Why I’m Postponing Finger Surgery

I’m postponing finger surgery. The other day the surgeon’s office called. They wanted roughly $2000 up front. As in that very day.

I could have paid it, but that wasn’t the end of it. She said I’d then get a bill from the surgeon as well as the anesthesiologist.

No one could give me a total.

Navigating Health Insurance Is Sometimes A Nightmare:

I pay for health insurance. And I pay taxes as an independent contractor so I can opt into insurance.

But this being open ended did not make me at all comfortable. So I’ve postponed it.

I don’t know how long I’ll last like this, because my fingers are not very operable in my daily life. Everything is a big task.

But for now, possibly just a month or so, I’m waiting. And probably watching a lot of British TV and reading books.

When I Begin Medicare:

I will begin getting Medicare next year. I’ll be 65 in February 2022. If things get much worse I guess I’ll just opt to pay for the surgeries before then.

I’m hoping when I am on Medicare, that if I get a decent supplemental Medicare policy things will be better. I won’t know I guess till I get there.

And Then There’s Charlie:

Plus Charlie can no longer get his medicine down without my shoving it down his throat because he has no teeth and can’t pick it up.

So I was worried how on earth I was going to hold his head and get it down his throat with one hand.

Plus how I was going to lift him up and down and not drop him using just one hand.

How Much We Use Our Fingers:

One does not realize how much they rely on their fingers and hands until something like this happens.

Not to mention that I’m still going to PT for my back, which is getting better but very slowly. Probably lifting Charlie up and down is complicating things. But you do what you have to do.

I am so very thankful for grocery delivery services. A Shipt deliverer just left.

They are so kind and thoughtful. They will even bring it inside to my dining table instead of leaving it on the porch.

It would be hard for me to handle from the porch. I make sure to tip them well.

The PGA is apparently here in Tulsa this weekend. Only about a block or so from where I live. So I will not be going out anywhere.

I will be publishing the Friday home tour here in just a bit.

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66 Comments

  1. Brenda, check on the date Medicare is available and active for you. It could be on the first of February. Waiting sounds like a good idea. Be careful.

  2. If you were in an HMO going to a specialist might be easier and payment schedules clear. Insurance and health care in USA is a mess now. So hard to navigate. As a former nurse I do not recognize so much of what’s happening in health care. As a mom of two sons one who died from Cystic Fibrosis at 24 1/2 and one who was born with rare birth defect syndrome comparing our insurance journeys to what’s happening now it’s so chaotic and confusing and I thought it was challenging before. Second son is a lawyer now but uses a manual wheelchair.
    If you consult a hand specialist at a teaching hospital or medical school you might find more answers and options that are not surgical. Might. I don’t know. We found a hand specialist at a teaching hospital for my second son.
    There are programs to assist those who need financial assistance available to organizations affiliated with hospitals. No harm in asking.
    We found one that helped us.
    Could Charlie walk up onto the couch then give the med? I put allergy pills in a small hunk of ice cream for my dog and he licks it right down. I just smoosh the ice cream over the pill. Makes a little envelope.

    1. Charlie can’t have anything (anything) but prescription food. I use pill pockets but he can’t usually keep it in his mouth long enough to swallow without teeth. He needs help getting up the couch and bed doggy steps now.

  3. Seeing the comment about your Charlie reminded me that my Mom’s dog is also toothless (well, one tooth left now) and when it’s medicine pill time, she buries it in a blob of softened butter on a paper plate and he licks it all up. I don’t know if this would work for you.

  4. Brenda, I discovered a neat little dohickey that holds a pill and pops it into your pet’s mouth. Sure helps in not dropping the pill, plus it gets it back in the pet’s mouth so that they don’t spit it out as easily. Ask your vet about it. I don’t know what it’s called….sorry!

    I’m giving my 11 pound cat an antibiotic that has to stay in the fridge, so of course he doesn’t like it even more than usual! I have to actually sit on top of him…..and he can drag me across the floor, he is so strong! The vet told me to wrap him in a towel, but he runs when he hears me get the med out of the fridge, so he wouldn’t stay still for me wrapping him up!!!!

