175_HipBy Bruce Mike

Getting older isn’t much fun. In fact sometimes it just sucks. I woke up one Friday morning this past February experiencing enough pain in my arms to make it almost impossible to move them. The night before I had played boot hockey without incident. I always wake up with some aches and pains but I had not been in pain like this before. By the end of the day I was feeling better and the next day was pretty much back to normal. It caused me enough concern to make a doctor appointment which started me on what’s become a three month adventure in our healthcare system.
After my first meeting with a doctor who seemed to think I may be suffering from pinched nerves in my neck, I was sent for an MRI. The doctor then reviewed my MRI and rather than recommend what I should do next, he gave me options. I picked physical therapy because it seemed like the least amount of hassle. After spending two hours at the physical therapist I was told I needed to see a neurosurgeon. Apparently the physical therapist was a better doctor than the doctor who ordered the MRI. I also found out that you have to pay for physical therapy whether they do anything or not. They also won’t let you bill them for your time. I tried.
After meeting with the neurosurgeon he recommended disk replacement surgery. Two or three of them in fact. He said it appeared I had suffered some kind of trauma to my neck. I told him I had crashed my trail bike pretty hard in Moab the year before and had been sore for quite some time afterward. I also told him I crashed my trail bike a lot so I didn’t think it was any one incident in particular. He said there was really no way to know for sure. He had me schedule another appointment a month later and to bring my wife. He also scheduled me for light cervical traction twice a week until I saw him again.
My wife and I attended the next appointment. After waiting nearly an hour after the appointment time he finally arrived. I found out I couldn’t bill him for my time either. He decided I needed another MRI and a “pain psych analysis”. Apparently the first MRI was “fuzzy” and they wanted to make sure the pain I was suffering from wasn’t making me suicidal. My frustration with our healthcare was starting to make me a little homicidal but I kept taking deep breaths and doing what I was told. There was another appointment set to meet with the neurosurgeon again and who knows, maybe surgery would get scheduled.
So far, after paying my pretty hefty deductible, all I’ve gotten out of this experience is about eight hours of missed work and a home cervical traction machine. The traction machine is pretty cool and does make me feel better. At one point in the process one of these medical professionals said to me “you’ve reached your deductible so now you don’t have to pay for anything else”. Even the people working in the medical field don’t get it. We ALL pay for the inefficiencies, worthless appointments and bad practices.
When I was a younger man, I would fall down, get hurt, rub some dirt in it and get back to having fun. Those days are long gone. Now I fall down, get hurt and spend the next year going to doctors, writing fat checks, and hoping they can find a solution. Oh, how I miss the healing power of youth.

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