How can you tell when someone is faking an injury? (looong)

There is a woman at work that has been in our department for about 2 years now. When she moved from her apartment last year she aggravated a back injury that caused her to miss alot of work and have subsequent surgery in January. Since then she has taken to occasionally using a cane and a walker. When she first came in with a cane I was really surprised. I didn’t know the extent of her injury required a cane. Wow. But then she switched to a walker which was going a bit too far. And she alternates between no support, cane and a walker depending on how much attention she is getting. And I’ll tell you that its too far because she doesnt favor a side of her back or a certain leg to support. She doesnt walk like the other invalids at our company that use canes or walkers. 2 weeks ago she had some kind of back spasm and I only knew she was in pain because I walked down to her cubicle and was trying to ask her a question. She was sobbing and shaking and I called our manager. The sobs turned to wails and the pain evolved into something more painful than any kind of hard labor I’ve ever seen. And we asked her if she wanted an ambulance and she said she couldn’t afford it. After much cajoling and reasoning on my part to her she finally gave in and we called her an ambulance. 45 minutes later she called me from the hospital, very chipper, stating she felt better and she was ready to be picked up! WTF?

The same week last year that she was out due to back pain, she was spotted at our company bowling league jumping up and down cheering after getting some strikes. Her demeanor in regards to her pain instantly changes the moment one of upper managment is in the area and she makes it a point to walk around to the printer in their direct line of view. She keeps her medication displayed on her desk yet she says she cant take it at work because it makes her drowsy. She wont get a handicapped parking sticker, says she has to get a new doctor and she has a cane because she went to the thrift store and decided to get it. When she gaits around she reminds me of yoda, I mean she alternates between mincing, sage- like walking (yoda) and like walking on eggshells. I dont want to sound mean or spiteful but my coworkers and I pretty much believe she wants the attention and doesnt really have the level of pain she parades.

Please give me your evaluation of the situation, dopers.

Seems there is something very wrong with her, it may be her back, it may be in her mind but how is it any of your business? I know that sounds harsh but she could be annoying to you in thousands of ways, having cow-orkers often means they will annoy you. It is part of being around people. She could have 300 cats and want to describe to you their every bowel movement.

For the record, I have a back injury and sometimes it is good, sometimes it is bad, sometimes I can do my grocery shopping, some days I can’t wipe my own arse. On bad days I cannot walk, on not so bad days I can get around with a cane. A walker would likely be better. On good days I can walk for miles without assistance. I try to avoid taking my pills that make me drowsy but I need them around in case of emergency.

I repeat, how is it any of your business?

Is her injury causing any expense to the company? If so, there could be grounds for fraud charges. If not, then I don’t see a way of resolving the situation that won’t cause bad feelings all around.

That said, backs are tricky things. As Thylacine said, it’s possible to swing from normality to severe pain and back in a couple of hours. If she’s had surgery on her back, I’m inclined to believe that her injuries are real, although it’s possible that in addition to having real pains now and then she’s also grown fond of the attention and sympathy.

Its not any of my business. But her presence and attitude give me cause for speculation. And we just have a grand old time at work contemplating the workings of a mind that prolongs her pain by not getting the proper care. We have very good insurance and a program that supports preventative care. She has the wrong priorities as it has been evidenced in the past. I think that missing work because you’re in pain but still going bowling is fraud. When she disrupts work with her wailing and refuses to medicate herself or go to the Dr what are we supposed to think? Maybe we could just not think about her and ignore her. That way it stays not being our business.