Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Beware this post is a vent, is probably incoherent, contains profanity, and is too long.

So roughly...erm... two months ago, I fell at roller derby practice. I tried to get up... I fell again. I wasn't able to stand on my own.  As skaters zoomed around me, I had one thought: FUCK.  Some awesome derby mamas came to my aid. They took off my nasty, sweaty pads and  skates, and supported all of my weight as they got me off of the rink. I almost cried.  Maybe I did cry, but not from the pain- from the idea that my derby career, for the SECOND time, was on hold.  It was nauseating pain.  I kept saying "fuck" and looking into The Cyrone's! eyes for reassurance that I would be back on the rink in no time. She was kind, but couldn't give it to me. Outwardly, I was in denial.  "I'll go to the hopital tomorrow." I said.  And "It's a twisted ankle and I'll be back on skates in two weeks." Inwardly, I knew there was something really wrong.

Luckily Jessie, the roller-nurse convinced me to go to the ER that night.  As we arrived she was called in, and so there I was, alone in the waiting room. The pain came in waves. The people around me were coughing up sputum, and using the hospital phone to call their drug dealers. Two were having a heated yelling match.
When the nurse brought me to the back, I said " I really have to go to the bathroom."  She said okay, wheeled my wheelchair to one, and said, "You're going right down the hall when you're done." I didn't have the humility to tell her I couldn't get to the toilet on my own. I sat there in the chair staring at the bathroom.

After my x-rays, the doc came back: "Not broken!" He says.  I was mystified.  Really?  He grabbed my leg and slapped three ace bandages on it, he sent the nurse to get me some crutches. She came back, and told me: "Yeah, if it was broken, it would REALLY hurt." Incredulous, I said "It DOES really hurt."  She said "No, I mean like, you couldn't put any weight on it." I stared her down. "I CAN'T put any weight on it." Irritated, she rolled her eyes and said "Yeah, OK, well I've broken my leg, and you wouldn't be 'like this' if it was broken." Fine. Whatever. My orders were: "If it still hurts in three days, you'll get an MRI.  It should be all better by then though, these types of sprains usually heal within that time. In the meantime, take some advil." I get home and realize I'm not so good at crutches, and that they are too short for me.  As I peel my face off the floor, I try not to show Calvin that I've really hurt myself (again), and for the first time ever, Tom doesn't laugh when I hit the ground.  He winces- it was bad.

Three days came and went. It still hurt. I tried to get an appointment to see the orthopedic specialist that week.  All of them covered by my insurance were "on vacation" (seriously- is that even legal?) somewhere far away. So I got the "first available". 

My first appointment.  I hobble into the building, Tom had dropped me off, and gone home.  I fill out the check-in paperwork. I wait.  After a half hour, I am called to the desk.  "Who are you here to see" I tell them. They reply, "Dr, Whatever's face isn't working here today, he's in King of Prussia." What????  "You got the place wrong." they tell me.  I show them the notes I wrote while making the appointment and read them the address where I was told to go.  "That's here isn't it?" "Well, yes, but..." I start to tear up with frustration. They see this, and soften. We can fit you in.  Have a seat.  They call me up again.  "We don't have your referral." It's floating in cyberspace I guess. I had to call my doctor and have them send a new one. I get to see the doctor roughly 2 hours later. 

He enters the room without knocking, a no-no according to the boards certification exam, and annoying on top of that.  His medical student, follows him into the room obediently and with a vapid disinterested look on her face she proceeds to stare at the floor while he roughly pushes on my leg and ankle.  OW! I pull my leg back. "That really hurts?" He continues to do it, and looks at his student, not me, as he says "Sometimes with a serious sprain like this, the leg breaks up here." and he pushes on it again hard for good measure.  I pull my leg away.  You dick.

Two weeks after the fall, x-rays confirm, I have a broken leg. Since I was told "Let pain be your guide", I've been walking on it and trying to otherwise shake it off. I get a walking cast.  Roughly three weeks after the fall, the MRI finds that I actually have two broken bones, two torn ligaments, and a lot of swelling around the bones that I bruised. The walking cast hurts more than walking without it.  Woops! It's the complete wrong size! I get one that fits slightly better, (but is still too big- I don't have the energy to exchange it AGAIN).

I switch doctor's to get a second opinion, and because my doctor has asked me "Are you a nurse" no fewer than 13 times, and has never asked how I got the injury. He can't remember my name either. He won't tell me when I can be out of the cast. I press him for some kind of idea how long it will be until I can skate.  He says "At least not until September".

I drop out of derby.  Again.

The bills start rolling in: $100 to go to the ER and get a wrong diagnosis, patronizing nurse, ace bandages and crutches. $30 per Dr. appointment, (5 so far) and $30 per imaging study (3 so far). The kicker?  I'm charged for the walking cast. Insurance won't cover it at all- maybe because I had to get the right size after giving me the wrong size? That bill is $200.

I had the appointment with my new doctor today.  I waited for an hour and a half for him to tell me "We can't do anything without a more recent x-ray, sorry.  Get some x-rays, and come back in a week. I pay the parking fee ($9), and call Tom. "I'm not going back to the Dr.. I'm totally and utterly done with this shit, and I can't afford to waste half a work day and all of the co-pays for them to tell me to keep using the cast till it feels better."

People who know me, know that I happen to have to go to the ER a lot more than the average 30 year old.  I injure myself often, and have even had to get my series of rabies shots.  I've exceeded my limit, and exhausted my storage of patience. I'm done. I'm done waiting in waiting rooms watching Regis and Kelly Live. While people around me cough without covering. I'm done with deductibles and co-pays, bitchy receptionists, HMO hoops, referrals, and 'first availables".  I'm done. So, here we are.  It's been months. My leg still hurts. "How long till you're out of the cast" poeple ask.  I don't know. What I do know, is that when I skate again, I'll be wearing some really expensive ankle support. And if I am injured again, I'm skipping the ER, skipping the appointments, and sawing the limb off for myself.

You can call me "I lean".

1 comment:

  1. I am actually just reading this post, but find it so very frustrating, to the point where I want all the names and numbers of the doctors you have seen so I can call them and yell at them myself. I hate doctors who can't give you the time of day and act this way, plus give you the wrong diagnoses. NOT to mention the frustrating part of giving up derby, again. This time will be your time, Mama. We got this.