I don’t go looking for drama, I really don’t. I could actually do with a whole lot less drama.
Nine days after Finn’s injury, we finally saw a pediatric orthopedist this afternoon (the same one who put Annabelle’s cast on a couple of months ago when she broke her wrist). Last I wrote, I had taken him to the ER where x-rays were inconclusive and the ER doc said that based on Finn’s symptoms (obvious pain and unwillingness to bear weight on left leg), he was going to assume a growth plate fracture which wouldn’t necessarily show up on x-ray. He put Finn’s lower leg and foot in a splint and told us to follow up with an orthopedist.
The next morning, I got a call from our pediatrician. He said that a radiologist had reviewed Finn’s x-rays and concluded there was no fracture, he was fine, and we could take the splint off. Michael and I were ambivalent – here we were getting two different opinions, and what if he did have a minor fracture that would be made worse by taking the splint off? We took it off just to see how Finn would respond, and he still didn’t want to walk. We were leaving for vacation the next morning, which made us all the more unsure of what to do. We finally decided to put the splint back on and keep it on until Monday and then take it off again and see how he responded. So we left for vacation Friday morning with Finn’s leg in a splint.
Saturday evening I took the splint off to give him a bath and discovered a pretty nasty blister on his heel from the splint. I decided after that to just keep the splint off. He did start to hobble around, but with an obvious limp. By Monday, he was still crawling most of the time and limping when he did get up to walk. I called our pediatrician’s office that day and explained what was going on and asked that they get us a referral to a pediatric orthopedist so we could have Finn seen as soon as we got back into town.
We got back into town late Wednesday afternoon, and our insurance carrier still had not authorized the referral. By yesterday morning, Thursday, it still had not been authorized. We called Anthem/Blue Cross directly and were told that, yes, a request for authorization marked “urgent” had been submitted by our pediatrician’s office, but they have FOUR DAYS to authorize (or reject) a request. Four days to deal with something marked urgent!! I was livid. I called the orthopedist’s office just to try to secure an appointment pending the authorization from Anthem/Blue Cross, and they wouldn’t even deal with me. I offered to pay out-of-pocket – still no dice. I was told that since they are contracted with our medical group, they cannot make an appointment for us or accept an out-of-pocket payment without our insurance carrier’s authorization. Seriously.
Okay . . . what the fuck?? Where are the patient’s best interests being looked after here? I have a three-year old with an obvious injury, possibly a fracture, being left untreated and possibly being exacerbated – and nobody cares! It was a very powerless and frustrating feeling.
Finally, after various phone calls, we got the authorization from Anthem/Blue Cross. (Remember that name! When you hear their commercials, don’t be fooled into believing that they actually give a flying crap about YOU or your wellbeing, it’s all about the bottom dollar, my friends!) I called the orthopedist’s office to make an appointment, and now I was told that if I wanted to be seen Friday (today), I would have to go to their Mission Viejo office. Mission Viejo is about 30 miles away, versus the 7 mile distance their Orange office is.
I kind of had a meltdown at this point. And I hung up the phone, after saying, thanks but no thanks. Seriously, I would have to take all six kids in that case, to drive to their MV office, in some of the worst traffic you can imagine. It would have likely been an all-day affair. I called our pediatrician’s office back to see if they could refer me to a different doctor. “Yes, but you wouldn’t be seen for two weeks or more,” I was told. I hung up the phone and cried. God dammit! I just wanted someone to see my little boy and figure out what’s wrong with his foot!
After pulling myself together, I called the orthopedist’s office back, prepared to take the appointment in MV. What choice did I have? Fortunately, the angels were smiling on me at that very instant (snicker), and I got a different receptionist on the phone who went ahead and squeezed us in for an appointment in their Orange office.
So I took Finn in early this afternoon. The same doc who put Annabelle’s cast on examined Finn’s foot and leg. He noted obvious tenderness in Finn’s shin area. He said he would take another set of x-rays (the ER only x-rayed his ankle and foot) and expected to see a fractured tibia (!!). I was furious all over again, thinking, great, Finn’s probably been hobbling around all this time with a broken leg and nobody has wanted to do anything about it!
He took x-rays of Finn’s leg and the x-rays showed . . . nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
The ortho doc was very surprised.
He concluded that there could be a tiny hairline fracture somewhere that’s just not showing up on the x-rays. Or it could be a bruised bone. Or it could be some sort of strain. Whatever it is, he didn’t seem to think it warrants a cast or splint at this point. He predicts that Finn will limp for another week or two, and that whatever it is will gradually get better.
And they all lived happily ever after.