Disgusted by occ health

HI,

Long, angry story ahead story. Ready? :-/

I've posted a few times before about my chronic pain and the fact that I am finding things increasingly difficult. I am currently managing to work full time as a teacher, but my attendance is suffering due to increased pain and withdrawal from pregabalin.

Occ health came out to me last year and recommended that work buy me a special chair, which they did. She also mentioned that I would probably qualify as disabled under equality act. However, that wasn't officially recorded on my records. So today I went to see the County's 'doctor' for an assessment.

I had spoken to my GP who had said that occ health would probably request my medical records, which would show my long history of investigations - MRI, ECG etc - and the fact that I have been an outpatient of pain clinic for a few years and have had steroid injections ect to try to control the 'chronic neuropathic pain' I've been diagnosed with.

This seems irrelevant to the guy I saw today. When I said that I struggle to stand too long or sit too long, and that lying down gives me some relief, he said 'well that's nothing to do with your nerves. That's muscular. You just need to strengthen your muscles up'. I explained that lying down doesn't get rid of the pain entirely - nothing does - but that certain standing / sitting positions just aggravate it. He asked how many times I exercise. I said I do pilates or yoga every week - true - but that on a lot of days I am in too much pain by the end of the day to do an exercise class. He basically said that if I did it every day my pain would go away.

He then asked whether I have seen a psychologist or had counselling. At this point I just felt like he was implying that it's all in my head, and I started to get rally upset. I took a phone number for the counselling service - I had been planning to ask for it at my next pain clinic meeting - but he was suggesting that counselling would be able to stop my pain, whereas all it will actually do is give me support and an outlet to discuss things.

Then we got down to the work side of things. I told him that I am managing to cope most of the time, although I have to lie down during my lunch break to get me through the afternoon. I just wanted a bit more understanding and support from school. He then suggested I go part time. It is something I had considered in the future, but I'm not really in a position to do so straight away (plus y11 leave this week which will mean the next couple of months should be more manageable. He said 'I don't think full time is really an option for you at all'. SO basically he is now writing a report to work to say that I do classify as disabled and he recommends I go part time. I was furious at this point and really upset. He couldn't seem to comprehend why I would be so upset, but I just felt really demeaned, patronised and out of control of my own life. Life leaves me at the mercy of pain all the time as it is, and I felt like he was making decisions about my future based on talking to me for 10 minutes and not seeing my medical records.

The final insult was him saying 'I don't know what else I can do for you when you don't actually have a disagnosis.' I said 'I do have a diagnosis - the pain specialist ive seen for 5 years has diagnosed me with chronic pain syndrome'.

His response? 'THAT'S NOT A DIAGNOSIS, THAT'S JUST WORDS'.

I'm not sure what to do now. I feel like complaining about how he handled it would just make me seem like even more of a crazy, lazy attention seeker than he already thought of me as. But I'm so angry. Pain conditions are so misunderstood, but I feel like he handled the whole thing really badly, and all day I've gotten upset again when ive thought about it.

Luckily I have a very supportive boyfriend who sticks up for me and has said that if I do have to go part time sooner than expected we will manage. Without him I don't know what I'd do.

Anyone care to cheer me up and make me feel a bit less alone and misunderstood?!

:'(

16 Replies

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  • I hate people who use throw away comments like that. I wonder how he would feel if he ended up with neuropathic pain 24/7 only to be told ' it's just words'

    My worst experience was reading the report which started .. This somewhat overweight woman.. I had less than 4% body fat prior to injuring my spine, after many years of being unable to excersice frequently and the side effects of medication had taken their toll I was overweight. Not huge, not obese, just gone from a slim ten to a fourteen. Incidentally he was a very portly bloke whose belly seemed quite comfortably nestled on his knee!

    The occ health guy I saw decided that I would be having babies and saw myself as a housewife and mother in the future, the furthest thing from my mind was having children! I wanted support to stay in work not being written off. I was very angry and could not believe that one person could ruin my future, further more it would remain on my medical records forever. All this because I spoke about looking forward to getting married.

    I'm here and working, no longer in aid traffic but as a support for learning asst. in a primary school and I love it, even when it's a very tough day I love it.

    When will these so called professionals realise that we just want to be supported in keeping our jobs instead of writing us off?

    I would get your doctor to explain exactly what crps is and how it affects people, nothing lost in going for counselling or physiological help either.

    That's why I avoid doctors as much as possible.

  • Everyone I knew who worked on Occy Health had landed some kind of easy mark. They weren't up to speed with new thinking and/or, their brief was to be ruthless. Or they just were ruthless and cynical. I dare say they do see people who are trying to baulk the system but not as many as they'd like to believe. Everything you said to each other at that interview was "just words", the silly ass! And chronic neuropathic pain IS a diagnosis. Scans don't show everything. Try not to take this personally, he's a bit dim, that's all. Get ready for the next stage and log in here.

