Thursday, March 12, 2009

Surgery Without Anethesia --- or --- Ow! Part 1.

Okay before I start here, a couple of things. Firstly, this might not be the blog post you wanna read if you're squeamish, it's a little harsh in a few spots. Secondly this ain't a pity post. Everything (mostly) was of my own doings through decisions that I made and my wife, Sally backed me up. I did it through choosing to play it this way.

I've regretted it for a long time, but... que sera sera.

As you know if you're a regular reader, I'm self employed. I am the sole income gatherer in this house. That's also of our choosing obviously. Being self employed we don't have the option of having a health insurance policy provided for us, or offered to us at a discount. A few years ago, after we had raised our deductible to ridiculously high levels ($2,500)and we were still working to pay for it and taxes for several months out of the year, we made the decision to drop it and wing it. We just couldn't afford it any longer. That's the way she goes.

Looking at this you'd think that Sally and I are great proponents of socialized health care. We're not. We try to pay our own way, and why should YOU be forced to pay for our health care? It speaks volumes about what is wrong with what health care costs in this country, from an overtly litigious society, to greedy hospitals, to greedy lawyers, to... on and on and on.

About 2 years ago I had an umbilical hernia that had become a pretty bad problem. This is a fairly common thing for people that have done a lot of manual labor in life. Basically, in layman's terms, your guts try to come out through your belly button. It hurts, it's frightening at times and worst of all it can block your intestine and then you're a short time away from getting dirt thrown on you. I had put it off for a couple of years and it had gotten serious enough I had to have it fixed.

I called a couple of teaching hospitals to see if there was a "guinea pig" program, where I could get it repaired at a reduced cost if I let student docs do the cutting. Nada. They don't do that much anymore. They just let 'em do the cutting and then charge you like an experienced doctor has done it.

I knew of a surgeon that worked out of a local hospital here, matter of fact the guy had saved my Dad's life. He had a very good reputation and when the thing happened with my Dad... he impressed me. I went to his office and had him examine me. He checked me out, said "THAT needs to be fixed NOW!" I told him about my insurance situation and asked him if we could make a "deal".

He told me that if I paid cash he'd knock his surgeon fees down by 40%. Surprise you? It should. He told me what it'd be, within about $300 bucks or so, I told him to line me up a slot and I went to the hospital to play Let's Make A Deal.

I walked in to the billing department and spoke with them for awhile. I found out that the hospital's fees for this outpatient surgery (I wouldn't have to spend the night if there weren't complications)were about triple what the surgeon's fees were. I asked them if we could "deal". She told me if I paid cash that the hospital would knock 20% off the total charge.

Amazing eh?

She then asked if the surgeon was providing his own anesthetist and I said "no". She wheeled out some more papers and gave me a price on what the hospital supplied anesthetist would be.

I choked.

The anesthetist's charges doubled the hospital's total. Going from about $6000 to $12,000 in one sentence. I got up and said "gotta go" and left. We went back to the surgeon's office and I asked him what it would be if he did the anesthesia, he said he relies on the hospital's anesthesiology department to do it for him, but if I wanted to wing it on NO anesthesiologist he would "make me comfortable" for the surgery.

I said "I'll be wide awake?" He said "You'll be awake". I said "You'll make me comfortable?" He said "As much as I can."

The deal was done, I had him finish the scheduling and waited for the day of surgery, a little apprehensive, but semi-comfortable with my decision.

Understand that this is a pretty invasive surgery. It's not arthroscopic, you get your stomach cut open, you get your guts shoved back where they're supposed to be, and you get sewn up in layers. Mesh is put in if it's needed.

To keep the reading to a comfortable Blog Like level, I'll have the rest of the story in my next blog post.



Scope said...

Boone's Farm is damn cheap anesthea. Or don't you know a guy named "Skeeter" who can apply "the sleeper hold"?

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Oh. My. God. You are so very brave Monty Hall, so very brave.

Hospitals-what a rackett.

Just A Chic... said...

Now I gotta know what happened! Couldn't you just email me the rest of the story? ;-)

WowsRose said...

Atleast we know you lived and you still have your panquith. *PHEW*

Susan said...

Are you kidding ME??? Ok, the suspense is killing me, yet I don't think I want to know. I would ask to be put out for a cavity, because I'm such a wimp ass!

Sunny said...

That must have been quite an experience. I once had an operation without anesthetisia: lots of blood, pain and tears.
I'm looking forward to part 2.

April said...

Ohhh, I can't wait for the rest! Brave man you are!

Jerry said...

I can tell you already that there's no way I would have done it. But I'll read Part 2 just to be sure.... :)

Easy for me to say, with my insurance and all.

mo.stoneskin said...

I can't wait for the next post, can you slip the rest to me in a nice email right now?

I'm curious what he meant by 'comfortable', did he mean he would administer some sort of anaesthetic, just give you some asprin and a stick to bite on, or just prop you up on some lovely goosedown pillows?

Sassy Britches said...

Hoo-boy is right!

Giggle Pixie said...

Don't even get me started on the healthcare system and health insurance. I'll be up on that soapbox for hours, or until your ears bleed, whichever comes first.

This story has me almost in tears at what you had to go through because of your having no insurance! But damned if I don't want to hear the rest of it...

Cora said...

Eeek! I'm scared, Cowguy. Scared. But I'll be a brave girl and read on.

Asphodel said...

sqeamish...! I'll skip to the next!
Though there was this time when a friend of ours told us we were watching ER when in fact it was a video of his appendix being removed or something.... super gross............. he'd do anything to make us watch it!

Asphodel said...

Okay I just read the other post and came back to this one, the other one had to have the squeamish alert....