Sorry for mixing my Broadway musical metaphors but I need your two cents because, like Tevye, I’m getting a lot of On The Other Hand in my decision making.
Back in January I wrote about my experience with six decades of wading through medical care with all its various changes. (I wrote that blog to help people who might not understand why the ACA is so important to people who have difficulty obtaining health care that can be within financial reach. Many of the comments I received were that people were sad I had gone through all that. The point was, many many many people do.) And even as I wrote of all my issues, that was before my left hip started protesting loudly the year plus of walking “wonky” with my bad right knee. After a gait adjusted for pain, my pelvis had tilted. It wasn’t enough to juggle the stupid knee and then the cornea transplant, I had a new medical issue that provided a new education. Lucky me.
The increased level of pain led me to think I would have to close my business, Can-Do Real Food, My logic said that was the right decision. My emotions were not in agreement. (You can see how Tevye’s dilemma discussion seems to be part of my DNA, or at least cultural norm.)
My regular doctor offered me pain pills. While I filled the prescription for the muscle relaxant, I soon discovered not only did it not work, but neither could I with a muddy head. I decided to go outside of standard medical practice and found a chiropractor who might help move that pelvis back into alignment. Between his gentle pokes and prods as well as physical therapy inside his office environment, the screaming pain has diminished and I can see a glimmer of dim light ahead.
But then I ran out of insurance benefits.
The chiropractor reminded me it had taken me a year to get into the twisted position and it would take a while longer to get out of it. His thinking was once I got that part aligned I would be functional and need only pop back in to see him when I realized I was hurting again.
But I can’t afford him.
So, back to my primary care doctor who offered to send me to the same doc who said my original injury to my knee in June 2016 was “only arthritis” and “I would never need surgery”, all without the benefit of a scan. I told my primary doc I would not go back to him. I expect my doctors to base their advice on information and avoid those who don’t.
Also, since I’ve been hearing I have arthritis for years now and the pain is increasing in the affected joints, I asked to speak to someone with arthritis expertise to give me advice. Turns out that specialization is a rhemolotolgist and the first clinic said I was not bad enough to take up their time and the second clinic gave me their first available appointment four months from now. Since I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis it is perhaps not a needed visit anyway, but it sure would be nice to get some better info.
Yesterday I had an appointment with a new orthopedic doc. I went in wanting info, very much convinced I am not a surgical candidate nor is my knee hurting that badly right now so why would I want surgery?
He convinced me I need to have the surgery. The pelvis will NEVER be right until I am walking more normally. My knee will never be better and will only get worse. I wanted to know the probably progression of the deterioration and he was able to take the time and explain it.
So, straddling the conventional/nontraditional medicine routes gets sticky when I opt to lean one way or the other; the other side of my care spectrum voices their concerns. Some are valid. Some may be self-serving.
Here are the issues of my dilemma:
- My insurance will be changing. I have received notice that the plan I currently have is not going to be offered. The next “best” plan not only will cost me almost $300 a month more, but will not provide for any “out of network” benefits. Since I am not always only in my town, I understand that even a day trip to the Coast with some level of accident could end up bankrupting me. So this next “best” option is not viable. I have an appointment with an insurance navigator next week when the markets open, so we will see what we will see then.
- Since my insurance will be changing, any additional help beyond the immediate post-operative period by this new doctor may be a financial hardship. Do I wait to chose a new orthopedic doctor after my insurance changes, pushing me into a later calendar schedule for the surgery and recovery during my busy season with Can-Do Real Food (no, I’m not closing the business). Or do I just hope he is “in network”? Or do I just hope I can switch to another ortho doc who is “in network”?
- Will I even be able to afford any health insurance plan next year? Since Trump has eliminated the subsidies, that means my health insurance premium will most likely take up 60% of my social security payment. That is before I actually go to the doctor and pay my co-pay and pay for all the medicines I need for my asthma and blood pressure. How can I afford this?
And then, on the nontraditional side,
- I learned on my trip to New England that the CBD portion of marijuana does an extremely effective job of reducing my pain without making my head affected. (It amazes me how many conventional medical people I have spoken with HERE IN OREGON seem not to know anything about the usefulness of this herb. But here, have some oxy. The restrictions by the Federal government have muzzled them at best and stunted their education at worst.)
- My knee pain is very tolerable right now. My hip/pelvis problem is moving in the right direction. I can still get more physical therapy and of course I have the exercises to do at home. If I do them…..but that’s another issue.
The new ortho doc said something that sounds real: “Many people opt to wait because they are not feeling “that bad”. And then something happens and they are in horrible pain, wanting the surgery and then needing to wait a month or two to fit into the schedule.”
And he also said “Most likely you will heal better and faster than someone who is in high pain prior to the surgery because you are still pretty mobile.”
We have mundane but real issues also.
- I will be restricted from driving, of course, for a while. Typical is 6 weeks but it could be shorter if I can comfortably and in good time move my right foot from the accelerator to the brake sooner. Graham, being legally blind, can not drive. So while we are going into our quiet season with the business, there are normal things we do: grocery shopping for example. Also Graham teaches one forensic chemistry class each week at Western Oregon University, about 40 minutes south of where we live. So, we will need driving help. We have many good friends who offered with my eye surgery and that was only needed for two days, so we haven’t abused them too much yet.
- Sleeping spaces. The master bedroom is upstairs. I have been sleeping in the guest room, a room too small to transition permanently into the master bedroom, for months now, only climbing the stairs when we have overnight guests. Following this surgery any guests will get the master upstairs. That part was easy enough to figure out. LOL
So, like the King of Siam, it is a puzzlement to me. A time of change is upon me. A decision needs to be made that will have consequences. Those issues, with the exception of the health insurance costs, are not easily quantifiable.