Settlement as Concept
When someone watches a patient die a slow and painful death and/or watches the patient go through prolonged and agonizing care, the often heard statement is I would never go through that. I would refuse the care and just accept that this is the end. There is no sense in suffering when you already know the probable outcome.
For very human reasons that line of thinking is erroneous. Even the most seemingly resolved patient will make desperate attempts to defy odds, will elect to suffer enormously, and be hopeful that some fragment of life can be experienced before the end. Our fear of the end of life far exceeds our fear of suffering.
For those injured workers from whom we have obtained follow-up data, their life after injury‚ or in this case `life after insurance settlement‚ is not as they would have anticipated. They expected after settlement to physically and psychologically suffer. They also believed that this suffering would be to intolerable and unavoidable.
They believe that there is nothing after settlement with which they can create a life that permits their pain and permanent limitations. There is no job, family or social existence that accommodates their suffering.
However, regardless of pain and limitations, the patients ultimately will find a capacity to find meaning in their existence. They will find ways of occupying time, feeling a degree of productivity and will re-establish or form new relationships.
Is this the indomitable nature of the human spirit? Perhaps. But it is equally probable that once the individual feels that s/he is no long under scrutiny, there is then room for living. This former patient may now experience freedom from being observed, judged, accountable, having to comply with directives from others. They are free to live outside the constricted world of the injured worker where there are so few options and the free choice to choose among them.
Settlement does not resolve pain, but it can liberate the patient.