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There are so many great diaries and diarists on DailyKos, who put things so much more articulately and succinctly than I.  I finally registered not long ago so I could comment, but have read for years.  Now that I have the option to write a diary, I had no idea what to write about.  The things I am passionate about are covered so much better by others, and I work two jobs/seven days a week and I hardly have time in addition to the other things I fill my little free time with (admittedly I hit up DailyKos during my M-F job because there is very little work to do, I just have to be here for whenever it does show up because it's always urgent).  But then something happened at my weekend job this past Sunday, and now I think I know what I want to write about.

It started with a box.

A crate, really.  You know, those hard plastic things with the lids that overlap across the top with teeth to hold them shut.  They're often used to ship stuff but are also great for storage because they are sturdy and stack well.  This thing (except the one I got to know very personally is black).

We met each other suddenly, when this crate, full of about forty pounds of stuff, fell from about thirteen feet up (maybe higher?  I don't know) to land squarely on top of my head and knock me to the floor.  It still kinda hurts thinking about it.

I don't want to say anything about the company I work for, because while my weekend job doesn't pay the bills I really love it and I love the people I work with and I don't want to lose it.  I will say this:  we're not talking about a mom and pop operation.  It's a very large company.

A coworker went to look for an item for a customer stored in one of these crates on a shelf about thirteen feet from the ground.  He got a ladder to go up there and look.  He didn't find it and came back down, put the ladder away, and I continued my work the entire time--standing next to the ladder.  Ten minutes later the same coworker came back to my area (I was not working in a customer-facing area of the store) to check again for the item for a very adamant customer--who happens to be a PI who investigates worker's comp fraud.  Go figure.

The second time he was up the ladder, I joked with my coworker, "Just don't drop anything on my head!" and we both laughed.  

I guess I tempted fate.

I wasn't looking up because I was doing my work, but as he was moving the crates around (where there is not enough room to do so but we make do with what we've got I suppose), one of the crates fell straight down directly onto the top of my head.  I feel lucky, because this crate was full and weighed about forty pounds--I know this because I helped another coworker put them up there a few weekends back.  I was lucky however, that the crate fell in a cartoon-like fashion and the middle of the bottom of the crate stuck me and NOT an edge or, god forbid, a corner--I'm sure I would still be bleeding now if that were the case.

It was strange, my body stood in place and convulsed a moment before I just fell over (and hit a few shelf corners on the way down).  I didn't get knocked out, I was aware of what was happening, but for several excruciatingly long seconds I couldn't move.

And then I bawled like a baby.  Because that thing freaking hurt.

So the highest boss in the place, the one who runs the show--let's say general manager because it's a fairly vague term--happened to be working that day and was able to come over with another employee who showed a lot of training for this sort of thing (I think) and took charge of everything.  They made me stay still, they kicked everyone out of the area and called 911.  The EMTs checked me out, and beyond a little bit of dizziness and a really sore skull, I felt fine.  So I said "Nah brah, I don't need to go to no stinkin' ER." and they left.

I only had another two hours on my shift, so I bailed.  The EMTs did ask if I lived alone, and I do, and they told me to go stay with someone tonight just in case.  Sure, I'd drive out to my mom's house and stay the night there.  No big deal.  Mom's house is about 22 miles away but it's not a long trip, only about thirty minutes.

I got ten miles behind me when I had to pull over because the dizziness had gotten progressively worse and I could no longer see the road in front of me properly.  Well, crap.  So my older brother drove my mom out to me, she then kicked me into the passenger seat and drove us to the hospital.  It was a miracle, we were in and out of the ER in just under two hours!  That never happens, even at this hospital that is never busy.

So at the ER, my symptoms are getting worse--migraine headache, sensitive to light, really dizzy, nausea, skull still hurts LIEKWHOA, etc.  They did a CT and there was no bleeding, no cracks in my skull, nothing showed up on it.  But the ER doctor (a hilarious guy by the way, loved his jokes) diagnosed me with a concussion.  He said mild, but when I got home and did a little research my symptoms put me closer to mid to severe.

Especially since today is Tuesday and I am still feeling dizzy and nauseous and I can't talk properly.  The words sound fine, I just can't get the words--it's like seeing something blurry and you squint super hard but you still can't make it out at all?  Yeah, it's like that with words.  Typing isn't as bad but I'm about 1/3 the speed I normally am.

But Silvia, you say, why do you have "worker's comp" in the title of this diary?  You haven't even mentioned them yet?

Good point.  I do tend to ramble a bit.

