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Creating the Life You Deserve, in Spite of a Back Injury

Getting From A to B [After Your Back Injury]

If you’ve gone through the exercises we suggested in our last two posts, you’ve now hopefully clarified two key things:

  • What’s true now in your life, after your workplace back injury.
  • Your vision for what you want to achieve in the months ahead.

Now, it’s time to bridge the gap between planning and doing. Ask yourself these three questions, and write down the answers in a journal—and/or work through them with the help of a coach.

  1. To reach my goals, what is the absolute minimum that needs to get done? Often, when we think about goals, we assume that the pathway must follow some specific contour. But in making those assumptions, we give ourselves lots of extra work. For instance, let’s say one of your goals is to minimize your child care obligations (because of your hurt back) to 2 hours a day. You may assume that you’ll need to hire a nanny, and in order to do that, you’ll need a source of funds. And in order to get funds to afford a nanny, you’ll need a new source of income. And so on. However, if you focus on the goal instead of on the presumed path to the goal, you might find shortcuts. Maybe the absolute minimum would involve asking your sister to move in with you for a few months to assist with the child care. That would circumvent the need for the nanny/funds/second job.
  2. How can I succeed in spite of my injury? We covered this a bit in our previous post, but it’s an idea worth exploring in depth. Your back is hurt. Maybe you’re in constant paid due to fibromyalgia symptoms you developed after a grueling desk job. Maybe your lower back is in constant, shooting pain. Okay. That may be true. But if you want to (for instance) get back into your hobby of carving wooden figurines, you can find workarounds. Maybe the pain will prevent you from sitting more that two hours at a time. No problem. Adjust your workflow to accommodate. Maybe you need to invest in more ergonomic equipment. Etc. The point is, you can almost certainly benefit from thinking through how to succeed in spite of your limitations.
  3. Who can help me get to my goals? It’s impossible to do anything truly amazing in this world without support. Now’s the time to lean on good people. For instance, strong legal representation with your Georgia workers’ compensation case can make a world of difference. (The Smith, Wallis & Scott, LLP team is here to help at (770) 214-2500.)

Determine Your First Step—And Take It!

Break down your top goal into actionable steps. For example: maybe you want to become a social worker, and you need extra education to make this dream a reality. Start by researching a few local colleges with social work programs. Determine admission requirements for these schools. Gather high school or college transcripts. These simple steps will snowball into real progress.

Record Your Efforts

Every day, do at least one thing to take you closer to executing each long-term goal. You don’t necessarily have to make grand gestures. For example, if you’re saving for a down payment on a house, skip that Starbucks latte and prepare coffee at home instead.

Each day, record your successes and any areas in which you could improve. Read these daily entries regularly to determine whether you’re consistently making progress towards your goal, or whether it’s time to reassess.

Questions For Reflection

Reflect on these in your journal:

  • What holds me back from taking action and executing on the plans I’ve carefully drafted?
  • What motivates me most to pursue my dreams?
  • What simple steps can I take to make progress every day?

Beyond Your Back Injury: Planning the Future

Looking Forward in Time After a Back Injury: Where Do You Want to Go?

Don’t underestimate the power of your vision to change the world. Whether that world is your office, your community, an industry or a global movement, you need to have a core belief that what you contribute can fundamentally change the paradigm or way of thinking about problems. –Leroy Hood
Life may look different following a back injury, but there’s no need to spend the rest of your days moping. Yes, you’ll face challenges that once seemed unimaginable, but you’ll tackle them head-on and emerge stronger than ever. These suggestions can help:

Sketch Out Your Idea of a Dream Life

What would you do if your disability didn’t get in the way? Be specific. At minimum, determine how you’d one day like to feel. Key adjectives may include fulfilled, energetic, calm, or loved. If it helps, capture ideas about your future with quotes or images.

Don’t Edit Your Ideas (At Least at This Stage)

One of the reasons people struggle to create a vision is that they get locked in certain modes of thinking, known as “paradigms.” These ways of filtering the world reduce information overload, but they also limit your creativity. For instance, let’s say one of your goals is to (one day) climb Mount Kilimanjaro. You’ve had that on your list since you were a teenager—back when you were younger and healthier. Now that your back’s blown out, perhaps that goal seems less realistic than ever. You might be tempted to cross it off your list and never revisit it. However, in spite of your injury, you still may be able to do it. Perhaps there are special trips to Mount Kilimanjaro reserved for people with disabilities—maybe you could even qualify for a sponsorship to get paid to hike! Or maybe your injury will prompt you to invest more in personal fitness. You’ll recover to a higher level of fitness than you had before the accident—and be on target to go mountaineering. The point is that you don’t want to edit your brainstorming prematurely. At some point, your dreams need to come into contact with reality, but first give yourself space to dream big.

