February 18, 2018

Dan Update

It's been a tough couple of weeks since Dan's accident. Nearly sawing off a finger is pretty traumatic, but even so, we thought healing was progressing fairly well. At the ER we'd been told there was a dislocation, a little bone loss, and extensive tissue damage. Dan had hoped they could fix it then and there, but the ER doctor said they were too busy for the time it would take. So he talked to a hand specialist and set up an appointment at another hospital. When the specialist didn't keep the appointment, nor call to let us know he wouldn't be there, we figured maybe it wasn't as bad as we thought. The ER report described it just as I did above and indicated that a follow-up should take place within a week of the injury.

We'd been flushing it with betadine, applying an herbal salve, and changing dressings twice a day. The worst wound is still weeping and both fingers are very sensitive and painful to touch. Improvement is slow, and Dan had an inner concern that something wasn't right. We made an appointment with my daughter's GP, because she really liked him plus he doesn't accept insurance. That means his fees are much lower than most physicians. (Nor did they become instantly unfriendly when they learned we have no insurance. We've been getting quite a bit of that lately.)

Dr. K took another x-ray and showed it to us. Dan had had x-rays taken at both ERs, but no one had shown them to us or even talked about them with us to explain what they indicated. Based on what we'd been told, we had assumed the bone loss was at the tip of the finger. Dr. K's x-ray showed that the loss was actually in the knuckle itself. That's where the saw hit, which explained the dislocation, but also where the most bone had been lost - below the first knuckle.

The ends of the bones that form that joint have been destroyed. They should be flat on the ends, but the lower bone had been chiseled almost to a point. In other words, there is no knuckle. Dr. K sent us to his own hand surgeon to discuss options.

Surgery? That would entail a fusion, but with the end of the bones gone, there is nothing to fuse to. Letting it heal as is, is an option. The end of the finger is still very much alive and Dan has feeling and blood flow to the tip. Without a functioning joint, however, there would be limitations. The last option is amputating the end of the finger where the joint used to be. Since losing the finger was Dan's primary concern in the first place, this option is something of a blow. Fortunately no decision had to be made on the spot, so we opted take some time to consider what to do. Dan has a follow-up appointment in three weeks.

The first of the ER bills has arrived - $3554.42. This is from our local hospital and I have to say it is significantly more than the "average" emergency room costs I've researched. The hospital will discount $1000 because we are self-pay. The second bill is yet to arrive.

At the encouragement of several of you, I have set up a "GoFundMe" account for Dan to help with these costs.

I know most of you are probably in the same financial boat as we are, but two things would be a great help.
  1. Your continued prayers. It is your prayers that are keeping us from being overwhelmed with discouragement. 
  2. To share Dan's link (https://www.gofundme.com/DanielTate) or a link to this post on social media. The GoFundMe folks say this is the best way to meet goals. Since I'm not a social media person, this would be a tremendous help. I will say that we've contributed to similar campaigns in the past, because we always think, "what if it was us." Well, now it is us and it's hard to ask for help!
The goal is estimated and I'm hoping it works out that we will need a less. I pray it isn't more! I'll update it after we hear from the other hospital and find out how much both hospitals are willing to lower their bills.

Dan Update © Feb 2018 by Leigh at


Mama Pea said...

You and Dan are going through such a tough mental, physical and emotional time right now and it's very hard to remember that this, too, shall pass. You're both strong people with good, rational thinking ability and will figure out how to handle it in the best way for you personally.

Remember you have many (many, many!) of us out here across the country (and I'm sure some in other countries, too) praying for you and offering all the support we can from a distance.

Years ago, when our then insurance company refused to pay a $6,000 bill we were assured would be covered, we made arrangements with the hospital and paid it off over several years time, sending something each month.

Thanks for keeping us up-to-date.

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, your prayers and encouragements are so very welcome. Sounds like you've had the same kind of problems with insurance companies as we have in the past. I've had more denials than proper pay-outs which is discouraging especially since we've never asked for anything other than the help we've paid for. Really shakes confidence in the whole system.

Goatldi said...

Leigh I will jump off a ledge here. When I became pregnant with my second child Geoffrey had as he has always been blessed with a job with insurance.

Forty one years ago it wasn't as expensive but insurance companies paid little for "normal" pregnancies. Ours covered about $100.00

Our beautiful daughter joined our family a bit sooner then we had planned for God's time. But the untimely side effect was a financial hit we were not able to cover.

