Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Good Old Days- My Ass

In 1972, I broke my left femur while motocrossing. I was way the hell and gone in the woods of central Georgia so it took about 2 hours to get me to an emergency room. Once at the hospital all the ER personnel could do was to take X rays and send me on to Macon, Ga for treatment.

The accident happened on Labor Day so there was a lot of traffic and naturally there had been a huge wreck so the ER was full. I laid on a gurney for about 4 hours before a doctor could see me and give me something for pain. Don't ever let anyone tell you that the pain of a broken femur isn't intense.

Finally an Orthopaedic surgeon became availabe and immediately drilled a hole through my knee to attach a rope to apply traction. Once the traction was applied I was taken to a ward and positioned next to the door. In about an hour they were bringing another patient into the ward and as they rolled him by by bed, my traction weights got entangled in his bed. They didn't notice until I let out a howl and at about that time the weights came loose and snapped back like a rubber band. The yell I let out could wake the dead.

The next day I was able to produce my insurance card and was moved to a semi private room. Some friends came to see me and I got them to get me a quart of Kaopectate which I drank so I wouldn't have to use a bed pan. After about 4 days of no bowel movements the nurses became concerned, probably because my skin had turned yellow and my stomach was grotesqly swollen. They gave me the strongest laxitive I have ever heard of and about an hour later I had to have the bed pan. The orderly, not knowing the circumstances, only brought one. Four days of built up crap was waiting to get out and one bed pan wasn't about to hold it all. Needless to say the orderly and I didn't become close friends.

After lying in traction for 2 weeks I started to go a little bonkers so the doctors decided to operate and insert a pin from my hip to my knee. After the surgery, I stayed in the hospital for 3 more days. I got no physical therapy, no rehabilitation,no precautions no nothing. They rolled me out to the car, an MG sports car, handed me a pair of crutches and bid me a fond farwell, all except the aforementioned orderly who was busy putting grease on the tips of my crutches.

Through trial and pain I learned how to navigate on crutches and went back to work.

My wife, by contrast, broke her hip Friday night but didn't go to the hospital until Saturday. She had a hip replacement Sunday and on Monday physical therapists were working on her. On Tuesday she was transferred to a Rehabilitation Institute in Savannah. On Wednesday they had her up and moving around with a walker. Today she was able to take a shower and the doctor told her she should be able to go home next Wednesdsy.

The point of this epistle is that no matter what anyone thinks of our healthcare in the US, it is actually pretty damned good. My wife is on Medicare and we haven't been asked for money, supplemental insurance or had to sign our home away for her to get the excellent care she has gotten.

As for the story about my broken femur, it is all true except the part about the orderly putting grease on the tips of my crutches.


Blogger copy editor said...

Good story. Glad to hear the wife is well. I bet the orderly wanted to grease those sticks though.

7:07 PM  
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