Key Questions For Reflection

  • If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I immediately try to achieve?
  • Imagine looking back at your success from after the completion date. What does that look and feel like?
  • What secret resources do I have available to help me?
  • What am I most afraid of? What would happen if those fears came true? (Surface both your big dreams and your big fears, so you have a complete inventory of what matters to you.)

In our next post, we’ll discuss how to connect the dots between your current reality (what you explored and wrote down after working through the last post) and your ideal vision.

Contact Smith, Wallis & Scott, LLP today at (770) 214-2500 to learn more about how to collect workers’ compensation in Georgia.

How Has Your Life Changed Since You Got Hurt at Work?

Looking Back on the Time Since Your Workplace Accident: How Has Your Life Changed?

There’s no denying it—your workplace injury changed everything. Whether you currently suffer physical pain or anxiety about your future, life no longer looks quite like it did before your accident. The key to moving forward in peace? Acknowledging and accepting what’s true now. As the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, eloquently put it: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them—that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

Follow these suggestions to get your life back on track:

Determine What’s Different Now

Take a few minutes to think carefully about your day-to-day life and how it’s changed since the accident. Examples may include:

  • An inability to pursue previous hobbies
  • Fewer social outings and an ensuing sense of social isolation
  • Limited mobility if you can no longer drive
  • You may no longer feel as if you contribute positively to your community or society at large

Clarify Your True Feelings and Needs

Once you’ve determined how life differs today, delve into your true feelings about the situation, and your plans to move forward. In your journal, reflect on the following questions:

  • Are there any silver linings to my situation? Any small ways in which my life is better today than it was before?
  • What stands in the way of the goals I set for myself prior to the accident?
  • How could my goals change to reflect my new reality while still allowing me to move forward with full satisfaction?

A little reflection can make a big difference as you determine how to proceed. Life might not look exactly like it did before your workplace accident, but there’s still plenty to accomplish and plenty to celebrate.

No matter how your life has changed—whether a lower back injury has made it impossible to lift your young child without pain or whiplash from a construction accident has caused you to rack up thousands in chiropractor bills—you can count on Smith, Wallis & Scott, LLP for support. Call (770) 214-2500 today to learn how we can assist you with your Georgia workers’ compensation case.

Helping After a Georgia Car Accident: Without Smothering

How to Help a Loved One After a Georgia Accident—Without Smothering

If a close friend or family member recently suffered a severe car accident, you’re probably eager to do your part to erase any lingering physical or emotional pain. Your support can play a critical role in your loved one’s recovery, but there’s a limit to what you can accomplish. In fact, take the support too far and you might hamper recovery efforts. Read on to learn how you can best support an injured loved one without reducing his or her perception of autonomy:

Plan a Fun Night Out—Or In

Sometimes, distraction is the best and most reliable cure. If your loved one is still recovering from a severe injury, think of a favorite activity, and plan an outing to break up the boredom. This could be as simple as a day of shopping or a lunch date. Keep your loved one’s current physical capabilities in mind; if severe injuries make most activities difficult, plan for game night or a Netflix binge session.

Understand the Role of Autonomy

Depression often manifests in situations involving a complete lack of autonomy. No matter the circumstances, adults don’t like feeling beholden to others.

Ample research indicates that autonomy plays a critical role in patient recovery. When people feel autonomous, they’re more likely to behave in ways that actually foster independence.

Remember the importance of autonomy as you help your loved one, and resist the urge to smother with too-frequent check-ins or offers of assistance. Don’t be offended if your offers are rescinded; car accident victims sometimes need time for processing and discernment before they can truly accept help from others.

One of the easiest ways you can help a loved one after an accident? Send him or her to Smith, Wallis & Scott, LLP. Compassionate legal counsel always helps, so get in touch today at (770) 214-2500.

Eating Well After a Georgia Car Accident

Why Eating ‘Healthy Food’ After a Georgia Car Accident Is So Important

The stress of your recent car accident may leave you reaching for chips, candy and other favorite foods. Before you revert to unadvisable eating habits, think closely about the role healthy eating could play in your recovery. Read on to learn more about essential nutrition—and common barriers that get in the way.

