Posts Tagged ‘surgery’

The Lost Washer, The Ruptured Tendon And The LORD Who Is God Over Both. A Story of Thanksgiving Gratitude.

November 28, 2013

This happened last week, but I think that’s close enough to call it “my Thanksgiving miracle.”

It began with my biceps tendon basically standing in front of an ObamaCare-like death panel.  I was told several weeks back that my biceps tendon had ruptured and that it was too late to save it.  Yes, I’d rather frantically called the morning after the injury, but of course given the state-of-affairs of modern medicine and the bureaucracy which owns it, by the time I actually saw the doctor, he told me it was too late.

I am a service-connected veteran with traumatic and cumulative and degenerative injuries to both knees and both shoulders.  So this isn’t a story of “that evil insurance company.”  This is THE GOVERNMENT.

The doctor told me the story of Brett Favre, who had suffered this injury during his career and had not had the reattachment surgery, and that I didn’t really need to have the tendon reattached.

Continuing with the “ObamaCare death panel” theme, the surgeon also pointedly told me that, “In Europe, they don’t even reattach those any more.”

I had tried to reason with the surgeon – who as the attending physician actually runs the ortho department at my VA hospital.  As for the Brett Favre story, I countered with the fact that Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott famously had a broken finger amputated rather than miss playing time the same way Favre elected to play with a busted tendon rather than miss playing time  – and so should average people have whatever limb on which they happen to suffer a broken bone AMPUTATED?  I hope not.  As for the “Europe” thing, I pointed out the fact that “THIS IS NOT EUROPE!”  And while my dad was too young to fight in WWII, I actually had a three uncles who fought in that war to ensure that America would NOT become Europe.

Apparently, they lost the war sixty years after they thought they’d won it, but that’s another story.

The ortho doctor acknowledged that a few years ago, they would have reattached the tendon no-questions asked (i.e., BEFORE Obama), but that things had changed quite a bit.

Mark Halperin is one of the leading journalists in America today.  He also leans well to the left.  So it was quite an admission when he acknowledged that not only did ObamaCare contain death panels, but that they are a cornerstone of ObamaCare.

Howard Dean, a former Democrat governor, a medical doctor and an expert in health care – albeit a doctrinaire liberal ideologue – has also acknowledged that, yes, the ObamaCare IPAB amounts to a “death panel.”  And so, yes:

Shorter Howard Dean: “So… yeah, Republicans were right about death panels.”

Just as they were dead right about how catastrophically awful this ObamaCare law would be.

I was stunned when the attending orthopedic surgeon said they would not reattach my tendon.  I mean, what do you mean, you don’t need to do this surgery?  I was saying, “I’m busted; FIX ME!”  I had never had anything like this happen before.

ObamaCare is all about rationing.  It is all about Marxist redistribution, acknowledges and actually BOASTS the New York Times.  It is intended to create “winners and losers.”

Milton Friedman observed that if you put the government in charge of the Sahara desert, in five years there would be a shortage of sand.  So what will necessarily happen when you put a bunch of statist bureaucrats in charge of health care?  We already know the answer.

And believe me, NOBODY wants to be a health care “loser.”  Especially because of a law that MAKES you a “loser” when you’ve never been one before out of naked, cynical political calculus.  Especially when you are service-connected by your government for the infamous “pre-existing conditions” that you can’t have taken care of anywhere else.

When I continued to object the “death panel” decision, the chief ortho doctor told me he would leave the decision to the surgeon who would be operating on me, but he didn’t see it happening or even the need for it.

Well, I was rather panicky about this.  Aside from the whole “Popeye biceps” deformity (which so far hasn’t seriously manifested itself), there’s a significant loss in strength because a tendon no longer connects your muscle to what you’re trying to lift.  As a weightlifter, it was the loss of strength that I feared more than anything else.  I didn’t want to go through a surgery only to be mediocre.

Weightlifting has been the centerpiece of my highly successful weight loss (76 lbs in 14 months without stomach “Lap-band” surgery).  If preventative care is important, if weight loss is important, just give me the tools I need to maintain that weight loss.  Because what happens to people is that they become frustrated, then they give in to a feeling of futility, and then they give up altogether.

That’s why this biceps tendon deal has been such a critical concern for me.

Well, after my appointment with that surgeon, I was rather frantically trying to figure out my next option.  And a wise Christian medical doctor friend gave me some wise counsel: to see the doctor who would be doing my surgery as quickly as possible and appeal to him (rather than start a war with the bureaucracy through hospital patient advocates, etc.).  I made an appointment.

