Hairline Fracture

4 Apr

Some people make resolutions, outcome uncertain. Others make decisions and follow through with ease. Then there are those who only take their first different step when jarred from the moment or life in which they are suspended. I am the latter. One hard fall snowboarding on a sweet, tame slope called “sugar and spice” and I find myself typing this post with my left index finger and the occasional aid of the left middle. My dominant arm is propped upright upon its throne of many pillows, high above heart and head to reduce swelling while my distal radius does the business of growing back together. And I’m literally jarred into thinking in new directions…and pecking at this blog–two things I can do whilst my arm is aloft.

The process of having this body part cared for without health insurance has been a three doctor circus. It began the day after the fall with the urgent care doctor who released me to work the next day possibly unaware that my work requires TWO hands. Four days later my “primary care physician” whom I’ve never met (at the clinic I’ve only gone to for my “reproductive health”…because I have had no other reason to visit thus far) inspected my x-rays at warp speed, squeezed my wrist through cotton and gauze and stated without emotion, Oh yeah…you’re gonna be fine. I’ll refer  you to an orthopedist who you need to see in two to three days…and keep this elevated.

At this point, my wrist had been broken for six days and no hard cast.  And then? No referral. Ten days later I was seeing my mother’s primary care physician–a straight forward, overstepping Jewish mom type doctor…(but male), as tall as he is wide with condescending dry humor and long curly red hair held back with a large sterling silver hair clasp. A lot to take in. He was my third doctor and from him I heard for the first time, This is not good. Not good at all. What followed was a medical terminology free for all including things like “step-off” and “articular damage” and finally an order for a CT scan to determine whether surgery would be immediately necessary. $342 later it was determined that a hard cast would be sufficient for the time being. An additional $261 for fifteen minutes of work and supplies I probably could pick up at an art store and I had a fresh white cast on my arm. And this was all at a discount for paying at the time of service…which I didn’t. My mom did. I had $20 in my wallet. And no one would do anything without a deposit of at least $250. Which brings me to this: What would I have done if I had no one who could offer financial assistance? Would I have had timely enough medical care that I would heal properly or would I still be wading through the system, wrist flopping? And the system is doo-doo I hesitate to approach for lack of sufficient knowledge–perhaps in a future post after I’ve done retroactive research on the healthcare reform to which I should’ve been paying attention.

In the meantime, I’m off work, unpaid. Six weeks. Disability is in progress–I will receive a whopping 55% of my total income which is already close enough to nothing. Rent is not paid for this month, I’ve applied for county healthcare, and for the next four weeks I have an x-ray and a follow-up, each week, to be sure that the bone fragments haven’t shifted. If they do? Surgery. If I worry too far in advance about bones shifting or how I will pay for these services, I get heart palpitations and anxiety so gut wrenching I feel the thrusts of cortisol like a gushing fire hydrant. Yet another doctor’s bill. So I try to stay in the moment.

Two weeks ago I had a flippant joy about six weeks off. Time! This is what I need— time to write and read and do what stokes my soul! This is my chance, my open door–I’m not where I want to be…I have a Master’s degree for christ sake! Why am I working at a grocery store?! Selling myself short. Take the leap! Focus, focus, focus! I was my very own pep squad. Since then, a cloud of realism has settled. In order to be a writer I must read, I must write, I must DO as every writing instructor chirped knowingly: shape my craft and put myself out there. Writing isn’t for hoarding in journals especially if I fancy myself a writer. And chances are, I’ll still be broke and partially employed after I post this. But it’s the first different step I’m taking…


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