Challenges to Healthy Eating

Cost is a frequently-cited barrier, especially when dealing with the financial implications of car accident. Healthy food is also difficult to prepare, particularly if you opt for cheaper choices such as dry beans (versus canned) or frozen chicken breasts. Furthermore, it may feel impossible to determine if a particular food item qualifies as healthy in the first place. Egg yolks, once deemed dangerous, are now considered healthy. Salt no longer seems as worthy of concern. Concepts such as gluten and GMOs add further confusion.

Food addictions are real, and even if you know exactly what you should eat, there’s no guarantee you’ll follow through with your diet plan. Sugar activates the same area of the brain as cocaine. Salty foods trigger dopamine release. Binging causes feelings of shame, leading to even more unhealthy eating.

Overcoming Healthy Eating Difficulties

The first step to adopting a healthy diet involves getting educated. The nonprofit Nutrition Coalition can help you make sense of the latest theories and research on healthy eating.

Budgeting can be tricky, but it’s possible to eat well on a limited income. Bananas, carrots, beans and celery can all be surprisingly affordable. Save even more by shopping at farmers markets, or better yet, starting your own garden. Food addiction can be trickier to conquer, but cutting processed items from your diet may help.

As you focus on improving your diet, look to Smith, Wallis & Scott, LLP for legal support. You can count on our talented team for exceptional representation every step of the way. Call (770) 214-2500.

Getting a Safer Car After a Georgia Car Crash

How to Shop For a Safer Car (After a Georgia Car Accident)

Your recent Georgia car accident destroyed your pride and joy—your vehicle. You, like many car accident victims, may be tempted to hunt for the exact same make and model. There’s no guarantee you’ll avoid future accidents, however, so it behooves you to find the safest vehicle possible. Keep these tips in mind as you start shopping:

Pay Attention to Safety Ratings

Don’t assume that a vehicle is safe due to strong ratings for past models. Rankings can change significantly, and a vehicle that proved reliable at one time may no longer be the best option. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regularly releases detailed safety information. Aim for vehicles with overall five-star NHTSA ratings. Top picks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) are also worth considering.

Look For Active Safety Features

Today’s vehicles boast a variety of active safety features, which, in addition to providing additional protection in the event of a collision, prevent crashes from occurring in the first place. Examples include lane departure warning, blind spot detection and forward collision warning. Remember, while these features help, they will not always prevent accidents, especially if you use them as a crutch or demonstrate distracted driving behaviors.

Consider Vehicle Size

Small vehicles may boast the best fuel economy, but they also present significant safety concerns. Experts at IIHS claim that light vehicles experience higher crash force and provide lesser protection against injury. If safety is of utmost concern, a midsize or large vehicle may be the best option.

No matter the type of car you drive, you can count on Smith, Wallis & Scott, LLP to handle your legal concerns. Contact us today at (770) 214-2500 to let us know how we can help.

Parenting While on Social Security Disability

Living With a Disability or Illness When You Have Children Depending on You

Parenting is a struggle in the best of circumstances, but serious illness or disability can make even seemingly simple tasks a nightmare. Read on to learn more about parenting successfully as you deal with your disability:

Don’t Allow Kids to Shoulder Too Much of the Burden

Eager to help, your children may take on a greater extent of household chores, or your teen may contribute to your strained budget with a part-time job. Limit your kids’ desire to sacrifice on your behalf.

Ask Loved Ones For Help—Or Hire Assistance

Your kids shouldn’t shoulder the burden of running your household, but other adults can certainly help. Accept loved ones’ offers of assistance, or hire somebody to help with yard work and inside chores. Tutors can provide homework help, and babysitters can take over during medical appointments. If you can’t afford to hire help, you may qualify for government-funded personal assistance services (PAS).

Join Support Groups

Whether designed for disabled parents or parents in general, support groups allow you to release the emotional burden of parenting. Groups also arrange fun outings for children and their parents. Struggling to find the right group in your locale? Take your search online. Facebook’s Disabled Parenting Project is an excellent source of support and information.

Embrace Your Unique Gifts

Accept that you simply won’t be able to fulfill some of the tasks typically associated with parenthood. There’s nothing wrong with that—you bring plenty of gifts and abilities to the table. Capitalize on those in the interest of raising a well-rounded, compassionate child.

Let Smith, Wallis & Scott, LLP take care of the legal aspects of your case as you focus on parenting. Contact us today at (770) 214-2500 to learn more about our legal services.

Overwhelmed by Your Social Security Disability Case?

Don’t Keep Thoughts About Your Social Security Disability Case In Your Head

It’s easy to bottle up your frustrations about your Social Security Disability (SSD) issues and let the world assume you’re handling a difficult situation with ease. This approach could set you up for future aggravation; eventually all that stress may lead to severe anxiety or depression. Read on to learn how an understanding of “psychic RAM” and the role of writing could ease your SSD-based stress.

