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Tuesday, January 21, 2003
      ( 11:45 AM ) Jackie  

Bent But Not Broken

I was on the pavement before I knew what happened, yelling in pain. My first actual words-- as opposed to loud noises-- were "Is my drum okay?" Annette took my keys and went into the house for ice -- or frozen organic peas as it turned out . I lay on the road unable to get up. A stranger from across the street came over to help. My neighbor offered to get a chair. But I was in too much pain at first to move.

Somehow I had slipped on the curb and landed on the pavement. I think it was because the grass was wet and my shoes had leather soles. It's interesting how the mind works in these emergencies. I remember an awareness that I was falling and that it looked as though I would land on my drum. I flung myself forward and to the side, arms around my drum to protect it from the fall, just as if it were a child I was carrying.

That worked. The drum came through it without a scratch. Unfortunately, this maneuver resulted in my outside left ankle slamming against the pavement as I went down. It hurt like hell.

After a few minutes, the pain subsided and I pulled myself and walked around to loosen up. Annette returned with the frozen peas and we went on to rehearsal. My teacher shared her Advil, which was good for me but bad for her arthritis.

Since I was playing the stand-up Ashiko, I then stood for a couple of hours while we rehearsed. Not the smartest reaction maybe; but since I wasn't in a lot of pain it seemed like a good idea at the time.

When I got home I began the RICE regimen: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Given the high degree of swelling and bruising all along my foot I thought I might have a break. However, this was a Saturday and going to the ER would cost me about $100, so I decided to wait until Monday to get a same day appointment. Frances came over bearing her canes for my use. She had broken her foot a while ago, so was well provided and knowledgeable about foot injuries. I had gone grocery shopping Friday night so had a well-stocked refrigerator for my week-end of rest.

That rest ended on Monday when I sought a doctor's appointment. I am fortunate not to be among the medically indigent, paying $310 per month for the dubious privilege of services at Kaiser Permanente

I'll spare the agonizing -- and quite painful -- details. Suffice it to say that at 10 AM, as instructed in the Kaiser Handbook, I called for a same day appointment to determine whether my ankle or foot was broken. After hobbling around various areas of the Kaiser Campus, being sent to the ER for the $100 ER service, which actually turned into into the $150 Minor Injury service, I finally ended up seeing a doctor at 7:30PM, having refused to be seen in the ER. All this while hiking around on the foot they told me I should not put weight on.

The doctor was not very impressed with my injury, or very informative. He agreed with me that I should continue to RICE. He didn't think it was necessary to make any special efforts to avoid weight-bearing. He gave me prescriptions for large amount of drugs, and sent me to X-Ray. He said I'd be back to normal in about 2 weeks, if there was no break. One prescription was for 100 375 mg Naproxen (basically a high dosage of Aleve) and enough to take for 50 days, long after I was expected to have recovered, and 50 Vicodin for pain. He also gave me a second prescription for 75 375 mg Naproxen and 50 Tylenol with Codeine.

He did not do a pain assessment, or a drug assessment, nor did he note that several of these drugs are addictive. I took a total of 2 of the Vicodin because the RICE regimen reduced the pain sufficiently that it was not needed. Naproxen can't be taken with Tylenol with Codeine. He did not mention the potential side effects of Naproxen or that it shouldn't be taken for long periods of time. He also, at my request, gave me a prescription for Paxil, which I had forgotten to get from my regular doctor. He did not check my medical record to verify the prescription.

Luckily, the pharmacy identified the incompatible meds. Fortunately, I have no intention of selling the excess meds on the street or of using them.

The X-Ray department was efficient and fast. My foot is still quite swollen, though the bruises have almost disappeared, except the ones on the top of my toes. I was able to wear tennis shoes for the first time yesterday, a major milestone in foot recovery.

I still pay $310 for medical insurance. And my co-pay was $20 for the medical visit and $59 for the medications. I went to bed after icing on that Monday and slept the sleep of the medical warrior. Thank the goddesses that I was not actually sick while dealing with the nightmare of the medical world. I never would have made it.

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Words and photos from Jackie in Oakland, CA. More I cannot tell you ... I won't know what it is until I do it.

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