Remember that letter you got from your top choice college the one that said “Dear Linda K. McAulay: We are pleased to inform you that we have accepted your application to Chapman University for the Fall of 2010” That’s where I am today, hoping to eventually change the way people are treated in the health care world. We have all heard the big huge issues revolving around the healthcare industry, insurance companies, doctors, and now the government’s involvement with President Obama’s Healthcare Initiative signed into law on March 23, 2010. My story is why everything needs to change.
I am here today because of the day that changed my life, for better and for worse. The fateful day I broke my foot in 18 places, in a rundown city in Mexico. There were no options for treatment. There was no way deal with the pain. I writhed in pain for years as my doctors and insurance company ignored my pleas for help. The first time I felt any relief from agonizing pain was over two years after the accident. I was in Tecate, Mexico, about 75 miles or an hour’s drive from San Diego, CA, on a mission’s trip with my church, when a boulder over 300 pounds was dropped my foot by a few of the guys in the group. We were only on our second day into the trip; I begged to go back across the border to a hospital. I was bruised and swollen; I knew something was very wrong. Leaders refused to find me ice to even relieve some of the pain or to let me borrow a cell phone to call my parents. The pain by the end of the trip was so excruciating that every time we hit a bump, as we drove in the buses down the unpaved, impoverished streets of Mexico, it shot through my leg like a searing hot nail into my foot. The entire drive felt like someone was pounding on my foot with a sludge hammer.
My parents immediately took me to the ER where they did X-Rays and told me the “swelling and bruising was blurring the image and nothing was conclusive” and they were sure that “there is some very deep bone bruising.” They put me in a walking boot gave me some pain killers and crutches and said go see your doctor in 6 weeks. We saw my doctor who cleared me to play sports without any kind of additional imaging. I was back on the soccer field that night. Doctors told me pain was normal but if I could deal with it, I was allowed to play. I powered through the season, but the entire time I knew something was very wrong.
As I went back to the doctor they began to actually listen to the “girl who seemed to have just been crying out for attention again.” I had broken more bones in the last 3 years than most people could claim to in 3 life times. It felt like a life time before someone actually ordered more testing. I finally had another MRI. The results showed a broken foot, in multiple places. Great, I had just probably ruined my future as an athlete. I had much bigger problems to worry about now.
My first problem, the specialist my doctor wanted me to see, wasn’t covered by my insurance so we had to find another. We searched for weeks before finding one she deemed competent enough to deal with the situation. When I went to see him, he was an issue from the minute I walked in the door his assumption was that I had an eating disorder, I was crying out for attention, I was just looking for more pain meds, and there was nothing really wrong with me. We battled with this doctor for three months attempting to have him listen. After realizing there was nothing I could do to change his opinion, we found another new doctor. This doctor at least started to listen to me, his diagnosis was wrong but he tried to help, he was so set on not being wrong though that even when his treatments weren’t working he couldn’t change.
You need to remember that doctors aren’t gods. Doctors aren’t always right. Insurance companies need to be fought. Stand up for yourself. Stand up for body, your health, and your wellness. Find an advocate because sometimes you’re too tired to fight for yourself. Learn from my story. Don’t let this happen to you. The health care world is one that is confusing, complicated, and often corrupt. Doctors are looking to only get paid, insurance companies are not willing to help, and no one is willing to fight for those who need it. The answers are not found here. The answers are not found in government. The answers are found in those people, that have a heart, that have a true desire to be helping people. The redesign of healthcare needs to come from within, From patients suggestions, to doctors practices, to large corporations. People with ethics, morals and values, the bottom line should not be the biggest issue. Patient care should be.