Hello Attorney, I’m Here to Help Your Client With Shoulder Injury!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

At the beginning of the year 2017, my left rotator cuff was injured during a combination of physical activity, but I’m not sure how it happened.  Being the type of person who always wants to, no, needs to have answers!, I just had to go with the fact that I hurt!

It took a long time for my shoulder to heal and during that time, my physical and mental capacity were diminished. So in that way, I can empathize with what a person with a shoulder injury experiences. 

The first six months are critical to any injured body part that wants to heal. Proper care, nutrition, stretching, exercise and relaxation are essential components of rehabilitation.  A “don’t give up attitude” is too. I can relate to the limited movement, the pain, and the frustration from my rotator cuff injury!

Nice Biceps!

What’s good is that my shoulder (arms and entire core for that matter!) are much stronger than before because, well simply put, I care about my shoulders and exercise with purpose so they can work hard for me! 

I was offline for maintenance, but I came back stronger than ever!

Remind your clients of the fact that they’re your only shoulders, and if there’s injury, encourage them to do everything possible allowing the healing process to do the work.  If you want a vocational rehabilitation consultant on your side, contact me! If you have a lawsuit that needs to draw attention to the costs of the injury, contact me!

Practicing yoga, or focused stretching and faithfully paying attention to what your body is saying is incredibly valuable during any healing process. If an injury becomes chronic and a decision to perform surgery is made, physical rehabilitation is paramount. 

Rehabilitation also includes body and mind. Speaking of mind, I am grateful to hear of the change in the Iowa workers’ compensation law to provide workers who have a serious shoulder injury and can no longer return to their existing job with vocational rehabilitation benefits.

After July 1, 2017, if in the workers’ compensation system for a shoulder injury, the individual may receive career vocational training at a local community college…and we have good ones here in Iowa!  The employer or the employer’s insurer is required to pay financial support for participation in the program up to $15,000 for tuition, fees, and required supplies. I have plenty of experience helping Veterans return to school and commence with a new career when I had a contract with the VA to provide vocational rehabilitation services.

Also in January 2017,  I worked with a vocational rehabilitation client, Gerald. He had a serious rotator cuff injury with multiple shoulder surgeries and wasn’t expected to be able to return to his job as a roofer. I met with him and performed a vocational evaluation. He expressed interest in work as a heavy machine operator, so upon research and contact with local resources, I prepared an in-depth report to support our findings to help him move into a new career. Please let me know if you have a need on a case involving a shoulder injury as this information is fresh!

Gerald the Cat…Studious, Quick, Very Orange & Very Cool!

In 2018, I was assigned two interesting shoulder injury cases (one involved a dentist, the other a truck trailer unloader/consolidator) and I learned a lot about  surgical options, costs of care and vocational outcomes. I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned if it’d benefit your client!

Please let me know if you have a need for a vocational expert like me to help you help your client.  Just FYI: a few years back, my sister Julie experienced a bad elbow injury when she tripped and fell at work, which required elbow replacement surgery. I learned about elbow procedures and rehabilitation while helping her!

Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon! BTW, I enjoy using cool cats to support my work!  Contact me at 515-778-0634 to discuss your case, or email me at   amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com and let me know the best time to contact you!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Randy and His Perpetual Flip Off! Need an Expert on Your Case Involving Work & Disability?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The evening before my dad’s funeral in May 2016, my husband Randy walked our dog Bella.  Holding his cell phone in one hand while talking to my mother about his part in the service, the other hand held the leash. Bella’s a big Aussie girl, weighing in around 60 pounds;

and from what I hear, a huge raccoon made an appearance near a sewer opening down the street just as they were walking by. This appearance led Bella to lurch towards the coon…pulling hard on the fingers grasped around the leash, and breaking husband’s finger in the process. Ouch.

Early the next morning, we had to hit the road to make the trip to Iowa Falls and, well, experience what would transpire during my father’s service…and beyond in this world for those of us who loved him and enjoyed his company.  

Here’s one of my favorite photos of my dad!

Randy never saw a doctor for his finger injury. I wish he would’ve though. I performed my version of physical therapy and Healing Touch on him, but to this day…well, Randy has a broken middle finger that sticks up in such a way it resembles the image below!

Get my drift?

The funeral service was nice, and my mom did a great job choosing the readings and what to sing! Randy read the first reading, my sister Julie the second and Father Tony the Gospel, of course! I was a communion minister for dad’s friends!

Many of dad’s church friends were involved in the Mass Mass and he would’ve loved that! In fact, one of his buddies told me my dad was like a brother to him. At that moment, my heart grew stronger knowing my dad was very special to another person. Clearly, that was God’s presence, and one of many experiences I feel during life!

