Probably not the best weekend to break a leg |

Probably not the best weekend to break a leg

Orllyene and I plan a visit to our family in Reno. We stay at Boomtown Casino for the night. Early the next morning, on my way to the bathroom, I take a tumble. As soon as I hit the deck, Orllyene calls hotel security, who the call an ambulance. “I’m not going anywhere, until Randy (my son) gets here,” I scream like an enraged bull.

When I arrive at the VA Hospital, the beds are all full, and I’m taken to Renown where I find a home. (Coincidentally, my granddaughter, Jenelle, has a friend [staff medical doctor] at Renown and I am assigned a “penthouse suite” with a stunning view of Reno.)

I have a broken femur in my right leg.

Because it’s Saturday, Dr. Watt is the weekend surgeon on call and my procedure is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. The plan is to extend the steel rod that is in my thigh, wrap my femur around it, and cinch it up.

The next day, however, it occurs to me that Renown may not be covered by my insurance (Prominence). We call and find that St. Mary’s is Prominence’s network provider, not Renown. I must have a preauthorization from Prominence for my Renown stay and the surgical procedure, but because it’s Sunday, the preauthorization won’t be available until Monday. This causes me deep concern (rampant anxiety) and I rant that I do not want to get stuck for an astronomical medical bill if I am denied approval. I suggest we wait until Monday; stalemate.

It’s Sunday, 12:45 p.m., Dr. Watt sends a gurney to my room. When I arrive in the surgical area, Dr. Watt is adamant. In very graphic terms he says, “You have a broken bone in your leg and the longer we wait to fix it, the greater the chance of infection. This is clearly an emergency, and I will definitely include this in my notes.” (Ah, “the voice of reason” and everyone swings into action.)

The next day, Pat, my case worker, comes to my room and says that everything is “golden,” which is her way of saying Prominence gives its OK; rose petals fall from the sky.

Several nights later, along about 4 a.m., I sense the need of a commode. It has been 5 days since I’ve had a bowel movement. I press my buzzer and Maria arrives. Maria is 5-feet tall and in her mid-50s.

I explain my need, and in her lilting, Ukrainian accent, she replies sympathetically, “We are very, very busy.” I hold my ground. Maria’s demeanor changes. Her eyes glitter with electricity. She moves to the side of my bed, takes my left arm and places it around her neck, hoists me over her shoulder and lowers me gradually to the commode. Her work done, and without so much as a “good luck, pardner,” she races down the hall to her next emergency.

For 25 minutes I cling to my bedside, hoping not to fall and, finally, with triumphant joy my mission is accomplished.

After five days at Renown, I am released to Sierra Ridge Rehabilitation. The saga continues.

Ron Walker can be reached at walkover