Benny's World

Friday, August 05, 2005

Having to walk like someone else

Last Sunday, I dislocated my right kneecap in attempt to get out of my locked backyard. I was fortunate that someone heard me scream for help and get 911 since my spouse was away. I was in the ER for nearly 5 hours when after x-rays and a CT Scan, when it was decided to "pop my knee" back into place. The procedure worked, but I couldn't walk without excruciating pain. My knee was heavily wrapped and a knee splint was velcrowed on my leg. It felt so heavy, and I was wobbly from the all of the meds that afternoon.

My spouse's friends took me home from the ER and did their best to make me comfortable in my living room. It was a terribly awkward night, having to deal with 2 cats who didn't understand that it took me sometimes 5-10 minutes just to get up on my crutches. I kept having spasms in my leg, which jolted me awake and almost shoved me off the couch. Sometimes I would dream that I was falling again and hurting my knee, sending off more spasms of pain in my leg. Elmora would jump when my leg jerked, and I broke out in heavy sweats, as though I were going through menopause.

The next day, one of the friends took me to the doctor and we were asked to bring the x-rays with us, which meant we had to get them from the ER place that was at least a couple of miles from the clinic I had to go to see a specialist. There, we were kept waiting for over 2 hours. The doctor saw me for 7 minutes, told me the diagnosis was correct, but he wasn't for certain if I had more damage, so I was asked to get an MRI at the same place, come back in two days. The splint had to stay on no matter what. I could understand why. But I was in agony going in and out of cars, trying to get into wheelchairs, and walking on the crutches. I was asked many times if I needed "more instruction" for walking on the crutches, but no one offered me water, apologies for having to wait, or even aspirin for my pain.

The test was run, and I went home. My friend was kind enough to ensure that all of our animals were taken care of; I had something to eat and some water. There was little else to do but wait for the results on Wednesday and for my spouse to return the next day.

During those hours, I continued to have spasms, but I remembered that taking iboprofen would give me some relief, so I asked for some to be taken out of our first aid kit in the garage. The iboprofen helped. The next day, another friend brought more iboprofen, so I started taking more of it. But all I could do was watch tv and barely get to the restroom. My body felt so icky; it was dirty, but I didn't feel I could ask anyone to help me to assist me with my hygiene; it was too intimate unless I had known the friends for a longer time in my life.

When my spouse came home, I made demands immediately for a sponge bath, especially to get my feet washed, get my shirt changed, and for another bedspread since I sweated completely through the one I had for the two previous nights.

The next day, I called the doctor's office to check to see if the appointment would be kept close to schedule and if all of the information was available. After a 20-25 minute wait in the waiting area, I was taken into a room, and I was told everything was ready; the doctor would be into see me in awhile.

It was 10 until 5. He never came. The MRI never arrived, and after waiting an hour in the room, an aide tells me since the MRI didn't arrive, the doctor couldn't give a diagnosis, and I would have to be rescheduled. I was livid. A few minutes later, a nurse came in, rewrapped my knee at my request, and I asked how I was supposed to remove my 4-day underwear over my cast. She didn't know. I requested a home health care consult, but I don't think she ever did it. These 2 knew they had a hot potato head on their hands and wanted me out ASAP.

As I was going into the elevator with my husband, he asked what the results were. "Nothing. No information. This fuckin' place made me wait not to do shit for us, and there isn't a fuckin' thing we can do about it." Did the doctor see you? my spouse asked? "NO. The fuckin' doctor never saw me. I told the folks I didn't want to be charged for this visit. They told me to show the folks that I had come on Wed when I returned on Monday and I would not be charged for my next visit. Were they able to help me? No, because it's 5pm and everybody is gone."

Later when I talked to my mom, she told me mix-ups happened all of the time with her. It made appreciate her situation more since she's dependent on medicare and any help she can get.

I walked in the shoes of those who receive inadequate or emergency care. I was disappointed. Now, I have a swollen foot in addition to a leg, and all I can I do is wait.

And this is our America. Is this what I have to look forward to when I retire? Being treated as though I were a number attached to a name? Would I treat my customers like this? Would they want to be treated like this.

It all boils down to that our America is fractured into the "have" and "have nots". If I had been the daughter of a doctor, lawyer, someone prominent, I probably wouldn't be on an HMO. I probably would have resources to pay for extra insurance to get better care. On the other hand, those in castastrophic need probably wouldn't have felt as slighted.

JRE talks about how we all should have health care like federal pols do. I couldn't agree more. When we feel disrespected, as I did on Wednesday, it breeded the worst to come out of me. While I certainly could have controlled my emotions more, no one cared about me, and I didn't like it. Guess that's the way the far right believe: if it ain't broke, you don't need to fix it.

I hope we can all figure out a solution to our healthcare problems. It cannot be solved by one person or by ourselves. Sorry Rick Santorium: it takes more than a family to help out; it takes a community and a country to do it together when the problem is bigger than all of us.

Part II

I had my MRI update on Monday. The doctor told me that I have 2 torn ligaments, an extended one directly to my knee cap. He said I had three options: to let myself heal without surgery; surgery; and he didn't list the third. He also told me he would not be carrying out my care on an ongoing basis and I would have to go to a specialist in Springfield. My spouse didn't understand at first what the doctor meant, but I did: he refused to give me anymore help. But the way he said it to us was as though he was telling us (between the lines): "I'm not taking this case; you will have to find another doctor. The nearest one is in Springfield. I don't give a ratsass if this inconveniences you, and may you rot in hell."

Personally, I think this doctor may be doing me a favor by not taking the case any further. He was like W: his way or the highway, and he wasn't going to accept any personal responsibility for his staff's mistakes or for his unpleasant bedside manner. Furthermore, his speciality was sholders, and he also didn't believe in pain management.

So, off to Springfield next Tuesday, to a real knee specialist. Hopefully, it will be a more positive experience.