I have a few questions. First of all a little back story: I had a spinal fusion of my L5-S1 in June of 2006. I continued to have pain it never let up, but the doctor released me in September 2006 and said I was a success because there was a fusion. My primary doc continued to prescribe my pain med and muscle relaxer ( loretab 10 and Soma) until 12/2008 when he referred me to pain managment after a MRI showed some changes at the surgical sight. I went to pain managment who pulled me off all meds until he could determine what what going on. I went through a hardware block, where he promptly actually hit my bottom screw with the needle and sent me into a huge amount of pain enough I passed out on the table. I went back at the next appt and saw the PA who realized my MRIs were showing inconsistencies, she got me referred to my now neurosurgeon. my neurosurgeon sent me for a myleogram which revealed a large tennis ball sized bone encased mass on my spine attached to my fusion and that my bottom screw of hardware was loose and the bar was bent- it needed to come out. my pain managment dr finally placed me on Norco 10 4 times a day and baclofen 4 times a day. I had surgery in June of 2010 to remove the mass which had my nerves to my right leg wrapped up in it and the hardware placed by the previous surgeon. Things were good after the surgery until Sept 2010 when baclofen caused a grande mal seizure, I was then placed on Robaxin and then October 2010 when I suddenly developed severe back pain again and a head ache... I made an appointment with both pain managment and my neuro. Neuro sent me for a stat MRI. Pain managment increased my norco to 6 times a day. THe MRI results came back in Dec. 2010 and showed that I had yet again another mass in the same spot, further testing idicated a major spinal fluid leak...Surgery was scheduled for Jan 2011. I had surgery Jan. 3rd 2011- I was in for 7 days, flat on my back for 4 days. I came out of the hospital on 50mcg of fentynal every 72 hours, Norco 10 6 a day, and soma 350 4 times a day. after 2 weeks out of the hospital I asked to be weaned off the fentanyl as I did not like the way it made me feel. Pain managment agreed and weaned me off. I have been off of Fent since Feb 6 2011. I am still on Norco and Soma. I have managed to taper and am ahead most days on my meds, so that there is a stash in a safe. I generally take 4 out of 6 norco a day and maybe 1 of the now 3 soma I am allowed. I saw Neuro for my follow up and the final diagnosis is a tethered spinal cord due to scar tissue and spinal stenosis with right leg weakness. I go for another MRI in April, to make sure all is well - during the surgery he patched 4 holes in the dura and patched over 4 other weak areas on my dura so 8 in all.
My problem is this - my boss is now saying that I CANNOT continue to take medications and work. Yes there have been a few times I have been tired at work, but my meds have never interfered with my ACTUAL performance. I was recently accused of asking a suprervisor for marijuana but was never asked for a drug test ( I offered and they declined) I would never ask anyone for anything, I have never even done an illegal substance, my boss knows I am in pain managment and seeing a neuro, she states that she has to have a copy of my last drug test from the pain managment doctor, and wants me to contact them to get me off all meds. My question is can they make me provide them with info from my docs? I have felt from the moment I came back to work ( 17 days after surgery, 10 days after I got out of the hospital) that she has wanted me out due to the fact that I have had surgery 2 times in a year. She states she feels I have a problem with drugs, and that I need to see a counselor, and need physical therapy. I just feel she thinks she knows my body better than I do, and more importantly better than the doctors that have worked so hard to get me where I can function and live my life from day to day.
How much info do I have to allow my work to have? How much control can they have over my medical care? Should I just start looking for another job?
Im a single momma so I am scared ******** that this hard earned control I have is going to be taken away from me because one person does not believe in narcotics ( keep in mind this woman has never had a surgery at all in her life, not even a tooth pulled, no children)
I need advice badly, any insight would be great
The following user gives a hug of support to Johnathansmomma: Pegala (03-08-2011)
First of all let me say I am sorry for what you are going through, I truly am. I have had a botched L4-5 Discs replacement that I know now I never should have had (due to advanced arthritis in my spinal cord) What kind of work are you in? I may be wrong but I am almost 100% sure that you could actually sue your company for your boss behaving that way. At least in MS(where I live) your medical records are strictly between you and your doctor. How does your boss know your on pain medication? If you informed her that may have been a bad idea. My PM doctor tells me to not tell anyone who does not absolutlely have to know, that I am on pain medication. Even if you did, that does not give her the right to tell you that you can not take your medication. If it were me, I would first call my doctor(or his or her nurse) and tell him/her your situation with your boss. See if the nurse or your doctor would be willing to call the company you work for and explain the situation to them(it wont hurt since they already know your on pain meds) If for some reason they wont, or if it does not work, I would call a lawyer asap. You have the right not to be discriminated against, due to any medical problems or mediaction your doctor seems fit for you. You could also google the state laws where you live pertaining to your situation. I for one, would not accept this type of treatment from my employer or anyone else for that matter. It's bad enough your having to go through the pain that your in, you do not need someone who probably cant even spell pain to act like your an addict or something. Has it truly not affected your work performance? If not, I would really look into calling a lawyer. You have rights as an employee and a patient, I would excercise them! sorry I could not be of more help, but remember there are people out there who are going through the same things. you are not alone. Keep us informed on how everything works out for you, and again i'm really sorry you are being treated this way.