So I signed up for MediCal coverage just for me just for this pregnancy. Soon after delivering I quickly backed out of the program. Because those programs were not originally designed for long term us. They were for short term a hand up.
I remember the case worker being confused at my closing the coverage. She asked how many children we were having after this one and I replied this is all we can afford to care for so no more. This was about the time habitual over use of what should have been a helping hand was becoming for many a lifestyle.
Each individual has to do what they feel is right. But I think to use a program for what it was designed for is no sin. Yes planning and saving are great but sometimes accidents happen. We can't always plan for hard times.
And to those who say using those programs even temporarily mean you are supportive of how they are currently being run amuck I say poop.

Prayers for you both as always .

Lady Locust said...

Continued prayers of course. Also wishes of wisdom for the best decision.
Keep well.

jewlz said...

I am so glad you started the go fund me site! I was creeped out at he thought of snooping out your address to mail a little something to show support. I understand its hard not to worry- when my partner passed, my income was reduced by 2/3rds. Its certainly a shock, but I'm still certain that your needs will be met.
The hospital bill does seem high..if all things were equal Id say pay them all at same rate, but in this situation, I'd be tempted to make bigger payments to the gp, and savethe smallest amounts for the ER.
Blessings and prayers continue!

Rene said...

When I was diagnosed with cancer I was an unemployed college student with no insurance. I applied for the hospital’s charity care program and was able to have my surgery and radiation treatment with their considerable financial contribution. If you are doing the surgery in a hospital you might inquire whether they have such a program. With your low income you may qualify.

Mrs Shoes said...

Your health care system is so much different from ours - it should not be allowed that an injury or something so natural a giving birth could bankrupt a family. :-(
Continued prayers.

Seeking Serenity said...

that joint is fused on two of my fingers and i dont even notice anymore.
The fingers are still just as usable to grasp. I used to not be able to make a tight empty fist, but squeezing exercises improved that... I can handle a hammer

Rain said...

OMG Leigh, that bill is ridiculous. You can count on me in a few weeks for sure. xxx

Meredith said...

I’m so sorry you are both going through this! You’re in my thoughts.

Mark said...

Leigh, oh my... That is difficult news, both medically and financially. I am so, so sorry.

Do keep asking questions of the medical folks. Ask, ask, and ask again. De and I have learned that doctors, especially ER and GP docs, who are often tired and pressed for time, might not take the time to explain the detail of things unless you ask. Specialists and surgeons are a little better, but sometimes assume the referring doc has educated you as part of the referral. No question should be considered to simple to ask.

The go fund me page is a good idea. As always, the prayers will continue daily.

M.K. said...

Leigh, I'm so sorry. Those don't sound like very encouraging options. Wow - I just didn't realize the kind of damage that could be done. I think Dan's injury is worse that Adam's was. Adam did have surgery, but they were able to join the tendon back, and it healed. I do hope they can come up with a creative, positive plan for Dan!
I'm so sorry about the cost. Oh, our healthcare situation in this nation is so bad!! Compared to other 1st world nations, we are truly abysmal. Our daughter is in Japan, has a heart condition, and receives excellent, easily-available care there. We are worried when she comes back to the US in April. She has no insurance here. It's a constant worry for folks like us.
May God provide, as He promises to! I wish we could help. We are in your same boat, and are paying off our thousands, each month, in $25 increments. It's a pain, and we'll be doing it for years :(

M.K. said...

Oh - meant to say that I also think that ER charge is insanely high, even though he had extra treatments. Even Adam's surgery bill wasn't that high. A visit to our ER here is a base cost of $600 (but we have Obamacare, that was our ER deductible, I suppose) Anyway, it seems so high. I would think they'd have a much lower rate for uninsured people.

Lori said...

I don't know you but I kind of feel like I do because I love following your blog. I am so sorry this happened. My husband was without insurance for 10 years (self-employed). I do understand the stress involved in that. I pray that God will provide what you need when you need it. I don't have a lot extra right now, but I made a small donation and will try to make another one next month. Hang in there from one goat lover to another!

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

I can pray that God will give you wisdom. I am so sorry that this had to happen to him. Nancy

Leigh said...

Goatldi, it's true that for many "free" money and benefits are a life goal. A very sad mindset. It's nice to hear how it worked for you and how you had the sense to meet your need and then look to resuming a more regular life.

Lady Locust, thank you!

