It's been a long time since I've needed medical attention.
I've been in for a few visits over the years - all of them regarding funny looking moles that I had taken off. On one occasion my PCP tried to have me go in for lab work - which I politely refused. I don't really care about my cholesterol, and I know my bone marrow, kidneys, and liver are fine. There's no way at my age I'm going to take any medications, so I'd just rather not know at this stage in my life.
Well all that changed over the weekend when I had a traumatic accident that, for the first time in over a decade, made me seek acute medical care.
The mechanism of injury is actually somewhat embarrassing, but for your reading pleasure I will share the humiliating details.
I live on a street that is moderately steep. Not terribly vertical, but enough to get up to out-of-control running speed in a few strides. I also like to wear flip-flops. And my driveway has lots of those annoying little decorative rocks scattered over it - there's just no way to keep those little bastards where they belong.
Anyway, I walked down the street to find my kids for dinner. After peeling them away from the baby toys they found in a neighbors garage (they are far beyond the infant stage but for some reason found them incredibly entertaining), I challenged them to a race back home. In hindsight, racing down the sidewalk in sandals wasn't the greatest idea. But I was hungry and felt like showing them how much faster I am than them. Plus, as all parents know, a race is a very effective way at getting kids from point A to B quickly. They fall for it every time!
I give them a little head start to make them think they're actually faster than me. Just about when we get to the driveway, I cut the corner, put on the speed jets, and make my move. But damn it all if those stupid little rocks didn't just spoil my plan! Somehow I stepped right on a little conglomeration of them, and the next think I know I've just face-planted right on the brick driveway.
When I say face-planted, I mean I truly face-planted. I broke the fall with my hands, but I couldn't stop my large head from slamming straight downward. It was like my chin was magnetized to the earth - it pulled my butt-chin straight down and dashed it on the bricks. Before I had time to realize what the hell just happened, my head was lying in a small pool of blood. The underside of my chin took the brunt of it and I ended up with two deep gashes.
Without a doubt, my pride hurt far worse than my chin. My kids looked at me with the same face that I give them whenever they do something stupid. Karma, I suppose. They also followed my example by not helping me up - rather they ran straight in to the house and I heard my daughter yell, "Mom! Dad just fell and busted his chin open!" I suffered alone on that cold, abrasive driveway.
After I got cleaned up, I realized I needed some sutures. My wife had to leave to teach a class, so I was stuck at home with the kids. I briefly entertained the idea of going to Urgent Care or the ER to get stitched up. But with a Health Savings Account that hasn't met the yearly deductible and two young kids that were nearing bedtime, that was clearly out of the question. My wife jokingly asked me if I was going to suture it myself. Hah! Good one honey. Of course not. What a ridiculous idea.
My neighbor down the street is an emergency doc. I gave him a call, but he didn't answer the phone. I left a shameful message detailing my clumsiness and need for stitches, but didn't hear back from him. I figured he was working. Damn. Now what?
I've always been a very independent person. It drives my wife crazy. I refuse to even ask where things are at the grocery store. I can't stand it. I'd rather wander around for an hour than ask for help. Well this was no different. Am I not a board certified physician? Do I not have sutures, lidocaine, and needles at my disposal? Then why should I not just do this myself? What seemed so silly one hour earlier now sounded like a reasonable option.
For some reason I waited until after the kids were asleep to get to work. I don't know why. I'm sure they would have loved to watch it. I guess I like to work alone.
I put on some gloves and filled a syringe with lidocaine. I'm not sure why I put on gloves. It just felt weird not wearing them. Silly, I know. I also told myself the risks and benefits of the procedure and signed my own consent - you can't be too careful these days.
Injecting myself felt a little creepy - kinda like I was doing something illegal. But I was surprised at how good I was at delivering a painless injection! Now I know that all my patients that have flinched, cried, and screamed during local injections are full of crap! I didn't feel a thing.
Once sufficiently numb, I loaded a needle on a hemostat and went to work. Try tying sutures while looking into a mirror if you're up for a challenge some day. Took a while to get used to, but after the 4th or 5th suture I was on a roll. In all I put in 6 sutures, 3 in both wounds.
My wife came home to find me half-naked, leaning over the bathroom counter putting a needle in my face. I could see the "WTF" bubble caption over her head. She grabbed the camera and I had to practically beg her not to post anything on Facebook.
It actually turned out remarkably good. So good, in fact, that I rationalized that I should get reimbursed for my efforts! I wrote out a procedure note and submitted a bill to my insurance. I even charged a facility fee as it was done in my own house - man does that reimburse well! I had to pay 20% of the bill, but hell, that 80% profit was enough to finally purchase the Xbox I've been meaning to get.
A few days later, however, my 3 year old son decided to karate kick me right in the chin when we were playing cars on the floor. He got me so good that one of the sutures popped right through, opening up part of the wound. The initial anger soon turned to glee as I realized that maybe, just maybe I could capitalize off this as well. If the sutures had been put in correctly, I reasoned, they shouldn't have popped. Now I may have permanent damage on my chin from a nonhealing wound. Unacceptable!
I contacted my lawyer, and within the hour we had a lawsuit all drawn up and ready to go. This was clearly malpractice, and damn it all if I won't get retribution for my pain and suffering. The next day, an official lawsuit was filed by myself, against myself. Brilliant, no? I think I have a strong defense planned, but I'm confident that in the end I'll get a favorable verdict. As long as I can get an uneducated, sympathetic jury, I'm golden. I'm planning a countersuit as well - just in case to hedge my bet.
In the end, this experience taught me a number of things. First, doctors are no different than you. We don't like going to the doctor, we don't like paying for healthcare, and sometimes we aren't satisfied with the care we get. But does this really surprise anyone? It shouldn't. Remember, we are as human as you are, subject to the same thoughts and feelings as you are. Second, no more running downhill in sandals, and third, I'm pretty damn good at suturing.
So there you have it - the doctor gets injured, fixes himself, rakes in tremendous profit and then wins a landslide decision in his favor. I plan on retiring now, settling down on a tropical island, and enjoying the rest of my life in peace - far away from my PCP.
Stay tuned for more wordy nonsense!