Fallen into a hospital and can’t get out

Last week Blane’s back went out while he was at the gym. He was in so much pain he couldn’t move and had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance. I would have taken him, but he needed to be moved on a board. Sad, really, because the hospital is right across the street from the gym. No kidding, across the street. I haven’t gotten the bill yet, but I’m guessing he could have gotten a better price on a ticket to France.

His x-rays didn’t look too bad, but the ER doc insisted on admitting him for an overnight stay because he couldn’t move so well. I told the doc I’m a nurse and can do anything they can do (better, too, I promise you) but I gave up the fight and agreed to let them keep him. They wanted to do another test on his back in the morning. Fine.

They did his test while I was gone and the neurologist told Blane his diagnosis while he was so heavily drugged that he couldn’t remember that he even saw a doctor. I had to go read the chart to see what the hell was going on. That’s where I also read they were keeping him another night.

What? I was the one getting him up to the bathroom, getting him bathed, shaving his face… What? Nurses would not answer his call bell while I was gone. I was really afraid he’d fall as he is not used to taking strong drugs.

So I fight them and at the end of the ordeal they tell me he needs to be fitted for a back brace the next day and if he doesn’t get it while in the hospital, the insurance probably wouldn’t pay for it.

Dammit I’m angry and I feel like we’re fucking hostages in this place.

I walk the halls and gaze into the open rooms. This is a non-specialty medical-surgical floor and all of the patients except for Blane are elderly. I know this workload, it’s rough, the patients need loads of help for everything and there are not enough nurses, ever, on those floors because it is a shit job. I wouldn’t dare complain about a thing to one of those nurses because it is not their fault. They are some of the hardest workers in any hospital, med-surg nurses. Couldn’t pay me enough to do it.

So, the patients on that floor, some of them are watching the news, the Town Hall Granny-Gate stuff, ironically. People out there screaming about Death Panels and carrying on as if they really care about it with all their hearts while my own heart breaks into a million little pieces because not a single one of these old people had any visitors in two days.

So. Fitting for a back brace. I was thinking this was going to be something they were going to custom make right there, some gadget that involved plaster and carving, you know, fine craftsmanship.

No, no, no. This thing turned out to be a pre-made velcro powered brace. Another overnight stay for this stupid thing? Wow, no wonder insurance companies refuse to pay so many bills.

And I have to wonder if anyone realizes that no hospital in America could really keep its doors open on Medicare reimbursements alone.

So we go through stupid shit like this, round and round while insurance companies and hospital corps play their games with our tax money and insurance premiums while people like me have to make a choice between whether to leave my drugged up hubby alone for the night or go home to watch my kids.

Is this really the best way to do healthcare? Is this worth fighting for? Really?

And Granny? If people had to dig into their personal bank account to pay for her care, how quickly would those plugs “fall out of the wall?”

I’ve worked extensively with the elderly. I KNOW how much most people care about Granny, so don’t even start trying to bullshit me.

The cancer patient in the video below is alive because she is getting her treatment through Medicare (aka government healthcare). She admits she couldn’t do it without Medicare. My tax dollars. Yours. She is arguing against that same government healthcare for others, however, because she likes being able to choose her doctors (no one wants to take that away from her). She doesn’t care that there are people out there with the same exact diagnosis as she, people who can’t even choose treatment at all because of inability to pay. Working class people who pay Medicare taxes to save her life.

Wow, talk about complaining on a full belly.

I volunteer in a free clinic once a week and have seen people just like her who have cancer but no money for treatment. The clinic mostly treats common things such as diabetes and high blood pressure, so we don’t carry cancer drugs. Since cancer is not an emergency, we can’t dump them at the hospital ER for treatment.

I wish I could tell you more stories about that stuff, but I can’t.

So now Blane has a “pre existing condition” to deal with if he ever wants to just quit work and start his own business. That means we probably wouldn’t be able to buy health insurance at any price to cover his back. I feel like we’ve lost some freedom this week. I know we have. And yet, we are amongst the fortunate who have access to care. This is good fortune when it comes to healthcare in America.


This is all due to people continuing to choose fear over courage. If they really cared about their children, they’d do something about this Mickey Mouse system of ours and give us what they have. Some security in health care. I’m paying for them to have it, why can’t I get that too?

Why can’t we all have that?


23 thoughts on “Fallen into a hospital and can’t get out

  1. You can post this on your facebook page if you’d like, I don’t want to put it on mine because I’m writing anonymously here. I fear losing my volunteer position at the clinic because of my views as the docs and nurses don’t share my position on health care.

  2. Thanks Ape, I’ll tell him.

    I forgot to write about the funny thing that happened.
    When a baby is born on the obstetrics floor, the hospital plays this little music box tune. So when Blane heard that music, his eyes got widened and he asked, “What’s that?”
    I told him that means a baby was just born.
    He looked all sad and said, “Aw, I thought that was the ice cream truck.”

