Accident Disabled Man In Constant Pain Seeks Grant Money To Maintain Home
by Dominic Pierucci
(Salt Lake City, Utah, USA)
Born and raised in Utah, I'm a 43-year-old proud American, although being accident disabled is making my life miserable.
I'm divorced and father of one daughter. I'm still in love with my ex-wife, and she's still in love with me.
I have had many jobs, from construction to building jets for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft.
My disability began in 1992. I was working construction helping to build an US Army/National Guard depot in Salt Lake City.
I was grading gravel pads with an excavator. I noticed the concrete guys were having to pour some pads with a crane and bucket and they were falling behind.
I lowered the bucket of the machine I was operating and shut it off. I went over to where the concrete was being poured, grabbed a shovel and began backfilling the corners of the pads being laid so that the other guys could move on and continue pouring the next pad.
On one shovel full of cement I heard a pop in my back, along with very sharp pain. I was unable to stand fully erect.
I told my boss what had happened and struggled through the day and went home to my wife and daughter.
The next day I struggled through the pain to get dressed. I was able to manage and went to work hunched over. I did this for three days.
The pain I was feeling got worse until finally the superintendant of the job site told me to go to the doctor. I went that same day.
The doctor I saw gave me medication and a work release. Bed rest, he said. I did as I was told.
A week later I returned to the same doctor. I was not getting any better so the doctor referred me to a specialist. I was able to get in to see the specialist within a week.
This doctor ordered X-rays and an MRI. He reviewed the films and ordered physical therapy, and gave me more medication.
I was told I had herniated disks S-1 and L-5. I did everything I was told to do, but a month later I was still no better.
Unfortunately for me the specialist said I had reached MMI (maximum medical improvement). I tried to return to my job, but with the restrictions placed on me by the specialist, I was laughed off the job site.
I filed for unemployment insurance as Workers Compensation stopped when I reached MMI.
I found work as a delivery driver about three months later. Two months into that job resulted in rupturing the two herniated disks, rupturing two more above them and herniating one more above that.
That was it. I was fired from the delivery job. The specialist said that in his opinion my days of working were over.
My life and that of my wife and child were slipping away fast.
We would have been on the street if not for help from my parents and the determination of my wife. She found a job working nights at a gas station, then at a major credit card company about six months later.
I was pronounced Permanently Totally Disabled. I fought with Social Security for two years and was eventually awarded disability benefits in 1995 backdated to 1992.
I then fought with Workers Compensation for another two years before entering into stipulation with them. It was not much, but with it and the wages my wife was making we were able to make do.
Then my wife was injured on the job where she was working and it all started over again.
Having gone through it all before we new what to expect and how to handle the situation a bit better. She was declared Permanently Totally Disabled also.
The pain I suffered from my injury never eased. It only got worse. I was not and I am still not able to lift a full gallon of milk.
My back and legs hurt so bad I thought about killing myself many times and more than likely would have if not for the love from my family and the support of my doctor and psychiatrist.
Then in the year of 2000, I suffered cauda equina. I thought I had experienced the worst pain possible but cauda equina showed me that the pain can always get worse, much worse.
In my case the disk at L4-L3 split into two pieces, the third of a piece stayed where it should, the two-thirds piece impacted and crushed six inches of my spinal cord.
At first I thought I was having a bad flare up, so I waited for three days before contacting my doctor, who informed me of what was happening in my back after another MRI.
I was rushed into surgery that night. The surgeon who preformed the operation informed me that I had waited too long.
As I was being wheeled into surgery on a gurney, the doctor told me I had a 50/50 chance that after surgery I would move my legs on reflex when he poked my toes.
I did not move or feel anything when my toes were poked. The surgeon then waited for me to come completely out from under anesthesia and ask me if I could move my legs and feet.
By the grace of GOD I spread my toes wide when I was asked. I can't feel anything below my belly button except pain, yet I am able to walk.
To this day all I can feel below my waist is pain. My toes feel like rats are eating them. My legs are numb, yet I also feel sharp pain in them. My back feels like there is a knife stuck in it and someone is twisting it.
I don't sleep because every little twitch is agony, which wakes me on the rare occasion I happen to drift off.
I do simple exercises every day even though it causes me more pain.
I know pain very well and would wish it on no one.
I am unable to do simple house or yard work. I am unable to sit, or stand for more than five minutes. Walking is extremely difficult as is thinking. I seem to forget everything, even important things I really need to remember.
My injury has brought on other diseases such as degenerative disk disease, degenerative facet disease and arthritis, as well as mental issues.
I am always in severe pain, and I feel like a burden to my family.
I feel like half of a man, dependent on the government and incapable of some of the simplest tasks.
It seems my disability only gets worse every day, and I need more and more help.
I make very little. I am barely able to make my mortgage and other monthly necessity bills such as lights, gas and auto insurance.
I need help paying my doctors, and prescription bills. I need dental work, which I am unable to afford.
I need help cleaning my home and yard as well as yard and house maintenance.
It all gets worse every day and all I'm able to do is watch it happen.
I am unable to work.
I receive SSDI and WCF funds.
I have never been given a grant.
I am unable to sit through a sermon at church.
I receive no donations.
I need a grant to hire someone to repair my house and pay for materials, and ongoing funds for house and yard work.
I would welcome any help. Just doing this story has taken me many hours to complete.