In today’s DVT update, we’ll be discussing your new vocabulary word: orthoses. Before that we’ll also discuss the 10-point pain scale. But up first: the crazy price of health care…

Mini-blog #1 – Health care costs

I recently received the billing summary from my hospital stay and said a little prayer of thankfulness for health insurance. Although I had joked about my “$1000 per night hotel room”, it turns out that I missed the actual cost by a bit. Ok, by a lot. It was really a $2000 per night room. And that didn’t include the medicines, the consultations with various physicians, the blood tests, the temporary stop in the emergency room, and the ambulance ride.

(And here, I’d like to interject a bit about that ambulance ride. It was roughly ten miles from the ER in Plainfield to the hospital in Naperville. A twenty-minute ride. A $3000 ride. It wasn’t even very comfortable – pretty much like riding in the back of a pickup truck. And they didn’t even flash the lights for me.)

Now, I am not complaining about any of my care. It was excellent. I had good nurses, technicians, physicians, and specialists. I was kept comfortable and my care-givers knew what they were doing. I have nothing but praise for Edward Hospital.

But I’m amazed at the total cost, which was roughly 30% of my yearly salary.

A cost which I will not have to cover at all – not even one cent – because I have good health insurance.

And this is why I support recent efforts to improve the health care system in this country. If my family didn’t have insurance, we’d be bankrupt many times over. I don’t have to choose between my health and my financial security. Neither should anyone else.

Mini-blog #2 – Pain scale

I’m frequently asked about pain these days. Nurses and doctors seem to all use a 10-point scale, so I’ve also become accustomed to speaking in numbers. However, it’s also relative – someone’s ‘3’ may be someone else’s ‘7’. I thought it would be interesting to try to describe my scale with some comments:

– Back when my clot was forming (but I wasn’t yet certain that it was a clot), I started getting worried and suspicious after about three days between ‘3’ and ‘4’.

– When it increased to ‘5’ and ‘6’ while we were at Laurelville, I was pretty certain I was dealing with a clot, and I thought that I should go in to see the doctor on Monday when we got home. (In retrospect, the moment I was pretty certain that I had a clot would have been the moment when I should have been in the ER.)

– By the time it got up to ‘7’, I was in agreement with my Perceptive Spouse: no waiting for Monday. Call the doctor and convince him that I need to visit the ER.

– This time around, the pain only got above ‘7’ twice: once briefly in the hospital late at night when I was cold, sleepy, and generally unable to cope with stress (‘9’), and once for an extended time when I tried to go back to work too quickly after my hospital stay (‘8’).

– Most of my pain has been temporary. By shifting positions and elevating my leg, I’m able to reduce it. That’s certainly the case now that I’ve been off the pain meds for a number of days.

Mini-blog #3 – The word of the day

Time to get back to that vocabulary word. Orthoses are…

devices used to control and/or guide and/or limit and/or immobilize an extremity, joint or body segment for a given reason; to restrict movement in a given direction; to assist movement more generally; to reduce weight-bearing forces for a particular mobility purpose; to help with rehabilitation from fractures after the removal of a medical cast; or to otherwise correct the shape and/or function of the body to provide easier movement capability and/or reduce pain.

from Wikipedia

In my case, I have post-thrombotic syndrome, which is caused by damage to the valves in my veins. To deal with the pain and swelling, my physician has prescribed compression stockings (my orthoses! how stylish!) which are supposed to exert an additional pressure of 30 to 40 torr on the blood in my veins. I visited Hanger earlier this week to be fitted for them and had a choice of two stylish colors: beige and black. I decided to go with black. They’ll be in next week. Can’t wait to show them off.