Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I’m a short, overweight 60-year old. I’m also a very active woman. I hike, bike,
ski, garden, travel, and am generally the one whom others rely upon to take care
of them when disaster strikes. Last week I feel and broke my knee in seven
places. Think Humpty Dumpty of the leg. The first doctor I went to, the preferred
provider, told me it would be two surgeries over a three-month period, and that if
I was lucky I would get back “most of my uses” and if not I could lose 15% of the
muscle functionality in my leg. Needless to say I was distraught. I went to a
doctor, not on my plan, based on the strong recommendations of two friends.
Two months later I am off pain meds, out of my sickbed and into a wheelchair,
and seem to be on the road to recovery, one surgery and $20,000 later. It turns
out the first doctor was a general surgeon, the second a knee specialist.
Perseverance and not panicking made a big difference. Tell your readers.

Dear Sidelined:
There’s several key messages implicit in your letter. First of all, choose
the right doctor. Nothing medical is trivial, especially with the
possibility of complications or accidents while you’re in the hospital.
But for whatever ails you, do an instant and comprehensive search for
whomever in your locale is the person with the most experience. If
s/he’s not on your plan, find out what the extra is going to be, and
then bite the bullet. A lifetime of diminished function is far too great a
cost to pay. You’ll make up the money somewhere, and if not, you’ll do
it in quality of life.

Once you’re talking to the right doc, make it clear what you need from
him/her. Say, this is what I expect to have on the other side of this
accident. Instead of being treated like an old fireplug, you convince the
doctor of the functionality that is necessary for you to get your life
back. You should also educate yourself about the alternatives re meds,
so you don’t end up with unnecessary side effects. Ask as many
questions as you can, before and after surgery. And arrange to have
someone in your rooms at all times, to monitor what’s being done to
you. Having the in-house support system for the first few days can
make all the difference. When you’re drugged and punky, there’s be
someone cogent to listen and repeat things for you, or remind you to
ask again.