I know I talk about my brain injury as if it was the only injury I got from two drivers slamming into the back of the car I was in, but I got others too. That bowling ball on my neck, pulled that stalk one way then the other, straining and spraining it. The seat belt grabbed my right shoulder and held it against the seat while the left went forward and back. CDs flew like bullets out of the open shelf into my knee, thankfully covered and protected by a thick coat, but not quite enough. Those kinetic forces from cars are strong man!
I received physiotherapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture for those injuries. But, you know, automobile accident benefits last only so long. I fought for every dollar: they trying to deny, deny, deny; me standing firm in saying I’m injured and you’re paying and you can’t make me not go (you’re supposed to get their permission before commencing physio, f*** that). But it doesn’t matter how stubborn you are, it’s rare to receive payment for as much physio, or any kind of therapy, as you need. Eventually, the lawyers will guess how much all your medical expenses will cost, they’ll usually guess too low, and you’ll lose, I mean, you’ll get a settlement on the claim.
That money bought me my gizmos for my brain injury, two (insufficient) years of brain biofeedback, a robotic massage chair since muscle pain screams up when the massage therapist is not around and besides a massage a day is a wonderful thing, and sessions of physio and massage therapy. But after two car crashes, one of which involved three impacts, my need for physio exceeded the cash the insurance company so generously gave me for all medical expenses. My physiotherapist semi-retiring didn’t help.
For years, I yearned for neck traction. I hear that sounds painful to those not in the know. So let me explain. When the shit drivers stretched and sprained my neck through their car weapons, they caused the muscles to spasm and pull my neck vertebrae out of alignment. On the X-ray, my neck was dead straight. Then I developed a bump in the alignment at the base of my neck. Fairly common from what my physiotherapist said. It’s like what happens with old ladies who start to have a better view of the floor than the road ahead. My neck turtled into itself; the muscles became “stuck,” and it became hard to stand straight, beyond postural problems. Exercise to strengthen the muscles and massage therapy can only do so much. The best antidote is, while you’re lying down, for the therapist to hold the neck gently but firmly with fingers placed carefully on the sides or back of the neck and then to gently but firmly pull. As the patient, I can feel the stuckness being released (a bit) and the relief. The therapist can feel how my muscles are reacting and can ease up or increase the pull accordingly. Some physio clinics use machines. Spare me. I’ve heard people have worse pain after physio on the neck, especially when machines are used. I never have. Traction ought to bring sweet relief and, over time, a more natural alignment and an added centimetre in height.
I want that centimetre back, darn it!
Over the years I asked people from CCAC (Community Care Access Centres, through which Ontario government pays for home medical care) and my GP for medicare-covered physio (which is very limited as the Ontario government thinks untreated chronic injuries are less costly on the coffers than paying for physio, not!) or for very inexpensive physio. The former clinics are packed to the rafters and use machines. No thanks. The latter are nonexistent, apparently.
So the other day I go in to my GP with a painful foot, probably plantar fasciitis. He refers me to a podiatrist at some clinic on Richmond. Never heard of it. I call and ask if the podiatrist is covered by OHIP (medicare). Yes, but I could also see the physiotherapist or certified athletic therapist, to receive care for my neck and back too, and here are the prices for those sans insurance. What the --? My GP referred me to a place where I could get neck traction for such a low cost (by certified athletic therapist) that even I can afford it? Why now?!! Why not years ago when I first asked?!!! Why do I have to get something wrong in a different place to get help for what is truly bothering me, like my skin last winter for my brain and today my foot for my neck and back?
I wasn’t sure if therapy from the athletic therapist would be as good as my neck specialist physiotherapist, but yesterday after the assessment I received my longed-for neck traction plus leg traction plus laser on right shoulder. Not as good as my former therapist but -- relief! And boy am I “stuck.” That should change with repeated tractions, and that laser is very nice. Next time I must remember to ask for it on both shoulders. My left is not happy compared to right.
If I was a professional or amateur athlete, I would’ve received proper physio for as long as needed and would’ve been fine years ago. What kind of stupid society do we live in that they think only athletes need to have muscle injuries properly addressed? I can understand why insurance companies don’t wanna pay, but for government to be complicit is just dumb. Don’t they know untended injuries lead to chronic pain and reduced abilities, which lead to unemployment, higher government-covered medical expenses since lack of physio leads to needing way more expensive things like surgery or home care, and worst of all, fewer taxes in the coffers?
Moral: keep at your insurance company and your lawyer to max out insurance coverage, then keep at GP and all health care workers till they finally cough up where to get low-cost physio. Then get that traction and laser and ultrasound, whatever works, to get those muscles happy, strong, and working again.