For two weeks I angsted as I waited to see the surgeon.  Given what I had already heard from his boss, I was very fearful.  And I knew that time was tendon, because the longer you wait the more a ruptured tendon shortens and contracts.  And the story becomes, “Well, sorry, but we waited too long dithering, so now it’s too late for us to fix you.  Too bad, so sad.”

We get a picture how ObamaCare will “save” money.  By rationing and denying care to people who need it, surgeries and treatment that used to happen doesn’t any happen any longer.  And that’s great – unless the rationing axe falls upon you or one of your loved ones.

Anyway, I’m at Tuesday of last week, with the all-important appointment with my surgeon on Thursday morning.  And I’m on my daily walk as usual.

Remember, I said I was messed up in both shoulders and both knees.  To take some of the stress off my awful knees, I use a pair of canes when I go on long walks out in the desert.  Which of course torques my shoulders, doesn’t it?  But I need to walk because that’s been a major part of the 76 pounds of weight that I’ve lost over the last fourteen months.  So I’ve got a Catch-22 thing going, don’t I?

Anyway, near the end of my walk – which that day was over five miles – I noticed that one of my cane tips had ruptured rather like my biceps tendon.  I put large washers in the tip to help the rubber tips last longer, and the washer was gone somewhere out in the vastness of the desert.

Well, I’m usually able to eyeball the cane tip and see that it’s about to wear out and rupture in time to replace it.  But let’s just say that I’d been occupied with other concerns.

I could go to the hardware store and buy some washers, but I’ve always used the few that I had in my garage that matched the diameter of the cane tip.

Well, I wanted to find my washer.  Which was God-only-knew-where.  So as I set out on my walk the next day, I tried to retrace my steps as best I could and said a prayer that I could find it.

As I prayed, it popped into my head to point out to God that I wanted my biceps tendon far more than I wanted that washer (just in case He didn’t know).  But I had that moment of theological clarity strike me that God wasn’t the sort who would only grant me one request.

That Wednesday, I walked along with my nose to the ground like a bloodhound.  A mile passed, then two.  And I was entering an area where there was a lot of soft sand where the tip would have likely become covered up and I’d never see it.  To make it worse, because of the soft sand, I’d meandered through that area – and good luck trying to remember the exact same route.

I kind of gave up finding that washer at that point.

Financially, it was hardly a big deal; I could go to a hardware store and probably find an even better-fitting washer for fifteen or twenty cents at most.  But for whatever reason, I had kind of associated that lost washer with my busted biceps tendon.  So it was kind of sad to let that washer go.

It was within a few feet of giving up on finding that washer that I came upon some 9mm pistol brass.  I reload ammunition in several calibers – 9mm Parabellum being one of them – and my nephew (who would be coming out for Christmas) always loves to go shooting.  So I bent over to pick up the brass.

Somebody had popped of most of a box, so I’m furiously picking up the brass.  And I turned around and walked back up the path I had just come down as I see more brass…

… And yes, there was my washer – which I had already walked by and had not seen, and which I never would have seen had I not been looking for that 9mm brass which hadn’t even BEEN there the day before (or I would have collected it then).  The washer was dull and faded; the brass was new and shiny.  I needed the latter in order to find the former.

I immediately realized what had happened and why it had happened:

God had heard my silly prayer for that silly washer.  And God knew that in my silly heart, I had connected something I clearly didn’t need to find with something far more important to me.  And He was telling me that He had me covered, that He knew what I needed – and that He was Jehovah Jireh (the LORD who provides).

And when you’ve got that kind of a God in control, watching your back, taking care of you, why are you so anxious???

I realized that the decision whether to repair my ruptured biceps tendon wasn’t up to the doctors.  Because if God wanted me to have that tendon, it was going to be restored no matter what the doctor said; and if He didn’t want me to have it, I wasn’t going to get it reattached no matter what the surgeon tried to do.  It wasn’t my surgeon I had to convince; it was my God – the very same God who cared enough about me to allow me to find a silly washer in the middle of a desert just because for whatever silly reason it mattered to me.

It’s one thing to look at the vastness of the sky at night and see the billions of stars; it’s quite another to realize that that very same God actually gives a damn about YOU.

I’ve lost – and FOUND – stuff that was valuable and irreplaceable after desperately praying about it.

It’s an interesting thing: if you are the kind of person who doesn’t believe, the biggest answered prayer in the world won’t matter; if you are the kind of person who believes, the smallest answered prayer can seem huge.