    Oh the joys of being a pet’s mom!!!!

    1. I’ve tried that but somehow it never seems to work with Charlie. He’s too strong for me to hold him while I push it down and so it ends up on the floor and he takes off.

  5. I will pray that things get better for you and you can wait. All some of these drs.want is money . It is all about the money now. I understand they have to pay for school and all but now some of them want to be paid and ask you to file the insurance.Also I hope you get a second opinion .Good luck.We are all struggling with these health care problems .

  6. If your gut feeling is to postpone the surgery then you must postpose it. It’s important to do what works best for you. You know your limitations so just take good care.

  7. Brenda,
    If you can possibly hold on till Medicare; it will be worth it. Also, I would be WARY of any Dr. that can’t tell you what a procedure will cost! Trump’s administration was working very hard to have transparency on medical procedures! I loved his response to a reporter on this issue. Trump said no where else in any sector could you NOT SEE WHAT THE FINAL COST WAS GOING TO BE! Because if you knew what different Doctors charged there would be competition! Of course, the insurance companies and hospitals have had a great scam working since medical insurance became available.
    Good luck and a great Memorial Day to you and the fur babies.

    1. Just couldn’t bring myself to do something that I didn’t know the costs of. I’ve already had to file medical bankruptcy once in my life.

  8. I’m not sure if this will help but have you heard of the surgery center in OKC where you pay cash? You can look up the surgery you need on their website & it clearly states how much it will cost.

    It’s crazy how you honestly cannot find out how much something will cost beforehand. It’s because medical facilities have no idea how much insurance will pay….they charge after filing & it all depends on the codes the drs use. I wonder if medical costs would not be so astronomical if it wasn’t insured.

    Here’s the surgery center in OKC if you’re interested.
    https://surgerycenterok.com/

  9. Brenda,

    I am a fan of CBD oil, creams or salve. I find it works for aching hands and/or feet even headaches or other body aches.

  10. the Medical Industry has become such a Big business in this country.
    heaven help you if you don’t have some kind of insurance.
    my only entertainment is occasionally eating out with my brother.
    money goes for apartment rent and food and medicine and the internet!
    and very little else.
    but my happiness and contentment have always been in the intangible things anyway.
    and your beautiful blog is one of them!
    and I love to read. books have always been there for me my entire life.
    thank goodness for the internet too. I’ve made some wonderful friends through it!

    and I’m surviving. Michael has a saying near the visor in his car… But Did You Die?
    it’s good for me to see that!
    53 years of Second Hand Smoke. I’m 75. but my parents and my husband all smoked.
    I never personally smoked a day in my life. but I have COPD and heart trouble and a stent now.

    and I’m glad you’re going to postpone your surgery. maybe keeping your hands and fingers as warm as possible might help. at least a tiny bit. even Acupuncture? I guess I’m grabbing at straws here. but there has to be something that will help until you reach a better time for it!

    getting older and putting up with ALL the huge things that happen to us as we age is an eyeopener for sure. we suddenly can take Nothing concerning our health for granted anymore! it’s strange.
    I’m only Now finally getting use to it. it’s like each day… it HURTS somewhere new!
    or it doesn’t Work! what’s up with that?
    I have very bad essential tremor in my right hand. I fight with jars and bottles and anything that a CHILD could easily open! and writing has become a lost art! LOL.
    good luck with Everything dear Brenda! the fact that you do this blog at all is amazing.
    I’ll be cheering you on and holding good thoughts for you. we All will! xo

  11. I don’t know if this will help you much, but there is a federal law that requires hospitals to provide decent estimates of what their charges will be related to any hospitalization for a scheduled procedure (other than an emergency), that is supposed to give an understandable breakdown of all costs and charges that will be billed to the patient/patient’s insurer. Here are the particulars. It was effective as of January 1, 2021. Link:
    https://www.cms.gov/files/document/hospital-price-transparency-frequently-asked-questions.pdf
    I assume Charlie eats some kind of soft dog food. Would you be able to grind his medication(s) down (if in pill form) and mix it or them in with his food? Have you tried the liver sausage or Braunsweiger trick? That always worked with my dogs – just wrap the pill in a little bit of liver sausage of Braunsweiger spread and they would swallow it whole!

