by MIKE TODD
The regular readers(s) of this column will probably attest that I’ve been in need of therapy for some time, and I finally got some this week. Unfortunately for my brain, my knee was the recipient. It would have been nice to have my brain looked at, but my knee takes precedence because I use it every day.
To diagnose the problem, the orthopedist who felt my knee for 30 seconds, said, “Does this hurt?” a few times, then sent me off for an MRI. The bill: 75 bucks, or one dollar for every neuron fired during the consultation.
When I showed up for my MRI appointment, the receptionist looked as if she felt sorry for me. “Did anyone call you about your insurance?” she asked.
That’s one of those questions that indicate something bad has either happened or is about to happen, like, “Want to take this outside?” or “How many fingers am I holding up?” or “You didn’t eat that; did you?”
“No; nobody called,” I said.
“Sorry about that. We have a note here that says this MRI is going to cost you $850 out-of-pocket,” she replied.
“One moment,” I said as I hobbled off to see if anyone had dropped any prescription sedatives in the hallway. Not having any luck, I decided to call my wife to get her opinion on whether she’d rather have a healthy husband or $850.
“What choice do we have? You need to find out what’s wrong,” she said.
“I could just put it off until I can pick a better insurance plan next year,” I replied.
“Babe, it’s only February. You can’t limp around for a whole year,” she said.
“Just watch me. It’ll be easy, ‘cause I’ll be going really slow,” I said.
In the end, we decided that I really didn’t have a choice. In the great roulette game of choosing an insurance plan for the year, I’d crapped out, which might be mixing gambling metaphors, but I’m not really sure because I don’t have the stomach for anything with higher stakes than the McDonald’s Monopoly game.
If you’ve never had an MRI taken, just imagine a giant white machine with a cylindrical hole in the middle, which you’re meant to go into feet-first. The technician only inserted me up to my chest, but I can see why the panic button he handed me is standard issue. People who go all the way into the machine must come out with a much greater appreciation for how a battery feels when you drop it into a flashlight.
After the technician leaves, you try to hold still for 20 minutes while the machine makes sounds as if it is a giant modem from 1997, and it is having trouble connecting to AOL. During this time, a huge magnet is causing the protons in your body to realign so that $850 can be extracted from your wallet. Also, it takes a picture.
That picture gets sent to the orthopedist, who charges you $75 to tell you that he doesn’t see anything in it. Then you limp back to your car, feeling a little lighter on your feet because you don’t have all that money weighing you down.
Afterwards, you’ll wait a few weeks to see if your knee will heal on its own, which it won’t, and you’ll realize that you should have just bought a new knee at the beginning of all this.
That’s when you’ll finally break down and visit the physical therapist, which the orthopedist had, in fairness, recommended when he said, “I’m recommending physical therapy,” which cost $18.50 per word.
The physical therapist will take your leg and bend it around your ears. Fortunately, there will be nothing left to fall out of your pockets.