God gives us small things to see how we’ll handle big things.  Maybe He gives us small miracles to see how we’ll handle big ones.

All I know is that I had an audience with God, Creator of heaven and earth and all the stars that fill the sky.  And He heard very little, very insignificant little me about something as tiny and irrelevant as a lost washer because He cares about me more than I will ever be able to comprehend.

When I went to that appointment with that surgeon the next morning, I had no fear, no anxiety.

I had already prepared myself during the previous two weeks with every argument I could think of for why I needed and deserved that tendon reattachment surgery.  I would submit that if a high-priced attorney had been present with me, he wouldn’t have had more arguments to muster than what I had thought up.

And what did the surgeon say when I told him I wanted that surgery?

“Sure.  We’ll try to do that for you.”

Here I was with all my arguments and I didn’t even get to use them.

There are a couple of down sides that the surgeon explained to me: because this tendon is ruptured, they’ll have to do an incision rather than doing it with the arthroscope the way they would have been if it had still been attached.  That means that they won’t be able to repair the torn rotator cuff I also have in that shoulder in the same surgery because when they scope a joint, they fill it with fluid to clear space for their instruments.  And that fluid creates a lot of swelling.  Which means that if they do the rotator cuff first, they’d create too much swelling to be able to find the biceps tendon; but if they do the incision to fix the biceps tendon, the fluid and the corresponding swelling would rupture the sutures.  He also told me that he couldn’t guarantee that the reattachment surgery would be successful because sometimes the tendon is just too damaged.

Here’s the thing: I realized that the condition of my tendon is up to God.  Just as everything else was.

I told that story to a friend who told me his own “mini-miracle” story.  He had been arrested for a DUI (bad thing) and had his little dog in the car with him.  The police had kenneled the dog and towed his car.  His sister came to pick him up, but for whatever reason had refused to take the dog.  He’d have to leave it.

Well, he wouldn’t leave his dog.  He told her he’d rather walk.  So she drove off.  And he had to walk miles across an isolated Texas highway out in the middle of nowhere.  In the heat of the desert.

He came to a point of desperation.  He and the dog were thirsty.

What happened?  In the middle of nowhere he came across a gallon of water and a five dollar bill.  The presence of the bill particularly freaked him out: because there was a wind and the bill should have blown away, but didn’t.  Who had put that there and why?  Only God knew.

But God is Jehovah Jireh.

The water helped him make it to a gas station way, way up the road, where he was able to trade his five dollars for a ride.

I don’t know what will happen, but I have a feeling and an attitude of confidence about the success of the surgery (my pre-op is January 14).

Strangely, had I just been allowed to have the surgery, rather than having to angst about just getting it, I realize that my attitude wouldn’t have been nearly so positive.  I would have been focusing on the surgery and the recovery and bemoaning the fact that the tendon had ruptured and the fact that had the doctors just told me what I’d needed to know before I’d ruptured it I would have at that time requested the reattachment surgery as opposed to waiting until it was nearly too late.  I would have been looking at all the negatives.

As it is, I am very grateful and very thankful.  I am thankful to the Veterans Administration for taking care of me.  But more importantly I am even more thankful to my God who saw me floundering around and provided for me.

Thanksgiving is about being grateful.

Gratitude is the very best and the very happiest attitude that a human being can have.  It is the attitude we should all be walking around with all the time.  But for most of us (like me) we need reminders.

I wish you all a happy and a grateful Thanksgiving Day.  I pray that you have a sense of Jehovah Jireh specially looking out for you today.

Update, February 5, 2014: Well, I had my surgery.  And a couple more divine lessons.

I now realize that my “washer” story was my audience with God.  He gave me a divine appointment because He wanted me to know a few things.

On that day, that God told me that 1) He truly does care (cf. 1 Peter 5:7); that 2) if He cares even about my stupid washer, it is obvious that He will care about something I truly care about, such as my biceps tendon surgery; and that 3) whether the surgery is successful or not has nothing to do with the doctors and ultimately everything to do with God.  Because He can do anything and if He wants me to have that tendon, I WILL HAVE THAT TENDON.

He since let me know how to turn even the result of the surgery over to Him.

On the one hand, I knew that if the surgery was successful, it would be a long recovery.  On the other hand, I learned that if the tendon was too destroyed and contracted to do the surgery, it would be a short recovery and I would be able to get back to my [relatively] normal activities very quickly.  What I didn’t want was to make the short-sighted mistake of not having the surgery because of the short-term hassles, only to then regret later that I didn’t do it.  I was [finally!] able to completely turn it over to the Lord, and give it to HIM and let HIM decide.

