The Work Cover Experience – Insurance Doctors

Following on from 1990 – The First Car Accident

For anyone who has found themselves here and hasn’t read the backstory, let me recap briefly … I was involved in a car accident on the 13th of March 1990 in which I was stationary at the red light of a T junction when I was rear ended by a car travelling at approximately 60km/h (37mph). —The other car slamming into the back of my car at full speed without braking in the slightest, and my car being a pre 1970 Ford Cortina with a low back seats that had no headrest.

The injuries I sustained in that accident were a significant whiplash, neck, shoulder & upper back pain, lower back pain and a constant headache.

Due to the fact that I was travelling to work my accident automatically became a WorkCover matter (WorkCover being a Work Place Accident Insurer in Australia). —I had NO option as to whether I wanted WorkCover involved or not and very much less say in whether I sought compensation or not.

And quite frankly, I cannot emphasise strongly enough that NO AMOUNT of monetary compensation could ever be worth the amount of damage that was done to me by the WorkCover system and the associated medical and legal practitioners involved. Any person who seeks to defraud WorkCover and the like are either intrinsically unscrupulous in nature or have such little self worth that they do not realise just how much they are undervaluing themselves for such a pittance.    

So let me continue on from my last post in which I detailed the accident itself…

During the first 2 months following the accident I was prescribed Valium (Diazepam), medication prescribed on the day of the accident by a doctor at the local surgery that my family had relied upon since before I was born. Then, when WorkCover became involved I began consultations with the doctor of my appointed lawyer’s choosing, just days after the accident, and he had me continued on with the Valium for the remainder of those two months.

In addition to the medication both doctors insisted on physiotherapy, which I willingly complied with. During my first consultation I instructed by my physiotherapist to wear a foam neck brace throughout those first two months, while also undergoing ultrasound physiotherapy and rehabilitation exercises as I took time off of work to recover.

Those first two months were a breeze, despite the pain of injury I was enduring. However, I had no understanding of what WorkCover, the medical practitioners involved and even my own lawyer were about to unleash upon me in their greedy compensatory tug of war at the expense of any injured party. —The lesson in life I was about to learn at 17 years old, was that I was nothing more than a game piece to be thrown around a game board of financial strategy at the will of greedy, manipulative, empathy void, self-serving doctors, lawyers and WorkCover case managers. The same lesson many other innocent people who have had the misfortune of injury have learnt for themselves.

However, I had no understanding of what WorkCover, the medical practitioners involved and even my own lawyer were about to unleash upon me in their greedy compensatory tug of war at the expense of any injured party.

After those initial couple of months it was time for me to gradually returned to work, taking time off as needed at the direction of the doctor my lawyer had employed. During the course of those two months I was also able to reduce the time I was wearing the foam neck brace, although even after those first two months I was still encouraged to wear the brace when my neck felt sore and also when going for walks.

However, as time went on the pain persisted throughout my neck, shoulders and back, along with the headaches which never went away, and still haven’t to this day. —It was at this point that questions began to be raised within the WorkCover system about the validity of my reported levels of pain.

The truth is, I was trying to get back to work on a full time bases as fast as I could because I genuinely wanted to work, I was desperately waiting on a position to become available for a Baking Apprenticeship with my employer and I still wanted that apprenticeship. But even more than the apprenticeship, I just wanted to get out of the WorkCover system! … Unfortunately though, the harder I pushed myself to just get on with it and push through the pain of injury the more setbacks my body threw at me in defiance to my determination to overcome.

While at work, I was working as hard and fast as I could but I could tell my manager was irritated by my inability to keep up with my work load. Added to the issue of my physical lack of speed, I was emotionally beginning to fall to pieces under the strain of the physical pain I was silently enduring throughout each work day, as well as the uncomfortable burden of feeling my bosses dissatisfaction with my work all too intensely.

As if having the bakehouse manager annoyed with me wasn’t bad enough, his second in charge, my supervisor, had spoken to him about my poor performance on many occasions and as a result I could feel the growing hostility toward me, hostility and irritation that was becoming intolerable … And yet, I could not even leave my job to make it easier for any of us because WorkCover and my lawyer were dictating my life and I had no way out.

