Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Things that anger me...

...and I don't like being angry.

Dear readers (all two of you),

You may have noticed that I have tried to take a light-hearted approach to the many injuries I have sustained over the last year or so. For the one new reader amongst you, this has involved stupendous bad luck and uncoordination, totalling 15 or so broken bones (the doctors were never really clear, but I suppose once you get past ten, it doesn't matter until it hits 20. Thank goodness I didn't get that far.)

I recently had the third operation on my wrist in just under 18 months. It was the least significant but by far the most painful. I'm not sure if it was because previous operations caused far more pain to multiple parts of my body and therefore my arm was insignificant, or because I had far stronger painkillers on those occasions... Either way, this one hurt rather a bit.

For a quick recap, in April last year I broke just about all the bones in my arm and wrist, my jaw in three places, plus a little fracture in my back. Back was most painful at the time but healed quickly enough, jaw has given me a nice scar, and wrist has given me many - plus three operations. The first patched it all right up, plenty of metal included. It sounded like an amazing procedure since the bones in my hand were no longer connected to those in my arm. The doctors did an amazing job, and I came away with a functional hand at the end AND the ability to predict the weather! My arm would, without fail, give me subtle signals in the coming hours before a storm, that it would rain. Dreadfully useful for choosing my attire for the coming day or deciding whether or not to hang out my washing. It was rarely wrong.

The next operation was not much fun at all as it involved taking bone from my hip to put in my arm, and thus breaking my hip. I was put in a ward with people at least three times my age (not even joking) as they had all had hip replacements and were in a similar position to me. Was really feeling my age when one of them offered me help getting out of bed. But anyway, that healed faster than I expected and all things considered I think I managed quite well with a broken hip and my arm in plaster up to my shoulder.

The most recent operation, however, has caused me much distress. It hurt for a few days, and anaesthetic tends to make me quite sick for a few days, but that's not really why it hurt. And I feel an ungrateful wretch for saying this after the amazing surgical feats performed on me. Sure, the service wasn't always great, and I was pretty miserable for quite a while there, but all in all the medical staff did an amazing job. Other than allowing me to throw up twice all over the geriatric ward and kicking me out a day early. But hey, they needed the bed, and as unhappy as I was at the time, I can look back on it with good humour now.

Anyway anyway anyway, I went to see my wonderful surgeon about two months ago in the full knowledge that another operation was on the cards. The previous two has cost me absolutely nothing as far as I could tell (though there were a good 40 hours there where I remember nothing at all) so it's entirely possibly I could've signed my life away. I was unconscious for 30 of them and all I remember of the next ten are requesting a TV so I could watch The Biggest Loser, and then patting the dogs they send around the intensive care unit to cheer up the terminally ill. Point is, the glorious Australian healthcare system paid for it all, dog visits included!

So I saw my surgeon a month or two ago and he told me I could have the operation done under the private system because I had private health insurance. I asked what the difference was and he told me I would simply have the operation done across the road at the private hospital. Brilliant, I thought! No more staff forgetting which day I was supposed to be discharged or neglecting to feed me because of my vegetarian diet! No more being referred to as "Pelquest-Hunt, Baby, Girl" as I was named the day I was born in the same hospital! Surely private health insurance will cover it, thought I.

I was wrong. Recently I was sprung with medical bills amounting $1290. Rather a large sum for one working for the man without expectation of such expenses. When I asked the doc what the difference was, I would've expected he might mention such a fee. Given the doctors' involvement amounted to two hours, I have calculated that what they earn in two hours takes me 80 hours to earn. Individually, they seem to earn 40 times what I do. Now I don't earn that much, and I'm sure they must earn extra for performing surgery rather than seeing patients for brief consultations. But still, saying they earn 20 times what I do, it begs the question... Do they live in castles made of gold? Are their scalpels made of diamonds? Just HOW can they justify charging me this much without mentioning ANY of it?

I believe I was informed of a "small gap" to pay the anaesthetist, but none of about paying the rest of the world's economy as well. Do I not pay the fee for private health insurance so that I might avoid such conundrums? Did I not ask what the difference would be? A few thousand might be insignificant to high-flying surgeons, but it represents a considerable amount's homelessness for me! I asked... I bloody well asked!

Suffice to say, I am none too happy about this latest expense, particularly knowing I could've waited a few more months and had it done for free. I mean, my arm would not have fallen off without this operation. But then I feel ungrateful for the time the doctor performed the surgery to ensure my arm did actually stay on, and I was not charged. But if there was another way, why was I not informed?

It is frustrating for me, to say the least. I am grateful for what my wonderful surgeon has done for me. After a year and a half, I can play guitar again and that is a most wonderful blessing. But if he could've earned the same fee and saved me $1290, why didn't he say so? I even asked. I have been the model patient, outside of throwing up from all that anaesthetic. But I did warn him...

...anyway, I suppose it's only money. I don't have much of it, but I can earn it back. Meanwhile if you wish to contribute to the ernidneedstoeat fund please do contact me! will direct you to the appropriate bank accounts. And you have all been warned (all three of you) that private health insurance does not mean you are covered for private health care!

No comments:

Post a Comment