Some thinky and not-so-thinky thoughts about our health care system

I’m having surgery on my shoulder this coming Monday. Lucky me, I’ve got a bone spur at the rotator cuff, plus calcific tendinitis. Whee.

The process of preparing for this surgery has brought up a lot of thoughts. For example, do you know what I don’t understand? (Rhetorical question: We know there are millions of things I don’t understand. Like the Kardashians. And quantum mechanics.)

I don’t understand why the doctor’s office spends all that time arranging for your appointment time, only to say “Oh, we need you to come 15 minutes early to do the paperwork.” Bwuh? So give me an appointment time of 10:45 instead of 11!

Even worse, sitting with the surgery coordinator, I said that a 3 pm surgery time was fine, only to be told that I need to arrive at 1:30 pm. So…my appointment is at 1:30, then, not at 3? That’s fine, but every time  you say 3 pm, you confuse me and make it more likely I’ll arrive at 3!

Whose profit?

On a more serious note, I’ve been thinking about the failures of for-profit medicine. One of those failures is a loss of trust, specifically my trust.

I’ve had the same GP for over 10 years. We haven’t always agreed on things, but we’ve built up a certain level of trust, such that if she said “I think you need surgery,” I probably wouldn’t think twice about it. Just as when my trusted OB/GYN said “C-section” I was comfortable with that.

But this orthopedist…I’m sure he’s fine. It’s a highly regarded practice (and, in fact, one of their other doctors cured my De Quervain’s tenosynovitis about 8 years ago) and all that. But when I see that he’s part-owner in the surgery center he’s sending me to, I can’t help a few alarm bells going off, y’know?

I could get a second opinion, I’m sure. I’ve got fancy-shmancy insurance that would probably be thrilled to maybe avoid surgery.

But the thought of starting over is almost as painful as the thought of surgery! My son’s in speech therapy twice a week, and he needs to see a gastroenterologist and maybe get his adenoids out. My daughter is being evaluated for speech therapy. I have three clients that are busy busy. Wait, four? ::counts:: Yeah, four. (Note: I love all my jobs and I wouldn’t give them up for the world, but there’s a lot going on.)

So I guess I’m having surgery. Yay?

I love uncertainty (that’s a lie)

On the list of things I absolutely cannot stand (it’s a long list), uncertainty is very high. (Not as high as anti-vaccine advocates, of course. And it’s definitely below creationism.)

Alas, life doesn’t like to oblige me by being predictable, so I spend a lot of time unhappy over uncertainty. But it’s especially aggravating when, for example, someone is going to make holes in my shoulder.

“It’s possible that removing the calcification and bone spur might either reveal a hidden tear in the tendon, or cause one. But there’s only a 10% chance of that,” the doctor says with a smile.

Well, sure, but if anyone’s going to be in that 10%, it’s a member of my family! (Hi, Mom!)

If you don’t know the story of my second c-section and how the nursing staff of the hospital was apparently talking about me for days…just trust me when I say that “only a 10% chance” doesn’t make me feel any better. We did a back-of-the-envelope calculation and came up with something like a 1% chance of all the things that happened to me. And that might have been too high.

(Statins give me headaches. “Statins don’t cause headaches,” my GP says. “Uh-huh,” I say. She looks it up. “Oh, 7% of patients reported severe headaches.” Yup, that’s me.)

There is no conclusion

Boy, I wish this post had a bang-up conclusion where I proposed a solution to all the problems of the U.S. health care system. Unfortunately, all I’ve got is a whimper, because on Monday I’m having arthroscopic surgery. Ugh.

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About mamamara

I'm a 40-somethng, work-at-home mother of two. I'm pro-vaccine, pro-medicine, pro-science, and an avid reader of information about all of the above, and I want to combine my love for my children with my love for science. So here we are!
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