Sunday, April 11, 2010

RANT about healthcare and Kaiser Permanente in particular.

This has been sitting in my drafts, but I thought I'd go ahead with the that I'm on the road to recovery and have gained a boatload of weight back...the light at the end of the tunnel...TWO years close. I hope to be back on track by end of April...after knee surgery.

I'm in pain and I'm tired so this will be highly emotional. Bear with me and hopefully this will reach the realm of the people in charge of healthcare reform.

When I was a young woman, about 21 or so, I don't remember now exactly but I know I was at least 21 or so, I was out riding a bicycle that was a bit too tall for me with my friend DeeDee (aka Deanna) in the San Francisco Bay Area at a park known as Coyote Hills. I bumped in to my brother's best friend who, at the time, I was dating...or so I thought...and he was there with another young woman. Upon finding this, in my pride and shame, I rode the too tall bike off in a huff and braved a hill I shouldn't have...not a big hill, just too big for my emotions and physical stamina at that time. This hill led out of the camping area and to the bike trail toward home. A place I really wanted to be in, to have a good cry, be where my mommy was and generally wallow for a bit.

Instead, I took on this hill with not enough push and the bike began to fall over...I put my left leg down to stop the fall. When my foot hit the ground, I heard and felt a loud "Pop!" and immediately knew I had blown my knee. Why did I know this? My brother, Chris, who was 4 years older than I, had done a similar thing whilst playing high school basketball. We were close at the time and he shared the details of the day with me...including the sound and feel of that "Pop!". So I KNEW.

Adding insult to injury...the new girl was my ride home. I am grateful she did that for me and over the long ago. The real story starts NOW.

Off to Kaiser Permanente I went. You know: the people who want you to live long and thrive. Back in the 80's they didn't care so much...and I was too young and hadn't been taught to be my own advocate in the world of medicine where the doctors are only PRACTICING medicine as there are new findings every MINUTE.

So, months go by...Kaiser doesn't do an MRI on my knee, they feed me bullshit about how it's just a "stretched tendon" and how "it happens all the time in girls, especially cheerleaders" of which I was never one. The years pass, and I deal with injury after injury to the same knee, stupid things really: walking! wrestling with my (now ex) husband, hopping over a fence in Idaho...each time I am back at Kaiser Permanente only to be told the same bullshit as before and handed a new brace to wear.

Yes, they did an examination. This involved the doctor trying to force my knee to bend in ways I am unwilling to allow as it's just UNNATURAL and it's been years now since the original injury and I've developed some serious muscle to keep it from bending that way unless there is some serious stress on the joint.

So...2002 or so and I'm living in a new town, still on Kaiser Permanente insurance even though it means I have to travel 45 minutes to get care. I injure the left knee at work...can't even walk on it. After the fiasco of dealing with the incompetent doctor at the clinic for occupational injury...I decide to go to my own doctor (Kaiser) who, upon finally getting me under anesthesia finds she can "bend my knee every which way from Sunday" as she tells me upon my reawakening. The "second opinion" insisted upon by the worker's comp insurance says: "if the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament is in need of repair and you're going in to repair a "bucket handle" tear of the miniscus, then by all means, repair the ACL too."

So, the orthopedic surgeon finds that, it's been so long since the left knee has HAD and ACL that there isn't even any remnants of one...they use a cadaver ACL, some screws and fashion me a new ACL...and, oh-by-the-way, that bucket handle tear needs removing and now you only have half the cushioning on the inside of your left knee than you had before...

I am know almost 50 years old. I suffer many repetitive issues with my left hip and my sacrum going of synch because of this. I deal with pain, recovery, weight loss set backs, depression, anger and frustration because Kaiser Permanente didn't care if I lived long and thrived back then. All they cared about was that MRI's were expensive and they didn't want to spend that kind of money on a young woman who might just have a stretched ACL. I wasn't taught to be my own advocate for health. I wasn't taught that doctors are only PRACTICING medicine and don't LIVE in MY BODY so they, therefore, have no clue what is going on...that I have to be consistent and insistent on getting the care I believe I need to be healthy. I knew back then that they were wrong...but I let them do what they did, I lived with NO ACL for over 20 years. Thanks Kaiser Permanente. I live long and thrive now with hip and back pain that recurs at least annually. Requiring trips to the chiropractor and massages and constant stretching.

Had you kept your promise to care for me, and to educate me to care for myself, I would have had my ACL repaired when I was in my early 20's and might have escaped the secondary and tertiary injuries to the left knee joint as well as so many years of left hip and back pain due to the atrophy of muscles in my left leg.

If I come across as bitter, it is because I sit here, yet again, with back pain an unable to MOVE as I'd like to and therefore gaining weight and adding to my frustration. But wait! There's more!

I took my son to your doctors when he was a wee small boy...maybe 4 or 5?...he was having intermittent chest pain...and though the doctor took it seriously and did what he wasn't until YEARS later and new insurance that we took him to emergency and they caught on their heart monitor that he was having PACS induced by stress and manageable.

Thanks Kaiser Permanente, we live long and thrive in spite of your lack of care.

I'm bitter tonight. Humor me. This is all true. I'm in pain and angry...again.

I know this seems "off topic" for my blog, but it's not. If I can't move properly, exercise is a serious challenge. If I am in pain, everything else is a serious challenge. I'm working on regaining my focus. This week, I am focusing on drinking two of my 1.5 liter bottles of water a day. So far, since committing on Thursday, I am only up to one full bottle per day...and it's been a slow built up to that over the past few days. But progress is progress and it COUNTS dammit!!

I miss riding my bike, walking without pain, SITTING and SLEEPING without pain (or drugs to numb the pain!!!) I want my health back and Dammit Kaiser Permanente, you owe me!

I can't go back, but YOU can educate the young people coming to you, you can encourage them to be their own advocates, to ask questions and demand the care they know they need.

Health care reform? how about just health care in general...

enough ranting. I'm going to sleep.