Jewlz, you are so sweet and you make my day. It's so hard to have a financial stumbling block no matter how it comes. This week Dan will go talk to the first hospital and hopefully the second will send their bill so we'll have a better idea of what to expect.

Rene, oh my, what a difficult situation and how wonderful the hospital was willing to work with you. We did take a look at one of the hospital's financial aid applications and couldn't believe the information they wanted. Proof of income and expenses I could understand, but they go way beyond that. I suppose some assume that the poor have no dignity and no rights.

Mrs. Shoes, I'm so ashamed of this country's "health care." Health care should never be a for profit venture for investors, and our current health care laws are written to guarantee those profits, not help people.

Seeking Serenity, an encouraging testimony! Thank you for that. Not sure what kind of mobility and strength Dan will have by just letting the finger heal as is, but I'm thinking it should be better than the worst doctors think. Dan's a trooper and willing to put some work into it so he may fare far better than they think.

Thanks Rain!

Meredith, thank you!

Mark, I appreciate that and understand how easy it is for doctors and nurses to get so caught up in their work loads and routines to forget they are ministering to a worried person who needs information.

M.K. I'm so glad Adam's injury wasn't worse! And that it was fixable. Interesting that you have Obamacare and are still head over heals in debt. Very sad situation.

I have to confess that I've wondered if the hospital didn't pad the bill prior to giving us our self-pay discount. I've seen that done before. Something normally priced $10 goes on sale for $10 with a "regular price" of $19.95. Our Walmart does that!

Lori, thank you! I don't recall that you've commented on my blog before, so welcome and thank you for not only your help, but for your kind words as well.

Thank you Nancy! Much appreciated.

The Wykeham Observer said...

I guess I can't give you any encouragement that would mean much. I just wish providers would be more honest upfront. I don't think that's going to happen. I'm also not impressed with whatever the government thinks it can do. All I can say is don't overthink this. You did the right thing, and if all the systems in place are failing, then we are not in the best place, but we can still rely on our instincts, and it sounds like you did that. Try to hold close what you did in this situation and work toward getting better; I really think that is our hope, with God's help.

Melody A. said...

First, I am so sorry this happened to your husband. I would advise you to try and renegotiate the bill from the local ER, if paid in full at once. You should only have to pay what they will accept from the insurance companies and Medicare as payment in full. how awful that the doctor didn't show that should have, glad you have seen someone more competent. Take care from Iowa

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Leigh, sometimes specific counties have funds for those in needs. I'd suggest giving your county commissioner a call. Also, contact the billing office at the hospital directly and ask about their indigent care programs. They often run at about 138% of the poverty level in your state, meaning they may very well write off a part of your bill. It is indeed difficult for us independent (AKA stubborn) folk to ask for help when it's raining, but believe me, it's ok to grab an umbrella wherever you can find one!

Chris said...

My brother had an injury to the major tendons in his hands. He had to have surgery, which was thankfully covered by our Nationally owned, medical healthcare system. Medicare. I'm appalled this is not an option in the land of the free. Because ultimately people like Dan, work and pay their taxes. The longer he's out of action, is not only bad for you, it's bad for the country's bottom line. As well as the economy, your hard earned money, goes into.

It was specialist surgery, so I'm sure it would have cost 10's of 1000's, if not more, in my brother's case! Also, he had to get physio for several months afterwards, which was also covered by Medicare and the public hospital system. But the cost of surgery, paled in comparison to how much tax he's paid, in the past few decades, since. He's got a high paying job, owns several properties and investments. That may not have been the case, if he didn't get the full use of his hand back!

The point for raising my brother's injury was the advice he was given by the physio. His hand hurt like hell, but the physio told him to keep moving it every day! Because if he didn't, his arteries would close, lose the blood flow and he wouldn't have reaped the full benefit of having the surgery. Because his hand would be paralyzed. So my advice to Dan, is to exercise his finger for 10 minute intervals, 3-4 times a day. Just stretch the joint, as far as his pain threshold can take him. In the up position and the down. If you don't tell the finger, it needs healing, by carefully subjecting it to movement, the pathways will close down, making it harder to regain any movement back.

In the meantime, feed him lots of bone broth and try to get some glucosamine tablets from the pharmacy. It helps to rebuild cartilage as well. All the best, for a full and speedy recovery.

Gayla Lueking said...

Prayers coming your way. Have you asked the hospital if they have financial help? They offer it in Illinois. Its a tax write off for them and will pay off a majority of the bill. I enjoy your blog. Hang in there.

