Domenico, professional ballet dancer
“Being a dancer means being a professional athlete and artist at the same time," says Domenico, whose job required performing in several different ballet productions each year.
So when Domenico injured his knee during a show, he needed expert and efficient care to get him back on stage as soon as possible.
Below, Domenico tells how his Pinnacol claims representative guided him through the workers' comp claims process all the way to a full recovery. Bonus: he ended up with even better mobility than before his injury!
How did you end up with a workplace injury?
My injury happened during a live performance on stage. I got injured at the top of the show and I felt a little off, but of course, I kept going. In the moment, I felt a little tweak to my knee. I went home and did my usual post-performance routine. But the next day things weren't really improving.
I mustered some courage and pain tolerance to finish the whole weekend of performances. Throughout my career, my body has been pretty responsive to treatment. But after five or six days, this injury wasn't really improving. So we decided that it was time to investigate a little more if there was some deeper damage to the joint.
What went through your mind when you learned the full scope of your injury?
There are so many factors that jump into your head when you hear the news. Your head starts to spin very fast. 'What does this mean? How long is it going to take? Can I come back? Can I avoid surgery?' It's pretty overwhelming.
Were you familiar with the workers' comp claims process?
This was my first time going through workers' comp. I had colleagues and friends that had experienced the process, so I was aware. I knew people who had very smooth, easy experiences, and I knew other people who were really struggling and things were not working properly.
How responsive was your Pinnacol workers' comp claims representative?
My connection with the claims rep was first by phone. It was really helpful for me to have a voice to talk to. I had a direct number for him, so it was helpful to know that in case I had some questions or doubts I could call and leave a message and I would receive a call back.
It was very reassuring to know that I wasn't left alone, waiting and guessing the next move.
They were really invested in understanding what happened. They were available and present for me—reassuring me that they would get me through the process and make sure that I got the best care possible.
What was the healthcare treatment process like?
Once I started the process of going to the doctor, everything went pretty quick. I think there were six weeks between the injury and the day of surgery.
Did you have any limitations as far as the treatments you wanted?
What I was very grateful for about this process was that although I was going through a workers' comp claim, I was able to choose and decide the surgeon, the clinic and the rehab center I wanted to use for my recovery.
I did some research, and I had other colleagues who had the same issue. And I felt very safe going the same route and using the same doctors that my colleagues had used. I was really worried it might not have been an option, but it definitely was. And I felt grateful and really excited and calm.
As dancers, we have body mechanics that need to be taken into consideration that are different than a football player, for example. So I was really worried that I couldn't really have that kind of specific attention. And I'm very excited, because my recovery was pretty smooth.
How do you feel now?
Actually, after this injury and the surgery and recovery and treatment, I have better function in my knee. I always loved riding bikes, but while I was dancing during my career, I was able to do everything except for riding the bike. But now I can do it.
So that was really, really exciting for me. I realized that although it's always stressful going through surgery and an injury, I actually gained some more mobility and function that after the surgery. Definitely more than I had before!
What were your impressions of Pinnacol at the end of your treatment?
Even when the claim was closed and everything was settled, they said, 'If you happen to have any issue in the next few months, please reach out again because we'll take a look and see if there is anything we can do about it.'
There is still the human connection and caring, and knowing that if something were to happen after the claim was closed, I could still reach out and they would look into it and see if they could help out.
What advice would you give to a worker who is filing a claim for the first time?
The advice I will give to an injured worker is to speak out, ask all the questions you have, and don't be afraid.
No question is silly or stupid. You are in a stressful situation. It's your body and it will affect your work and livelihood - so everything is important.
With Pinnacol, you have people there who will help you understand the process. They will guide you through it, and they will make sure that you feel comfortable and confident about the information you have.
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