Monday, December 15th, 2008

You gotta love the American medical system. I went to a podiatrist. I paid $25. The insurance company paid her office for a visit. X-rays were taken, and the X-Ray companies got to make their buck. My doctor got to make money off the insurance companies paying her to do the x-rays. My insurance company also received $75/mo for the last few months I never went to the doctor.

Everyone made money but me. And my advice? “Yes, you have plantar fasciitis.” Something that, based on the symptoms, Dave O diagnosed over email. And guess what? It’s not something that you can diagnose with 100% confidence anyway. Even with the X-Ray, the podiatrist is still just guessing.

So why did I go? Why did I pay? She made a little heel-support out of a piece of medical gauze/tape and a heel pad. The total cost of this was probably 10 cents. Then she sent me to a shoe store. One which had printed advertisements all over her office.

So podiatry is just a front for selling shoes? More or less, she told me to buy some shoes.

At the stores she sent me to – Metro Run & Walk – they had heel supports specifically made for plantar fasciitus. They cost $20 — $5 cheaper than my co-pay. But I didn’t know they came in different sizes, so I got the wrong size.

Why doesn’t the doctor have these? Why does my $25 copay get me nothing but a 10-cent support she fashioned herself in 30 seconds? Is that becuase all the money had to go to the insurance company, x-ray, doctor, secretary, etc? I think this is a classic example of how Americans pay more, and get less. Why does the doctor not even recommend these $20 supports MADE FOR MY CONDITION, AT THE SHOE STORE SHE IS ADVERTISING?

And if this shoe store is taking referrals from a doctor who diagnoses such conditions — WHY NOT HAVE THE SUPPORT IN MY SIZE?

Oh, and the shoe I wanted? They didn’t have in black. I’m supposed to walk around in white shoes like Steamboat Willie? So I had to special order the shoes.

Here it is 4 days after going to the doctor. We’ve now had to drive to the store TWO times, and will end up driving there FOUR times. Once to try on shoes and bring home the wrong-sized support. A second time to return the wrong-sized support and find out they don’t have it in my size. A third time to return when they finally special-order the correct-sized support. And a fourth time to pick up the shoes when they come.

So now I’ve trekked down to Springfield TWICE at a cost of over an hour (multiplied by 2, since Carolyn was with me). I’ve spent $25 on a doctor. I’ve spent $20 on a support and then gotten my $20 back returning it. I have NOTHING TO SHOW FOR ALL MY EFFORTS WHATSOEVER, but plenty of people (including my gas station) have made money off of my pain.

I gotta wonder if a more sensible thing would be for a podiatrist to have supports made for pantar fasciitis — one of the most common foot ailments — available in her fucking office. And I gotta wonder what Metro Run & Walk had to do to get her to carry their advertisements, considering they DON’T EVEN HAVE WHAT I WANT.

Anyway, I made it a point to get a professional shoe-size measuring — something I’ve never done. If I have to buy $130 Saucony shoes after buying $20 PayLess shows the rest of my life, I’m at least going to get a professional measuring. And I now know my foot width, too.

I’m buying my shoes online from now on. Brick-and-mortar shoe stores nationwide just lost another customer, permanently. Shoes cost $5 to ship. I already spent more than $5 on gas and have nothing to show for it.

And I bet that fucking shoe is available locally right now! But nooooo, I felt guilty that the salesmen had spent 30 minutes trying on shoes with me, so I special ordered it at Metro Run And Walk. It’s not like people are custom fabricating the shoe for me. I’m sure it’s available locally SOMEwhere, just not there.

The salesman even told me they didn’t come in black, probably because he wanted my commission. Only when I was going to walk out did black suddenly become available.

Oh, and let’s not mention the sad sack who has to buy my used foot pads, which I wore for a day under my socks, and even slept in. Of course I shoved them back in the packaging and acted like they were new. Capitalism screws me, I screw capitalism back. If my doctor had provided the supports, I’m sure they’d have given me the right size. I didn’t even know they CAME in sizes because I had to discover what felt like the most effective treatment MYSELF. Even my doctor couldn’t bother to tell me about these — she just said to buy new shoes; an advertisement basically.

I’m thinking my hurty foot could have easily had both the supports AND the show by now, had certain elements in our society tried to cooperate instead of compete. Had my doctor not sent me to a specific store that may have some sort of arrangement with her (why does she have Metro Run And Walk flyers in her office?). Had she known these supports existed and recommended them. Had the stores managed their inventory better (perhaps using data from the medical system? Or sharing data with her?). But good luck getting anyone to cooperate. I’m just stating the problem, not the solution.

It’s quite ironic that the thing that helped me the most was NOT recommended to me by my doctor, who eagerly wanted to set up another $25 follow-up appointment only 1 month later (this plantar fasciitis has been a problem for 4 months, and can take 18 months of treatment to heal). It’s all about how they make their next buck, not about giving me the best advice. Not from the doctor. Not from the shoe store salesman.

But at least I got to go to Metro Run & Walk and find the supports. CVS doesn’t carry them. I can thank capitalism for THAT much, anyway. Of course my attitude is if such supports help, they should be carried by the medical industry. I should have been given one (hopefully at a wholesale price instead of a specialty-store price) at the doctor’s office, not some stupid support made with a 10 cent piece of tape.

So much time wasted. And since the store is by Carolyn’s work, she is going to pick up the support for me. 10 minutes for her vs 45 minutes for me. But it sucks. We have to drive our car to the store FOUR TIMES. Plus the CVS trip. Fuck that. I’m buying shoes online from now on. Even if I go to a shoe store to try things on, I’m walking out. Nobody’s ever going to get a commission from me. I’m too jaded to fall for all this ever again. (more…)