My Right Foot: My Healthcare Odyssey

It’s going to be a long time—a very long time—before I get to wear my Jimmy Choo high heels again. On Monday I will have surgery on my right foot to correct the alignment and arch and to do a tendon repair. During the next few weeks I will be a patient, but also a reporter. I look at this as my chance to observe and experience many of the healthcare issues we regularly report about on Nightly Business Report. And I want to share them with you. 

So here’s the story of my right foot.

susie(2)It all began on Thanksgiving Day, which ironically was also my birthday. Not exactly the best present. Out of blue my right foot just gave out. No accident. No sudden twist. I just couldn’t walk. I limped during the entire holiday weekend. By Monday, I turned to my podiatrist for help and he diagnosed the problem as tendinitis. He taped up my foot, gave me an ankle brace and sentenced me to wearing flat shoes. How long, I asked? He said it would take three to four months. I wasn’t happy about retiring my collection of designer shoes-most of them with four-inch heels. But I followed doctor’s orders. I was determined get back quickly to ice skating, tennis and working out at the gym–some of my favorite hobbies. 

Soon after, I was able to walk, do some exercise, but my foot still hurt. That’s when the doctors in my family–and there are lots of them, including my son and daughter–weighed in. My sister, who is the chief medical officer at Harvard University’s health service is the one who urged me to see her friend and former colleague who is the chief of foot and ankle surgery at the renowned Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. One email from her got me in to see him immediately. But when I met him I was not prepared for his diagnosis. One look at my foot and  he said I needed reconstructive surgery. And he put an official name to the problem: “posterior tibial tendon repair and calcaneal osteotomy”. He said he could fix it, but it would take months to heal. I was shocked. 

After a week of denial, disbelief and depression,  the reporter side of me kicked in. I went for second and third opinions. I did research. I asked a lot questions. I talked with people who had this surgery and physical therapists who worked with people recovering from the same procedure. In the end, every medical professional concurred that the surgery was necessary–and the sooner the better.

I dreaded the surgery, but more than that, I dreaded dealing with my insurance company, Blue Cross, Blue Shield. It’s hard enough getting reimbursed for occasional doctor visits, but “this” was going to be horrible. And so far, it has been infuriating. My policy will cover some, but not all of the expenses. Some of my doctors are in network, others are not. There are huge deductibles that have to be met even before I get a penny back from my insurance company. And once I satisfy those deductibles, Blue Cross  will cover only 70 percent what “it” considers the fair, prevailing fee for services. And basic things that I thought would be covered, are not. I still can’t get over that insurance will “not” pay a single cent for my cast and crutches!

Having said all that, I feel extremely lucky that my surgeon is one of the best in the country, I am able to pay for all this, and that my husband, family, friends, and colleagues are giving me lots of love and support.

So here goes…. and stay tuned for more.

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