Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Price of Health Care

Now, I never post anything political, and this is not meant to be a political post.  Just a fun little story...

I had a little tumor caused by an unhappy blood vessel on my left ring finger.  It was about the size of a BB, and right where the first knuckle bends.  It was a little painful, but mostly annoying and so I had it removed.  Since it was so small and in the hand like that, it was suggested I see an orthopedic hand specialist.   So I did.  Of course there isn't one in our small town, so I had to drive to Longmont....He took a look, said "No problem, we will do a small surgery here in the center downstairs, should be quick and easy"  Great, I thought, lets get it scheduled. 

So the week before the surgery, the nurse is calling me to give me directions, you know the usual don't eat before etc...etc...I didn't think much of it, thinking it is all normal procedure for any surgery.

So I arrive at the center for my surgery.  The first thing the nurse does is gives me a pepcid (to help with any stomach acid)...OK, I thought that is a little odd, but whatever  it won't hurt me.  Then she says "Go ahead and put on the gown, it opens in the back and you can put your clothes in this little bag"  I looked at her with an incredulous look and said "For my finger?"    (I admit the tone was not too friendly and I didn't mean any harm, I was just shocked).

So I put on the gown, I get into the hospital gown, and then it is prep time.  So they put in an IV in my other hand "just in case", they take my vitals (blood pressure normal, temp a little high)...then the they clean the hand and get my hairnet on etc...

So finally I am prepped for surgery.  The nurse says "do you want me to get your mom?  It will probably be a min before we go back"  "No,"  I say, "I am just fine"

Show time.  They push my bed back to the surgery room, and get me all hooked up for my vitals etc..etc...they wash my hand with some yellow stuff all the way up to my elbow, and I wait.  In comes the doc...he gives me two shots to numb it (this was really the worst part).  Then leaves.  The blood pressure cuff goes off, the nurse says "It is OK, I have this set to go off every 10 min"  I wait, and wait, the nurses (there are three of them in the room), talk about their kids, they ask me a few questions and we wait.

In comes the doc...does a check with a pinch "Do you feel that?"  Nope I feel nothing in that finger...so he cuts it out, shows it to me, we talk about what it is etc....He sews me up and leaves.  The blood pressure cuff did not go off again...that means it took less than 10 min for that whole thing.

They wheel me back to "recovery"  where again, they must check all my vitals.  Take out the IV from the other hand, that they never used.  They ask if I need my mom.  "no, I am fine, can I get dressed now?"  More waiting....then I get dressed, and the nurse says "I have to go through these directions with you, so I am going to go ahead and have your mom come back.  Can she walk OK"    I replied, "Yes she is just fine, but I don't know that I need her to come back, she was just my company for the drive today".

My mom comes in, rolling her eyes, questioning why she was there....I wasn't sure...  The nurse goes through all my "directions"  which really means, don't get it wet for 72 hours and I can pretty much do whatever I want no restrictions etc..  She even says "you can sign wills, drive, whatever..."  Then she says, I need you to sign this document saying we went over the directions. Well since your mom is here, I will have her sign you out"

Really?  Really?  I can sign wills but I can't sign myself out of the doc office?  CRAZY

So I get up and start heading out the door, I have my purse in my 'good' hand, and a small bag with some bandages and an ice pack in the other.  So the nurse exclaims "look at you using your hand already"  And I thought "Of course, it is as numb as can be and I won't feel anything for a few hours why not?" 

Mom and I went to lunch, and I drove home and did a little work that afternoon.  Typing was a pain with the bandage on, but other than that, no big deal..  The next afternoon, the nurse calls to see how I am doing.  She says "are you maintaining pain by elevating and icing it?"  I said "Not really I don't have any pain to manage"  She was shocked and then didn't know what to say, so she said "well if you need anything, you know you slam it in a car door, let us know"  So basically, if you hurt it further from some freak accident let us know.  Ugh....

It really was a crazy day, for a quick little thing that took less than 10 min, it was quite the production, an operating room, three nurses, an orthopedic surgeon, etc...etc....that is why health care is expensive (OK, that was a little political, but hey you made it through the story).

Here are a few pics:

As it was when I was done with the surgery.  Yes he initialed the finger, marked it etc, have to make sure he did the right one.  You can see the initial bandage was a little big and annoying to type with...yes that was my complaint. 

The stitches when I finally could unwrap it

What I thought was funny, was the smiley face on my nail after I unwrapped my finger.  That was awesome to find!

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