As I was catching up in the land of blog this morning, I clicked on a new blog and read about the dilemma of scheduling medical procedures. I commented about life being simpler without health insurance ..........
Made me remember an incident about 10 years ago when I had health insurance through an HMO. With this plan you were required to choose a primary care group of physicians who would then "manage" your care.
On a Sunday while cleaning debris left from a building project in our back yard (it was one of those wooden play sets with a fort and I thought we should enclose the underside of the fort as a dog house for our Saint Bernard, Louise. She never, ever entered it. She would stare at me as I sat inside on a blanket with a hot dog in my hand trying to entice her into what would be a luxurious dog abode ..... but, that's another story).
Back to my story. I somehow managed to get stuck in the hand with a jagged piece of a 2 X 4. The board was about 3 feet long and was hanging from my person, firmly attached to that well padded part of my palm near my thumb. I stood there for a minute, just looking at it. It hurt, but I knew it had to come out and I debated with myself about asking he who had left the mess there to pull it out or just do it myself. I decided that he would hurt me, so I attempted to do it myself and a piece about the size of a kitchen match broke off and remained firmly embedded in my hand.
My hand was throbbing and I could not move my thumb without enhancing the pain. He who loves me offered to take me to an emergency room (happy that we had to stop the clean-up). Having worked as a nurse in emergency rooms and being annoyed at all the people using it as a clinic, I decided my hand with a stick in it was not an emergency and we drove to an urgent care facility that was approved by my HMO.
There had closed about 30 minutes before I needed them, so I went home and toughed it out until morning. I called my HMO approved primary care facility and they invited me to come right in and they would see me in between appointments. The chart indicated that I needed a splinter removed. One of the newer doctors strolled in and took one look at my hand and told me I needed a hand surgeon. Then asked me why I had not gone to the emergency room the previous evening. Really, it was not an emergency.
The hand surgeon she was sending me to was not in his office that day, but at the day surgery clinic downtown in ST. Paul. Great. It was my right hand and I was not going to try to navigate one-way downtown streets while trying to find this place. I picked up he who drives me around and off we went. We finally located the facility and then a parking garage and trekked in to see this surgeon of hands. X-rays were taken and the surgeon determined that I should go right to surgery where an axillary block would be administered and the "splinter" would be removed. I was all prepped, given a tetanus shot and an RX for antibiotics .......
And then told that my HMO would not approve the procedure. Seems I was sitting in a facility not associated with my HMO. So, I was told to meet the surgeon at the emergency room near my house after office hours. My hand had been manipulated and radiated and was throbbing by then. There aren't an over abundance of hand surgeons, by the way.
So, 24 hours after jabbing my hand, I went to the same emergency room I would have gone to the previous evening and was told that axillary blocks were not allowed in the emergency room, only a shot of xylocaine. By then, the tissue was inflamed and infection was beginning to set in. I felt every tug as he finally removed what felt like a full term baby from my hand.
So, you see, this would have been much easier had I not had insurance. Because had I not had insurance, I would have dosed myself with a pint of Jack Daniels, made an opening in my hand with an exacto knife and handed the needle nose pliers to my tool man and been done with it. Neosporin and a band aid.