Brace no more (final chapter of the brace trilogy)

I am now brace-free, for which I would like to thank my neurosurgeon. I don’t want to embarrass him, so will affectionately reference his rap name, M Squared. I have learned many things from my bracing experience—some good, some bad, some about myself, and some about the system. 

When taking care of patients who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents, I am often amazed at the influence that the potential for compensation has on their presentation, treatment, and recovery, and I think that if there was no gold at the end of the ICBC rainbow patients would recover far faster. 

I love to ride my bike, and this time of year I would normally be out cruising the trails, enjoying the mud and dirt. If I fell on my head while doing so, I would probably crawl home and lick my wounds. In the days that followed, due to severe neck and arm pain, I would likely present for medical evaluation leading to the diagnosis of a broken neck. I would then utter something like “bummer” and get on with things to the best of my ability while waiting for the powerful force of healing to take effect.

But I didn’t just fall off my bike—I was hit by a car. Now people wanted to know if I had an investigator, lawyer, hit man, etc. Advice came from all sides. People started telling me about the exorbitant sums of money that I was entitled to. I actually had people responding in anger when they discovered I didn’t have a lawyer and was dealing with ICBC directly. One person stated, “ICBC does a happy dance when they see people like you coming.” I have gained a new understanding of the driving forces behind patients’ motor vehicle accident–related complaints. 

Patients often ask me whether they should get legal representation for their ICBC cases. I usually tell them to wait and see if they are treated fairly before jumping ship. I’m following my own advice and so far I have no complaints; mind you I haven’t settled yet. I was assigned an advisor who has been polite and has answered all of my queries promptly. A plan is in place and I will continue along this path unless things go awry. 

I was at a Christmas function recently where I chose not to wear my brace. A young man across from me upon hearing my story asked if I was worried that this would affect my ICBC case. The answer is no. I just want my life back and to heal as quickly as possible. I want my neck to recover and for my left arm nerve damage to resolve. I want to ride my bike, swim, and run like I did before. (If I were honest, maybe a little faster than before.) This is my focus and my mission. In the meantime I will submit a claim with ICBC but not make this my life’s quest. 

However, I have always wanted to own a villa on a private island somewhere warm. 

David R. Richardson, MD. Brace no more (final chapter of the brace trilogy). BCMJ, Vol. 57, No. 1, January, February, 2015, Page(s) 5 - Editorials.

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