I SHOULD MEASURE LEGS

I refreshed the page, because my eyes may have been observin’ but my brain wasn’t believin’. No way. But as my medical aid claim page returned with its columns of little numbers – claimed and paid – my mouth dropped open.

Did the guy who measured my leg for a compression sock charge me almost the same as my orthopedic surgeon?!

Last week my doc (the orthopedic one…) confirmed my ankle had healed nicely after the fracture, but he was less that thrilled about the swelling. So he precribed the wearing of a compression sock for 6 weeks. Have mercy.

So off I scampered with my crutches and enthusiasm, to see the gentleman who stocks the socks in my town. He welcomed me friendily and told me to sit while he measured my ankle and lower leg for the perfect fit of sock.

Thank all that is holy that I shaved my legs that morning…

He bent down, curled his tailor’s tape measure around my ankle. Wrote something down.

Curled the tape measure around my mid-calf. Wrote something down.

Curled the tape measure around my lower leg, just below the knee. Wrote something down.

He stood upright, walked out the room and returned 2 minutes later and handed me the socks.

In addition to the fee for the socks he charged me, additinally, two thirds of the orthopedic surgeon fee. Two thirds. For measuring my leg in three places.

You could knock me over with a thought. What was so expensive? The tape measure or my leg?

I should explain that I’m not objective about auxillary medical services at all. I am relatively intelligent (you know…I successfully get the food to my mouth), so I know that physiotherapists, dieticians and orthopedic support services are very necessary. They relieve pain and improve quality of life on an hourly basis. I hope that in the course of my whole life I improve the life of just one person…

So I get that my viewpoint is contaminated with bitterness.

But in my defence, that bitterness comes from personal experiences. When my late mom suffered her last weeks at the merciless pounding of cancer, she had to remain in hospital. A physiotherapist and dietician were assigned to her. Every morning this petit, pretty dietician would hop into my mom’s room without greeting her or looking her in the eyes. She would leave the most disgusting juice known to mankind on my mom’s bedside table, bark a few instructions regarding what she must eat and drink and then hop out of the room, all while apparently humming some song.

My mom tried to drink the sludge juice but couldn’t hold it down. She tried to tell the dietician but the little madam couldn’t care less. She did her job and got paid, who cared about anything else?

Same deal with the physiotherapist. Couldn’t even care enough to actually pitch for all the appointments.

This is why, when my orthopedic surgeon told me a week ago that I need to go to a physiotherapist to work on the swelling, I told him that there is a better chance of him finding the Holy Grail. But then I had to get the compression sock. And pay and arm and an ankle…

The job these people do is immensely important, as is the attitude with which they do it. They can so easily turn healing into suffering. But then, is my work not important too? I work with people. Young people, but people nonetheless. How many times have I ruined the confidence of a young student with an abrupt answer or scornful reply?

I guess we’re all human and we all have our stronger and weaker days. Who am I to judge?

But this much I know: no-one is paying me orthopedic surgeon fees for measuring a body part…for doing anything

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