One good thing was my dad was cremated, so no handling of a heavy casket with a broken finger!  Afterwards, we had a nice lunch that my dad would’ve enjoyed as well. Love You Dad!

So, to this day, Randy’s finger exhibits a perpetual flip off! Pretty cool huh?  When certain people, like a friend he hasn’t seen in a while, questions why he’s flipping them off, instead of going into detail, he just says “I dunno”.  Just recently, he came home from his job and remarked one of his fellow teachers wanted to know why he flipped her off.  He smiled to her and replied ~

 dunno!

A great memory from October of 2016 was of Randy driving into and out of the parking area of the Kansas City Chief’s Arrowhead stadium.  Soo many people, staffers, and cops too! Well, they all got the flip off! But, no one noticed, which to me made it quite comical! 

It’s a “I do know” factual concept for me to tap into emotional intelligence when I’m being deposed or testifying (I believe it’s okay to flip someone off under a table or in your mind as a form of mental exercise!!). So contact me, my Attorney Reader, if you need an expert and I’ll offer my complete time and attention  as an consultant and an educator for your case.

Keep me in mind as I also offer consulting services to help attorneys come up with good questions to help you prepare for a deposition and/or cross examination in a courtroom on cases involving work and disability.

I’m Here to Help You Help Your Client!

The best way to contact me is by email at  amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

How to Handle Conflicting Medical Opinions? With a Forensic Approach, of Course!

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Upon referral of a vocational case, I review a variety of  medical data (for example: treating physician reports, Functional Capacity Evaluations, Independent Medical Evaluations) and/or psychological data (for example: psychometric testing, psychological evaluations, psychiatric evaluations) found within the file. During a workers’ compensation litigated claim, and for that matter, any claim that involves work and disability, it’s important for me to understand the individual’s medical situation based on the data contained in these records.

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Good thing I’ve had medical records training and enjoy the review!

If a file contains more than one FCE and/or IME, I can expect the reports to have conflicting opinions. For example, one physical therapist will recommend the claimant has the physical capacity for light work, while the other physical therapist says medium work. Often the therapists also have conflicting information about the individual’s maximal (or lack of) effort put forth during the evaluation.

I Did My Best

The claimant needs to say honestly and sincerely  “I Did My Best!”

Assisting the individual (who can be referred to as the injured worker, the claimant, the patient, the testee, the evaluee, and potentially the client)  in returning to work following an injury is a central role in my specialty of placement. This involves finding the best occupational match within the individual’s own labor market. A person’s “doctor imposed restrictions based on an FCE” should not direct the provision of placement services. A person’s knowledge, skills, interests and abilities should!

Image result for opinionWith conflicting opinions from professionals, what data should I rely upon to perform a beneficial service?

I understand conflicting opinions are influenced by components of context and can be derived from subjective views. 

To resolve discrepancies I first ask myself, why is an FCE being used for this specific claim? The utility of this type of scientifically based evaluation, the training sources, performance methods, test protocols and standards to measure them are numerous. Professionals may have opposing views for their own reasons but I must be able to articulate their reports into vocationally-relevant terminology and tell a story about meaningful and gainful work. And it can be challenging to do this if I don’t understand the conclusion of the FCE report to begin with!

WORK

I love reading medical data rich in detail about a person’s world of functioning!  And I love writing reports rich with detail about a person’s world of work! 

A functional capacity evaluation is actually a term with various definitions, purposes and constructs. The purpose is to  evaluate an individual’s capacity to perform work activities related to his or her participation in employment. It seems that in essence, by having a functional capacity evaluation a person is likely to be put in an unfortunate position of deciding whether he or she is willing to return to work.  If willing, there’s a way. If not, there’s no way.

From what I know, there are approximately 10 different types of commonly used functional capacity evaluations. Here in Iowa, I am most familiar with FCEs with names like the Isernhagen Work System, the Blankenship, Matheson, WorkWell and X-RTS. The reliability or validity of any system is somewhat irrelevant to me because the testing is already entered into “evidence”. What is relevant to me is whether or not I comprehend the results and recommendations contained within the evaluation.

Sometimes I can, sometimes I cannot. I always use a “Does This Make Sense to Me? test!

Image result for conflictingIt’s up to the dualing physical therapists to make their best points during litigation, I’m not in that ring!

I feel fortunate of connections with several physical therapists allowing insight into their clinical practice. I attend continuing education programs, and recall one that helped me understand various approaches to FCE’s specifically the X-RTS Lever Arm.

Thinking Cap

The X-RTS Lever Arm passes my make sense test!

So within the context of my vocational consulting work while cautiously putting any judgment aside (which seems hard when I know I know certain things), I analyze and compare each FCE while considering the testing results.