Shelley S said...

I apologize in advance for the length of this post. I also apologize that I can't contribute to Dan's fund. I have a niece in Puerto Rico who has rec'd any little extra we have these days as she is still without consistent power or water as an after effect of Hurricane Maria over 4 months ago.

Please reassure Dan that should the decision be that the first joint on his finger needs to be amputated or fused, it wouldn't impair him much at all. Though I'd recommend he keep the entire finger as long as he has sensation. Keeping it without sensation could actually be dangerous.

I've been diagnosed with a very rare relative to RA, which I've dealt with for over 35 years. Arthritis Mutilans means essentially that the bones in my fingers dissolve, splinter, and those splinters work their way out just as a wood or metal splinter would. It also means the fingers either gradually become shorter, or bone infection sets in and I have to have portions of or entire fingers amputated. I'm currently typing with my right thumb and knuckle of my rt little finger when I need to shift/capitalize. I say my knuckle because the RA has fused that finger into a crook. I'm not very ambidextrous and my rt hand is my dominant one.I'm blessed in that both thumbs are relatively functional, but that C shaped little finger and my thumbs are my only digit which are entire. My rt index finger was amputated completely, my rt middle and ring finger are 1.5 segments long, my left hand has 2.5 joints fused into a C index finger, then middle, ring and little finger are all 1 segment. This has all happened in the last 6 or so years. It took 17 Dr's in 3 states to figure out what this was, then there was the lovely "there's nothing we can do" diagnosis. In my case, currently, those 2 fused crooked fingers in combination with my thumbs allow me to grasp things like a toothbrush and silverware and a few tools. You would be amazed at how creative you can be out of necessity, and how in my case I have adapted and sought out tools which allow me to keep doing as much as possible.

(And yes, I do know there is Voice Recognition software out there, but my husband is a retired and just recently declared disabled Vietnam Veteran, and I'm on disability, so the SW is significantly down the wish list.)

My husband is an angel and a blessing I have no idea how I'd manage without him. We've found quite a number of tools which allow me to continue food prep and cooking and cleaning. But because there are some things I absolutely cannot grasp, my husband helps like crazy, even going so far as to trim my toenails for me, which I declare is a true sign of his love for me!

Because of him we still live on a farm with my dream of keeping my horses at home. He's currently doing 80% of the work housebreaking and caring for - I do the obedience training - a puppy who I hope to train as a service dog.

OK, enough... just wanted you and Dan to realize he will probably need to adjust to that finger being a tad different, but he'll work it out. I will keep you in my prayers.

Shelley S in NE Michigan

Leigh said...

Phil, just commenting and sympathizing is encouraging! I will say that something unexpected like this really does cause one to get a good glimpse of what they're holding on to for hope. The core of that is a spiritual issue, because it requires faith. It may be faith in God, it may be faith in government. When I took back at the evidence, I'll keep my faith in God with no apology.

Melody, tomorrow Dan plans to contact the first hospital to get an itemized bill and go from there. I'll have an update after that. And yes, very thankful for Dr. K; very knowledgeable and compassionate!

Donna, yesterday I downloaded a financial aid application for the first hospital. We definitely qualify, but were absolutely flabbergasted at the information they want. Proof of income I get, but the rest of it seemed too overreaching. I'll explain more in another blog post, because I'll really be interested in what readers think of it.

Chris, the U.S. does not have national or universal health care. What we have is mandatory health insurance. That insurance is provided by for-profit companies, which means that their primary focus is on showing economic growth and keeping investors and shareholders happy with nice dividends. At one time those profits had to be maintained on monthly payments from their customer base versus controlling pay-outs, but Obamacare now subsidies them with taxpayer funds too. As you have read from other comments, the insurance companies are free to pay or deny whatever they wish and raise rates annually. Without checks, balances, and accountability on behalf of the American citizen, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see where this is heading.

Good advice about circulation and exercise. And yes to the bone broth! That's what I feed him for lunch every day. :)

Gayla, thank you for your prayers! And your kind words about my blog. Yesterday I downloaded a financial aid application for the first hospital. We definitely qualify and are willing to give proof of income, but the application went way beyond that. I'll explain more in an upcoming blog post, because I'll really be interested in what readers think of it.