My manager’s irritation with me was so clear, that one morning when my car broke down on the way to work, my manager who lived a few streets away from me, drove right past me as I was walking the short distance home … My reason for walking home? … So I could get to a phone to call work and let them know I would be in late due to my car breaking down.

When I arrived at work my manager scoffed at me, “Yeah, I saw you walking with your neck brace on and assumed you would just be having another day off!”

Every part of me wanted to scream back at him about his appalling lack of compassion. That and the fact that if my manager, who I actually had a social relationship with outside of work, had actually stopped to see if I was okay I would not have been two hours late for work because I obviously could have gone to work with him and sorted my car out after work.

If it was not for the WorkCover involvement and my hands being tied I would have simply left my place of employment, but as a 17 year old teenager with the weight of all the legal players forcing me down I felt I had no option but to play the game.  

Carry the strain I was I began to have panic attacks due to the pressure I was under at work, the question of validity in relation to my pain and being stuck in a system that I just wanted to get out of.

It was then decided at this time, by those within the system, that I had “Functional Overlay” and “Subjective Pain”. Even as a trusting and naive teenager I knew exactly what that meant. —As far as the doctors, lawyers & WorkCover were concerned it meant all the pain I was enduring was made up in my head … More to the absolute point of it, it meant in their opinion I was a malingering money hungry compensation FRAUD!

As far as the doctors, lawyers & WorkCover were concerned it meant all the pain I was enduring was made up in my head … More to the absolute point of it, it meant in their opinion I was a malingering money hungry compensation FRAUD!

And of course, this perception of me ushered in a medical and legal campaign against me to prove I was the fraud WorkCover employees chose to suggest I was.

The legal team “For ME” were not For ME at all, they were “For Themselves”, their love and excitement of the power games, their lust of monetary reward at the conclusion of the game. I was nothing more than that piece on their game board, to be used at will in a legal and financial battle that I wanted NO part of, NO compensation from, and yet had NO way to escape. 

And so the game began…

With all the medical and legal players moving me across the game board at each roll of the dice. Each so call professional in their own field greedily clawing their financial rewards in toward themselves and beating their chests ever so arrogantly at one another without a single acknowledgement of what it was doing to the injured party, their pawn. —Me!

It was at this time a number of alternative therapies where engaged on my behalf, with Cognitive Therapy being a treatment strongly insisted upon by my own lawyer. The chosen cognitive therapist was a man I was extremely uncomfortable with, he was a man in at least his late fifties, maybe early sixties, his demeanour was quite aggressive and not someone you could say was approachable at all in any regard, much less as a cognitive therapist.

My lawyer had stressed very strongly that I MUST follow ALL of this therapist’s instructions, one of which was for me to call the therapist himself during times of difficulties when I felt under significant stress and not to call anyone else, including my parents. —He was the only person I was to call!

So, I was at work one day, an incredibly difficult day at work with pain, the pressure from my bosses and by this time crushingly low self-esteem that had me beating up on myself far more than anyone else ever could, which brought on quite a significant panic attack during my lunch break … Just as I was instructed to do, I called the therapist, and no one else. To which, I was immediately told in an extremely curt manner that he did not have time to talk to me and that I would just have to call back later.

Now let me set this straight. I’m in a full blown panic attack, hazy vision, trembling all over, crying, starting to hyperventilate, and this “therapist” who has demanded I speak to no one else when I’m struggling emotionally has just told me he doesn’t have time for me in a very curt manner.

As any 17 year old would in that position, of course I then called my parents, extremely upset. Now not only because of the fact that I was struggling at work and going into a full blown panic attack, but also because I was doing what I was instructed to do by the therapist, which was also strongly backed up by my lawyer.

My parents had watched on from the day of the accident as I slowly changed from their carefree teenage girl to a young woman battling within a system they could not help me escape from.

My Dad was so concerned about this situation with the therapist that he called the therapist to discuss those concerns. He too was also very rudely dismissed, to which he responded,  “That is bloody ridiculous!” … Followed by a statement of something along the lines, “You told her to call no one but you and then you treat her like that!”

I went to my next appointment with the therapist who then aggressively threatened to terminate treatment, as he insisted my father was abusive and threatening simply because he used the word “bloody”.

