Then I got the boot.

My ankle has been hurting me for a few weeks. I was told rest, don’t run, ice. So, I did that (in my own way) and it just got sharper and worse. My doctor said I could go see a sports med doctor, so he made me an appointment. For March 30.

Uh, if it’s not better by March 30 then I’m really, really going to be upset.

So I emailed the doctor if I could go to another facility? One in San Francisco or the East Bay? Can he make the appointment or can I call? Does he have a number to call?

His email response was “Yeah, feel free to call Petaluma.”

Uh. Ok.

Luckily, I have some experience with worse insurance than Kaiser. I called the orthopedics department in San Rafael, but they said they didn’t have anything available. I called again to check on cancellations. I went on the website and looked up facilities that have sports med. Oakland did. I called the number provided for that department, was on hold for a while, then the woman said ‘sure, we have lots of appointments’ but I needed to get the referral transferred from San Rafael to Oakland. OK, I tried to find a number to call my doctor, but there is no number, only a general number. I call that. I get transferred. I get put on hold somewhere. Then I get the woman who makes appointments. She asks if I tried calling the orthopedics department in San Rafael. She says she’ll pass the message on to my doctor, but it’ll probably take awhile. I call Oakland back and they said as soon as they get the referral I can make an appointment and they have many available for this week. My doctor eventually calls me back around 5 yesterday; he says the Oakland facility doesn’t show up in his computer (which is crazy, because Kaiser is one network, so it’s not like I got this off Google but off the Kaiser website). I give him all the information and ask him to transfer the referral.

And, one hour after I started all these calls, I get an appointment in Oakland for this morning.

Now. Let me say something clearly: Kaiser is not that bad.

Kaiser operates as its own medical offices and insurance provider. This, in theory, means there are no collection problems; there are no ‘are you covered/in-network’ problems; there are no ‘oh, we sold your bill that should have been covered by your insurance to a debt collection agency’ problems. Further, in theory, Kaiser has a model, state-of-the-art computer network system, which means my doctor can go into the computer and make an appointment for me to see a sports med doctor at a different facility. That new doctor can go into the computer and see my x-ray, which was taken at a different facility, and my medical history. Medications that interact with each other are flagged by the computer system. [With Blue Shield, my doctor wrote that referral on a pad of paper, then I had to call Blue Shield or go online and find sports med doctors that were in-network, then I had to call them and see if they could take me, then I had to fax the referral piece of paper to them, then I had to show up and sometimes they still weren’t sure if they could take my insurance and more than once I got sent home and told to ask for a different referral from my original doctor. So, yeah, this is better.]

Kaiser in Northern California is a model for public health studies. [Public health being the study of public health like at schools and stuff, not healthcare provided for the public.]

That doesn’t mean the fancy system always works. What is most mind-blowing to me is that for a system that is all self-contained, most people that work there don’t know how it works. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to make an appointment. Usually, you can just make an appointment online, ta-da, it’s done. But, if for some reason that doesn’t work and you try to call, there is no chance that the same process will happen every time. Sometimes, you get right through to the doctor’s office; sometimes, you get a person who can sort of schedule appointments; and sometimes, you get an advice nurse who has no actual ability to schedule an appointment and says they’ll call you back, but never does.

This is all besides the point.

The point is that eventually I got an appointment with a sports med doctor. She agreed I definitely have tendinitis. Then she said I could either cut back in half on everything I was doing for awhile and I would need to be careful about not just running but swimming and biking too (which I had been continuing as normal for the last few weeks). Or, she said, we could try to fast-track my recovery and stick my foot in a boot and force my ankle to rest and do nothing for a week.

This is what it looks like:

Then on the drive home I was like what’s the smell, why are my windows filling up with steam/smoke. Oh, it’s because smoke is coming out of the air vents.

So, I pulled over and all the coolant was gone. I poured water in and made it one more exit before smoke started blowing in again. The coolant tank was leaking faster than I could pour water in. A tow truck eventually took me all the way back over the bridge and I didn’t get home from my 10 a.m. appointment until 1:30. And then I had no real way to get to work, because, although I picked the boot, it kind of sucks for getting around or biking to the bus.

I guess I’m just going to count today as part of last week and call it the third strike. This week — starting tomorrow — will be better.

5 thoughts on “Then I got the boot.

  1. You are spot on about the whole Kaiser thing – sometimes they amaze me in a good way and other times it’s like, really?

    Sure hope the boot thing works! It looks pretty serious.

  2. I was on Kaiser last year, then I changed health insurance because I wanted more options. I am missing their online appointment maker/prescription refiller/lab results everything right now and even though I got more flexibility, I miss the somewhat convenience!

    Hope your ankle heals fast, and I’m with you on starting the week over again today, or maybe just pretending this week didn’t happen. Does that work too?

  3. I couldn’t get past the whole “my dr had to call the specicalist” part. We don’t have Kaiser here…and, not by choice, I am in a HMO…but the office staff at the Drs office does all the calling, referrals, faxing and all of that. We just show up. And, we use this a lot b/c of the kids (pediatrician first then specialist if the kids need it).

    ANYWAY, thank god I worked in Managed Care for nearly 10 years – you almost need a PhD to navigate our health system!

    GOOD luck w/ the boot- hope that helps!!!

    PS Sorry about the car. UGH.

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