I analyze and compare FCEs! Whoa!

I note whether the FCE report is readable and user friendly. I assess if I understand terminology and methods used, how long testing was administered, what actually was administered, the claimant’s behavior during the test, and how the evaluator came to his or her conclusions. Does it make sense?

I look for descriptors regarding the results of testing in relation to real jobs. Are there concrete and realistic recommendations regarding strengths and weaknesses in relation to performing physical demand levels of various work situations? I definitely look for the goals and expectations for the evaluation, and whether maximum and consistent effort was made by the evaluee. Comments on the suitability of the testee’s future employment options along with the evaluator’s observations are valuable and should be included.

Thinking Cap

Continuing on with analyzing and comparing FCEs! Whoa! It’s important to note what body part/extremity the therapist focuses on in relation to what body part/extremity was injured. For example in one report, the therapist discussed lower extremity activities, when in fact it was an upper extremity injury. If the report cites examples or uses too many percentages, it’s important to understand how the therapist justifies examples. I’m familiar with a therapist who changes the percentages of the same examples from report to report. That doesn’t make sense to me.

I try really hard to make sense of most things and situations!  No sense

If I am able to square an FCE in my mind after careful and prolonged study, is it possible the claimant could do the same? That  would be  fortunate, especially if the therapist offers good recommendations that make sense!

How does the evaluee, when not truly the therapists’  patient when referred for an FCE by their own work comp attorney; with an additional FCE visit to a different physical therapist by the defense attorney  (that makes 2 different reports prepared by 2 different therapists) perceive discrepancies in the results? Sadly, in my eyes the FCE often gets “interpreted” through an attorney. The repeated pattern of thinking of one’s functional capacity as “poor” does not help anyone return to work.

If there is an IME (Independent Medical Exam), it may seem more geared towards one of the FCEs. Regardless, I try to comprehend all reports, noting the one I understand the most. I’m not so sure that an IME is really a “fresh set of eyes” in the workers’ compensation cases I’ve worked on. This topic is another blog in itself.

Putting both, or multiple opinions in a vocational report and making use of other documentation to support my ultimate and final opinion is a great idea, however I have to be cautious to not put myself in a role that isn’t mine (which is making a medical opinion which I can’t do).

If I am able to provide a doctor (ideally the most recent treating occupational health or rehabilitation doctor) detailed information directly related to a specific occupation or line of work and any resources that could help the doctor understand how such work is performed in a smart, safe and effective manner, many benefits arise.

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Clean your lenses!

There’s a clearer understanding of the vocational rehabilitation process and with agreement from all involved, there’s a higher likelihood one could see a successful common outcome (return to work). This certainly helps solidify my vocational opinion and make reasonable recommendations. Yet, this type of opportunity is not frequently available (it is for me to though through processing a life care plan!). Please know I always search for a way to best express my vocational opinion.

In my reports, I document what medical records I’ve reviewed and then use the actual words from the individual during an interview (or deposition review) describing how s/he details their physical impairment.  Often I hear verbatim what one doctor wrote in their restrictions. The evaluee will respond to my open questioning about any physical limitations (sometimes after the evaluee refers to his/her doctor’s letter) and read or have it memorized saying: “no lifting over 20 pounds, avoid twisting, bending, stooping, sit and stand as needed.”  No sense

What do those words really mean in real life? The individual doesn’t seem to know either. Ask an employer if they have a job that involves no lifting over 20 pounds, no twisting, no bending, no stooping, no this, no that…and that’s not talking their language!

The evaluee who responds to me in this fashion (using verbatim restrictive words) needs future vocational counseling. Vocational counseling (which may or may not be provided depending on the nature of the litigation) helps to gain a clearer understanding of how the person’s medical situation has changed their daily living (especially in the context of their own world of work). This understanding leads to the ability to articulate the individual’s capacity for success to others (family, friends, job interviewers, etc.).

Please keep in mind, the term “restriction” is not conducive to a successful job search. The ability to explain who you are and what you can do from a functional perspective to help a business make or save money is what is conducive to a successful job search. Restrictions should never be the focus of job placement. Skills are!

Rehabilitation counseling is especially important if the individual is searching for a job, requiring job seeking skills training on how to or (how not to) disclose disability or any functional limitation. The personal attributes gained from training helps the placement process move forward with common goals avoiding getting stuck within a few words that don’t apply to working reality.

WORKWhile staying true to my convictions and firm beliefs that a person can work if the person wants to work and has the capacity to work, I need to understand the dichotomy between science and clinical practice is more imagined than real.