So I went into the surgery with the peace of Christ, which surpasses all comprehension.

I woke up and the surgeon gave me the news.  The surgery was a complete success.  Somehow – and I got the sense that this was very surprising to the surgeon – my tendon had in fact ruptured, but had somehow become hung-up on the bone, such that it was EASY to find and such that it didn’t contract the way it otherwise would have.

He did the surgery in less than HALF the time he believed it would take.

Just like the washer, that “hung-up” tendon was GOD at work.

Now all I have to do is heal up and start rehabbing.

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Latest ObamaCare ‘Oopsie’: HealthCare Destruction Act Already Killing People

December 16, 2010

It’s too expensive…so we’re going to let you die.” – Robert Reich, lifelong Democrat “expert”

A program that saves young people produces more welfare than one that saves old people” – Obama Regulatory Czar Cass Sunstein

At least we can let doctors know — and your mom know — that you know what, maybe this isn’t going to help. Maybe you’re better off, uhh, not having the surgery, but, uhh, taking the painkiller.” – The Hussein himself, informing a woman that it’s basically time to let her mother die.

ObamaCare Factoid: Access To Health Care Doesn’t Mean Squat When Hospitals, Doctors And Pharmacists Bail” – Title of article by Michael Eden now factually demonstrated to have been completely right.

Before I provide the article of the day, allow me to show you some things that I posted/wrote nearly a year ago:

This is nothing compared to what might happen under Democratic health overhaul plans, which would slash Medicare spending by nearly $500 billion over 10 years. As Medicare actuaries recently pointed out in understated fashion, such cuts “may be unrealistic.” But, if Congress actually carried them out, about one in five hospitals, nursing homes and home care agencies could lose money, they warned in their report. As a result, such providers could drop Medicare, leaving seniors with less access.

[…]

Don’t think for a second that this isn’t directly related to the disaster known as ObamaCare.  Democrats are gutting Medicare reimbursements and blocking the essential “doctor fix” from their bill to create the contrived and bogus illusion that their boondoggle will provide “deficit neutrality.”  They are playing all kinds of games and gimmicks, such as taxing for ten years and only providing benefits for five, to support that illusion. It will fail, and a lot of people will die.

[…]

And so, what do you think will happen when Democrats cut the reimbursement rates?  People who have commons sense know: hospitals and doctors will begin to see fewer and fewer Medicare patients, as a matter of simple economic necessity.   That isn’t a “reform,” but a disaster.

And this stuff is why the dean of the Harvard Medical School gave ObamaCare a failing grade.  It’s why the California Medical Association recently came out strongly against the bill.  It’s why more and more state governors – Democrats as well as Republicans – are beginning to scream that ObamaCare merely turns Medicaid into a giant deficit-creating unfunded mandate on the states (again, to create the illusion of being “deficit neutral”).

And, now, without further delay, the article of the day’s latest demonstration that the Democrat Party is the political arm of the devil and Barack Obama is leading America into ruin not seen since the last time socialism devastated Europe when our grandparents were young kids…

It is somehow ironically fitting that this destruction of our health care system would be described in Obama’s hometown.

Medicaid cuts: teeth pulled, transplant called off
By The Associated Press
Posted Dec 15, 2010

CHICAGO —

In Illinois, a pharmacist closes his business because of late Medicaid payments. In Arizona, a young father’s liver transplant is canceled because Medicaid suddenly won’t pay for it. In California, dentists pull teeth that could be saved because Medicaid doesn’t pay for root canals.

Across the country, state lawmakers have taken harsh actions to try to rein in the budget-busting costs of the health care program that serves 58 million poor and disabled Americans. Some states have cut payments to doctors, paid bills late and trimmed benefits such as insulin pumps, obesity surgery and hospice care.

Lawmakers are bracing for more work when they reconvene in January. Some states face multibillion-dollar deficits. Federal stimulus money for Medicaid is soon to evaporate. And Medicaid enrollment has never been higher because of job losses.

In the view of some lawmakers, Medicaid has become a monster, and it’s eating the budget. In Illinois, Medicaid sucks up more money than elementary, secondary and higher education combined.

“Medicaid is such a large, complicated part of our budget problem, that to get our hands around it is very difficult. It’s that big. It’s that bad,” said Illinois Sen. Dale Righter, a Republican and co-chairman of a bipartisan panel to reform Medicaid in Illinois, where nearly 30 percent of total spending goes to the program.

