Not a Blog

Parris’s knee

October 9, 2007 at 1:16 pm
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Parris had her torn meniscus repaired down in Albuquerque yesterday.

The surgery went well, or so we were told, although the tear was a pretty bad one. Parris was groggy and in some discomfort afterwards, but did well enough on the drive home, and got up the steps and into the house on her crutches without too much difficulty. As the night wore on, however, the various painkillers she’d been given for the surgery — a demerol drip, and a local — all wore off, and the pain in her knee got worse and worse. The prescription she’d been given for pain proved to be way inadequate, and barely took the edge off her pain. By one or two in the morning, she was in agony, despite the pills… and of course, she hurt far too much to be able to sleep, or even get up the steps to the bedroom. She spent the night in her recliner in our TV room, dozing fitfully, never for long, and weeping from the pain.

This morning she’s a little better, but still not well. We finally got hold of her surgeon, and he wrote her a new prescription for a stronger painkiller. My assistant’s on his way to Albuquerque to pick it up even as I type. I can only hope that it will do the trick.

This is so screwed up. The fact that you can’t get your doctor on the phone is bad enough, but these days you can’t even get his assistant. Just an endless string of phone trees and voice mail messages. And — largely thanks to the idiotic decades-long “War on Drugs” — even when you do get a doctor, it’s like pulling teeth to get them to write presciptions for painkillers that will actually alleviate your pain. “Well, try some tylenol” seems to have become a rote response. In England, France, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and most of the rest of the civilized world, someone in pain can walk into any chemist / drugstore and buy a painkiller over the counter that is stronger and more effective than what the typical American doctor will write you as prescription.

It is also insane that so many procedures have become out-patient surgery. Parris should have spent last night in a hospital bed, with nurses and other trained professionals to watch over her and take care of her. Instead she spent the night in a recliner crying in pain, with no one to take care of her but me. You can thank the insurance companies and HMOs for that. It’s all about saving money, not about patient care.

And people still claim the American medical system is the best in the world. That’s a joke. And a cruel joke at that.

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