  • Thanks. At the end of the day, I reckon if he was any good as a doctor, that's wht he'd be doing, rather than pen-pushing in an office! It's a bit like Ofsted inspectors - they can't teach, so they re-train to inspect teachers instead!

    The thing is, if anything I was trying to convince him that I could still work - despite him not seeing me as having a diagnosis, he is recommending I go part time, even though I said I didn't want to. All I wanted him to do was classify me as having a disability so that i have a bit more leeway / protection when I have inevitable absences due to it. I just hope no other people get treated in the same way I did. I'm tempted to write a complaint, but I cant see it doing anything to change his outdated opinion.

    Thanks for the reply x

  • I had a very similar experience to you with capita i was treated like dirt he huff and puffed at my answers his opening was I have a lot of patients to see you have no longer then 45 mins made me so uncomfortable, this is only tip of ice burg, he made me cry and then put in report I had an underlying mental health condition which I have never had.

    The next day I made a formal complaint, I was there for my ill health retirement he had none of my Gp or hospital records he said they didn't reply I confirmed with my Gp and hospital these records were not asked for shambles , I'm lucky to have help from my family and we took them on turned down twice then there sent to independent doctor who made so much sense she read every report from Gp hospital , I'm sorry so long drawn out but so much has gone on please make a compliant if you don't agree you may need this later I was disgusted that a doctor that had seen me for few minutes decided I had mental Heath issues and was allowed to send this to my employer there fore giving me this label ,

    I wish you the very best of luck x

  • I think that's what he was getting at with me. He doesn't believe in my pain and think it's down to an underlying mental health thing, cos he kept banging on about me getting counselling and that I was 'surprisingly emotional'. I always get overly emotional though when discussing my problems - who wouldn't?! ANd like you say, it's the fact that he did all this on the basis of a 5 min conversation and without any of my records. Trying to condense 10+ years of medical investigations and treatments into a brief history isn't easy!

    I might complain.

    Thanks for your reply. x

  • Your welcome please complain I got my Gp to write a letter to say that in all the time she has been treating me I have no mental health issues , the problem if you don't complain it's like saying you agree I'm so sorry but feel so strongly about this having just been though it all the very best x

  • I'm angry now too! What an ignorant pig! I really don't think he should be doing his job if he doesn't understand chronic neuropathic pain! How would he like it if his discs were being slowly eaten away by inflammatory cytokines causing constant nerve irritation! I don't want to get you all angry again but really in his job he should have a proper understanding of different medical conditions... How dare he push you to exercise when often it can make things worse!! On a calmer note I think you should write a complaint being as positive as you can about the science behind chronic pain disorders and possibly degenerative disc disease (DDD) so that he can be trained to deal more 'effectively' with these conditions... So cross for you... Sending hugs 😜

  • Very cross here too 😁

    Definitely complain, use what sounds to be good support around you so that the writing isn't too hard. I know myself the intensity of the injustice, not only having the condition in the first place - it's just not ####ing fair but we have to suffer the indignity of ignorant pen pushers. Grrrrrrrrhhhhhhhh

    Use your anger to take this guy to task - he cannot justify this report without having seen medical records or having any knowledge in the condition.

    And breathe!!!!

    Wishing you all the best going forward and sending you a hug.

    Let us know how you fare.

    Best wishes,

    Shirley

  • Hey, i am new to the forum - really sorry to hear about your experience. I would complain about this behaviour especially as 'chronic pain syndrome' is very clear what it is. It is very bad behaviour - if he believes it nor not - you have stacks of medical records to show it. As an employer they have a legal right to support you and make adjustments that help you to stay in work. Sometimes, I hate to say this, reading them the law, usually makes such behaviour go away.

    To be honest, it just shows how misunderstood our condition is. I have the same from a whiplash injury and in constant pain, and can only work part time myself. Apparently there are only 1% of medicals being trained in chronic pain - and a majority of us don't even ever get a diagnosis apart of it being chronic. So 99% of medics have no clue really, although they would like to know more. No wonder that no one else really knows how bad it is living with chronic pain. But despite having an invisible illness, would he dare to tell someone who has cancer that it is all in his/her head and that the pain is all made up? No.