Medicaid costs are shared by the federal and state governments. It’s not just the poor and disabled who benefit. Wealthier people do, too, such as when middle-class families with elderly parents in nursing homes are relieved of financial pressure after Medicaid starts picking up the bills.

Contrary to stereotype, it’s the elderly and disabled who cost nearly 70 cents of every Medicaid dollar, not the single mother and her children.

In California, Medicaid no longer pays for many adult dental services. But it still pays for extractions, that is, tooth-pulling. The unintended consequence: Medicaid patients tell dentists to pull teeth that could be saved.

“The roots are fine. The tooth could be saved with a root canal,” said Dr. Nagaraj Murthy, who practices in Compton, Calif. “I had a patient yesterday. I said we could do a root canal. He said, ‘No, it’s hurting. Go ahead and pull it. I don’t have the money.”’

Murthy recently pulled an elderly woman’s last tooth, but Medicaid no longer pays for dentures.

“Elderly patients suffer the most,” Murthy said. “They’re walking around with no teeth.”

States can decide which optional services Medicaid covers, and dental care is among cutbacks in some places. Last year’s economic stimulus package increased the federal share of Medicaid money temporarily. But that money runs out at the end of June, when the federal government will go back to paying half the costs rather than 60 to 70 percent. So more cuts could be ahead.

During the Great Recession, millions of people relied on the Medicaid safety net. Between 2007 and 2009, the number of uninsured Americans grew by more than 5 million as workers lost jobs with employer-based insurance. Another 7 million signed up for Medicaid.

Just when caseloads hit their highest point, the nation’s new health care law required states not to change the rules on who’s eligible for Medicaid. That means states can’t roll up the welcome mat by tightening Medicaid’s income requirements.

So states have resorted to a variety of painful options.

In Arizona, lawmakers stopped paying for some kinds of transplants, including livers for people with hepatitis C. When the cuts took effect Oct. 1, Medicaid patient Francisco Felix, who needs a liver, suddenly had to raise $500,000 to get a transplant.

The 32-year-old’s case took a dramatic turn in November when a friend’s wife died, and her liver became available. Felix was prepped for surgery in hopes financial donations would come in. When the money didn’t materialize, the liver went to someone else, and Felix went home. His doctor told him he has a year before he’ll be too sick for a transplant.

“They are taking away his opportunity to live,” said his wife, Flor Felix. “It’s impossible for us or any family to get that much money.” The family is collecting donations through a website and plans a yard sale this weekend, she said.

The choices are difficult for states that have already cut payments to doctors and hospitals to the bone.

“If we don’t see an economic recovery where state revenues rebound, they’re really going to be very strained on how they can make ends meet,” said Diane Rowland, executive director of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.

States may consider lowering payment rates to nursing homes or home health agencies or further reducing payments to doctors, Rowland said.

“The problem here is the program is pretty lean, and payment rates are pretty low,” she said. Patients can’t find care because fewer doctors accept the low payments.

Prescription drug coverage in states is an optional benefit, another possible place to cut, Rowland said. “But if you cut back on people’s psychotropic drugs, is that penny-wise and pound-foolish? Do they end up in institutions where Medicaid pays more for their care?”

In Illinois, late payments became the rule.

Tom Miller closed his pharmacy in rural southern Illinois this summer and is going through bankruptcy, largely because the state was chronically late making Medicaid payments to him. Most of his former customers are in the program.

With the state sometimes months behind in payments, he couldn’t pay his suppliers. Five workers lost their jobs when his business closed.

“You can only fight it for so long,” said Miller, 54. He now works as a pharmacist in a hospital. He misses his old clients, the families he grew to know.

“I was in my third generation. I’ve had moms who had kids. I saw the kids raised, and they had their own children,” he said. As a neighborhood pharmacist, “you’re their friend. You’re family.”

The death panels are right around the corner.  To the extent that they’re not already here right now, as with the case of Francisco Felix, who is being denied life by being denied a liver by Medicaid.

Francisco Felix never stood in front of a death panel; but bureaucrats don’t need you wasting their time with bothersome questions when they decide to let you die a slow and agonizing death due to medical neglect (or maybe you’re fortunate enough to get that pain pill from Obama?).

We told you so.  We told you soWe told you soWE TOLD YOU SO.

As one speaking from the lofty vantage point of one having a one-thousand percent batting average, let me forewarn you Democrats yet again: Someday, when you’re burning in hell for all eternity for your direct participation in the murder of 52 million innocent human beings in America alone through abortion, realize that God is going to turn up the fires a few billion extra degrees for the coming horror that is going to come to this country as a result of your ObamaCare disaster.