Saturday, July 6, 2013

California Signs & Symptoms

Here are some random signs that make you realize you are in California:

This is a fairly common scene in Eureka and is not intended to make light of anyone or their circumstances-it's just a routine occurrence and fact of life!   Eureka is home to a brand new Veteran's Center and has many agencies that provide social services to the region's poor and homeless from the Oregon border to Sacramento.   The climate is well-suited to outdoor living being neither hot nor cold but almost a constant 60 degrees.  As most of you are aware, California has a massive social net that provides for people without income or other means of support and this pic illustrates how area residents and their pets have adapted to the environment.

Everyone wears designer socks with their Mary Janes, Birkenstocks and shower sandals in northern California.  A popular gift is "Sock of the Month" club where each month you get a theme pair of socks in the mail.  People meet and greet on the street and pull up their pants.

This next one is not technically California but Oregon is close enough--a solar-powered trash compactor.

And now, a sign of the times...degenerative joints.

My sister has needed a new knee for several years, but until Obama created an insurance plan for people with Pre-Existing Conditions Plan (PCIP), she was out of luck for surgery or any health care at a reasonable cost.  Prior to PCIP, she paid over $1000/mo, $10,000 deductible, 50% medical copay and no preventative services.

After jumping through numerous hoops, she finally qualified for the new Obama plan which was supposed to cover subscribers through 2013.  It would pay 100% for surgery after a typical plan deductible.   Elated, she researched orthopedic surgeons in CA, chose a doc in Napa Valley and scheduled surgery for August 14th.

Suddenly-- PANIC!  She got a letter May 29 saying that her PCIP insurance was cancelled July 1.  Even though she had previously been approved for the surgery, benefits would not be retroactive and she would have no insurance as of July 1.   So began the mad scramble to get rescheduled and pre-op'ed for a very popular new knee surgery before July 1.  The Coons Orthopedic Institute in St Helena is in great demand, but they found a spot for her on June 26 and immediately began an intensive pre-op protocol.

The surgery is minimally-invasive total knee replacement also known as "quad-sparing" Minimally-Invasive Total Knee Replacement (Real).  Rather than cut the quadriceps tendon, special instrumentation and computer navigation software leads the way through a 4 inch incision--a technique that creates an error-free, custom knee replacement and reduces recovery time by about half.

Even with her early mobility, getting up and down RV steps would have been difficult, so a friend of Sharon's arranged for her to stay for 5 days in their Calistoga vineyard home which they had been planning to vacate.   We took Cassie and enjoyed a sublime setting in the middle of a vineyard for 5 days.   Thank you Debbie and Greg!

During her recuperation, Sharon was glued to the phone running her RV park.

I am happy that my sis is doing extremely well and began walking without a walker, cane or crutches two days after her surgery!   She walks slowly and  sometimes uses walls for balance.   Her only "job" is to walk 5 minutes each hour, do daily range of motion exercises and apply her special ice machine for 1 hour 3X/day.

MY job was to go-fer more ice.

Due to the surprising early mobility, she skipped physical therapy, since she was transitioning between the old and new insurance plans and it would have been completely out of pocket to the tune of around $5000.  (The docs, of course, want you to do conventional physical therapy as there is not yet a special protocol for the new procedure.  However, she was provided a booklet with glossy color illustrations and explanations of the rehab exercises to do at home.)

Her only difficulties have been with her medication regimen.  She is intolerant of narcotics and was put on a heavy duty med for nausea and vomiting (N & V).  I consulted with her doctors on two separate occasions for uncontrolled N & V but, unfortunately, nothing stopped the nausea & vomiting and has made her recuperation quite uncomfortable.

Finally-in true California-style medicine-natural relief was found.

MovinSue chillin' in her socks!

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