It’s been a while since I reported anything about Jim’s and my adventures since his accident that fractured his pelvis in three places last April. Amazingly, he was able to enjoy our 11-day vacation to Washington, D.C., thanks to the wonderful ADA accommodations and the use of both a walker and his mobility power scooter.
A few weeks after we returned home, he declared his independence and began driving his pickup to the store each morning. He also began making a few trips to town in the early mornings before the store opened to pick up groceries again by himself.
The ritual of my joining him in these activities and the closeness we revisited in doing them together had become one I was enjoying. My “termination” left me free to resume my writing and publishing, but I sadly missed those early morning hours when we provided what needed to be done for the store together.
Jim was doing quite well and had graduated to using a cane, when a pinched nerve in his back began causing him intense pain in his right leg. He had addressed the same condition about four years ago by getting an epidural injection which amazingly had freed him of the pain for all of those years. Now it is back… probably caused by the fall that broke his pelvis, according to one of his doctors.
About a month and a half ago, his PCP referred him to a neurologist specializing in pain management in hopes a second epidural would once again do the trick. Unfortunately, they can’t get him scheduled until September. The pain has been increasing and, about two weeks ago, I had to take him to the RiverBend ER because it had reached the point where my superhero husband, who never admits to pain, was rating his as a seven or eight on the 10-point pain scale.
He was put on muscle-relaxers and a daily pain patch, which helped a bit, but he is back to using his walker and is obviously still in pain much of the time. Calls to get him put on a cancellation list for an earlier appointment and then to plead with the neurologist to get him in sooner have not helped.
Our daughters received a text message from a friend and longtime customer at our store the other day, asking them to check on their dad at the store because she could tell how much pain he was in and said that he could barely walk, but she knew he would not ask for help. She ended her note with, “He’s such a stubborn s…!” Others, too, have expressed the same sentiment and concern.
This all leads to my own frustrated concern about the state of our healthcare system these days. I don’t know what the solution is, but it seems that if you are on Medicare, especially, you cannot even get in to see your PCP for weeks, if not months. Urgent care or walk-in clinics are the norm now. I think we see our PCP only about once a year because the insurance company requires an annual wellness check.
Even for non-Medicare patients, medical insurance companies, which are not usually run by MDs, dictate what care you can receive and when. Our son has been suffering with excruciating pain from a disc problem in his neck for a long time. He could not sleep lying down and was up several times a night to take hot showers, which were the only things that helped to relieve the pain even somewhat. He steadfastly didn’t want to take long-term opioids for the pain, so he has refused that help. So, before he was able to be approved for the surgery that was being highly recommended by his doctors, he had to jump through hoops of having physical therapy, acupuncture and other non-invasive treatments which did nothing to relieve the pain.
I mourn the days when we had a family doctor who delivered all of our babies and knew everything about each one of us without reading a chart. We could call for an appointment and if they were really busy that day, they either made room or we’d see them the next day at the latest. They really cared about “us” as individuals.
Yes, the age of specialization has added years to the average life expectancy, I’m sure, but at what cost?
Most of today’s doctors care, too, but they are so specialized now, and so restricted by the oversight of the medical insurance industry, that frequently their hands are tied, and we must suffer.
September cannot roll around soon enough for Jim and me.
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