If healthcare professionals submit conflicting reports on the same individual, I need to be able to resolve inconsistencies to better understand and appreciate the opinions offered. It is not my role to determine which opinion is correct. It is my role to utilize available information, provide a beneficial service, and make a sound vocational opinion regarding the individual’s strengths and weakness in relation to work capacity and employability.

Matching People With Their World of WorkIt’s rewarding when I can clarify a person’s sense of their own world of work.

I strive to extend the value of FCEs in the litigation process. I am trained not only in understanding a client’s functional abilities at work, but at home and at leisure. (Need a life care plan?) Together my knowledge with those of other experts, contributes to decisions about the economic losses, or damages, for which the person receives compensation.

Thank you for reading this long post! I’m here to help attorneys like you help your client. Contact me at amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com  and let me get to work for you!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Happy 20th Anniversary Vocational Resources Plus! Time to Stop and Smell The Roses!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Over the years, I’ve received many a rose and enjoy taking pictures of my favorites.  My plan was to find 20 single rose pictures to celebrate the beginning of 20 years in business, which officially is September of 2019, but it became too much work to go through so many photos!

Instead, I changed my mind and decided to come close with my count and not worry about the math, especially when at this time it’s time to

Stop and Smell the Roses!

and be satisfied with my efforts because I gave it my all at this time, as I always do for my work! You too? I’ll bet you do (even though I’m not into betting)! Enjoy the photos that follow and read on!

Tiny Orange Rose
Orange Rose
Beautiful Rose yes

 

 

Ohhhhh!    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All beautiful, yes, I agree! Go ahead and vote on your favorite. I wish you could scratch and sniff each to also let know your thoughts on which you believe smells the best! 

And to be totally honest, the next rose picture was not taken by me!  Incredible, isn’t it…would’ve you guessed this was a find (on an internet search) or actually taken by me? I’ve received blue roses in the past, and my pictures are just too blurry…even when editing. My disclaimer explains

I’ve named this beauty Ghost Rose!

Just to summarize this “author special” post, what’s important to point out is my business has developed for over 19 years. Because my work is important it needs to be clear, simple and pass the “smell test”. 

At times, if an answer to a question or a report on a particular individual or issue is not “perfect”, a decision of what to do next can be unnecessarily stressful. My “best bet” is giving my cases my full attention, and be satisfied with the fact that I put forth my best effort. I’m okay with that with other professionals.

That’s worth, in my opinion, every dollar paid for all the roses Randy’s hand  delivered to me over the years! Hey you reader, wouldn’t it be nice to have some rose beauties of your own, or to hand deliver to a great friend? Make a valuable  impression! One last link regarding my forensic services, fyi.

Contact me 515-778-0634 or amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com to discuss your case and how I help attorneys help clients. Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate the time and the attention!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

 

Intimidators: Tailgaters, Drunken Jerks or Glaring Attorneys? Need an Expert? I’m Here to Help!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Remember the last time someone tried to intimidate you? How about when a person (for example, that careless tailgater or the drunk in the same beer line as you) may think they can make another person do something or react in some way? Exceed the posted speed limit ~ NOPE! Pay attention to public intoxication ~ NOT INTERESTED! or say something to the drunken jerk ~ NO WAY!uckr cup

Go ahead be one, I don’t care! 

During cross examination in the past, I’ve received a pretty mean looking facial expression/glaring eyes/stare down/stern voice/condescending attitude and a critical tone to the long litany of questions arising from the mouth of an attorney on a workers’ compensation court case. I knew this attorney was trying hard to intimidate me. Go ahead, try!

But, I answered all questions calmly. P.S. ~ I love it when the attorney can’t even remember what was asked and has to refer to the court reporter! I stuck to my guns (aka: my knowledge base) during my testimony, and talked about what I knew about.  I knew what I knew.

mmI know, bring it on!

I’ve never been intimidated much by people (places, things or even animals either for that matter). Okay, okay, I am intimidated by Mother Nature, a force to be feared, and treated with utmost respect e specially when she zoome a mesocyclone or other tornado-like activity my way.  I’ll never forget the evergreen tree in my front yard crash down on the car in my neighbor’s driveway during a mesocyclone many summers ago. The storm was in full fury just as I was peeling away in our minivan to get my two youngest children who were about 1/2 mile away at a park for a daycamp.

Image result for cyclone cartoonI have always been able to speak my mind (ask anyone who knows me) and yes it’s gotten me in a pickle or two from time to time (just like my dad!). I try to express what’s on my mind being mindful of who I’m communicating with, the content of my speech/body language, and the context of how/when my message is delivered.  In other words, I’m not the type of person who “blows up” or “blabs” and I definitely don’t overshare!  

