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Better understanding Fibromyalgia & getting the support you need (Ontario)

There are two schools of thought when it comes to fibromyalgia.

Some doctors believe it exists, and it’s a very real illness/disabling condition.

Other doctors don’t believe it exists, and that it’s all in your head.

Insurance companies and their lawyers, tend to side with the latter. Personal injury lawyers and their clients tend to side with the former.

In any event, fibromyalgia is one of the most difficult disabling conditions for a lawyer to prove. Next to a minor brain injury which doesn’t show up on any type of x-ray, scan or MRI, it’s right up there.  It’s also one of the most difficult disabilities for somebody to explain to another person. You look fine. You don’t have any visible breaks, abrasions or wounds. So, what could possibly be wrong?

Some of the most common things our lawyers hear things from clients are complaints such as:

  • It’s hurts all over
  • I have really bad headaches
  • I’m tired all the time
  • I can’t think properly, I can’t concentrate, I can’t read, I can’t remember things, My mind is like mush
  • I’m sad
  • I cry for no reason or really easily
  • I have problems sleeping at night
  • I have little motivation to do things
  • The pills I take don’t work and make me drowsy
  • I keep to myself and don’t socialize as much anymore
  • Nobody understands what I’m going through

YOU’RE NOT ALONE!!!!  These complaints are very common.

Our law firm has helped countless fibromyalgia sufferers over the years get the compensation and medical support they deserve. We understand that communicating things which can’t be seen on any x-ray scan or MRI are difficult to explain to a lay person, friends or a family member. What’s most important is having the right legal team set up your claim properly from day #1 so that your case is set up to win.

One of things that’s very important is getting proper medical attention. This all starts with the family doctor. If you’re family doctor is “old school”, s/he will probably tell you to suck it up and work through the pain and depression. After your 18th visit or so telling you the same thing, without referring you to a analyst or a to a pain clinic, it’s clear that your family doctor, as nice as s/he is; just DOESN’T GET IT, or DOESN’T WANT TO DEAL WITH YOUR PAIN.

Believe it or not, this is common. Family doctors don’t like dealing with chronic pain patients. The amount of time they need to invest in their care is HIGH, and the associated billing codes for OHIP are LOW. That means they have to spend more time with fibromyalgia patients for less money. When they can be seeing three times as many different patients and billing at a higher rate. Other reasons why family doctors may not want to deal with fibromyalgia patients are because they are COMPLEX and COMPLICATED cases to deal with; which require a lot of management. Or, the family doctor may simply not believe in fibromyalgia at all; therefore; s/he doesn’t want to deal with it. These things aren’t supposed to happen; but in real life; THEY DO! We see it more frequently then we’d like to admit.

Ask your family doctor to refer you to a analyst who deals with firbromyalgia. A rheumatologist, a physiatrist or a pain clinic can all help. Or ask them to refer you to a different family doctor who has a specialty in treating chronic pain. All are good options. Here is a great website to doctors who accept or treat fibromyalgia sufferers.fibromyalgia

Investigate some other resources. The Arthritis Society is a great place to start. They have some great information on coping with and getting help for fibromyalgia pain. The Canadian Women’s Health Network is another great online resource.

Visit your local hospital and inquire whether or not they have a fibromyalgia program, or clinic. You would be surprised at the amount of community hospitals who have such programs. You will then be surprised by the amount of people who are suffering from fibromyalgia who you meet in the program. When I said that you’re not along, I mean it. There are A LOT of people out there just like you! It’s a good idea to connect with these people, and see what they’re doing to best manage their pain and depression. You never know; their coping strategies may be of assistance in getting you back to health. Our clients also find that sharing their stories, trials and tribulations in these group settings to be therapeutic. It’s never a bad idea to have a safe environment to vent, and get things off your chest.

One of the things our clients have said is very helpful is AquaFit or a low impact pool exercise program. You can find them at your local community centre or at a fitness club. Some long term disability and auto insurers will PAY for the cost of the programs because they know that they work, or provide some form of relief. Other times, the programs are covered under private medical insurance plans. In any event, the cost of these programs isn’t very prohibitive. If cost is an issue, try to work out a payment plan with the person who runs the sessions. It never hurts to ask.

Don’t be afraid to try different medications. Everyone’s body is different. Everyone reacts differently to different medication or treatment. Don’t be afraid to try different things. There might be some dosage or mix that works just right for you. Insurers, judges and juries also like to see that you’ve tried different things to get better as opposed to simply refusing medication all together. This concept at law is called “mitigation of damages“. You have to show that you’ve tried, as opposed to have done nothing to get better. The logic is that healthy people don’t have medication. Therefore, if you’re injured or disabled and NOT taking medication, then you MUST be healthy or the pain can’t be that bad because you’re NOT taking anything for it.

Don’t be afraid to talk to a professional about your problems. A professional means a doctor, nurse, social worker, therapist etc. If you feel sad, angry or depressed, then let a professional know about your feelings. Keeping those feelings bottled inside isn’t healthy and I can assure you; it’s not good for your legal case either. If your emotional problems are not documented, then at law, they won’t exist. That means we need a professional to take records and document said problems. No notes or records: no depression.

Enough law talk? Sure. I would like to congratulate Toronto’s professional baseball team for playing some meaningful baseball in late August for the first time since 1993. It’s been a long time coming, but I can smell the Playoffs for this ball club. Isn’t it strange how contenders arise in today’s modern age of free agency. You blink and BAM, you have a contender. Let’s wait and see if the team can continue to produce.


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