The Finger and the Furlough

Martin and his finger after finally getting the care he needs.

 

Today was my first full day as a furloughed government worker.

I took Miss C to school in the morning. I made Nutella toast for Lola and Jaz. Martin was gone most of the morning: he had an appointment with our family doctor first thing, and it stretched into hours spent in the orthopedics clinic having his broken ring finger x-rayed and re-set in an effort to correct the shoddy care he received at the Air Force clinic during his recent Air Force Reserve duty time.

Oh, have I not mentioned that one here on the blog?

It’s been a wild ride.

Two weeks ago, Martin was playing in his unit’s soccer game during the wing’s Family Day festivities. He was goalie, and in the midst of a play, his finger took a direct hit. He was taken to the emergency room there on the Air Force base, where a young medical lieutenant took x-rays, determined Martin sprained it, and wrapped it up for him using generic medical tape.

When Martin got home and showed me his hand, I literally gasped. Martin smiled for the picture, but later that evening, despite my re-wrapping it for him to stabilize it better, he could barely speak in full sentences, he was in so much pain.

That was the first wrap.

The second wrap that I did for him at home.

The next day, he got a phone call from the clinic.

An actual x-ray technician — a senior airman — was reviewing the x-rays taken over the weekend, and saw two fractures and a dislocation in Martin’s finger. She recommended he come back in to get seen again.

So, Martin did what he was told, called for an appointment, and was told the earliest he could be seen was a week later. I wanted to take him to our civilian medical doctor right then and there, but as he was still on military orders, he preferred to let the military do what it does. So, one week later, he was seen, re-splinted and told he needed surgery at another military location in our area. But alas, he was told to wait before scheduling a consultation because the referral paperwork process takes a few days.

That’s when I threw my bullshit flag.

A flag that was stitched together over the course of my own 13.5 years in the military, when I was at the whim of an understaffed/overwhelmed military medical system that produced both fantastic and timely health care (those are links to those stories) … and care that left much to be desired.

It was one thing to tolerate that kind of care for myself when I was in uniform, but to watch it be done to my husband?

Um. No.

So, I scheduled an appointment for Martin with our civilian medical doctor (using the health insurance I get through my job), and sent a note explaining the situation.

By the time Martin showed up this morning, our primary care doctor knew what to expect, and immediately submitted a referral. Martin literally walked upstairs at the same clinic, and was seen by orthopedic professionals who not only took a few more x-rays, but also contacted their hand surgeon (in another location) to consult for Martin’s treatment.

The whole thing took more than three hours. And it was incredibly painful as they re-set the bones and bent his injured muscles and tendons in a position to promote proper healing in an effort to avoid surgery. Martin will have a follow-up with the surgeon early next week to see if these efforts worked.

Martin came home with his hand bandaged up pretty thick. He also had copies of those x-rays.

I was so livid as I looked at them, seeing the damage myself with my untrained eye.

But at least I feel confident in his care now.

So I focused on making Martin as comfortable as possible as the numbing agents they gave him during the re-setting process wore off, and the pain of having his broken limb pulled, twisted, and maneuvered into place again made him both speechless and a little whiny again.

This meant slipping him some night-time pain meds to help him sleep, keeping his arm propped on pillows, and then v-e-r-y slowly slipping in next to him to rub his back until he fell asleep.

For that, I was glad to be home.

And of course, I got to spend more time with the kiddos, too.

That meant chasing after Jaz in his fedora and cape, and taking the girls up to Starbucks for some caramel apple spice drinks after picking up Miss C from school. (We also brought one home to Martin.)

Since I normally work from home during the work week, this didn’t feel like an unusual day by any means.

Other than Martin’s injury, the only thing that made this day a little more different was the achy pit in my stomach that got even tighter as I prepared my paperwork to apply for unemployment next week.