Friday, November 30, 2012

Money and Pain

I made a medical decision this week based on money.
I know it's something that a lot of people have to do, and I'm hoping I won't regret it because it wasn't about me, it was about Tucker.
At the first swim meet of the year, on the concrete blocks diving in, his right foot slipped as he dove. The left leg hit hard against the concrete block.
The crowd  went "Oooooh" as he hit the water.
I was timing in his lane, and I didn't think about him being hurt. I watched to see if he would force himself to catch up with the boy beside him, cause he hates to lose, even if it is because of a bad start. He finished the race, a 100 butterfly, but finished just behind the boy next to him.
This is a photo from a summer ago as Tucker swam the butterfly
Again, I was standing behind the blocks not too concerned, except thinking he would be mad that he had slipped. But the boy next to him turned and said, "Are you okay, Tucker? I heard you fall."
And the coach came to the edge of the pool and said, "Did you hurt yourself, Tucker?"
Later she said she was worried that he had pulled something because of the awkward start.
When Tucker hoisted himself out of the pool, he wouldn't put any weight on his left leg and he had a knot on his shin.
The boy next to him helped him to a chair and one of the dads, who is a sports medicine doctor, went over to look at Tucker. I kept timing and didn't think much about it.
I heard the doctor saying, "Do you feel nauseated?" and Tucker nodded. He was shaking and pale. A couple of guys helped him get to the room where the kids rest between events and Tucker lay down. The doctor kept telling him to slow down his breathing because he was going to hyperventilate.
Tucker put his hoodie over his face and breathed into it. I think he was hiding tears.
We got some Advil for him to take and after a few minutes of hovering above him, he told me to leave, he'd be fine. So I went back to timing.
Then someone came in and told me Tucker was throwing up.
The doctor and I both went back to check on him. About half an hour had passed and he was still in a lot of pain, pale and shaking, along with throwing up. The doctor said he didn't think the bone was broken, but we should take Tucker to the emergency room for x-rays.
This is what I wanted to do to make Tucker feel better
but he isn't a toddler anymore
The doctor later explained that the shin is one of the most painful places to be injured because there's nothing between the skin and the bone.
Two guys helped carry Tucker out to the car, acting like human crutches. Tucker still couldn't put any weight on his hurt leg.
In the dark of the car, Tucker reclined the seat and I slowly began to drive in the direction of the Children's Hospital.
I heard his breathing slow down as the car passed through the lighted streets. I had his phone in my pocket and I set it in the console between us. He didn't pick it up, which really worried me. Teenagers are rarely witout their phones.
I started talking to Tucker about the pain and the hospital.
I didn't say it, but I was thinking about the $200 co-pay the minute we walked in the emergency room.
Unfortunately, my earlier bout with a broken nose and surgery to correct it had depleted all of the money we had in our Medical Savings Account. A trip to the emergency room for me, plus surgery probably cost us a total of $2000, and that's with our good insurance. From here on, we were footing the bills directly from our checking account, which pays for two kids to go to college.
I didn't want to choose not to go to the ER because of money.
We decided to take a night to think about it. If we needed xrays the next morning, the doctor could send us to a walk-in place rather than the ER.
So we got back to the house and I ran in to grab the crutches. He was able to get into the house and ease himself into a recliner, where he sat for the rest of the night.
He started feeling well enough to drink some ginger ale and eat some pretzels. Later I gave him a bowl of macaroni and cheese.
This morning, he goes for his scheduled physical so we'll know more. The pain is less, but he still can't put weight on the front of his foot. He may yet go in for xrays. I hate having to make medical decisions based on money, but I know people do it every day in this country. That's crazy.
How about you? Do you put off medical care because of money?

6 comments:

Suzie Tullett said...

Oh, Paulita, what an awful position to be in. Sending positive vibes that Tucker will be back to his usual and fit self very soon.

We in the UK have free health care and can go to any hospital at any time without charge, so this isn't something we have to worry about.

Please pass on my best wishes for a speedy recovery x

Lucia said...

Same as the UK! Surgies that we elect to have are not, such as plastic surgery etc. Of course if you do not have a drug benefits plan with a company here, then the drugs are super expensive.

I hope Tucker recovers quickly. It's scary to see your child go through something like that.

Sim said...

I'm thinking of you and your son and hoping you both are back to your usual selves soon.
Don't feel bad you didn't take him to the ER - you're right about the cost and I could start ranting about what I feel is a country's responsibility to its people. Our president is making things better but I'm jealous of Suzie's National Health Plan!
Also, probably because my own Russell is just 19, your words really moved me. That's a hard thing to go through. Sending you hugs and positive thoughts.

Paulita said...

Oh, you show offs with your socialized medicine. Went to the doctor today and his leg isn't broken. They put him in a boot and said no weight-bearing activities for a week. Then he's back on the swim blocks.

Jeanie said...

I am keeping my fingers crossed for the rest of the story. I hope the decision was a wise one -- who can know? I just hope Tucker recovers quickly and by the time you read this he is either fine or well cared for.

It's a tough call, Paulita. I wouldn't want to have to make it.

Just Me said...

I'm so late on this breaking story.
I could feel the pain all the way over here and let me tell you... I was about to faint from it.

Don't know how you can be so brave in those situations.

I remember taking my mother to the ER with clearly broken bones only to discover they don't do anything except refer us to a orthopedic surgeon. The referral ended up being great. They may or may not have taken x-rays but the doctor had to retake them anyway. I think a rx for pain was dispensed.

Anyway wishing Tucker a speedy recovery.

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