I do tend to speed up my talking and need to watch that so I don’t sound nervous, however that is a natural consequence of my hard wired fight and flight response! I read the “butterflies in your stomach” occur as blood from digestive system is redirected. (So I try to eat healthy before a court date!) 

PeacockThere is truly a difference between a cocky person and a confident person!

When on the witness stand, my role is to explain what I did on a case so the judge understands; and ultimately educate the jury on why what I did was important to the case.  I accept confidence with the work I do. My role  allows me to serve as an expert witness & educator all while consulting within the scope of my practice. I keep a placement, rehabilitation, and quality of life orientation at the forefront of any topic. 

Every day, I learn more about how to help others.  My Attorney Reader, please know I am here to help you help your client.  Give me a call and brief me on your case involving work and disability (or just work, or just disability), whatever it may be I’m interested to hear about it! 

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

I’m A Lot Like A Mole…Fortunately to Help on a Legal Case, Using Forensic Rehabilitation!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Okay, so I do something I’m not so sure many other people chose to do and it’s clearly an inherited trait.  Dad did it too. Okay, it’s…it’s…I’ll just come out and tell you. I use bar soap and I use the soap until it is totally gone. And I mean totally!  I don’t waste soap.

Like dad, I also save and reuse paper napkins if possible (but prefer cloth!) and keep paper towels (ditto) the same way he did, until they’ve been totally used up! He’d toss, recycle or burn what he had to.

Waste Not, Want Not (Learned the saying from dad) and ya, it’s a proverb: if you use a commodity or resource carefully and without extravagance, you will never be in need, or, if one is not wasteful then one will not be needy. You get the point, and so did I back then and still do today.

Dad would also say things like “It’s your nickel” back when the home phone rang in the 70’s with the cost increase to “It’s your dime” in the early 80’s! Which really both made no sense at the time. But the point is: my dad was cost conscious (boy oh boy am I too)! Dad was not wasteful and I greatly appreciate inheriting certain traits from him. I miss you so much dad! I know you are a part of me that I will have forever. 

Here’s a picture recently uncovered…my dad Dick and his baby Amy…no idea where we are and why I’m wearing silly glasses! Pretty cute though, huh! My dad, always a good looking man!

I am also quite cognizant of what I throw away. I don’t want to be wasteful and I don’t want to worsen any landfill with un-recyclable garbage (read: plastic packaging). I know plastic has many very practical and very useful purposes. But when it is used once and thrown away…that bothers me. Especially when I’m at a conference in a “green/sustainable building” and they serve all food items on single use disposal yet non-compostable products.

I recycle everything possible (and feasible considering time and other factors) and started composting (thank you to my sister Julie who gave me her used Earth Machine)! To me, the smell of good natural composition of kitchen and yard waste is incredible and to think of how it was made by helpful microbes, worms and other organisms!

When mixed with your soil, compost will revitalize it, make it healthier and more productive, and increase moisture retention! Can’t go wrong there, huh!? So, I use compost and spread it out in my yard and garden. I don’t use chemicals and pick weeds by hand!,  plus I’m into the No Mow method of lawn maintenance (although Randy isn’t!).

Viola! Beautiful lawn and it smells so fresh! However, and much to my chagrin……we got moles. They must really like their meals found in our front and back yard. So the good can seem not so good when now my lawn is disfigured with raised soft ridges and scattered holes. So, this is all natural and meant to be, right??!A mole is really interesting looking, lives underground and is nearly blind. There’s been a couple deaths ~ a baby and an adult mole ~ with corpses delivered by most likely my cat Alaska in the driveway and later buried by my animal loving  husband Randy….yes I make him dig a hole and bury. 

I read that although a mole can detect light it does not hunt using its eyes. Instead, it relies on smell (hence the interesting snout!) and on touching wriggling prey (hence those crazy nails) using sensory hairs on its face. So a mole is good for underground life.  Based on my research : )  A mole is also territorial, strong, a hard working solitude industrious digger, and a natural engineer (just like my brother Michael).

So to safely say, I’m a lot like a mole. Yes I need to get new prescription glasses, there’s nothing wrong with my sense of smell, my nails are natural, and I have a somewhat fuzzy face according to my husband. There may be other similarities, but I’ll let you make them on your own!

I’ve talked to people, including my sister Julie, who have attempted to wage all-out war on moles without success. What I’m realizing is that molehills are signs that the soil is in good shape. And I can celebrate that fact! But there is lingering doubt and some anguish over the mighty, mysterious and resilient mole. And I’ve concluded a mole deserves respect, and as often as I can offer it, tolerance.

The bottom line is that with me, I see value and purpose in everything that surrounds me. That’s because I’m a natural rehabber!

