There’s been a renewed focus on our health workers lately. During the outbreak of COVID-19, they’ve been on the medical front lines, inspiring us with their compassion and dedication to their calling. It’s not as though they don’t perform heroic acts every day, but it’s human nature for us to overlook one another during the normal course of events. We tend to focus on the needs right in front of us and are busy living our own lives.
Zach is one such person who felt called to help others as his life’s work. While working as a registered nurse at a mental health facility, he performed home visits to help isolated patients needing medical care. During one of these calls, a 400-pound patient fell on him. He was taken to OSU’s medical center and underwent surgery for multi-level lumbar disc herniations.
He went back to work, but his attendance was sporadic because of his ongoing back pain. A second surgery was followed by a third, resulting in some improvement but not much. A post-surgery infection and a bad reaction to medication didn’t help, either. He had trouble sleeping and trouble standing. Sitting was the most uncomfortable, and walking was hard, too, as his left leg would just spontaneously give out, causing him to fall. The falls led to three neck surgeries.
Left with near-total loss of lower back motion, radiating pain, and difficulty even dressing himself, Zach’s rehabilitation efforts, while heroic, didn’t pan out. An industrial commission orthopedist said, “In a review of the records, I find no recommendations for anything that might be considered restorative … everything is palliative.”
We helped Zach file for permanent total disability, and the Industrial Commission agreed that he can no longer work. While he misses his patients, Zach still finds joy in encouraging others. By sharing his experience, strength, and hope with friends and neighbors going through tough times and providing a listening ear and kind words, Zach is still a health worker hero. He’s one of our faves and a good egg!