I was talking to a dear friend of mine today, and she was sharing how her son, a freshman in high school, was injured during a wrestling practice. He had been paired against a senior, and ended up with a strained MCL, bruised thigh bone and a knee cap that was knocked out of place. Due to the injury he has been sidelined since January.
I shared with her my experience with damaged MCLs, and the ever popular trips to physical therapy. Five or six years ago, ex-3 and I were at the Children’s Museum with her family and her kids. The youngest one, who at the time was a foster child, was about eight months old, and he and I were sitting on a bench waiting for the rest of the family. My ex called out to me to say everyone was leaving that area, and to come along. I got up, quickly turned and smashed my right knee into the corner of the arm rest on the bench. I could feel myself loosing my balance, and rather than fall and squash the baby, I pivoted on my right knee to catch myself. That’s when I heard the “pop” and felt something tear in my knee.
This was on Saturday, and by Monday, even with ice packs surrounding my knee it was still swollen. Monday afternoon I called the ortho that I and my kids have used though out the years and told the nurse what happened. She got me in to see the doc that Wednesday, and he did all the torturous range of motion tests that orthopedics do. His conclusion from the external exam was that I had torn something. He ordered an MRI, gave me a script for pain pills and told me to say off my leg until he could see what damage I had done. The MRI was done early Friday morning, and by late that afternoon I got a call saying to come back in on Monday to see him.
Yes, I did have a slight tear in the MCL, and a nasty bruise under the kneecap. I was given two options. Number one was have surgery to repair the MCL, go through 6-8 weeks of physical therapy and see how it does. Option two was go through 6-8 weeks of P/T and see how it does. I chose option two, and was in the clutches of those wonderfully nice demons known as physical therapists. I did the therapy, and six-week later had a follow-up with the ortho. His conclusion was that if I kept up with the exercises that P/T had recommend my knee would heal up nicely. No surgery, no cutting, just a nice conservative approach, and some pain management. My knee did eventually heal, for the most part, but I can’t fault the doc or the therapist. I am not one to follow directions, and instead of keeping my knee immobilized for the requisite time period, I took the brace off after two weeks, and was back doing the stupid things I did back then.
The worst part about this particular injury wasn’t the fact that I mucked up my knee. No, it was listening to my co-workers give me hell about getting hurt at a “CHILDREN’S MUSEUM.” The one place that you would think NO ONE could get really hurt. Of course the agency that I was working for at the time was not populated with warm fuzzy types, and I would have probably given someone else just as much hell had they gotten hurt the in the same manner.
I tell this story to make a point. When I blew the knee sideways, I had FANTASTIC private health insurance. I got in to see my doc quickly, without having to jump through dozens of hoops. I got the needed MRI and P/T, and even with my foolishness eventually healed. Fast forward to these past several years, and the story has taken a decidedly different turn. When I started to get sick, and lost my job and private insurance, I was thrown into the morass of public healthcare. I now wait months for a doctor’s appointment; months for an MRI or C-Scan; pay huge amounts of money for prescriptions due to “spend down” obligations; and still have no definitive diagnosis about what exactly is wrong with me.
Keith Koffler, the wonderful keeper of the keys at White House Dossier published a story about his experience with the coming changes in American health care. Keith uses his sardonic talent to point out where we are heading in America if the current changes in healthcare continue. From his story:
“I got a small taste of my future after I smashed my lower left shin two weeks ago against a lighting fixture that had been placed on the floor during a Saturday night party where wine was served in liberal abundance.”
“By Monday morning, my left foot was the size of a pineapple. I went to the doctor. She said, “Looks infected.” I said, “No duhh.” She said, “Here’s some antibiotics.”
“Two week later, on Friday, the infection was somewhat better, though not at all gone, and the wound wasn’t healing every well. So the doctor said, “I want you to see a wound specialist. Here’s the number.”
“And that was when – after two weeks of pain and itching (the latter worse than the former) and having to walk around in sandals in 40-degree weather because my foot won’t fit in a shoe – I began to enjoy myself. Because that’s when the Catch-22′s starting popping up.
“The nice guy at the wound center apologetically explained that in order to maintain their status as a wound center they had to follow the Medicare guidelines, which say they can only see people with wounds that are four weeks old.”
Medicare guidelines are now the new rules on the block. Forget about doctors treating patients on an as needed basis. It’s government guidelines that will dictate who, what, when, where, why and how you will get medical treatment.
Keith asked his readers to share their stories, and some are truly appalling. For the complete story and comments please visit Keith’s site at White House Dossier.