I was then told sternly that I was NEVER to discuss any of my situation or my consultations with him with my family in any regard, and he also informed me that he had tapped the entire conversation with my father, as he does ALL his phone calls (without any disclosure), and he would be holding onto the tape for future record. (Because that’s not illegal in anyway, is it. Let alone ethical!)

I felt hemmed in and unable to even walk out on the appointment as aggressive as this “therapist” was.

I battled my way through the rest of the allocated appointment time with a lump in my throat choking back tears and left absolutely shaken by my ordeal with this arrogantly aggressive man who held himself out to be a therapist of all things.

At my next appointment with my doctor I spoke with him about the issue because I was so upset and frustrated that I could not simply end my sessions with this therapist due to the legal players involved … That conversation with the doctor in turn got back to the therapist through my lawyer.

Within a week or two my lawyer contacted me, the therapist was furious with me for discussing the matter with my doctor and he had made a formal complaint to my lawyer along with formally cancelling me as a client (Thank God!). Which in turn made my lawyer furious with me and added yet another burden upon me in this system that was supposedly in place for my benefit.

This “therapist’s” final act toward me, as a patient suffering debilitating episodes of anxiety — Threatening Me Legally! — with a deformation suite should I ever recount his aggressive and unethical behaviour to another medical professional again … Somehow it seems fitting to suggest that it was actually my former therapist that was in need of therapy … Meanwhile, I naturally became even far more anxious after my brush with cognitive therapy than I was before it.

This “therapist’s” final act toward me, as a patient suffering debilitating episodes of anxiety — Threatening Me Legally! — with a deformation suite should I ever recount his aggressive and unethical behaviour to another medical professional again!

Next I was sent to a pain clinic at a hospital, in which I was required to stay a number of nights. During my stay all manner of psychological testing was done rather than much of any physical testing and I was instructed to have therapy with yet another alternative practitioner. One who was going to help me with “Positive Thinking.”

This particular therapist was actually quite a good bloke, in generally terms he was a bit full of himself, but one of those likeable blowhard types that you can’t help but listen to and don’t mind being around. However, his approach was nothing but psychobabble, and quite frankly the books he had me working my way through were a load of absolute garbage. —I mean the psychobabble in these books was bad enough, but added to that was the level of profanity in these books. Now I’m no prude, and I’ve been known to have a tad bit of a mouth on me when I’m in the mood to let some F bombs fly, BUT … This was 1990/91 and F bombs were still not considered acceptable in any context in general society, added to which, at the time, I was a young Christian girl who just didn’t use that sort of language, not only because it wasn’t considered polite, but it was also an affront to the Christian way I had been brought up.

That said, I kept my mouth shut and persisted silently to the end of this treatment. Just as I had learnt to do through my previous experience with the therapist who fired me as a client, silent compliance was the best way to avoid bringing attention to myself until this was over.

During my time at the Pain Clinic I mentioned a few paragraphs back, I was teamed up with another physiotherapist, she was a lovely lady whose empathy and compassion illuminated her beautiful spirit from the inside out. She was also my only truly positive experience in this entire sorry saga.

It was this lady who taught me the only worthwhile lesson I could learn during this time, which was how to use Feldenkrais Physiotherapy in my daily life. Techniques which I continue to use until this very day.

This particular physiotherapist also had me begin hydrotherapy, however between work, doctors appointments, various other forms of physiotherapy treatments and enduring unending pain I was exhausted. Far from helping me, hydrotherapy was simply draining the last of the energy I had to give. I didn’t end hydrotherapy completely, I still tried to fit it in where I could and have used it on and off over the years, but as much as I do love water and swimming I also find water activity extremely draining of the limited energy I have to give.

Finally during late 1991 to early 1992 I was sure I was sure I was going to be heard, with the intensity of the pain I was experiencing and challenges I was facing being not only acknowledged, but also understood and compassionate measures taken to aid in my recovery. —I allowed myself to believe this based on the fact that I had an appointment with a surgeon who had operated on one of my knees when I was about 12 years old. He was a doctor who I had remembered as a kind man and I felt positively confident about seeing him.

However, I had neglected one glaring detail…

This time, this doctor was working for WorkCover, not me. —And I was in for one hell of a wake-up call!

