Letter To The Editor: Perfect Powder

Los Alamos

Sitting in the car today outside the Unitarian Church waiting for my younger daughter to finish her piano lesson, my older daughter asked me to guess the five questions the paramedics asked her in the ambulance on the ride to the hospital two days ago. I really had no idea so I said just tell me. These were the questions: Are you pregnant?, Are you depressed?, Are you homicidal?, Is someone in your household homicidal?, and Do you fear living at home? 

I wish this somehow had surprised me but it didn’t. She went to LAMC on the advice of her pediatrician when a very bad cold turned into an awful case of bronchitis making breathing difficult. Ordinarily this would be the sort of thing one would drive to Urgent Care for but her leg is broken and she was too weak to get up on her crutches.

She broke her leg a few weeks ago in a small Alpine country. She and her sister were skiing together having taken the ski bus up the mountain an hour or so away. The rest of the family went out for a long lunch and returning home later in the afternoon we got a message that though there had been an accident, all was well and the girls were on their way home.

The age of consent in medical matters in Central Europe is 14. My injured daughter 17; her sister 14. She had a ski mishap, was rescued, x-rayed, had the leg set in a brace, taught how to self-inject blood thinners, and given medication for pain by a young mountain doctor who then found my girls’ uncle to give them a lift home. He also gave her a recommendation for a surgeon who repaired the bone and ACL 36 hours later after an MRI and overnight hospital including physical therapy. The total cost for all of this was just short of $10,000. The care was superb.

I was sad she hurt herself but the injury was handled in such a way that left my daughters feeling safe and empowered to handle their healthcare. We flew home five days after the surgery.

I assumed we would just call and arrange continued care here at home with an orthopedist. This proved far more difficult than it sounds. There is a secret rule it seems that most doctors in Sante Fe and Albuquerque refuse to deal with patients who have had surgery abroad for reasons of possible malpractice and the inconvenience of medical billing bundling which is done in 60 to 90 day cycles.

With abundant help from our pediatrician of almost two decades, Dr. Krohn, to whom we will be forever grateful, Taos Orthopedics agreed to see my daughter in a few weeks. Her physical therapist at the hospital, Christy, has been wonderful.

But let’s take a step back to the trip to the LAMC ER the other day. I was grateful she was found to be sick but basically good to go by their staff but the visit consisted primarily of the young physician almost screaming at me to force my daughter to submit to a pregnancy test — the unsaid assumption being to cover our local hospital’s legal basis. I found his behavior truly deplorable but mostly felt sorry for him. It must be so much more rewarding to enjoy the professional freedom the young doctor in Europe had a few weeks ago who took such good care of her.

There has to be a better way.


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