Psychic RAM

Acclaimed author David Allen uses the term psychic RAM to describe the brain’s inability to accept an obligation without considering it a binding contract. Thus, if not completed, tasks will eat away at you until finally finished. Psychic RAM has no sense of time, so unfilled obligations can continue to bother you for years, even decades. Despite being invariably overloaded, your psychic RAM insists that you work on finishing all tasks at all times. Clearly, this can quickly become overwhelming, especially if certain obligations (such as bringing a difficult SSD case to a close) are not fully under your control.

How Writing Helps

Our minds generate great ideas but are less capable of hanging on to them. Instead of letting thoughts linger and destroy your wellbeing, get them onto paper. Write down whatever crosses your mind, no matter how silly or embarrassing it may seem.

Upon externalizing all troublesome ideas, formulate plans to help you tackle concerns head-on. For example, if you fear late rent due to your current or future lack of SSD benefits, draft a plan for obtaining necessary funding or changing your living situation accordingly. Even if you fail to act on that plan, writing it all out will make you feel better.

The kindhearted team at Smith, Wallis & Scott, LLP is always happy to listen to your concerns. Reach out today at (770) 214-2500 to get experienced insight into your case.

Social Security Disability and Boredom: Solutions!

Security Disability (SSD) process: benefits rarely arrive exactly when you need them. If you’re like most prospective beneficiaries, you’re in for a long and frustrating wait. In the meantime, you may experience significant boredom, especially if your injury prevents you from leaving the house as often as you’d like. These solutions may help:

Replace Television with Books

TV in moderation is just fine, but far too many people with chronic pain spend entire days staring at screens. Books provide just as valuable of an escape, allowing you to better immerse yourself in a new and exciting world. If possible, join a local book club. Many meet just once a month. This is a great way to expand your social network and learn something new.

Take Online Classes

Nothing zaps boredom more quickly than learning. Choose a subject you find intriguing, and take a class. If you can’t make it to a community college or continuing education class, head online, where a variety of excellent classes are available for free.

Exercise

It’s tough to get off the couch, but moderate exercise could relieve some of your pain. Not only will you build muscle and range of motion, but you’ll also enjoy regular bursts of endorphins. Start small with yoga videos on YouTube or brief walks in the park.

Express Yourself

When the burden of your injury and your wait for benefits becomes too much to bear, turn to music or art. In addition to finding relief from the emotional pain that accompanies your physical suffering, you’ll create something truly beautiful to behold.

Don’t let passivity destroy your SSD case. Smith, Wallis, & Scott, LLP can help you take a more assertive stance. Contact us today at (770) 214-2500 to learn more about our proactive approach to SSD law.

Connective Tissue Injuries in the Back: Workers’ Comp Guide

Back Injuries on the Job 101: Connective Tissue

When picturing back injuries, people typically imagine fractures or other acute issues. In reality, some of the most common—and debilitating—conditions involve chronic connective tissue damage. Keep reading for a brief overview of need-to-know terms and other valuable information about connective tissue related back pain.

Tendons and Ligaments

Tendons and ligaments are fibrous bands of connective tissue that link two or more structures (typically bones or cartilage) together. These tissue bands are often to blame for work-related back pain; employees may twist or pull tendons or ligaments while completing everyday work functions. The result: strains and sprains, which involve muscle cramping and significantly decreased range of motion.

Fascia

Often compared to sweaters due to their densely woven structure, fascia cover bones, muscles, nerves and internal organs. They also protect the spinal cord.

An oft-forgotten element of spinal injuries, fascia remain poorly understood. Fascia injuries typically follow repeated strain, such as heavy lifting or frequent bending. Patients may experience either a dull pain or more intense sensations that worsen while completing essential workday tasks. Over time, fascia injuries may lead to trigger points (and further pain), or reduced strength and range of motion.

Synovial Membrane

A protective layer of connective tissue responsible for protecting tendons and joints, the synovial membrane (also known as the synovium) can become inflamed or damaged by traumatic joint injuries. This may lead to pain or swelling. Synovial cysts often result from spinal degeneration. Although uncommon, this condition can cause back pain, leg pain (known as sciatica) and sometimes, muscle weakness or cramping in the legs.

Whether you’ve suffered a workplace injury to your fascia, tendon or ligament, seek experienced counsel. Reach out to Smith, Wallis & Scott, LLP at (770) 214-2500 to learn about the next strategic steps in your workers’ compensation case.