As I walked into the consultation room with the doctor I picked up straight away that his demeanour was vastly different than I had remembered five or six years earlier. Then as I sat nervously in the chair he began to tell me in no uncertain terms how little time he had for WorkCover patients and how little regard he held them in. He told me outright how little respect he had for me, the patient sitting before him.

This doctor I had found so kind previously as a child, who obviously would never have recognised me from five or six years prior, then preceded to tell me that he thought there was nothing wrong with me and that I was just seeking compensation! —He insisted the pain I had been enduring since moments after the accident was all in my head, then sternly told me to stop saying my pain was as bad as I was saying it was and to get back to work and do my job.

It was a day I will never forget!

I was married to my first husband by this time, but as my husband was at work I went to my parent’s home needing to find comfort and support. Mum was at work so it was just Dad and I who sat and talked. Holding back the tears I told my dad what had occurred, he too had seen the kindness of the doctor I saw when I was 12. Keeping his anger to himself Dad simply listened briefly as I expressed my disappointment and sadness. Then I ended the conversation and headed to the front door to leave and go home.

As I turned the door knob to open the front door and leave I felt my dad’s sizeable hand grab my arm. By this time the tears I was trying so hard to hide were welling up in my eyes, Dad pulled me back and said, “You’re going home to cry now aren’t you!”, and with that he pulled me close and held me tight like no other time in my life I can ever remember.

While that was a day filled with so much heartache, it was also the day I knew what a Father’s Love for his daughter felt like in its purest form.   

After that appointment I did just as that final doctor told me…

I pushed through every bit of agonising pain and covered up as best I could so no one could ever know the full extent of what I was enduring and insist on me seeking further help or treatment. —I gathered up every ounce of strength within myself and became a consummate actress in feigning recovery and wellness to the contrary of the malingering fraud I had been repeatedly accused of being. I taught myself to live with excruciating pain through the day and let the tears flow in the darkness of the night when not even my husband would see me cry.

I gathered up every ounce of strength within myself and became a consummate actress in feigning recovery and wellness to the contrary of the malingering fraud I had been repeatedly accused of being.

No one! —Not my family, friends or anyone else I would ever meet would be able to accuse me of being a malingerer again, much less the money hungry compensation fraud or lazy attention seeker I had been made out to be. 

THIS is when I truly became a fraud! —A fraud of a different kind!

THIS is when I put on my mask to “Chronically Smile” in the presence of others while hiding unrelenting pain.

Early during 1992 my lawyer was ready to settle my case and finally release me from my ties to WorkCover. This was of course based on my doctor’s reports and I was sent to see one final WorkCover Doctor to finalise the process. Now, you would think by this time all the nastiness had been dealt with, but no, the doctor I was to see to finalise this chapter of my life was just as bigger game player as the rest.

To be perfectly honest, I may have considered myself a young married woman at this time, however truthfully from a middle aged woman’s vantage point of hindsight, I was still very much a naive young girl in many ways and very much too trusting, to the point of simplistic gullibility.

Once again I forgot it was a “WorkCover Doctor” I was seeing.

The doctor I saw was a much older man, tall and lean with white greying hair, he was very polite, whilst ever so pretentious in his demeanour. Suffice to say, this bloke was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, presenting himself as polite and approachable to manipulate trust.

Throughout the course of my final consultation with this doctor he asked about such things as a rash on my arm, as well as if I intended to have children, and even wanted to know about my sex life. (You’d be amazed at just how many doctors are interested in your sex life after you’ve had a car accident. As if being or not being capable of sex is some sort of measure of pain or disability!? —Let me tell you, I’ve lived with disabling pain and worked with people with disabilities, and I can tell you there are many ways to get around both pain and disability to get the necessities of life taken care of … But I digress, that is a whole-nother post in it’s own right for another day!)

So in answer to this doctors lines of enquiry I explained that I had lived with Eczema all my life, since I was a baby. Then, I also told him I did want to have children but not just yet, maybe in a number of years because my husband and I weren’t quite ready for children yet.