Anyway, at the ER I filled out one of the first report things about the injury.  I don't know how other states do it, but I'm in Ohio, so it was an Ohio BWC form where I wrote down when, where, who, what, how, what hurts, who do I blame (God), etc. relating to the incident.  It was hard to write (and still is); it felt like my hand was trying to move through molasses or something.  The sad thing is, the slow-down made my handwriting look nice and pretty.  Damnit.

So yesterday the GM of the store called our company's worker's comp people to report what happened.  Are they lawyers?  I don't know.  I'm waiting on them to call me.  I missed a call this morning here at work because I walked away from my desk (I shouldn't even be here wtf but I don't get sick pay or vacation time at EITHER job so when I have to go I have to go).  So I called the number back, some 800 number, and was finally transferred to their division in Columbus (where my M-F job is even though I live 50 miles southwest of Columbus).  Of course the guy doesn't answer, that would make things nice and easy.

Mom was all "Don't sign ANYTHING until you look it over, and even then don't sign it."  I'm confused, I'm not trying to get a big payday or anything, but then again as much as I like my job, I don't know if the company I work for will try to "screw" me.  Nobody I know personally has ever had to file a worker's comp claim.  The guy I'm dating works for an insurance company that only handles worker's comp claims, so he told me not to fill out any state forms until he had a chance to help me--not to defraud anyone, but make sure everything is documented properly or that could delay payments to the hospital, doctors, etc.

To summarize for those playing at home: having no experience in worker's comp and work accidents, I thought it might be interesting to diary about my experiences as they happen and see where this goes.  I hope it doesn't suck.

Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 2:19 PM PT: Update:  Part 02 of this ongoing saga can be found over here:  http://www.dailykos.com/...?

Originally posted to Peony Lane on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 09:19 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm a lot like you. I lurked here for years and (7+ / 0-)

    years and finally signed up to comment last year. It just seemed like someone else already had said what I was going to say, until things to seem to fall apart all over the place. Now I'm addicted and can hardly stay away. I'm not a lawyer, but I've done the grunt work for a lot of them. Your mother is right, do not sign anything they give you. You need to find a reputable worker's comp lawyer, asap. Have your mom and/or your brother help you. I'm not in Ohio so I don't know any to recommend. I also have a lot of personal experience with worker's comp, my husband has been thru it numerous times. If you are working for the company I suspect you are, they are ruthless. Find a lawyer, they won't charge you upfront, they get paid from your settlement. You didn't mention what the er told you, but you need a doctor as well, sounds like you have a serious concussion. So please have your mother and brother help you out with all this. You need a lawyer and you need one quickly.

  •  Important (7+ / 0-)
    not to fill out any state forms until he had a chance to help me--not to defraud anyone, but make sure everything is documented properly
    Important, especially in your current condition.  You deserve to be made whole...medical bills covered and some income until you're fully restored to health.

    You made the mistake of working under other work.  The other worker made the mistake of working over someone.  The company made the mistake of not properly training their workers.  Mistakes happen, but most are avoidable.  Let's hope others learn from this and other injuries are prevented.

  •  Workers Compensation Information (6+ / 0-)

    Here is the link to the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation.
    http://www.ohiobwc.com/

    Here is the link from that page to filing a claim. https://www.ohiobwc.com/bwccommon/forms/froi/default.asp

    I am not familiar with Ohio's workers compensation laws, but in general, here is what qualifies someone for workers compensation.

    1. An injury

    2. to an employee

    3. that occurred in the course of work and

    4 arose out of work.

    From the facts you gave your injury fits those elements.

    You can call and talk with the agency, but you really also should file a claim. Workers compensation would then provide for your medical care and compensation for lost work time as a result of the injury.

  •  And don't forget OSHA (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob B, chimene, BlackSheep1, worldlotus

    You should also talk with OSHA. Here are the contact links to Ohio OSHA http://www.osha.gov/...

    and more information here. https://www.ohiobwc.com/employer/programs/safety/SandHOSHAOnsiteDetails.asp

    Here is a link to federal OSHA - with contact information. http://www.osha.gov/...

    You have the right to a safe workplace - En Español - Tiếng Việt Nam

    You have the right to a safe workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. The Act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards. OSHA also provides information, training and assistance to workers and employers. Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards.

    Contact us if you have questions or want to file a complaint. We will keep your information confidential. We are here to help you.

    It is a violation of federal law to fire or discriminate against an employe for contacting OSHA.

  •  Getting the proper advice (5+ / 0-)

    Sylvia: I suggest you speak to an Ohio workers compensation attorney so you understand your rights and the company's responsibilities. Many will provide free phone consultations which will allow you to better navigate what is often a very frustrating system. As I seem to recall the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation picks the doctors who can treat work injuries,though that may no longer be the case. You may need advice on how to get the best care as that is often difficult in these systems.

