Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me July 27, 2010Posted by Mary W. Matthews in Random Observations.
I had just reached up to screw the new light bulb into its socket when the stepladder slipped away from under me. I fell from the top step of the stepladder to the ground about six feet feet below, instinctively putting out my left hand to break the fall.
“Are you all right?” my husband asked.
“NO!” You could tell just by looking that I had broken at least two bones.
Jerry called our primary-care physician, whose nurse instructed us, “Go get x-rays at our Suncoast group practice facility; we’ve phoned to say you’re on your way. Then come here.” By the time we got to our internist’s office it was 2:25 p.m . . . internist & staff were at lunch until 3. AAAAARRRGH!!! We had been instructed to report to a locked door.
At about 3:10, our doctor’s secretary came out to the waiting room. Displeased by my unseemly weeping, Kathryn took us to another room. She informed us that yes, the doctor had seen my x-rays. Yes, the doctor knew that my wrist had been badly smashed. But both our doctor AND the practice’s bone guy were too busy to attend to my emergency. And then, ignoring my tears and fixing her eyes on my obviously broken wrist, Kathryn offered to make an appointment with the bone guy on my behalf for the next day.
Instead of returning the next day as Kathryn had suggested, Jerry and I next went to the emergency room — luckily, a brief walk from our doctor’s office. Thanks to already having the x-rays, I finally got some pain-med “only” two hours and a few odd minutes after my accident. I kept it together (sorta kinda) by using as a mantra that guy who a few weeks ago saved his own life by cutting off his own arm, w/zero anesthesia, 95% of the way before fainting from the agony — far, far worse pain than I was in!
In setting my wrist, the ER used “conscious anesthesia,” meaning although I never slept, I have no real memory of the setting of bones & applying of cast. Which is just as well! The ER pumped me full of major pain-med only about 10 minutes after taking me to my curtained-off area, but my wrist never did stop hurting until late at night.
The bone guy was still too busy to see me on Tuesday July 27, but he saw me the next day and did surgery on me the very next day, 15 days ago. Here are my x-rays:
According to the doctor my radius (the outside bone of my left forearm) looked “like dental floss.” I now have a titanium rod in my forearm to strengthen the bone. Goodbye, most future MRIs. Hello, being treated like Mrs. Osama every time I want to board an airplane.
I discovered quickly that the more I moved my left arm, even just walking around the house, the worse my wrist felt. Consequently, I’ve done very little the last two weeks. One-handed typing is hard on my right shoulder.
But yesterday, I went back to the bone doc’s office, where they took off my half-cast, x-rayed me again, and supplied me with a splint that probably cost me out-of-pocket only 20 times what it cost to manufacture. What a sensational racket Blue Cross and the other major insurers have! We pay THOUSANDS a year for the privilege of a copayment that works out to about 90 percent of the total service’s costs. Every bill is so heavily padded that I once figured out that my internist grosses at least $1,200 per hour — $120 for a five-minute visit to renew my Synthroid prescription, for example.
I still don’t know whether I can forgive my internist for ignoring my suffering when my only crime was following her nurse’s instructions. What would it have cost her to come out to the waiting room, apologize for the miscommunication, and send me to the emergency room — 30 seconds? Forty seconds? I sent her a letter about it yesterday. I guess I’ll wait to see whether and how she responds before I start looking for another primary-care physician.