Olga Spessiva in Swan Lake costume, 1934 / pho...
Olga Spessiva in Swan Lake costume, 1934 / photographer Sydney Fox Studio, 3rd Floor, 88 King St, Sydney (Photo credit: State Library of New South Wales collection)

When I was very small I pointed my my toes all the time. If I could have stood up at that age I would have been standing very close to “on point” like ballet dancers can. When I was four years old it was decided that I would have surgery to make my feet appear normal. After the surgery I could no longer pointing my toes at all and if anyone manipulated either of my feet into that position it was very painful. Because I now have completely flat feet standing is difficult because I lack the balance being able to point your toes can give you and I can’t manage transfers on my owns 99% of the time. For anybody unfamiliar with rehab therapy language a transfer refers to moving oneself or a person from a bad to a share, from a chair in the back etc.

 

I have asked several doctors over the intervening years if it was possible to do something that would at least give me some of the ability to point my toes back and therefore improve my balance. For the last 10 years I have always been answered with an unequivocal no. After I broke my legs several years ago I asked the orthopedic surgeon who repaired them the same question, expecting to get the same answer I always got. To my surprise he said he thought he could improve their function but requesting that I let him get my legs healed before having that discussion. It wasn’t until well after my legs were healed I discovered, upon calling his office to set up an appointment to talk about my feet and ankles, that my insurance usually does not cover his services and the only reason they had before was because he had been the sergeant on call at the hospital nearest to where I broke my legs.

 

I recently filed for an exception through what I guess is in simple terms would be the patient’s human resource department. It was denied on the basis that “they had equally qualified surgeons in their network.” It has been my experience that just because a group of people hold that particular diploma does not mean that everyone within that group is equally skilled. It is possible to pass courses with a C average and still get a diploma and any accompanying title but that does not make you the equal of the top student in the class and that is exactly what I told the person on the phone. I will go talk to the doctors but I fully expect to hear more of what I went I have always heard. If I am right I will then contact the doctor who fixed my legs and request that he contact me insurance directly and tell them that he is able and willing to at least mitigate the problem with my feet. I’m really hoping that will help.

 

Dealing with insurance companies frustrates me because I am pretty sure in most cases the person passing judgment on whether or not to pay for a particular treatment has not had to live with the condition or disorder the treatment is meant to help. Insurance companies would probably be a lot different if the person making decisions have to live with a restricting condition themselves

 

I have lived with Cerebral Palsy my entire life. I have been the recipient of outstanding care for medical professionals, horrible care that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy and everything in between. I know what I’m talking about. If I request a specific person is because I truly believe they are the best at what they do. I will not stand for substandard care or treatment of any kind. I will go see the three doctors that my insurance assures me are equally qualified and if one of them will agree to fix the damage inadvertently done to my feet I will let them. If not I will raise Cain with the insurance company until they pay for the doctor my choice to do the surgery he said he can, or until I move out of state, whichever comes first. I refuse to let any insurance company dictate my life and independence.

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