My feet, and a happy healthcare story

This is not a Michael Moore Sicko story…

I’d been having progressively worse problems with my feet over the past years. Went through two podiatrists, the last of which had figured out my Achillies tendons over the years had pulled out the bone where it connects, either from being too short when I was a kid, or any other number of various reasons. He was reluctant to do any surgical fixes, but that religated me to less and less activity. If I did too much, especially hiking uphill and the like, in a day or two, I’d be in exruciating pain, and have to keep my foot up, and in an immobilizing boot.

I finally had just had enough of this, and through a good friend, found an excellent medical group, SOAR. The podiatrist there was excellent, and in fact I later found my general physician, as well as another buddy who’s a doctor, both knew him by his very good reputation.

A couple MRI’s later, and telling him I wanted to be able to hike, and bike, and do things I used to do, we came up with a plan. I have a different problem with each foot, but the tendon in my right foot was the one that I constantly had some pain with.

So, yesterday, I had surgery to get things working again. We had to re-attach my tendon, since it was fraying. That meant removing the tendon, grinding down the bone, removing the bursa, and re-attaching the tendon to a pin in my heal. Recovery is the hard part here, 3+ weeks of a non-weight bearing dressing/cast, then 3-5 weeks of a walking cast, then physical therapy. But, in the end, it’ll be worth it. Then, after this foot is done, well, I have a torn tendon on the other foot, and quite possibly the same problem with the Achillies on my heel there.

Now, with all that description out of the way, my experience with these doctors, and all the support staff has been beyond anything I’ve experienced before. From the fact that everyone either reads about me before they see me, or the first thing they do is ask my name, and then always refer to me by name, and introduce themselves. That one thing, that they all made an obvious effort to do, just impressed me to no end.

Then, every single person who was going to be involved in the surgery introduced themselves to me (again, making sure they knew my name). From the Jenn who had to shave my leg, to my OR nurse, who’s name I cannot now remember (I was sedated though, so I have that for an excuse). The anesthesiologist was great too, called me the night before, explained what would happen, then explained it again, warned me they’d have to draw blood to then extract the white blood cells, which they’d then re-inject to help  in healing, but that they might have to try a few places to get the vein, and if I woke up with “more holes than I fell asleep with”, not to worry, they weren’t just experimenting on me :-).

Oh, and cost-wise? Well, my doctor and the medical facility are covered as providers under my corporate Blue Cross. So, my MRI’s were reasonably priced, and cost me perhaps $100 a piece, and the doctor/hospital visit, for a multi-hour surgery was $380, my insurance covered the rest. The anesthesiologist’s bill is separate, so that’s still to come, but given my last foot surgery, some 12 years ago when I broke a bone, cost me on the neighborhood of $10,000 above “reasonable and customary”, this experience is proving to be both financially, and treatment-wise far and above better than anything I’ve experienced prior.

So, partly as an update for people who’ve asked what’s wrong with the feet, and what I was having done to fix it, wanted to describe that, as well as my very pleasant doctor and hospital experiences. With all the bad healthcare experiences, people don’t seem to share very good ones.