So, with this post, I ask you, My Attorney Reader, if you could use help in helping your client through the difficult maze of their claim, please let me help. I won’t come to court looking like a mole, but will show up like an industrious mole:  ready to dig in and get to the bottom of the deal.

Thanks for reading my post. Give me a call! 515-282-7753  vocresources@gmail.com to discuss your case. I love to help out using my forensic rehabilitation services!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

I Sued the Railroad Nearly 40 Years Ago. Think I Won? Need an Expert?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I’ve written about my 1979 car/train collision, which is part of my memory bank that becomes revisited from time to time  especially when June 15th of each year rolls around! Here’s a bit more about the story:  While hospitalized following surgery on my head and on my right arm, I was administered an IV bag that did not have my name on it. 

Image result for plastic bracelet hospitalMy maiden name is Prochnow NOT the name written on the bag. My mom caught the error after inspecting what was all hooked up to me (I was still unconscious) and reported it to a staff nurse.  The name on one of the IV bags was that of the male driver of the car I was in that slammed into a parked train; also an inpatient in a room down the hall. Thank goodness the IV bag contained only Lasix! How could a nurse hook me up without checking my name? Yes, we had plastic id bracelets back then! No harm done. Thank you mom!

Awhile back, I was driving in my car alone, and coming upon railroad tracks noticed the crossbar was malfunctioning. It was going up/and down over and over.  At this crossing (near EFCO on Broadway), the lights were not flashing and I did not see any train approaching from either direction.  The bars were out of whack! Trust me, I did not see a train approaching this dayHowever, a foolish driver drove around the gates and over the multiple crossings.

I did however see the 800 number to call the Union Pacific Railroad, because it was quite apparent the gates were malfunctioning every 60 seconds or so. To fulfill my civic duty, I dialed (after crossing the tracks and pulling over near the swans’ nest) and a man actually answered!

Image result for swans nest cartoon

I informed the railroad worker of the situation, he thanked me and I went on my merry way.  I do not care for railroad tracks when there’s a train approaching but you can’t see it yet…gives me the chills! But I did my part to help others.

I actually felt odd, even telling my mother of the situation and the call. Maybe it was some sort of healthy release to my own personal  situation and lawsuit. Read on please!   

The irony of me reporting a problem with a railroad crossing is that one reason for the lawsuit my family and I filed following the 1979 car/train collision against Rock Island Railroad was the fact that the cross bucks at the crossing near the high school at the site and time of the accident I incurred was missing.  Yes, the cross buck, the two signs that cross at the top, was gone, missing, not there. I have no idea why. Perhaps some kid had stolen it?

During the trial held at the Hardin County Courthouse in Eldora, besides that fact of no cross bucks, and the fact that this railroad maintenance error was swept under the rug, somehow, we (my entire family) knew a member of the jury.

The juror was the sister of a long time neighbor we had several ties with while growing up. In fact we used to go on family vacations to South Dakota with that juror’s sister.  I was best friends for many years with the woman juror’s sister’s daughter, as was my sister with a second daughter (make sense?). 

Anyway, my family and I did not win anything in the lawsuit. Not a cent We definitely should have been awarded something.  I believe the main reason we didn’t win was the fact that the railroad was going under.

Have I ever shown you my scars? You may be impressed!  I’m sure my parents paid a bit of money for the care I needed and could’ve used money to compensate.  I was only 15 years old and my serious injuries did seriously impact my life going forward. I felt so odd and was stared at when I returned to school that Fall. I ultimately ended up dropping out of high school in November 1979. I sure wish my story had been revealed, and wonder what may have happened if so had we won the lawsuit.

An injury comes with costs, no matter the situation, and a story that explains the situation from a personal point of view is fundamentally necessary for you and your client.  If you need a personal story about your client, for the jury and the judge to read, let me help. 

I’m qualified in many ways to help you help your client. Yes, although a high school dropout, I moved forward in life in many fruitful ways! There’s a link on my website to my resume, feel free to download it. And please contact me to share information about your litigated case! You’ll find I care a lot, especially if justice is lacking or a person’s story needs to be understood in a different light.

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Thanks for Thinking of Me! Why Wait to Place Me Into Action? Need A Vocational Expert on Your Case?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I enjoy consulting with attorneys. It involves learning about your questions; then using my expertise to provide an answer or two!  The fact is consulting work involves extraordinary amounts of mental processing.  Let me tell you, my brain gets a lot of action and yes, I work out physically, too! 

I don’t know about your specific style of learning or pattern of thinking is (give me time!), but for me, when I accept a case assignment, I don’t want to feel rushed about researching and finding solid answers to good questions.  No, I meant to write great questions, those formed to help you with answering your client’s difficult problems, surrounding certain situations, while considering all necessary detail.

