She never thought she would end up in such a situation, that she would have to ask the public for help. It was a straightforward case of illness incurred, due to events taking place at work, but now it has taken a turn towards a complexity that requires a seasoned lawyer to untangle.
Since 2009 Athena was developing allergies to an uncommon mold that was not a typical household mold. This condition gradually got worse, but there was no substantial proof at that time, even though it brings it back to her working environment.
In retrospect, the only common factor is that her employer seemed to do all their repairs, maintenance and major plant enhancements, including well digs, during the weekend shift when they had a skeleton crew working, without informing that crew to protect themselves from the elements expelled from the well digs. This time however, they overdid it.
In 2013/14, her employer dug a well in the vicinity of her workstation, whose dig expulsions delivered the final blow and trauma that caused major damage and forced Athena to inevitably stop working in 2016, at the chain saw manufacturing plant she worked at for over 13 years.
She has now been diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, which is irreversible, caused by the high metal toxins found in her body. They found high concentrations of Cadmium, and Lead, which exceeded three times the upper expected limit, as well as Mercury, Cesium and Thallium, that far exceeded the expected levels for the general population. Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury have one thing in common and that is that they can be detected in the depths of the soil. Along with a high dose of Thallium, that is usually found around electronics, which is the department where she was working at and where the dig took place in close proximity.
Yet the Short/Long Term Disability insurance company, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) and her employer, are all stating that the proof is not there. The employer all of a sudden does not recall the name of the drilling company that they used to drill the well. In matter of fact, they do not recall a well being dug inside around that time or location. WSIB refuses to investigate further into finding the company that dug the well, in order to find the two well diggers who could verify Athena’s presence on the day of the event. Then WSIB could have further compared the health condition of three people and establish the association between event (the well dig) and the people present.
For two years she has had no employment income and since she’s been sick, much time has been spent looking after her needs, doctors’ appointments and treatments, writing letters, completing reports, filing claims and researching her condition. This has taken a toll on her and now after taking that long to figure out her ailment and its source, it is still not sufficient for any of her claims to be accepted.
There is no doctor in Ontario that would/could find out why her body was breaking down and after two years of tests, her GP finally requested from Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) that it was of the utmost importance, for Athena to go to the US to be examined by an Environmental Health Specialist. In Ohio, she found such an environmental specialist, who diagnosed and started treating her immediately, compared to a 2 to 4 year waiting period, just to get a first appointment here in Ontario. Of course, these treatments in the USA would not be covered by OHIP.
In all certainty, if she had to wait the 2-4 years for an appointment here in Ontario, she would have been dead by then and become a nameless statistic. Within weeks, she had found out that she had heavy metal toxin poisoning and candidiasis, which for sure had already hit her liver (she had elevated liver enzymes), nervous system and other organs. She has to drive around a 900 km trek to Bluffton, Ohio, every other week for Low Dose Immunotherapy and Chelation treatments. She incurs debt to the tune of approximately $500CDN after expenses for each visit. The initial visit alone was for about $1600CDN, including medications.
In the mean time, she thanks God for CPP Disability, who after two years and evaluating the final results, decided to help out with a modest amount of $1100.00 per month. But the amount of money needed for Athena’s treatments a month and in US funds is excruciating. She is using the home equity she has accumulated and her savings to make ends meet and is continuously getting in the hole every month. If she stops these treatments, she will deteriorate and most likely die.
At this point, this is where she stands:
· OHIP is not responding to the application submitted by her doctor.
· There is another two people from the drilling company out there that may be suffering and might even die without knowing from what, if they do not get the appropriate treatment. Nobody seems to want to find out who they are.
· The company that did this to her, which is not a union shop, will get away with it and continue to poison innocent workers without a chance of them protecting themselves.
· WSIB works for the employer, not the employee. They just accumulate information the employer gives them and conclude by denying the claim filed, without a thorough and in depth investigation.
· The short/long term disability insurance companies would rather you take them to court before they part with any monies, hoping that you get tired of fighting them and give up.
· In the meantime, we have tried calling numerous injury lawyers who have stated they only focus on slip and fall cases, because that is where the money is. Some of them have even come right out and stated that her case is too much work.
· And there is no sign of Athena's supervisor that she complained to on that day in question and informed him that the drilling manager later apologized to her for forgetting to use a filter while drilling.
· The secretary that Athena also approached and spoke to about the dig and the pain she experienced has also vanished.
Are these employees worried about their own jobs, to speak up for the good of others and themselves?
She is beside herself with disappointment, frustration and lack of funds to make any further moves. And the sobering fact is that heavy metal toxins of such concentrations could only be found in the environment of her manufacturing workplace.
The damage is done. She just wants to save her life for now. Even if you cannot donate, please share this story because you never know who else may be in the same situation.
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