There is a time to grin and bear things out, and there also comes a time for change.
Michael Stine’s teeth are only about 1/4 the length of what they were before his work-related accident; he has ground down 3/4 of the length of his teeth over the years, trying to muscle through the pain from his injuries. And work comp isn’t paying his dental insurance. He can’t work, and his work comp insurance has denied his doctors’ recommendations for medical care —surgeries, physical therapy and pain medication— at every turn.
Mr. Stine might have been doing just fine right about now, able to live a normal working life despite his accident, but his because work comp insurance company dragged its feet and didn’t give him care when he needed it, he’s nearly 100% disabled now. The first doctor he saw through his insurance wrote off his condition as “psychosomatic,” but when he pressed on to get the medical care he needed, he learned that he had four leaking discs in his spine. His surgeon remarked that the discs “looked like four flat tires that have been driven on for 100 miles.” Another surgeon looked at him incredulously after seeing the depth of his physical impairment and told him he was “surprised you are walking.” Every time he would move, the ruptured discs would agitate his nerves, causing extreme pain.
But Mike Stine is tough.
When the work comp law changed in 2013, his insurance sent him to no less than *thirteen* pain specialists, in an attempt to find one that would claim that the pain patient wasn’t legitimately in pain. He drove to every one of these clinics, sometimes driving an hour each way.
For 20 years after his work-related accident, Mike Stine has done everything the insurance company asked him to do to prove the validity of his case over and over again. Despite his full cooperation, his insurer has harassed his doctors, denied treatment, had him under surveillance on at least 2 occasions (he has some of the tapes they recorded).
He has lost everything: his health, his ability to earn a living, his life savings. He chased off most of his friends from being at turns angry and withdrawn, all because he is suffering in pain needlessly, because the people behind the curtain at the insurance company refuse to honor their commitment.
He has called Senator Ted Gaines’s office, and urged the Senator’s aide to call the work comp insurance. The insurance company did not return the aide’s call.
It is not easy, but Mike Stine is not giving up. He understands when people “go postal” because they don’t know where to turn. He has seen dark days. And he has not made peace with his pain, or the length of his teeth in the mirror. None of it has been humane, and none of it is acceptable. It is time for a change.