In my eyes, “problems” are opportunities in disguise. Something “thinks” it needs  a solution. The thinking could be well thought through or it could be downright faulty, and that’s why education becomes a consulting strategy.  A good way to look at a problem is to compare it against an opposing problem and ask, which “opportunity” presents first? Will there be an order that makes sense? Is it really a problem or just defined as one?

For every problem under the sun, there is a solution or there is none. If there be one, think til you find it. If there be none, then never mind it!” ~ LeGrand Richards

My problem solving approach develops as the research is gathered relevant to the situation. How a situation is defined is just as important in the problem equation, considering virtually every situation can be defined in more than one way. Because of this fact, tremendous opportunity to educate becomes available, and negatives turn into positives resulting in the implication of how one feels and acts toward the situation!

I find that pulling too quickly for an answer or a fact won’t turn up the best results.  Pulling carefully yet relentlessly on the stem/root system will produce reliable, intact, organic results to share with others.  Through testimony, I can educate others on how to understand the specific facts I gathered and why they are important to this case, facilitating the information and helping them to “figure out” their own solution.

Thanks  for thinking of me (as Eeoyre says)!  Please contact me to get me involved early in the proceedings. Do so before you plant any seed, and I’ll help with preparing and weeding the ground, the hard part of the action! Even if you only need a file review, I can offer recommendations. And, we’d be better off to a good start!

I believe it’s always healthy to think of the humor in most situations. Truly, our emotions will benefit. Contact me at 515-778-0634 to discuss your case needs, and learn about my consulting style and policies. Again, thanks for thinking of me and for reading! I look forward to helping you help your client!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Like Mother, Like Daughter, One Tough Cookie! Want One in the Courtroom?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Today, May 28th, is my daughter’s 23rd birthday and I’m sure she’s pretty happy right now in Vegas with a good friend!  I’m proud that she’s a person who is physically and emotionally strong, independent and One Tough Cookie!  From the top of my little head as I write this post, here’s a few memories of my daughter and “her toughness” over the years. 

Before she was born, let alone named, my daughter’s birth cord was wrapped around her neck while she was being delivered in the hospital room. As I was pushing down as one is to do during natural child birth, the doctor told me to STOP!

What? Stop? So I did and, (not knowing what was going on) he very quickly cut the cord from around her neck, and blood shot above me onto the ceiling. Nice, huh! Yuck! My new baby girl scared her parents alright! She was just fine though and had a good APGAR! Rather quickly, the housekeeper came in the room and cleaned the blood off the ceiling with a mop as I was still lying in the bed. Yuck again! But, just doing her job!

In fact, Arin was a calm baby! I remember the first day of her life, she seemed to care more about how the nurses felt when holding her than actually being the new baby in the room. And her eyes were (and still are) so huge, she kinda looked like an alien with eyes on both sides of her head!  Later in her babyhood, heck, I cut her toenails too short and they bled (I felt horrible, and this was my 3rd child!) 

Around age 3,  Arin fell from a chair at the babysitter’s kitchen table while she was eating lunch. Upon facial impact with the floor, her tooth was knocked out, and said tooth landed down in the heater vent, where it potentially could have trace elements today. She was whisked to the ER by her sitter, but there isn’t much one could do for this injury, other than wait!  It took a really long time for her new tooth to come in. BTW, earlier this month she got her wisdom teeth removed and was tough with that surgery and the healing time involved…this link takes you to a blog for a bit on costs of the procedure!

When she was a little older, around 8ish, we were working in the basement and somehow the iron got knocked off its board and landed on her foot. Her big toe sure bled a lot and a deep bruise definitely developed and stuck around. Luckily the toe wasn’t broken and the iron wasn’t hot! Yikes!

Here’s another: As were in the process of remodeling our house (in 2009), Arin would’ve been age 13, she was cleaning our new windows (yes with water and an ecloth!) and the larger kitchen window  in our kitchen suddenly fell down (the type of windows that fold into your house), whacking her head.  Her head broke the glass, and as the window fell, it shattered on to the floor. Arin felt a headache, but there was no blood involved and we didn’t take her to the doctor, but I certainly  cared for her closely and watched like a hawk for any concussive symptoms! I informed the salesperson who sold us the windows of this mishap, and he showered her with gifts. He was probably pretty grateful that we didn’t, gasp: sue! But no and her strong head was fine. 

Move on into her middle school years, from what I was told by said daughter, as a Christmas Story dare, Arin was outside snow shoeing at school on recess. And yep, she stuck her tongue on a metal pole and yep it got stuck and yep she had to pull her mouth away from the pole and yep, her tongue ripped and yep it hurt and bled!  OWW! She said this was a dare; the sticking her tongue out purposely onto a cold pole in the middle of winter. But in reality, I believe she also actually fell into the pole because she wasn’t very good at snow shoeing. Again, nothing really you can do for this injury but give the tongue time to heal!