  •  NOTE to EVERYONE (7+ / 0-)

    If you have an employer, do your homework and know your rights at work. KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT AND CONSULT A LAWYER!! A Workers' Comp Lawyer.

    Always get injuries checked out and always have your boss file an accident report. You never know whether a seemingly minor injury--even a cut--might turn out to be worse (and expensive) down the line. Important to file the accident report as close to the time of the incident.

    For good, expert advice visit:

    http://nycosh.org/

    or any of the other 'COSH' groups ......

    To quote a Workers' Comp Judge:
    "Don't be a shtarker" (don't try to show how strong you are, how much you can endure. Don't risk your health, your life, your limbs).

    •  Story told to me by a coworker (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, ozsea1, worldlotus, libnewsie

      He was shutting a metal shelf into a rack once and the bracket the keeps the edge of the shelf slightly extended was broken. This shelf (it was so stiff it barely moved) suddenly "gave" and badly pinched his finger.

      It didn't seem to cut the skin at all and didn't bleed, so he put some ice on it and went home. He did his normal thing that evening and went to bed.

      The next morning, he was feeling nauseous and achy, like he was coming down with the flu. It got worse, so he went to the doctor and waited to be seen. Between the time he sat down and the time he was seen, a red line had crept from his injured finger to just past his wrist.

      He was admitted to the hospital immediately and spent five days there with; they had to fillet open his finger and debride it because the antibiotics just weren't doing the whole job. He must have cut his finger[i]just[/i] enough to let in some germs, and that was enough, even though it didn't appear to bleed.

      If you injure yourself at work, people, please get it looked into.

  •  I hope it doesn't suck (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimene, shirah, Odysseus, ozsea1, worldlotus

    I for one am interested in how this goes.  You say it is a big company and it sounds like a very straightforward worker's comp injury.  Those two facts together make me think that the result will be acceptable to you and in accordance with Ohio law.
    If true, it would be nice to hear that things turned out as the law and system was designed to do.

  •  Be prepared to deal with lawyers ..... (6+ / 0-)

    My experience with worker's comp in NJ is that it is a system by the lawyers, for the lawyers, so that the lawyers do not perish from this earth.  The final result is a compromise that leaves no one happy.  The insurance companies think they are paying too much, the appellants think they got too little, the lawyers do not think they are compensated enough and everyone leaves unsatisfied.  Good Luck.

    And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

    by MrJersey on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 11:33:49 AM PDT

    •  I love the workers comp system (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      worldlotus, libnewsie

      in WA state. The repubs are trying to diamante it because it works so well.

      One of my employees got a hernia and our experience with it was great. They took care of all of his needs without any problems what so ever. It ended up that I payed his salary for the time he was off work to avoid having my rating go up but I thought that was perfectly fair.

      Washington has a great system!

  •  Two things (5+ / 0-)

    1) Was your neck x-rayed? A heavy impact directly on the top of your head can fracture your spine. My son did so a few weeks ago. He was misdiagnosed with a neck sprain and walked around with a broken c4 for several days. He could easily have died.

    Even if it was x-rayed, it can take a few days for certain types of spinal fractures to show up on x-rays, because the bones may be held together by the local swelling, and as swelling subsides, the fragments can start to separate. (See reference to my son above.)

    2) Your symptoms imply brain injury. Even if they did a CT, a micro-lesion might not show up right away or (as happened to my Dad) a less-experienced neurologist reading the scan might miss it. My guess is that you are right-handed. Speech and right-arm control are in the same side of the brain. Don't treat this lightly.

    To Do:
    If ANY parts of your neck are sensitive to touch, ask your primary care doctor to refer you for neck x-rays. For my son, they specified for radiology to "hold and call" - meaning don't send us home until the radiologist had read the x-rays and called our doctor back. This meant we were still at the hospital when the break was verified, and were immediately sent to an orthopedic spine specialist.

    Also, if you are still experiencing difficulty speaking and/or difficulty using your arm, you need to be evaluated by a neurologist. Ask for a referral. Your symptoms do not sound like anyone I've known who has had a mild (or even moderate) concussion (at least not past the first few hours). Heck, when my younger brother had a 30 foot fall onto the top of his head, and was hospitalized with a severe concussion and compressed spine, his neurological symptoms weren't as bad as you describe.

    Please take care of yourself, and DO seek help from a lawyer - they will know how the system works, and what paperwork and documentation will be needed. When your brain is muddled, a knowledgeable guide is a very important thing.

