"A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever "
~ Jessamyn West
“I've been through broken bones and hurts, but you have to just tape it up and go.”
~ Dylan Godfrey
"With the toe bone connected to the foot bone, and the foot bone connected to the ankle bone, and the ankle bone connected to the leg bone. Oh mercy how they scare!"
~"Dry Bones" children's song.
Our New year started with a snap. The snapping of a leg bone in fact. My youngest son, Cooper is a skater. Now don't misunderstand me, he doesn't skate on ice and in fancy costumes. He doesn't get roses from the watchers filling the stands in the arena. No, Cooper is a skate boarder. He is actually very graceful and talented in his sport. The love of his life. His personal extreme sport. Skateboarding. His fancy costume is blue jeans with a thousand holes over a pair of wore out and tattered flannel sleep pants. The shirt of course is decorated with the logo of some skate board company. He gets " DUDE! that was bitchin!" and " Man I thought you was a goner!" instead of rose bouquets.
With Skating all but illegal in our town, the skaters all travel great distances to skate. Most week-ends find Cooper with a car full headed either to Beaufort, S.C. or to Augusta, G.A. He even has a series of ramps and jumps and pipes for grinding set up here in our yard. He loves to skate. It keeps him balanced. It helps him release energy. He well knows the danger. But still he skates.
Saturday had been a long day. I was all out of sorts from the holidays and the days were beginning to all feel like Sunday to me. Dave was home and playing his new Guitar video game in the living room and I had just settled down to read a while when Cooper came hopping into my bedroom and said he was going to take a shower. I asked him didn't he think twenty was to old to hop through the house. " Yea maybe " he said " But I twisted my foot." I looked at his foot and asked if he wanted us to take him to the hospital.. He said not right then because he thought it was just a sprain. He wrapped it up in an ace wrap after his shower and lay down in his room with his foot jacked up on pillows and an Ice pack cooling his toes. An hour later we were loaded in the Jeep and slowly making our way through pea soup fog to the hospital in Aiken. His rainbow colored foot had swollen twice it's size and it had become obvious to all of us that he had more than a sprained ankle.
We sat the three of us together in the crowded lobby all night. Dave trying to do a crossword puzzle and Myself crocheting dish cloths. Cooper mainly just kept saying "oh my god my foot hurts!" and picking up and putting down magazines. They had taken down all of his information rather quickly. Changing to a bright red pen when they noted that he had NO INSURANCE. He was in so much pain that he never noticed.. But I did. I knew right then that we had problems.
Finally they called him to x-ray asking us to come along and putting Dave and I into a room to await the news. They eventually did bring him back and told us that he had a broken leg just above the ankle in the Big bone along the back of his leg. They gave him pain medicine and a prescription for more of the same pills. The nurse finally came in and said they would splint it for the week-end but that we should contact their Doctor for a real casting no later than Monday. We believed we were all set. Little did we know!
We had just began a whirl wind ride with the hospital and the Doctor who does NOT accept people unless they have insurance or enough cash to pay for their treatment up front.
The hospital who is required by law to treat everyone regardless of their financial situation,
swears they don't do any casting at all. The second Doctor there told Cooper.. " My advice to you is to go back to work and save up your money and have your leg fixed!" I asked him if a person with no money broke something were they expected to let it stay broken? His reply was that even without a proper cast Cooper's leg would heal.. Then he added with a laugh " he won't walk straight but his bone won't be broken!" Lucky for him Cooper knows me well and grabbed my arm as I was drawing back to hit that smart mouthed Doctor. I left there that day wondering about the world we live in where money is more important than health. Where Doctors who take an oath to help people can refuse anyone they want to and where some can even find it funny that many people will have broken bones to heal crooked because they had neither Insurance nor a lot of ready cash. I also was on the search for someone who could set my son's leg before he because of no insurance would become one of those poor souls who walked crooked.
Almost everyone had an idea. People gave us lots of advice.
"Call the doctor at home"~ his number is un-listed.
"Call his office manager and bargain with Her"- I tried that and was informed that the Doctor had decided many years ago that he was never treating any person for nothing. I explained that we didn't expect to be treated for nothing. They finally told us that for two hundred dollars down and for one hundred dollars a week they would see him provided that the Doctor agreed to those terms. She said she would call me back after the "wonderful" doctor looked at his x-rays. I am yet to hear back from them. I know they got the x-rays because I had trouble getting a copy of them myself because they had already released one copy to doctor "Wonderful".
"Take him to another hospital." We thought about that but with already two bills from the first hospital we decided that we would only do that as a last resort.
The best advice we got was the phone Number of a new Doctor miles away on the other side of Hampton S.C.
I called and the very first thing I told them was that he had no insurance. "Well, that won't matter." she answered. "He will not have a lot of money till he goes back to work" I told her.
(I didn't want him to get there and be talked to badly again.) "We will work that out!" she said.
"We need the x-ray disk and him here tomorrow at 2:45."
"Thank You Lord." I said as I hung up the phone and got ready to go back one more time to the hospital to fight for an x-ray disk.
Cooper finally has his cast and the promise of a few medical bills for the New Year... he has also found the truly wonderful new medical center. Coastal Plains! He and I were both amazed at how nice everyone was. Every single member of the staff was great and they all were smiling and appeared genuinely happy to be working there and helping people. They accepted his meager payment and told us that he should pay it the best he can. They gave him an appointment to come back next week for more x-rays still with a smile even though he had no insurance. I am still thanking the Lord for this place and the people who work there.
We did have one thing that was funny that day. When we were told of the new place we were told it was in Bamberg and so of course we were sitting in Bamberg lost looking for a new building in the hospital parking lot. Calling the doctors office and asking for directions we could hear them rolling around with laughter. They were quiet a few miles away in Hampton county. Finally the lady told us to come on even though we would be a "little " late. She said they weren't going anywhere before they saw him. I then drove across country flying so as not to be too awful late getting there. I'm sure Cooper didn't enjoy the wild ride. The wind was blowing limbs down all along the road and the whole way there I was thinking how the entire day reminded me of a horror film I had once seen. I guess compared to having to ride with his mama driving eighty through a windstorm, his broken leg didn't seem at all scary.
I would like to add that having heard of our situation from My Mom that the Doctor who treated Coop when he was a small child did offer to put a cast on his leg for us. He agreed with us that the leg did need a cast. I give great Thanks for his concern to Dr. Richard Boyles. I also give great Thanks to My Mom for continuing to fight for her child and grandchild even though I am long ago grown.
You will also notice that I haven't called any other Doctor by name. I have a reason for that too. I am aware that with doctors now having managers for this and that area of their practice that it is possible and in many cases even likely that the Doctor himself has no idea who or how many people are turned away. I like to think that given a choice most Doctors would treat those who need them. I have been told otherwise by many office managers and a few billing managers over the last few years but I still have hope in the nature of what it takes to become a Doctor.
Have a great day!