Shelley, what an amazing story! You and your husband are amazing people! I'm so glad you didn't give up your farm and your horses. Living your dreams is so important and shouldn't be given up if one can at all help it. What I'm really impressed with is your attitude. You haven't succumbed to discouragement nor let your limitations defeat you. That's truly inspirational and encouraging.

Harry Flashman said...

The go fund me site is a good idea. There's nothing wrong with doing that. I look at it as a form of self insurance. You've helped others when they needed it, so there's no stigma associated with others helping you.

Kris said...

Thank you, Leigh & Dan, for setting up a GoFundMe account so we can help. So often we help unknown nameless people during tragedies, etc and it's wonderful to be able to help a friend outright in a time of need! Know that we are here for you guys and will step up however we are able. I hope the negotiations at the hospitals will be fair and that Dan gets the help he needs it when he needs it. Take care - Kris

Leigh said...

Harry, thanks. People have been so encouraging and kind about it that it makes me feel better. I have to admit that when it's us giving, I'd rather do it as directly to the recipients as possible. Some of these charitable organizations actually give very little, so things like this are really a good thing.

Kris, thank you! Dan and I so appreciate the support and encouragement we're getting. Community coming together, which is the way I think it was meant to be.

Ed said...

I'm continuing to keep you and Dan in my prayers.

Leigh said...

Thank you Ed! We need them!

Chris said...

Wow, no wonder people are miffed about Obamacare, if it's determined and controlled by share companies. I didn't know that. What a nationally owned health care system does (ie: paid for by tax-payers, and run by government departments) is allow fair competition, and non-biased research to enter the health care system. So no monopolies on health, or collusion is allowed.

Not saying our system, is in any way, perfect. But it does make it harder for absolute control on health, to be determined, purely by profit. Private insurance companies still exist in the system, and those who pay into them, get a concession on their tax - but private ownership, doesn't get to monopolize the receiving end.

What you're suggesting with Obamacare, is taxpayers are offering financial aide to the health care system (via subsidies) but receive no government representation at the receiving end. What an absolute tragedy. :(

Leigh said...

Chris, yeah, it is a very poorly written bill, but was spun very cleverly to gain political support. So now, if you don't have health insurance, you have to pay a hefty tax penalty. You can understand why anyone who has even part of their investments in health care doesn't want it to change, (which unfortunately includes politicians in both political parties). Guaranteed profits and dividends courtesy of the taxpayer! Unfortunately, the higher the insurance premiums go, the more people have to drop out. For a lot of us it's a choice between paying for insurance or paying our mortgage/rent and buying food. A recent Forbes analysis showed that 80% of the people paying the penalty are families making under $50,000. So in the end it's a tax on the poor. Mainstream media and politicians turn a blind eye and pretend there's no problem, which is one of the reasons I say it's a disaster just waiting to happen.

Renee Nefe said...

When I sliced my finger a few years ago the entire bill was close to 3 thousand dollars... no xrays and I didn't even see a doctor. It was done in their triage unit. I was seen by two people, it was cleaned up and stitched...although the gal that stitched it didnt do that great of a job and when I returned for the "free" stitch removal the guy had to dig out the knot she put under the surface (OUCH!)
ER care is really declining. My husband and mother both almost died from the lack of care in the ER. :P
Glad you got to see a doctor who took the time to explain things to you.

Nancy @ Little Homestead In Boise said...

I know it's scary when the hand is involved. Sound like you're on the right track. I had to have a chunk of bone taken out of my thumb, and rebuilt, took a while to fully recover, and my fear that it wouldn't. Hang in there!

Chris said...

Wow, Leigh. Gob-smacked!

Leigh said...

Renee, wow! That's almost worse; you got less care for nearly the same cost. My takeaway is avoid the ER and go to urgent care if at all possible! Probably have to wait just as long but it's a cheaper way to die.

Nancy, thanks! Glad you were able to have your's taken care of!

Chris, I know. But whatcha gonna do?

simple living said...

Sometimes there are assistance programs through the hospitals, based on income. Talk to the billing department they may be able to assist you.

Sam I Am...... said...

Leigh, I am so sorry to hear this. Whenever I slack off at reading my friend's blogs something terrible happens...I've got to keep up! I will definitely say prayers and more if I can. I will email you as GFM doesn't use Paypal and that's all I use online. I am just sick that this has happened to Dan and the financial burden it has put on you guys. I'm glad you reached out because together we can help each other but alone my little pittance wouldn't make a dent! LOL! I will be praying for you both and your "critters" too! Hugs ~ Sam