. I have more to say but will save that for later.

    I am so sorry for the grief you continue to experience; I have no words of wisdom for you. But I do know what you are going through and I will keep you in my thoughts.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Default Re: Cannot Get Treatment Out Of State For A Wyoming Work Injury

    hello, i am a injured worker in wyoming and have found a great surgeon. he hasn't been here too long, his name is dr.Kopitnik. he is from texas and went to school back east. he is rated fifth in the nation and has opened a clinic in casper called central wyoming neurosurgery. they have been a big help. although i am permently injured, my dr. has been great. just thought u might like to know, if u were willing to come here to get this all over with, u should look him up. sympathetic in wyoming, serve22

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2008

    Default Re: Cannot Get Treatment Out Of State For A Wyoming Work Injury

    Hello everyone. Kelly, I understand what you are going through, and I hope that soon some changes happen that will help us.

    I was injured while at work a bit over 7 months now. I have been seen by 4 doctors so far, and to me it seems that workers compensation has been ordering the doctors to change my diagnostic. I am in pain even now.

    I live alone in Casper, my previous job at first didn't allow me to find a girlfriend, and now I don't think any woman would even want to start a relationship with an injured man that rarely gets any sleep, is always in pain, and would probably wake her up several times at night because I wake up moaning and grunting in pain throughout the night. LAst night I could not sleep and haven't been able to sleep because of the pain, normally I sleep about 4-5 hours, but I stay in bed for about 9-10 hours and even longer, since the pain wakes me up frequently, and then it takes me a while to be able to sleep again, if I canat all.

    If you have family, and they are taking care of you, you are lucky. My entire family lives in Florida, and even though they have come to visit me for a week, they have jobs in Florida, and i can't move there because then I would lose my medical benefits, and living expenses which I need to live.

    There is a constant pain throughout my entire left arm from the base of the neck, running through the shoulder down to my left arm, and hand. There is pain frequently, and throughout the day it changes into excrutiating shocks of pain from the base of my neck down to my left arm, and fingers.

    It doesn't always start in the same place, and doesn't always affect the same areas of the neck/shoulder/arm/hand. My arm, and hand are often swollen and red, and during the shocks of pain and the worse part of the pain they swell, and redden even more. I also noticed that my arm and hand will swell after leaving it for just about 30 seconds or so hanging down by my side.

    Walking for about 3 minutes begins to worsen the pain and the longer I walk the more pain I get. Even walking worsens the pain....

    Wearing a seatbeat also worsens the pain, and is very uncomfortable, when the pain lets me drive to buy groceries, or when going to the doctor.

    I have had doctors say I seemed to have TOC, later to change their diagnostic, and say they didn't know what was wrong with me. One of the doctors even had the guts to claim the swelling of my arm/hand was normal, because I wasn't using them. I can raise my hand bending at the elbow, as long as I don't lift weights. I raised both arms a bit until the swelling started to subside, I lowered both and within a few seconds my left arm and hand would start swelling up and reddening, and still he would claim that is normal, and he would claim he didn't know what I have.

    The last doctor that saw me, saw me during one of my reallly bad episodes of pain, and he could see my entire left arm, down to my fingers being swollen, and almost as red as an apple. It was then that he told me "Now I know what you have, it is TOC."

    My whole life has changed for the worse during the last 7 months. I can't sleep well at night, as any pressure, or if I hit the shoulder as I sleep would wake me up with a shock of pain. There are times that even with the prescribed drugs the doctor has given me, which do lessen the pain but do not take it away, there are times during the day and night that the pain is so bad that I either lay in bed moaning, and grabbing my left shoulder, or I pace around the house in agony grabbing my shoulder as if that simple act would help me.

    The last doctor that saw me said he was going to refer me to a doctor that has a lot of experience in TOC, but that doc is in Denver. When I talked to my worker's comp analyst he said if I go out of state I would lose a percentage of my benefits, and they won't pay for the other doc, unless there is a pre-authorization form filled out. I could not figure out everything, but the analyst also told me they didn't provide benefits for TOC...then he paused, and said he would wait to see what my doctors notes would tell him when I asked how is that possible since these problems/pains I have been having were caused by the injury at work.

    I don't know what is going to happen to me. I can barely function like this, and regular everyday fuctions, like taking a shower, always worsen the pain and leave me in pain for several minutes up to an hour or so.

    I have lost strengh, and coordination in my left hand. At times the whole arm and fingers become very stiff even though I have made a habit of making exercises with my hand, by opening and closing the fingers and typing, even if it is very slow.

    What used to take me a few minutes to type, now takes me and hour or more unless i get an episode of excruciating pain, which happens often and would not let me even type when it happens.

    Anyway, about three weeks ago the last doc that has been seeing me, said he wanted to do a block of my shoulder and see if that would help me.

    I talked to my case analyst to get a mode of transportation to take me to docs and pick me up, and he told me the don't provide transportation...even thou I was going to be under full anesthetics, and would not be able to drive and this was recommended by the doc, and the doc would not release me unless someone would pick me up.

    Most of my friends in Casper work in the oilfield, and the ones that haven't moved because my former company decided to close shop in Casper, they work either far from Casper, or in other states, so i didn't have anyone that would pick me up after the block procedure.

    Not long after i had to call the doctor, and beg him to do partial anethetics so I would be able to drive myself home. After the procedure was done, which was painful, my entire arm was numb and I couldn't move it. there was moderate pain if I put any weight on the shoulder, but without moving it I was almost free of pain. Half a day later or so the anesthetics started wearing off and the pain started returning with a vengeance.

    During that halfday I was very relieved of the pain, but the block itself hadn't helped as it is supposed to.

    BTW, after 4 months of being injured, i was fired from my job, and the response of my previous ....... of a boss was that it wasn't fair for the other engineers... I asked him how was it fair to me? he just stood there looking dumb. Now I am not sure what will happen to me. I am only 36 years old and don't really have any savings to help me through this.

    What will happen to me after two years? This injury seems to be chronic, and it has gotten worse instead of better.

    I had hoped that the docs would find how to fix my arm, but even after reading about the procedure done to people with TOC, I will never go through that.

    All I ever wanted, and still want is to get rid of this pain and being able to return to a normal life. This is no way to live.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    Default Re: Cannot Get Treatment Out Of State For A Wyoming Work Injury

    so its in black and white if you leave the state of wyoming workmans comp will no longer cover you?

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