  3. Well, the woman watches Fox News, the only news program that carries “real” news, don’tcha know? [eyeroll]

    One of the most aberrant scenarios associated with the current health insurance scenario that ties insurance to an employer is, people become indentured employees. They cannot leave. The scenario you are naming there is a perfect example. Now the back has been diagnosed. If Blane wishes to leave the company carrying the insurance he was under while it was diagnosed? No other company’s insurance carrier will cover the back. So. He cannot leave. Not if he wishes medical care for the back condition ever again to be covered by his medical insurance.

    This is a very bad and outdated system. It does not work. It turns employees into slaves. It also has all sorts of companies only hiring part timers so that they can avoid paying for health benefits. The less than forty hours a week rule is in full force in America just to avoid insuring employees. It’s nuts. And seriously curtails new business or innovation because who can go out and start a new company when it will be risking your health and the health of your family to do it?

    I am very upset with the amount of effort going into stopping medical health care reform. They reformed in England in 1944. Here in the U.S. it is 2009 and still, this antiquated system that has American patients being treated in horse stalls at fairgrounds by an organization founded to provide health outreach to third world nations. It is appalling and I am ashamed for my country.

  4. The laws in Texas changed about ten years ago where they could not pin an existing condition on an employee moving from one job to another. That is, moving from one corp. to another. So he could get another engineering job in Texas and the new company would have to supply insurance to cover his back.

    Small business is different. If he wanted to start one, the preexisting tag would apply.

    It is also a different story if we’d like to move to another state. We might have a hard time getting coverage in Louisiana, for instance.

    So not only is he somewhat job locked, we are stuck in Texas. That is depressing.

  5. “I’ve worked extensively with the elderly. I KNOW how much most people care about Granny, so don’t even start trying to bullshit me.”

    Say it, girl.

    I’m so sorry about Blane… and boy do we understand your situation. When Paul started his company last year, we were stunned to be denied coverage… TWICE. Kate and I, specifically. Our healthy (then) 2-year old had 4 ear infections in 12 months (none of which she took medicine for) and that was too risky, apparently. Technically, I have a pre-existing condition… which I’ve not received treatment for since 2001 and according to all medical research, with 8 plus years of remission am less likely than a regular person to ever experience again… but that is what pushed me out. And we’re able to pay and pay well for good insurance! We just can’t get a plan.

    That said, we just found a good agent and may be able to finally work through this before COBRA runs out. If so, we’ll send you the info, just in case Louisiana keeps callin’…. 🙂

  6. Holly, it is horrible that insurance companies get to cherry pick their clients. The excuse they use is if everyone with a pre-existing condition gets to buy coverage, no one would buy health insurance until they get sick.

    In reality, they even discriminate against people who have been paying premiums since before they got sick, so their argument is not legit, they are a bunch of crooks and we don’t need them to manage our health care dollars and deny us coverage when we need it most.

    Thanks, Norm, Blane is getting better every day but is still on bedrest. Finally he is not in extreme pain all of the time and that is good.

    A friend of mine sent an email to me yesterday. She is a health care worker with a sick child who has had to go through so much bureaucracy and lack of choice with an insurance company, along with a host of other problems. I asked if I could post her email, so I’ll have that up here soon.

  7. You tell him to just snap out of it.

    There. I fixed all of your problems. I am incredible.

    Seriously, I’m so pissed off at all the shit you have to go through.

  8. He gets better every day but the doc says it will take a month to heal. Lots of bedrest.

    Hate to say it, but it is good to see him take a break from everything anyway. He works too much.

  9. No, he’s just resting up as much as he can. He’s much better now. Every day it gets so much better. He went to a new doc yesterday and that one didn’t order any PT.

    I’m so glad I’ve never had a backache in my life except while preggers.

  10. I won’t be like that idiot granny. I have Medicare, and I wish The Boyo did, too. We think he has a heart problem, but we don’t know for sure because he has no health care insurance. He went to the free clinic, but all they did was tell him not to overdo. I am so scared sometimes that he will just keel over and die of something that Cheyne’s had umpteen surgeries for.

    Medicare isn’t perfect. It costs me about 25% of my income between B, C, & D. It doesn’t have enough preventative care. But it’s sure as hell better than nothing.

  11. Pingback: Cold Spaghetti » Blog Archive » Just Posts: August 2009

  12. No excuse for our messed up health care systems. So sorry to hear about Blake’s back and the fact that he will now have a pre-existing condition which your health plan is sure to deny coverage on going forward. The back/body pain is just the beginning, the paperwork and phone calls, the ongoing headache. Is there no relief, no coverage for the pain endured while dealing with our insurance companies???

    How long did it take for Medicare to come into focus, into process, into an institution of its own? How can a progressive country such as ours, be so primordial?

    Healthcare reform for the U.S NOW.


  13. Thanks, Linda, the back is all better now, he’s back at work, but needs to wait a couple of more weeks or so until he goes back to the gym. The didn’t find any sort of permanent damage.

    Yes, health care reform now!

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