Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Ah, the state of health care these days... About a year ago, I switched to a PPO through Blue Cross Blue Shield after having trouble getting an appointment with a special for a little accident I had in the kitchen. I figured that would be the last I'd have to worry about getting timely and appropriate medical attention. So this past May, I managed to seriously injure my back playing ultimate. It seemed to get better. I played on it again a week later and the next morning, I could barely dress myself. So I see my doctor, and with a prescription for physical therapy in hand and a couple of recommendations from friends (there seem to be a lot of ultimate players who've had PT. Hmm.) I figured I was good to go... ...until I tried to schedule an evaluation. First available appointment? 2-1/2 weeks later. Over a month after the initial injury. Hmmph. Although, I have to say, I was really happy with the therapist and the facilities. (Bill Harrington at Pro Sports Therapy in Waltham) After 7 weeks, I feel almost as good as new. In some ways, I even feel better than before. Cool. And at the first tournament back, some idiot slams into my knee. Since I'm still seeing Bill, he checks it out and allays some fears. (Doesn't seem like a torn ACL. *whew*) But again, it's 2 weeks before I get an appointment with an orthopedist. I manage not to make it worse. When I eventually see him, the doctor tells me to stay off it for 3 weeks. Probably bruised medial collateral ligaments, strained secondary lateral collateral ligaments. Mostly better. After the BUDACOL tournament there's only a little knee soreness, with everything else otherwise pretty good. Everything seems ok (other than some kind of flu that I wasn't quite over) a few weeks later at the UPA Sectionals tournament. Well enough that I'm willing to help Dillio move a couch. Or not. So, the next day, I can't put on my socks without lying on my back. Back to square one. Or worse. After a day, it doesn't get better. I get some advice from Bill. And recommendations for two orthopedists that specialize in spinal injuries. Cool, now we're cooking with gas. But we're not. I call one, and his first available appointment is October 25th. That was 4-1/2 weeks from the date that I called. They suggested trying his other office and gave me the number. Early December. I try the other doctor, same thing. November/December. So what can I do? I make the appointment. And try to go to work and deal the best I can. Two weeks later, I'm finding that it's not getting any better. In fact, it seems worse. And I'm still more than two weeks until my appointment. So I get a prescription for PT from my PCP, and I'm going to try and see Bill. First appointment, October 17th. *sigh* At least it's sooner than when I'll see the doctor.
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Once I get it, I feel pretty good about the quality of the medical attention I'm receiving. It's the when that's bothering me these days. As things with my back seemed to deteriorate, I grew increasingly concerned that something I was doing was making it worse. And it scares me that I could potentially be doing serious, irreparable damage without knowing it because it wasn't possible for me to see the person I needed to see. And this is "just" about my back. My Dad has always had a certain mistrust for HMOs because many years ago, a close friend of his died of cancer. Something which he attributes, in part, to a lack of timely medical attention. I can still remember him telling me about the surgery. It was short, apparently, and I had thought that that was a good thing. Until he explained that when they opened him up, they had found that things were too far gone for them to be able to do anything. Depressed yet? So, here I am, lying on my couch, on my stomach, working from home. Life could be worse, I suppose.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

So I'm reading about the guy who plea-bargained his way to a misdemeanor by choosing to testify against a currently unnamed "tippee" *cough*MarthaStewart*cough*, and it makes me ask, "is there ever any positive reinforcement for doing the right thing?" The fellow in question was originally given an extra week of vacation and a free plane ticket "In exchange for stonewalling probers." He's doing the "right thing" now by cooperating with investigators, and will probably get probation for his trouble. But what if he did the "right thing" at the time? My cynical guess: probably waiting in line at an unemployment office somewhere in downtown Manhattan. (and not even a tan from a week off in Hawaii to show for it.)