QUESTION: I have a question......
I have been dealing with PTSD for about 8 years now from my military service in Iraq back in 2003. I was not formally diagnosed until 2006, which is why I say 8 years.
I have at least 3 anxiety attacks a day and a few panic attacks weekly. The panic and anxiety attacks are so bad that they literally wear me down to the point where I am really exhausted.
Now my problem is that in my current job I work for the local utility company climbing the utility poles and I was recently sent to an IME for a consult. I am worried that I am going to get pushed out of my job because of my disorder.
Now would it be safe for me to be able to work safely climbing utility poles that average anywhere between 45-90 ft on a daily basis. Could getting an anxiety/panic attack while climbing a utility pole be a reason for concern for safety? And if it is determined that I am safety concern then what happens to me?
ANSWER: WOW! This is a hard one to answer! My son actually works for a power company and I know the conditions that you work under. He puts in long hours, climbs, etc...
Everyone reacts different to a panic attack. If you are having these issues due to PTSD then, you should be under a doctors care and on some type of medication to calm those fears and help you think more clearly.
You did not mention that you are on any medication. Considering the fact of the PTSD, I would have to say that you are probably very easily stressed out. If you feel that you are in danger climbing those poles, then you need to be realistic about that and talk to someone about it that might can help you to switch to another position. I would love to sit here and say that you are 100% safe but in reality, we both know that if you were to panic, you can make a very big mistake in the position you are in.
I highly suggest that you give it some thought because I believe that you are worried about having an anxiety attack each time you climb the pole. At the very least you are staying much too anxious about it.
Weigh your options! Even if you have to take another kind of work, you may be better off than to risk staying in a funk all of the time..
I am here if you need to talk!
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Well, my problem is much more complicated than that. I do not have any problems climbing utility poles. I suffered a back injury at work and was diagnosed with chronic back pain and the doctors said that my PTSD was the main problem that kept my back from getting better, so he decided to put that on the diagnosis as well.
So, to make a long story short the company insurance is saying that I do not have subjective evidence to be placed into a return to work program where the company looks for job placement for you. Then I have had chronic back pain for about 2 1/2 years, so I am not sure if they are trying to PIN the PTSD issue on me to try and get rid of me or what exactly they are trying to do!
The disability manager from the insurance company told me that most likely they were trying to help me by evaluating me for my PTSD. She said most likely that if I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks the company is not going to want me doing this kind of work.....I know this all sounds confusing but this is where I am exactly!
You say you do not have any problems climbing the poles BUT, You do. Physically, you don't but, mentally, You Do! If you are worried about your safety or the safety of others if you were to have a panic attack while up in the air then, you have a problem climbing the poles.
I can not imagine what subjective evidence the insurance company needs, if you have told them that panic attacks are involved. I would think that they should Definitely give you job placement if you are in jeopardy of injuring yourself... And others because of this high anxiety! I can also understand the company not wanting you to do this kind of work because of the facts we just discussed... BUT, it has to be one way or another with the insurance company! In my opinion, if this company will not let you continue working because of Panic Attacks then, that should be sufficient evidence for the insurance company to find you other work. If they were not causing you problems with the utility company, you would not have to find Other work! Tell them that that should be subjective evidence Enough for them!
You need to stand your ground here and make sure they are fair to you. I know this all causes you more anxiety but, if you are going to work, stand up for your rights also!
I am here! Keep in touch!