Image result for tongue pierced cartoonA while later she got her tongue pierced anyway! She also pierced her septum and eyebrow too. Don’t forget theee belly button (I actually did that once, but let it grow back in cuz it bothered me when I did yoga). And speaking of, both her ears have pretty good sized gauge holes! I’m not including the numerous tattoos Arin has received, which sounds a little too long and drawn out painful to me or anything else I can’t remember off the top of my head at this time.

Colorful AJ

One last story, and I’m not happy at all with how this happened. In early March 2019 Arin was at a birthday party held at a hotel for her friend Taylor. Arin was picked up and thrown into the pool by another friend Jay (grrrr) and landed on another friend’s head who was in the pool. Kassidy, who she landed on, hurt not only her head, but bit down and injured her mouth and Arin ended up breaking two ribs.

Image result for xray ribs cartoonHowever, Arin didn’t find out her ribs were broken until almost a week later when she was in much pain and was having problems at work so on a Sunday had to be taken to the ER which included x-rays and a pain prescription.  Again, this involved a long rehabilitation / healing period.

Okay, enough writing for now. Like mother like daughter. I guess considering I was able to live through hitting a train headfirst!  I believe this “toughness” also comes from Arin’s Grandma, my mom. Last year, my mom was experiencing an acute medical condition while visiting us. As we were waiting for her and her new husband’s flight departure, she took a dive at the airport (right in front of the drinking fountains by the rest rooms on the main level) on to her face, breaking her glasses. She ended up in the ER for stitches rather than on the flight home. She didn’t cry or wince a bit.

The bottom line of this post is to let you, my Attorney Reader, know that I am a strong “tough-minded” resilient person who has the capacity to face difficult facts and long odds with resolute optimism.  I define a strong mind as having the resources, mental skills, and physical capabilities to confront difficulties of all kinds. And then afterwards, a way to slow down and relax.

I know if I succeed, I caused it and if I failed, yep, I caused that too. I will be tough for you and I will be tough for your client. I won’t be so tough you may choke, but I will be tough enough with your case where it counts: in my reports and in the courtroom and in my resolve to never give up. I got this strong “tough minded trait” from my mom and have passed it on to my daughter and am proud of it!

Thank you for reading. Let me know about a case I can help you with that involves disability and rehabilitation. I believe rehabilitation is the care that can help you get back, keep, or improve abilities that you need for daily life. I’m a rehabilitation counselor who cares.

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Rights of the Expert Witness ~ I’ll Take a Veggie Slice, Please

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Rights of the Expert Witness

expert

I continually assess and evaluate (there I go again!) my rights, values, professionalism, and of course ethics (which I really enjoy!?!) and am hopeful to write more on these topics and my career in the field of forensic rehabilitation counseling.

As far as rights, I found this great listing online (website is referred to below), and yes I added the graphics! I agree with the following essential considerations for taking on the role of expert witness:

  1. I have the right to be paid for my work.  Dream of Getting Paid
  2. I have the right to be prepped in advance of my testimony.
  3. I have the right to ask questions about the case.
  4. I have the right to work for either side, without fear of retribution.
  5. I have the right to change my opinion from previous testimony, as long as my opinion is evolving (based on new information, science and/or experience) rather than revolving (based on which side I’m working for). 
  6. I have the right to say “I don’t know”, if in fact, I don’t know. Just because I’m the expert doesn’t mean I have all the answers. I am clearly okay to say “I’m sorry, that’s outside my scope of practice”.
  7. I have the right to solicit objective feedback about my testimony from  the attorney who has called (and of course, they have the right to  decline to give it).
  8. I have the right to set limits with counsel about the scope of my testimony. 
  9. I have the right to disagree with another expert’s practices or  conclusions, even when I perceive that expert to be: a.) more educated;  b.) more famous; or c.) more experienced. 
  10. I have the right to disregard the initial instinct to view opposing counsel’s expert as the enemy, but instead recognize everyone’s role in the process and share pizza and a bottle of wine with that expert after trial is over.

Pizza

 Truly, it’s all good work!

I am glad my career continually evolves! I accept responsibility when providing forensic vocational services to be clear, truthful and comprehensive in my evaluation and report products, and in my role as an expert witness. Thank you for reading!

Please contact me Amy Botkin for more information ~ 515-778-0634 or amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com

I’ll take a veggie slice and a glass of Chardonnay please. You?

Source for Rights: http://www.forensichealth.com/2011/07/13/10-things-the-fho-expert-witness-bill-of-rights/

___________________

 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.