You see, once you break an important bone (and the kneecap is, I have learned, very important) you must go to the emergency room at the nearest hospital that your medical insurance will pay. You can go to any emergency room but if they are not on the In Network list, you will be amazed at how much medical care costs these days. You will be anyway but even more so in that case.
I am fortunate. My health insurance lists both of the hospitals in my little town so I actually had a choice. I had no idea which choice would be right in this particular situation. After all, all my other visits to emergency rooms were for cuts, lacerations,
It was the wrong one. Apparently, it was the emergency room du jour. They were overflowing with cases. Alzheimer's patients with weird symptoms of disorientation, children with vomiting issues, people needing bloodwork for no apparent reason, and many worried relatives.
So the EMT crew rolled me in to the main area, moved me gently to a hospital gurney (since I refused to get off and walk), and said something like "good luck!" and laughed.
Every so often, someone in a set of scrubs would ask me why I was there and I would tell them I was pretty sure I had broken my kneecap. They would make sympathetic sounds, ask me how I managed to do such a thing, and then wander off to chat up a co-worker and go on break.
And I waited... and waited. Eventually, I convinced the nurse who seemed to be overseeing the operation to arrange for an X-ray of my knee to confirm what I already knew. I admit I pressed for this because she kept reporting to what appeared to be doctors that I "was complaining of knee pain."
I wasn't complaining at all at that point. I was simply waiting for someone to get around to examining me and, just maybe, treating me. I figured if I already had an X-ray taken, it would move things along.
I was wrong.
There was no official radiologist to interpret the X-ray. Not that it needed much in the way of interpretation, the kneecap was clearly in two pieces. And still I waited. I sent Faye home before she fainted from hunger and before the rain (did I mention it was raining?) got worse. And waited some more.
After 3 and half hours, a doctor came to me and asked what my trouble was. I explained about the kneecap. I explained about the X-ray. He told me they would fit me with a soft-cast and send me home, that I should see an orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible, and give me a prescription for painkillers. He also ordered someone to give me a painkiller (I said it was unnecessary) so that the fitting of the soft-cast would go smoothly.
So, an orderly brought a painkiller and a glass of water. Soon after, a young woman came by and got my insurance info and promised to process it so I can leave. I called Faye and asked her to come back and pick me up. 15 minutes later, two males (I have no idea if they were nurses or merely aides) brought the soft-cast and placed it on my leg. They also handed me a pair of crutches and made sure I knew how to use them.
The young woman returned and escorted me to the door where Faye would pick me up. I was not wheeled out, I hobbled behind her on my new crutches. Faye showed up and I worked my way onto the back seat of her car. And we went home.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw the bills from the emergency room visit. Yes, plural. It seems that the hospital does not run the emergency room but contracts it out. The total of the two bills was about $3200. I am responsible for about 10% of that.
That painkiller? $22.73
And, no, I really didn't need it.