The report, of course, came back diminishing my pain levels. Which was well on the cards, I mean this was the final stage before WorkCover and my lawyer negotiated compensation, and this doctor was working for WorkCover. Having my pain diminished by this doctor was a clear set certainty I was well aware of the second I received the appointment details. 

However, when this bloke twisted my clearly explained history of Eczema by stating in his report, ”There is some rash on her skin, I do not know what it is!” and then included our discussion as to when I would like to have children in his report, I was more than a little ticked off.

The final doctor seen, I was on the home stretch, until…

Several months after that doctors appointment and his report, prior to the finalisation of my WorkCover claim, I called my lawyer to inform her that I would be going on maternity leave as I had unexpectedly fallen pregnant.

I was in no way prepared for the backlash I received, all due to the fact that I had told that one single WorkCover doctor I was not planning to have children any time in the near future. —My lawyer instantly lashed out at me like a I was a rebellious wayward teen who should have been ashamed of myself for even having a sexual relationship, let alone falling pregnant.

I was outraged, I had not fallen pregnant to some one night stand or casual boyfriend, I was not sleeping around and I was not pregnant with a child I did not know the paternity of, much less was I in some form of teenage rebellion. —NO, I was a young married woman who could not use any form of contraceptive pill due to how ill any medication induced variation to my hormone balance made me and in a heated moment of passion with “my husband” we chose not to use contraception.

I had fallen pregnant to my husband and here I was being chastised for it by a lawyer who was NOT looking out for my best interest, but how much financial gain she was going to receive from settling this case.

Even more infuriating, this lawyer’s reaction to my pregnancy was not the only negative reaction I received in this WorkCover fiasco regarding my pregnancy as a married woman.

The doctor that my lawyer had organised with me to consult with during the first few days when my accident became a WorkCover case was also the doctor who performed the pregnancy test and gave me the news that I was pregnant. A pregnancy that was clearly wonderful news to me, which made the first statement from this doctor’s mouth highly questionable, “Now you need to decide as soon as possible if you are keeping this baby or would you prefer to terminate?” (Yes, read that again, just to make sure your eyes were not playing tricks on you!)

which made the first statement from this doctor’s mouth highly questionable, “Now you need to decide as soon as possible if you are keeping this baby or would you prefer to terminate?”

I had just been given the news that confirmed my suspicions that I was carrying my first born child, a child I had already come to love as I had suspected his existence and felt his presence within my womb.

And the first thing my doctor asks me is….. Do I want to ABORT my child?

I don’t think I have ever forgiven that doctor, whom I had previously respected so much, for even thinking it was acceptable to ask me such a question when I had made it very clear this news was happy news.

During the pregnancy I was hospitalised several times due to lower back pain, along with the first recorded instances I have found in my hospital records regarding digestive issues. Then after I had given birth I had issues with breastfeeding for a number of reasons, one of which was the pain I suffered through my neck and shoulders. —Carrying and caring for my new born son, Rhys, was not always easy either but I pushed through the physical pain to be the most hands on mother I could possibly be. As a result my strength grew over time, however as much as my strength grew the pain was ever present and I just simply pushed through with the smile I had come to wear as my mask.

The WorkCover case settled during early 1993 and I was finally free from all the “Medical Professionals”. While what I have written does give insight into what I endured through this system, nothing I could ever write or verbally express could ever convey the true depth of the ordeal that I was put through by those in “Care Professions”. 

I entered the WorkCover System a teenage girl with not a care in the world apart from the pain in my body sustained by one man’s inattentiveness on his way to work one morning. —I exited the WorkCover System with a body that was not only in pain from injury, but now due to the mental and emotionally impact that “The System” and all the medical and legal professions complicit in its functioning had placed upon me I would never be the same person again.

Nor would I ever be able to view any medical professional with the same level of respect again, much less ever trust them in the manner a patient should be able to trust our healing professions. 

For what it is worth, I received slightly under $10,000(AUD) for this experience. How much my lawyer made I do not know. Truth is, I can’t even remember what the money was used for, nothing worthwhile during that time I am sure other than living expenses.

What I do know however, is that I would have forgone ALL that money and walked away in a heartbeat given the opportunity. NO amount of monetary gain was, or ever could be worth all I endured through that system or the pain that I have lived with every waking moment of every day since the 13th of March 1990.

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