Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Inside Health Care

First off, thanks everybody for your kind and caring comments. It's very comforting to know that people care.

So the basic story is that I fell and landed on my shoulder. X-rays showed that I fractured the head of my right humerus and snapped the humerus about an inch below, resulting in a displaced fracture. Surgery required.

This was my first time in the hospital (as a patient) in many, many years, and it wasn't a good experience. If this is the current state of health care in America (and I believe it is), it's going to take a hell of a lot of reform.

I mentioned in my previous post that I was in the hospital for 4 days. It would have been shorter, but they couldn't get me into surgery on the first day...although they tried. I was in pre-op from about 1 pm until midnite getting conflicting reports on when an operating room would be available, when a surgeon would be, or if I was stable enough for surgery (I have high blood pressure, and laying around in pain wasn't helping). I can understand the delay (only general hospital for a large region), but I found it really frustrating that no one seemed to know what was going on. One minute I'm being told "you're in next" and the next "make yourself comfortable, it's going to be a while." No one could agree on what and how much pain medication I should be given (except that it was not enough) or communicate from one shift to another. All this is simply a result of being over-stretched. There were too few staff for the number of patients to be treated. I saw this problem throughout my entire stay.

The surgery went smoothly, and I am now the proud owner of a metal plate with 14 assorted pins, bolts, and screws keeping it in place. I get to keep it for life, unless, according to my surgeon, "something really bad happens." I'm kinda looking forward to my first metal detector.

Which brings me to the next stage of fun: accessing and enrolling in the state public health system. Because I'm unemployed, uninsured, and completely broke, I should qualify easily, right? Not quite. It's not as easy to document "nothing" as you might think. I've made my way through a mountain of forms, and now I've succeeded in proving that I'm too poor to pay the many thousands in medical costs.

The next stage is the fun of proving "temporary disability." The medical forecast is for 3-6 months of therapy before I regain "partial" use of my right arm, and as I'm right-handed, this might make it difficult finding a job at this time. I've barely begun the process, but I'm already buried in forms.

So thanks for the good wishes, and I'll try to keep posting. All donations are a huge help right now, thanks.


Demeur said...

I wish you luck in all of this. From what I've heard it can take two years to get disability so expect the worst on that front. Should this economy actually turn around I'll pop some green in your tip jar but it looks like I'm having my own battles right now.
Our system should be like Canada or England. Just show an ID and you get treatment.

Blue Gal said...

Wishing you well and sending good thoughts. Wish it could be more tangible. You're on my list of folks to contribute to once I have a bit more change.

ellroon said...

Keep notes on your adventures. One more way to keep track of our health care weirdness.

Don't let the paperwork get you down, they'll notice your depression and give you more paperwork.

Stay safe!

nunya said...

Hang in there.