The Case of Aleta Austin
Aleta Austin is a 26-year-old woman who was seen by an LPC during her first clinic visit. When asked what brought her in, Aleta explained, “I work as an aide in a nursing home, and I was lifting a patient up from a chair to her wheelchair. Well, anyhow, all of a sudden I felt this terrible and very painful snap in the back of my neck. I lost my balance and fell on the floor. As I was falling, I hit my arm real bad, too. The next thing I knew, I was in the hospital, and they were doing some X-rays and an MRI. The doctors said I sprained my neck, and I might have a hairline fracture of my arm. They put some kind of neck brace on me and said I had to wear it for two weeks. I didn’t need to have a cast on my arm, but I was supposed to be real careful.”
Aleta continued, “I wasn’t allowed to work for six weeks, so I got workmen’s comp—but the checks stopped when the doctors said I could go back to work. It has been four months, and they say that’s too long to have pain for the injury I got. So now I have money problems on top of everything else but I don’t care what they say, I still hurt.” Apparently without realizing it, Aleta was rubbing her neck while she was talking. She went on, “After being discharged by those doctors, I went to see several new ones. I thought, you know, maybe the first ones didn’t know what they were talking about.”
The LPC asked what other doctors Aleta had seen.
“Well, over the past three months,” she replied, “I saw two orthopedic surgeons, one neurologist, two chiropractors, and a massage therapist. I was given lots of different medicines and treatments, but I still didn’t get much relief. One of the doctors said I should see a shrink. He thought my problems were all in my head. Can you beat that?” Aleta sounded very annoyed. “That really steamed me—doesn’t he realize I really want to go back to work and see all my friends again? Not only that, does he think I like being in constant pain? Does he think I like taking all this medicine and not getting any relief from any of it?”
The practitioner asked Aleta about the medications she is currently using.
She answered, ”In the beginning, they gave me some pain pills that helped some, but the doctors won’t prescribe anything for me now. They think I’m getting too used to all the pills. Now I can only take over-the-counter stuff like, you know, aspirin, Aleve, Tylenol, Motrin—but they don’t do much good. Nothing seems to help nowadays.”
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