    Don't let people like that get you down. We are all in the same boat and support each other. And there are people and employers who do understand, not many - but those non commercially minded do actually care about us. I work for a University and they have been great in helping me. The key thing is that we usually have to fight so much harder than others, but it is well worth it to be able to life and enjoy life (when we can). xxxxx

  • So sorry to hear what you have been through yes do complain who do these people think they are I had a similar thing happen to me although different to what you had I had a car accident and I had to go through the insurance Doctor who are supposed to be independent December19 th las year I took photos of the bruising all down my right side he refused to look at them I was told bu a top orthopedic specialist I needed an MRI scan and he said oh he only thinks you need one I was told he would recommend I should see a orthopedic specialist I said oh great but then was told it would be 6 months down the line and I would be probably be better then he also put in my report I didn't walk with a gait ( I have limped ever since the accident ) there was a big flight of stairs to get to his office when I said I couldn't possibly walk up there he suddenly came out of a ground floor office in the end I paid for my self to have an MRI (written in one of my letters on the site )it has shown severe spinal stenosis and nerve inpingment and other issues I was perfectly fine until my accident as my records prove but because I have exercised and tried to live a normal life and trying to get my self I am now on a Zimmer frame and can hardly walk going to the specialist on Tuesday to see what can be done good luck and keep us all informed we can not do much but we can be here for each other Spoon39

  • Hi there I really get where you are coming from, I find that chronic pain does affect my emotional state which is not necessarily mental health issues, I believe it is a viscous circle, pain causes stress, stress causes pain, it's not that easy to get a diagnosis in some cases to actually pinpoint a cause of pain and I suspect if you gave him a blow by blow account of what is causing your pain he wouldn't know what you were talking about!! Chronic pain syndrome is a diagnosis but he obviously isn't knowledgeable to know that, the same applies with the atoms type assessments.

    Anyway on a better note keep your chin up and give yourself a gold star for managing work with CRPS, it's something I can no longer do myself sadly, take care of yourself.

    Sheryl4659

  • In 1975 i started getting pains in my legs, a long story short i had 8 ops on my knees but still pain persisted, was told i was malingering and go back to work Arrrrrgh i did go back to work but ten years later pain got so bad and condition worsened so much i had a stroke nearly went blind/paralysed, i later found out going back to work made my condition worse as it was not being treated, correctly. Now im disabled all because some idiot didn't believe me, if i could see him now i would i would gladly cut his ..... off. Go back to your Dr and demand he gets you another app't, with someone who knows his job, don't settle for less, i wish i had.....take care

  • I had a similar thing when I went to see a physio, although I thought I was seeing my surgeon, but apparently this physio does some of the surgeon's clinics! I don't know either! Anyhow he told me that if I do my physio my pain will go! Bearing in mind I have had constant pain since the age of 16, have had 6 operations on my lumbar spine and pelvis, had several different types of treatment and on morphine. It didn't matter what I said he was really patronising and arrogant, basically saying it was my fault. I became sarcastic and patronising of him then, it was either that or punching him! Therefore I won't be seeing him again.

  • It's awful. I feel like printing off a load of leaflets and information about chronic pain and posting them to him!

  • No, you're not alone. At a recent occ health assessment, I was subjected to the following :

    -total silence for the first five minutes whilst the nurse wrote my name and date of birth on top of all of her bits of paperwork, didn't even make eye contact or small talk.

    -told that once my depression was cured with antidepressants my chronic pain of ten years would go away (ooh, I wish!)

    -told that I couldn't possibly go back to work.

    -told that if I did go back to work it might just be better to quit altogether.

    -asked if I had seen a psychiatrist when I started to cry during the appointment.

    -was promised a copy of their report. I am still waiting, six weeks later.

    Fortunately, I have a GP and a manager at work who are totally supportive and I am slowly getting back into work after a period of sick leave. They said that the occ health assessment was only advice and didn't have to be followed.

    I remember the feeling of devastation when the nurse said I couldn't return to work, and basically had me on the scrap heap. I also wanted to scream about her lack of knowledge about chronic pain.

    Usually I would be all for educating people about it (most health professionals I've met are interested and want to learn more), but I just can't be bothered this time (the joy of apathy and depression).

    The irony of this was that I was desperate to go back to work and just wanted some advice on how to cope better. The building next door to occ health has the local branch of ATOS in it. So there was me, being told not to even think about going to work, and next door there were doubtless some poor sods with perfectly good reasons for being unfit for work who were being told to go and do a totally unsuitable or impossible job.

    Sorry for the rant. Probably not very helpful, other than I've been carrying this around with me for weeks and it's finally off my chest.

  • Thanks for the reply, teadrinker - it is helpful, as it's nice (if frustrating) to know that other people have been treated similarly badly. Sometimes writing / talking about it is cathartic and helps you feel better - although I struggled to talk about it when I arrived in work after the apt and was expected to continue teaching as normal for the rest of the day. Every time I tried to explain it to colleagues I just broke down in tears :-/

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