By Cory Bilton
In mid-December I woke one morning with severe numbness and tingling in my left arm. Initially, I thought the sensations would quickly subside. Within a few minutes of stretching, some feeling had returned to my left arm. But my pinky and ring finger continued to feel completely numb. In the month since this happened, I have had ongoing pain, discomfort, and dysfunction in my left arm and hand. I have recently seen an orthopedist and will undergo diagnostic testing and some occupational therapy in the next few weeks. At this time, my recovery is hopeful, but uncertain.
While my injury was not the result of someone’s negligence, my path to recovery shares something with what many accident victims experience while recovering. I am very fortunate that my injury is slight compared with the injuries of most of the people I have represented. But the sequence of experiences—injury, symptoms, diagnosis, therapy, and ongoing evaluation—is similar.
Although I had some scuffs, scrapes, and bruises as a kid, my injuries were always visible and I recovered in a predictable fashion. But this injury seems different. The problem is completely invisible to me, the symptoms are largely discomfort and dysfunction, and the outlook for recovery is uncertain. These factors make an injury harder to cope with and explain to others. From what I know right now, what has happened to my arm may be permanent. So there is a psychological impact in addition to a physical one. Because this seems like a useful opportunity for a personal injury lawyer to walk in his client’s shoes, I will share my experience dealing with my injury, medical treatment, and recovery in a series of posts. My hope is that my experience will help advance the discussion on injuries, medical care, and the ways in which people cope and recover.