    Since this is a work-related injury, any other health insurance you may have will slough off the responsibility to the workman's comp insurance, so it's vitally important to get the claim right.

    And keep us posted!

    •  Thank you for all of the tips! (4+ / 0-)

      Pretty sure my neck is fine, my family doc pushed me all around today to check (he checked out pretty much every part of me when I thought I was fine anyway).  I'm kind of lucky, I drink milk like it's going out of style so my bones are stupidly strong.

      My mom said the same thing about "brain injury" and those words scare the shit out of me.  See a few comments above where I replied about what my family doctor said.  It's stressing me out and I know I shouldn't be stressed.  ::sigh::

  •  Your head has been stressed (3+ / 0-)

    much like the heads of soldiers who have been traumatized by roadside bombs in Iraq.

    http://www.hjf.org/...

    I don't think you can access military or VA treatment centers, but the article will give you an idea of the problems you might be facing.

    There are other articles out there.

    Some VA neurolosists might also consult on the side.

  •  hope you got a copy of the form you filled out at (6+ / 0-)

    the ER.  

    I mean, I would STRONGLY ADVISE you to DOCUMENT (with help from family if necessary) absolutely every exchange with ANYBODY -- employers, hospitals, Worker's Comp, co-workers, EVEN YOUR LAWYERS, communications in writing, e-forms, phone messages.

    so, the ER what-you-called-it "Ohio BWC" form, I hope there was a copy or they xeroxed you a copy, would be the first document (suggest you keep them in date order).  and a printout of this diary would be the second document...

    This would be fairly easy to do if you start at the beginning, and MAY be invaluable, first, so that conked-on-the-head-you have reminders of what's been going on and who said what when, etc., and second, to have PROOF (even "sorta'" proof) of same, if you should need it at any point in the coming proceedings.

    This may seem fairly obvious, but I've had experiences where the existence and quality of documentation was vital.  Will go a LONG way in sorting "he said, she said" if that arises.

    Good luck, hope you get all the paperwork and lawyer-hunting help you need (boyfriend WIN, eh?), and hope your injury heals well and quickly!

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 02:38:40 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for the tips and well wishes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      worldlotus, libnewsie

      I've had this sneaking suspicion that I need to keep track of everything.  I had an appointment with my family doctor today and went over EVERYTHING, every little symptom I have, to make sure it's all recorded.  I posted in the comments above about what he said, and will likely write another diary detailing the diagnoses.

      Heh, I think I'm lucky in that my boyfriend will likely know a good worker's comp lawyer or two.  

  •  Sorry to hear of your injury (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, worldlotus

    and good luck to you. Sounds like you have a good support system and some knowledgeable folks in your corner.

    I will say that you are a terrific writer, despite your injury! Your story is witty, informative, and engaging.

    "I can't come to bed yet! Someone is WRONG on the Internet!" - XKCD

    by SingularExistence on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 04:25:27 PM PDT

  •  Start with documents from . . . (4+ / 0-)

    You MUST get a copy of your records from the ER.

    Also, you need to contact the rescue squad who responded to the call, although you refused transport to the ER.  They'll have a "patient refusal" record on you showing that you were injured ON THE JOB and that you didn't have a wreck on the way home that you are trying to pass off as an injury on the job.

    The EMT's should have required you to sign a patient refusal -- at least that's what we have to do in Virginia.  If we are called to an incident, we must (1) transport the patient to a medical facility, or, (2) patient signs refusal form on which we have entered our findings about the patient.

  •  GET TO THE ER NOW -- YOU MAY BE DYING!!! (3+ / 0-)

    Now that I re-read your post, you could be in deep shit.

    YOU NEED TO GET TO AN ER NOW.

    Your continued dizziness, nausea, slurred speech, and blurred vision tell me you have a slow bleeding subdural hematoma -- and it is going to kill you within 24 hours.

    Beneath your skull are three membranes that protect the brain -- the dura, the arachnoid, and the pia matter.  Pia matter is attached to brain tissue.  Arteries and Veins that provide blood to the brain run over, under, and through these membranes.  A blow to the head can crush arteries and veins within the skull.  These crushed blood vessels then cause blood to collect in the space between the skull and the brain, putting increasing pressure on the brain, creating either an epidural or subdural hematoma -- that is, blood collecting above or below the dura.  Because the brain is soft and the skull is hard, blood collecting between the brain and the skull starts to put pressure on the brain, resulting in dizziness, loss of consciousness, blurred vision, slurred speech, nausea -- sound familiar?.

    Epidural and subdural hematomas are fatal if not treated.  Epidurals present quickly, within minutes or hours, depending on how many blood vessels have been damaged.  

