This blog is a public apology to anyone I have ever met who has been suffering with whiplash:
I didn’t believe you & I am sorry.
I even remember having conversations along the lines of ‘people like you (using my pointed finger for emphasis) are the reason people like me have to pay more for our car insurance’.
The thing is, it does exist. I have it.
I am miserable, feeling very sore, stiff & sorry for myself.
Last week, I was hit by a lane-wandering lorry on the M6. My accident wasn’t a Hollywood-style car chase, pyrotechnic extravaganza, it was a pretty run-of-the-mill Tuesday evening M6 type of collision, but this is in no way proportional to the pain & discomfort I am in now. Not only do I appreciate that whiplash not only exists, but is incredibly painful – to the point where I have been in tears with the pain & I’m not usually a tears type of girl.
I am struggling with basic daily tasks, such as dressing & undressing, brushing & washing my hair, lifting the full kettle or a pan, carrying a handbag & – most distressing – lifting my son. How do I explain to a 2 year old that mummy cant pick him up? It’s been horrible.
I can’t drive, so am stuck at home. Looking for a silver lining, I thought maybe I could read & write lots of blogs, but I can’t get comfortable to do that either. I can’t sleep, as there doesn’t seem to be a comfortable position to get into & so when I do drop off, as soon as I roll over or move I wake up. I had no idea my life could be impacted in so many ways, by a reasonably small accident.
I know you might not believe me, especially after reading that last paragraph, but I am not a drama queen. I am well aware that there are people in the world far worse off than me & this is nothing in comparison to what they’re going through, but this is a confessional for all the times I have ever judged anyone who is ‘on the sick’ with whiplash after an accident. It bloody hurts. You can totally tell the people who have & haven’t experienced it for themselves, by their reaction & sympathy.
The reason there is such scepticism & whiplash has such negative connotations amongst the general public is because – let’s be honest – people make it up.
I looked in to this & according to this article in the Telegraph in 2011, 1200 claims for whiplash are made in this country every day. That’s 438,000 a year. Bloody hell.
The NHS spends £8 million treating whiplash, but the insurance industry pays out £2 billion every year in compensation. The problem is, the article says, that because whiplash is difficult to diagnose, easy to fake & easy to exaggerate it is a fraudsters dream.
The insurance industry were saying then that treatment needed to be better (& quicker) & diagnosis more accurate, to reduce the number of claims & I think that this is so true. This was discussed again last year & the same suggestions made, but there doesn’t seem to have been anything done about it.
I saw my GP yesterday & asked if physio would help. His response was that yes it would, but for this to be effective it would need to happen within 4 weeks of the impact, but the current referral time for physio on the NHS was a minimum of 6 weeks, so by this time – hopefully – I won’t need it. It made me quite sad that as soon as I mentioned my private healthcare scheme, he organised a referral & my appointment is tomorrow.
This is certainly a discussion for another time, but why should people be able to access the same care, but quicker, if they are willing & able to pay for it? Unfortunately, I am in no position to take the moral high ground here, as I am relying on the treatment to help with the pain. Watch this space.
Talking of the moral high ground, I am in a bit of a quandry. A few people have asked me if I intend to make a claim for the whiplash, their argument being that people who don’t have it make claims & as I am genuinely suffering, I should. However, I don’t want to be a statistic. I am not losing out being off work, as I am being paid, so that’s not a consideration. I am, however, in pain & feel that if the compensation offered may be needed for future physio treatment or the fact that I may suffer long-term, maybe I should consider this?
I don’t know what I will do, but it angers me that so many people put in false claims, I feel like I am being fraudulent even considering it.
I agree that there needs to be a system of diagnosis & a way to weed out the genuine cases from those ‘swinging the lead’ (as my dad calls it) but I wonder whether – until then – if I can’t beat them, do I join them?
Maybe you’ve experienced whiplash & know what I’m talking about, or maybe you’re the way I used to be & think it’s imaginary? Next time you talk to someone who’s been in an accident & is suffering, show some sympathy, as one day you might need some in return!