Shouldering the shenanigans, I haven't got time for the pain

Thursday, April 11, 2013

To be honest, I probably couldn't separate the details of Obamacare from Osamacare if my life depended on it.

Not that I've paid too much attention to the dialogue and rhetoric. After all, it really hadn't hit home for me until just now.

With insurance issues and deductible dilemmas and flex spending and co-pays and all of that, I've managed to survive health care on a need-to-know basis. And now that I need to know, it hurts to admit I never realized what a pain this health-care mess has become.

Sure I can tell you where and when it hurts. And even how we're getting the runaround. Why? Because we like you ...

Let's just say I fell on my head three months ago next Wednesday, and now apparently I'm a prime candidate for rotator cuff surgery.

That's if the Workman's Comp gods allow it and all the planets align at noon the second Tuesday of next week.

Once upon a time this all seemed so cut-and-dried. I got hurt. I went to the Putnam County Hospital emergency room. I got wonderful, attentive care and went home a couple hours later with pain meds, a sling and the diagnosis of a mild concussion and a slight shoulder separation.

But en route to the newspaper disabled list, the pain in my shoulder and upper arm got worse rather than better until I finally broke down and went to see my doctor.

And it was Dr. Steve Kissel who first diagnosed the torn rotator cuff possibility, suggesting I return in three weeks if the pain did not subside. As a parting shot, he offered the caveat, "and I'm pretty sure I'll see you again in three weeks."

Trying to stay positive while humming Carly Simon's "I haven't got time for the pain," I stretched that waiting period to four weeks and then couldn't squeeze in an appointment for another two. So finally last Thursday, I saw the doc again, and he suggested an MRI was necessary.

His office called and set me up for an MRI Friday PM at PCH.

But a funny thing happened on the way to my return trip to the hospital ER. I ran headfirst into Catch 22, 23 and 24.

For nowhere on my doctor's order for the MRI did it relate the procedure to the January incident. Nowhere did it characterize it as a Workman's Comp case. Somewhere between the doctor's office and Banner Graphic HR and Rust Communications' insurance carrier and the hospital, there undoubtedly was a conspiracy at work to compound my pain.

Sure, I could always pay for the MRI up front and be reimbursed, a PCH clerk suggested, trying to be helpful. Sorry, but I'm not writing that check, is all I could muster saying before leaving the premises no closer to surgery than when the day began.

I haven't been so blindsided since the day I wandered down an aisle at Big Lots and saw you could buy condoms there (not sure that such outdated or factory-second items would be a wise choice however).

Meanwhile, back at the newspaper office, I was sharing my misfortune (read venting) when a call from the insurance carrier interrupted my tale of woe mid-sentence. Two steps forward, three steps back here. Now they're sending me to a shoulder specialist to determine whether or not I need an MRI to determine whether or not I need surgery.

Pretty soon I'm going to need my head examined, I'm thinking.

So after a series of phone calls back and forth, I'm booked at Ortho Indy in Brownsburg, where the specialist I'll be seeing, Dr. Cory Kendall, is one of the doctors who sprang into action when that Louisville player's leg shattered on the basketball court the other night.

He poked and prodded and gripped and grabbed my aching shoulder, arm and fingers, and although the evidence wasn't nearly as obvious as the jagged bone sticking out of Kevin Ware's leg, the doc pronounced my rotator cuff torn and proceeded to explain the surgery needed to repair it.

Six months to full recovery, he cautioned, after which I remember little. Two weeks off work minimum (we'll see about that), he assured. With a tiny arthroscopic incision, he'll reattach the muscle with a small plastic screw.

So all this time, I've had a screw loose. Huh? Go figure ...

Of course, there's a catch -- Catch 25 if you're scoring at home -- I first have to have an MRI, even though the specialist now knows that I exhibit "all the classic symptoms" of a torn rotator cuff.

And, of course, we can't just do the MRI right there at the swanky Ortho Indy complex. It has to be approved by a Workman's Comp adjuster first. Then we'll head to some hospital around Indy, I'm sure.

So now, three days later, I'm still awaiting Comp-a-care to order what could already have been done a week ago.

In the meantime, the pain continues and the legend grows.

In court Wednesday afternoon, veteran local attorney Del Brewer, a former neighbor, spots me and stares quizzically in my direction.

"Didn't I hear you broke a hip or a leg or something?" he asks as others remaining in the courtroom stop and stare at me.

I respond succinctly (just the facts, ma'am) with "torn rotator cuff."

Good thing, too. If I'd broken a leg or a hip or a pelvis or a clavicle I'd probably still be lying in the mud, waiting on the paperwork to clear.

And I haven't got time for the pain ...

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