    Subdural hematoma can take days to present and it sounds to me as though this is what you have.  A subdural hematoma is a LIFE-THREATENING MEDICAL EMERGENCY.  

    Epidural and subdural hematoma are treated by drilling a hole in the skull, or, removing a piece of skull, to relieve pressure, then, repairing the burst blood vessels.  All this is done by a neuro-surgeon.

    YOU NEED TO GO TO THE ER NOW -- HAVE SOMEONE TAKE YOU OR CALL 911.  TELL THEM WHAT HAS HAPPENED, TELL THEM YOU SUSPECT YOU HAVE A SUBDURAL HEMATOMA.  TELL THE ER DOC THE SAME THING AND ASK FOR AN IMMEDIATE NEUROLOGIC EXAM.

    YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON THIS.

    I'm a Basic EMT with a volunteer rescue squad in Virginia. Yesterday we ran a call for a patient exactly like you -- blow to the head from an accident at work, felt dizzy and nauseated, blurred vision -- seemed to clear up so he left the ER after having been diagnosed with a concussion.  We were called in the morning, about 18 hours after the accident and several hours after he came home from the hospital.  His symptoms were same as yours.  I took one look at him, checked his pupils -- pupil on the side of the blow was dilated and unresponsive to light, other pupil was normal.  I recognized the signs of a subdural hematoma -- we loaded him in the ambulance and headed for the hospital which, in our rural area, is 20 minutes away.

    He didn't make it.  After 5 minutes in the ambulance, his sphincter muscles relaxed and he defecated and urinated uncontrollably then he went into decorticate posturing -- a sure sign of bleeding in the brain and impending death.

    We threw everything we had at him -- tubed him and bagged him and started breathing for him, lost heartbeat and started chest compressions.  Picked up an Advanced Life Support EMT enroute, inserted an IO port, shot epinephrine into his bone marrow.  Slapped the defibrilator on him, the machine analyzed him and reported PEA -- pulseless electrical activity -- meaning he was dead.  We continued CPR, etc., until we arrived at the ER where the doc pronounced him.

    GET TO THE ER NOW AND DEMAND A NEURO EXAM

  •  Ways that bosses cheat workers from wc protections (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    libnewsie, radical simplicity

    Silvia,

    First of all, it wasn't god. It was an employer who failed to have basic safety in mind when designing a workplace. Y'know how they put barricades up at the ends of aisles at Home Depot when they're stocking/pulling stock on the high shelves? That's because this type of injury is common when things are stacked/stored high up -- they fall on people if they're below. The other common injury, of course, is workers falling off of ladders/equipment when they're trying to move things around way above the ground.

    Second of all, sorry to hear about your injury and am glad it wasn't worse. I know, that should be first but everyone else already said it.

    We talk to a lot of workers who have been injured and don't get the protection and benefits they have a right to because the system is rigged against them. Recent studies found that among immigrant and low-wage workers less than 10% of serious injuries resulted in workers' comp claims. That means that those workers are vulnerable if they can't perform their jobs in the future b/c of the injury and will not have medical care provided by workers' comp if there are ongoing problems (even if the employer takes care of them initially).

    Here's some general information about workers comp claims (a checklist, what to do when you're hurt, and ways that bosses try to cheat):

    General workers' comp info from CanMyBossDoThat.com

    The good news is that your employer is willing to recognize it as a workers' comp injury, but you still need to protect yourself. You will have to navigate the two jobs -- the one where you are hurt will argue the injury is not severe if you are able to work your other job (even if you know you should be off but can't afford it).

    The folks who are telling you to be careful when engaging with workers' comp are right. It was a system created so that workers can't sue their employers, not to protect injured workers.

    And why not call OSHA for dangerous working conditions? It was preventable. Smaller accidents (not to minimize yours) are harbingers of bigger, deadlier ones.

  •  Keep Records of EVERYTHING (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radical simplicity

    Keep every piece of paper...make detailed notes of every phone call, every communication.  

    You will need all that stuff later when they deny your claim or fire you because you had the misfortune of getting hurt on the job.

    You could be listening to Netroots Radio! http://netrootsradio.blogspot.com/

    by libnewsie on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 01:18:23 AM PDT

  •  in February- (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radical simplicity

    the lovely husband was hurt at work, badly. Workman's comp paid 70% of his salary, with the municipality he works for paying the other 30%, for 10 weeks. Nontaxable. He was amazed that he could earn more working than not. WC, in our experience, was not a bad thing.

    Best wishes, and hope you recover soon.

    Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

    by postmodernista on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 03:14:00 AM PDT

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