If it weren’t for bad luck …


It seems to me that the old ditty with the line, “If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all” surely must be the theme song for “Louise.” Readers with very good memories may recall the saga I recounted of how Louise suffered a series of “you gotta be kidding me” events starting almost two years ago, so here’s a brief summary for those who don’t remember.

Louise started her career in nursing as a nurse’s aide and worked as such for several years. She then decided to upgrade her status by taking the required training and became a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). After several years as an LPN she once again increased her nursing skills and status by becoming a Registered Nurse(RN). She got a job as an RN and things were looking up when she injured her shoulder at work and filed a claim with the Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC). The BWC-approved diagnosis was that a muscle and tendon had torn apart and surgery was required to repair the damage. A series of those “you gotta be kidding” type events resulted in the surgery being delayed until five months after the injury – which meant a complicated surgical procedure.

After even more delays and just plain almost unbelievable screw-ups (none of which were her fault), she finally starting receiving disability compensation and underwent months of intense physical rehab. The final medical decision was that she had a permanent partial disability that limited use of her right arm. Her workers comp claim was finally resolved – thanks to the outstanding efforts of her lawyer who guided her through a veritable minefield of legal trip wires, administrative procedures, and opposition by her previous employer. You know, this whole story was one “bad luck” event after another – and none were her fault.

Despite everything, Louise was determined to return to the work force in her chosen profession – after all, she had worked long and hard to become an RN and had increasingly upgraded her nursing skills. Well, sure enough, she found an RN position where her disability would not be a factor. After few months, however, she realized the job was not a good “fit” for her and explored other opportunities. Once again she found an RN position that offered promise so she gently submitted her notice to her employer and they parted company amicably – no hard feelings on either side. Sounds like things were finally going well, right? Guess again.

Louise did well on her interviews, was offered a job, passed the physical, and was scheduled to begin her orientation when she got a phone call from the human resources (HR) office of her new employer telling her she had tested positive for marijuana and the job offer was withdrawn. When Louise tried to protest that she had never used marijuana, she was told by the HR official that she had tested positive twice and that’s all there was to it – and the official hung up.

To say that Louise was stunned would be a gross understatement. She felt she had been sucker-punched right in the gut. How could this have happened since she had never touched marijuana in any form and had not been around any second-hand smoke either. After she had recovered a bit from the shock she determined to find out what had happened – and did some on-line searches.

She found that screening drug tests, using samples of blood, urine or hair, detect the presence of the drugs themselves or their metabolites — substances produced when the body breaks down the drugs. Urine tests, the most common screening tests for marijuana, detect the presence of metabolites of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main active ingredient in marijuana. But – and it’s a BIG but – several medications may cause false positive screening results for THC, including such over-the-counter pain relief meds as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin),and naproxen (Aleve). Bingo! Louise had been taking naproxen.

Well, Louise has had an another urine test as well as a blood test, has a third test coming up, and has enlisted the aid of doctors in an effort to clear up this mess. In the meantime she is unemployed and is very depressed, wondering what she has been doing wrong that’s caused all this bad luck. The answer is that she has done nothing wrong. She has bootstrapped her way upward in the nursing profession; she was following proper procedure when she injured her shoulder; she survived over a year and a half of painfully battling for her rights under workers comp; and, now she is a victim of a false positive drug test. It sure is about time she has some good luck for a change. At least that’s how it seems to me.


By Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at [email protected].

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