I don't know if it varies state to state, but my understanding is that your actual boss has absolutely no right no demand this information from you. Your HR department or employee health department can request that you have a medical exam or get your medical records (with your consent) but they cannot share your actual medical records with your boss (it must be kept in HR). I also don't think they can demand your medical records, but rather can have you submit to an exam by them, and a drug test paid for by them.
I TOTALLY agree with Isotope, please contact an attorney right away before sharing any more information with anyone at work. Research before hand to find someone who specializes in employment law. They will be able to advise you.
Do you do a job that would make it hard for you to work and take pain medication (such as an operator of heaving machinery or are you a brain surgeon or anything?)
To answer your questions as to what I do, I am a social worker specializing in parent education. I have been monitored by my trainers at work in the field unannounced and they have found no intereference in my ability to perform my job and do so successfully. THe CW workers I work with request me specifically for some of their cases, due the fact that I have a high success rate with my clients.
I have not been asked any more questions and am at this point flying as far under the radar as I can, trying not to draw attention to myself. Most of the time since this conversation I do not even have my meds with me at work and before I didnt have them anywhere anyone could see them or get to them they were locked in my desk I have the only key, so I tend to go 8 hours without my meds at all. Yes this leaves me in major pain, but I deal. I know the rollercoaster effect is not good on my body but I feel it is my only option at this point.
I have offered to go for a drug test, they have turned me down. I hate that people are so uneducated about pain managment and chronic pain in general. I do not like taking the medication, but its that or no life. I dont get "high" off the meds, and I stick to my contract with my doctor to a T. I have always been compliant and have submitted to his UA's and pill counts at any time and never been found to be out of compliance.
I feel like this is a witch hunt, cause Ive had surgery twice in 6 months and Im a liability I guess.
obtain a letter from your physician with regards to your fitness to work; it should include any limitations if any and whether your meds interfere with your work performance-if the dr says you are fit to work they would be discriminating against you and surely you should seek legal counsel-obtain an employee handbook from human resources also
jonathans mom- If your boss or anyone else for that matter gives you any trouble about your meds, I would call a lawyer asap. Like I said you have rights as an employee and a patient, do not be afraid to excercise them. I am sorry you are having this much trouble, and have to go 8 hours without your meds. Here is what I would do if I were you as far as taking my meds at work. I would ask your pharmacist for an extra LABELED bottle of your pain meds, so you can carry just what you need to get through the day, and can leave the rest at home. I would keep the empty bottle in my car, locked up. I would carry one pill a day(or however many you are supposed to take in the amount of time you are at work)and put it in a tylenol bottle locked up in your desk. That way if anyone sees you taking anything they will think it's tylenol, and you always have your prescription bottle in your car, just in case any kind of problems arise. I hope this makes sense. It is ridiculous that you would need to ever have to do this, but the media has demonized many types of pain medication to the point that even cancer patients can be labeled as addicts. I will not even tell more than half of my family that I take prescription pain killers, because I know they will think I am in it for the "high". I do not think any actual CHRONIC pain patients, take them to get high. We take them for the relief. I know this is way off the subject, but where I am from it's ok to down a fifth a night because you want to, but you better not take any kind of pain pill to help you for an actual problem or condition. It's really sad. CPP like you and I and others on the board, have enough to deal with without simple minded people who have never had so much as a toothache making us out to be addicts. I know I am rambling ( I seem to do that alot) but it all gets really frustrating. It can be even more difficult when you are as young as I am (22) and have to take opiates. I can not tell you how many times I have heard " boy you do not know what pain is, wait till your my age". Those are the types of people I have learned to distance myself from and when I cant I ignore them all together. Most of the time it is them that don't have any idea about pain. Anyway, just venting sorry! Let us know how things work out for you, please do not be afraid to excercise your rights, you have enough to deal with and do not need these uneducated people telling you they know better than your doctor.
Hoping everyone is well
Ehlers Danlos Syndrome(hypermobility type)
Failed Back syndrome(L4-L5 disc replacement)
Reconstructive Right shoulder surgery
Advanced widespread osteoarthritis