Two months later… (12)

Don’t get injured at work. Whatever you do, be safe, be responsible and don’t ever get injured. Don’t be like me and take a shortcut to get out of a dangerous environment. Just don’t be in the dangerous environment to begin with. This has been my life for the past two months now. I was injured at work, and two months later, I’m still dealing with all the crap.

It began in mid December. In Australia, the summer heat is bloody hot. In Victoria, the temperature can reach as hot as 48 in some areas, and even though I work indoors, its a factory with no air conditioning or moving air. We have only a few fans, barely enough to cool you down standing two feet in front. The chemicals produce plenty of heat, and whatever the temperature is outside, add an extra to it, and humidity too.

On the day in question, it was the final hour of the day. Summer was in full swing with the temperature hitting mid 30s. Upstairs where I was working, the heat was pushing 38 degrees, and being the last hour of the day, the sun was at its peak. Beaming down through the clear factory roof.

We had chemicals mixing and I was having to not only deal with the heat coming off the metal floor, the sun outside, the general heat in the air, but also from the chemical tank (10,000 litres) itself which was being heated up throughout most of the day.

I was upstairs for that final hour, sweating and exhausted. Each movement was draining my body of all life, and every breath felt like my last. But work must go on. Mind you, I’d already spoken work about the unsafe conditions in summer, and although everyone cared in the moment, when the job needed to be done, safety wasn’t a concern. Also, being in charge in the factory meant I was also protective of my workers. Meaning, if the job was a little unsafe, I wanted to do it. My motto at work is, ‘I wouldn’t ask you to do it, if I wouldn’t do it myself.’

So up the stairs I went, making sure to bring a bucket for the job at hand. Walking up stairs into 38 degree heat is like entering hell from a sauna. You’re just going from one hot to an extreme. The heat was unsafe but it needed to be done. Deadlines. After about 30 minutes or so, I was feeling the heat like never before. My mouth was dry, my head was cloudy and I was struggling to walk up and down the stairs. Mind you, my entire work day requires me to wear latex gloves, hair net and thick overalls.

On my final trip up the steps to the highest part of the metal flooring, my knee just gave way. I felt a sharp pain and then stood still for a moment to collect myself. Obviously I’d done something, but with the way I was feeling, what was it? I drove home after work, slowly made my way up the stairs at home, and showered before crawling into bed. The next day I was was worse. Limping with a constant throbbing in my knee. This was my life now.

Being the worker I am, I even did overtime and weekend work leading up to Christmas. Thankfully I had two weeks off over Christmas, but I was still in pain. My partner kept telling me to see a doctor, but I just presumed it would go away…the pain, not my partner. After seeing a doctor, I was told I had fluid build up and had to get on medication. Then sent for an ultra sound…my knee was pregnant. Then an x-ray. Followed by an MRI. Two weeks wasted over Christmas to be told a ligament was torn.

Thanks life, you are the best.

Even with my injury and limping, I was back at work at the start of the year, fighting against going on WorkCover. But after paying for medical bills and being sent home and using my sick leave, then seeing a specialist and being told surgery was required, I decided, enough was enough.

The conversation with my employer was interesting. Having that talk where you want to be at work, but want to avoid WorkCover is very interesting indeed. Thankfully my bosses were good about it and told me to get back to 100%. All good, I thought. Next came the paperwork.

Have you ever gone on WorkCover? It is the most painful experience ever. You have to fill out endless amounts of paperwork. Explain your injury/incident over and over again. Go see this person. Back to your GP. See this person. Call the insurance company. See the GP again. Authorise this payment. See that person. Email this insurance. Send these papers. Wait for this information. Update these people. Speak with that person. And on and on it goes.

I have been doing all that, and still I’m at a stand still. Even booking physio has become a massive pain. My claim has been approved, but the first payments haven’t been received. So the treatment can’t begin…unless I want to be out-of-pocket again. So far I’m already out-of-pocket for medication, treatment, scans and specialist appointments. They quickly add up.

The only positive out of it all, is nothing. It sucks to be injured but it does allow me extra time to write and would you look at this, another post complete.

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