Monday, July 11, 2011


The discomfort in my lower back has not subsided. Standing and lying down relieve the pressure, but prolonged sitting results in a dull throbbing sensation down low. Walking is at times easy, at others a struggle. On Saturday morning, I noticed bruising where there had been none. Growing mildly concerned about the possibility of a fracture, or worse, I visited the Sawbones today.

I'm pleased to report that "Lumbar Contusion" is the diagnosis. The treatment: Alternating ice and heat, Alleve, and beer (I may have added that last one myself).

This constitutes my first visit to a physician since I retired from Uncle Sam's Navy. As my employer provides health coverage free of charge, I opted to take the civilian route, as opposed to navigating the murky waters of TriCare. I was most pleasantly surprised. While there, I disrobed and dressed twice, was examined by the Doc, x-rays were taken and examined by a Radioligist, back with the Doc, treatement discussed, and a tetanus shot for good measure. One hour and ten minutes later, I was sitting in my pickup headed home.

Prior to this, my visits to medical fell under the heading "Adventures in Naval Medicine". A typical experience goes something like this:

Viewing the obviously broken bone in my hand, I proceed to visit the ships "Doc". Submarines only carry a specially trained enlisted Independent Duty Corpsman for medical staff. I was, at varying times, convinced that said training consisted of two things: 1) How to convince someone that they were, in fact, not hurt, but malingering. 2) How to dispense Motrin.

Doc: "Stop malingering. Here's some Motrin. Now get back to work."

Me: "But this bone is pointing in the wrong direction."

Doc: "Yes it is. Stop malingering. Take your Motrin, and get back to work."

Me: "I can't move my fingers."

Doc: "It's getting close to lunch time. Go malinger at Squadron Medical."

A similar scene is repeated at squadron medical, only this time you are sent to Balboa Naval Hospital. Never mind that your hand is obviously broken, drive yourself malingerer.

I was lucky, getting in to see the Doctor a mere two hours after the scheduled appointment. After viewing the obviously broken fifth metacarpal in the x-ray, the Ortho Doc looks at me and asks "what would you like us to do?" (I'm not kidding. You can't make this shit up.)

Uh, gosh, I don't know, give me some Motrin? Reset the bone maybe?

Of course, after said bone had been reset, I was left wondering if I had chosen poorly. No anesthetic or such things. That hurt worse than breaking it did.

"There's your cast, malingerer. Get back to your command." Gladly.

The only hiccup in today's visit came when the Doc asked if I need a note for work. I said no, the only thing this injury is affecting is my ability to ride horses. To which she replied "that's probably for the best."

She obviously does not own any horses.


Love and Life said...

My gosh, your past experiences with military "doctors" is sad, but freakin' hilarious! And yet somehow not surprising. Fortunately, our family lives too far away from any military base, that we can choose to go to civilian doctors and Tricare covers it, so it's been pretty easy for us. So sorry about your back. That sucks. :( Pop open a beer and watch a movie tonight with your sweetie.

Veronica Lodge said...

feel better, beer always helps. Couldn't hurt to add a little motrin.

Mary said...

What a nightmare with the naval crap, sheesh! It is funny though, after the fact. I am real glad that your back is not more serious. I fell out of a hay loft years ago and my back still reminds me of that little tid bit in my past, but the best you can do is obviousl,y beer and rest. Don't push it my friend. (don't milk it either, men are such babies) he he

Anonymous said...

Feel better soon - that sort of bruising can be very unpleasant. Military "medical", indeed!

Bag Blog said...

When my son broke a bone in his wrist (while working cattle) we had a bad experience with the ER. They made the mistake of sending me a "how'd we do survey."

I hope your back gets to feeling better soon.

Kate said...

Ouch. This type of injury can take forever to heal. Sorry to hear this. Motrin and beer sound pretty good to me.
A heart-felt thanks for your service to our country. God bless.

Buck said...

Wow. My military medical experience and yours are night and day, BR. AF doctors literally saved my life once upon a time in the wayback (they say viral pneumonia; I say Legionnaire's Disease), and the base's flight surgeon himself (the ranking medico on Yokota Airplane Patch) took charge of my case. That was the most "interesting" encounter I ever had with the AF's medical community but normal, routine, and mundane stuff was excellent, too.

I dreaded goin' on Medicare when I hit 65, because that was when the AF turned me out... no more USAF medical for YOU, Bud! My primary care guys (and one gal) were all excellent at Cannon Airplane Patch and I miss 'em. But, that said, my Medicare doc has worked out OK, too. Mebbe I'm just lucky.

Lastly... beer HELPS! Go on... ask me how I know. ;-)

Kipp said...

I just read/found out you are quite the dismount artist. Couple of more times and you may learn to land on your feet. ;)
Seriously - glad to hear it was not more serious (like your head or neck). Get well soon.

Buckskins Rule said...

L&L: Be very glad that IF doesn't have any military medical facility. Just sayin'.

Veronica: I'm definitely well medicated.

Mary: My problem is that I'm an anti-baby when hurt. The risk is that I will push myself before I'm healed.

Kate: If memory serves, I think you've had some experience in the military medical system too.

Lou: Somehow I suspect you were brutally honest.

Kate: Your welcome. I'm hoping this doesn't take too long to heal. It's summer, and I missing valuable saddle time.

Buck: Somehow it doesn't surprise me that the USAF had a better medical system. I have reliable information that the first purpose of Navy Medicine is (or at least was) to get sailors back to work. The easiest method being to tell said sailors that there is nothing wrong.

Kipp: Thanks! I'm hoping I don't get too many opportunities to practice the unplanned dismounts.

Andy said...

Nyuk! BR, your experience with Naval medicine made me chuckle. My AF son raves about their health care, even though he hasn't had to use it much.

Hope you get mended up, soon. It's hell gettin' old...

Jessica said...

My experience on the collections side of TriCare has been, um, interesting.

I'm glad you are only bruised (contused?), and that you got it checked.

Not that I endorse the Motrin/Malingerer balance of the Military, but there is a certain amount of over-diagnosing and hypochondriac-ism out there that is driving up medical costs.

Then there are people like you and me who fight the need to see a doctor unless it obstructs our need to ride horses.

You're right. They just don't understand.

Buck said...

Hey! You changed the wallpaper and re-painted! Lookin' good...

Dave (aka Buckskins Rule) said...

Thank, Buck! Thought I give things a new look, and test the response.

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