July 30, 2008: I tore the meniscus in my left knee in 3 places while working on an archaeological survey.
Most of the damage was on the medial (inside) side of the cartilage. An accident report was filed and it
became a Worker's Compensation issue.
September 2008: After looking at the MRIs, the knee doctor said I had to do arthroscopic surgery or sign off
on the injury. I opted for arthroscopic surgery. What the doctor didn't mention was that he was going to
remove most of my knee cartilage. After the surgery, I had to use a cane and switched to predominately
using my right leg. My left knee still hurt.
February, 2009: I went to physical therapy and they said my knee cap was in the wrong place. They pushed
it into place and I walked without pain for the first time since the initial injury. I had already been concerned
with the knee doctor because everything was being filed under my insurance rather than Workers
Compensation. I questioned his billing department and they said the insurance paperwork was easier and
the doctor received more money. My insurance deductible is high. All the extra money they were receiving
was mine. I finally called my insurance company and told them it was Workers Compensation and not to pay
any of the bills. I also petitioned Workers Compensation to let me switch doctors.
Summer 2009: On an archaeological survey in a rugged, canyon area, I used the cane too hard and did
something horrible to my right shoulder. Over time the pain lessened, but never went away.
It was difficult to find a knee doctor who would do Workers Compensation. I finally found one, but I don't think
he had ever done Workers Compensation before. He suggested a knee brace and lubrication shots to help
with the pain and slow down the degradation. It took a long time to get the knee brace okayed by Workers
Compensation. The doctor was not able to get Workers Compensation to approve the lubrication shots. The
brace was big, metal, and klugy, but it took away a lot of pain when I walked.
Almost 2 years after the injury, Workers Compensation still hadn't paid one of the bills. I was getting nasty
letters and was about to be sold to a collection agency. Federal Workers Compensation is contracted out to
a private insurance company. It's the biggest bureaucratic mess I've ever dealt with. I finally sent an email to
President Obama. Within a month, the bill was paid and I received a letter from the director of Federal
Workers Compensation saying I should work with my agent instead of the president.
June 2010: I found a knee doctor who said he could get lubrication shots okayed by Workers
Compensation. I petitioned for another doctor change. The new doctor gave me a series of 5 Supartz shots.
I also received a knee brace which was less klugy and more supportive. I still had to use a cane, but most of
the pain was gone.
November 14, 2011: While wandering around New York City, my right knee began to hurt. I switched the
cane to support my right knee and waited for the pain to go away.
January 2012: My general doctor ordered a MRI for my right knee and gave it a cortisone shot. The
cortisone shot gave no relief. The general doctor told me that the MRI showed no cartilage and I needed to
see a knee specialist. I began using 2 canes.