  12. Brenda, has anyone mentioned a Cortizone shot for your finger? I’ve had trigger finger in most of mine and had Cortizone shots to avoid surgery. It is supposed to be temporary but some of mine were five years ago. I do have one finger now that’s starting to give me trouble again and I am going to ask again for a Cortizone shot but this time I might need the surgery. It was a good temporary fix for me.

  13. Love your blog and look forward to it everyday. So sorry about your hands. I have extreme arthritis in my hands and the epsom salts with eucalyptus and rosemary work wonders as does the blue emu ointment with lidocaine. I also limit my gluten
    and take hyaluronic acid, msm with optimism and tumeric with ginger and bioperine. These were all recommended by my doctor and have also really helped. I get them from Amazon and are quite affordable.
    You might also check and see if you can go on Medicare early due to disability.

  14. Well on of my posts disappeared. I was suggesting you go to drug store or Walmart’s and get some hand braces. I sleep in mine every night and wear in daytime some also. I find holding a book or my iPad makes them hurt very bad. I have several fingers worked on. Rt hand is the worst. Sometimes it is not a permanent fix. You can text me if you want info.

      1. Problem with the hand brace is that with it certain fingers go into trigger mode because they are held in place and that just makes things worse.

  15. I’m on my way to a dr’s appt myself, so I’ll be quick. The information below seems to indicate that if you are already receiving social security, which you are, you will automatically be enrolled in medicare. I was receiving disability prior to 65 and I believe I was automatically enrolled. With that easily verifiable information in hand, maybe you could schedule surgery at some point in advance of your start day so that you do not have to wait to set up an appointment when Feb comes along. Hopefully, your regular doctor can direct you to another surgeon or a hand surgeon, if that one was not. Not sure if you can get the supplemental policies ahead of time. Also, remember, medicare supplemental policies and medigap policies are different animals.

    https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/get-started-with-medicare
    “Getting Medicare is a major milestone. Here’s where you can get the information you need, no matter where you are in your Medicare journey.

    5 important facts:

    Some people get Medicare automatically, and some have to sign up. You may have to sign up if you’re 65 (or almost 65) and not getting Social Security.
    There are certain times of the year when you can sign up or change how you get your coverage.
    If you sign up for Medicare Part B when you’re first eligible, you can avoid a penalty.
    You can choose how you get your Medicare coverage.
    You may be able to get help with your Medicare costs.”

  16. I have had surgery an been in hospital many times with my COPD. Never had a copayment or bill after I leave hospital. I had trigger fingers they just clip a nerve so they won’t pop out. Try the braces.

  17. I have AARP. Best supplement to Medicare. I have some hand braces I wear at night and sometimes curing the day. You can get them at any drugstore or Walmart. Really helps my hand and fingers n

  18. WOW, Brenda…never heard of such a thing as prepayment for such…maybe you can do some research and find another place to go to…never hurts to have a 2nd opinion when going for medical help anyway!! The greed in medical things these days is beyond belief!!

  19. IMO your decision to postpone the finger/hand surgery was the right move, at least for now. Also perhaps drastically curtailing your beloved gardening would help; enjoy what you have already planted for spring/summer and let the patio go dormant thru fall & winter. Think CAUSE and EFFECT. Then if you can schedule the surgery as soon as you turn 65 you may be able to start back up, if only on a scaled down version, next spring?

    May I suggest you check out Social Security Advantage Supplement plans. I am very happy with the one I have as are several friends, one of which has a number of health issues that have required surgeries and prolonged PT visits will little to no co-pays on her part.

    Have you considered having Charlie’s meds made into a cream by a Compounding Pharmacy? If that is something your vet approved it would be much less stressful to administer. A friend of mine has an elderly Doxi with back issues and she uses a sling that she ordered from Chewy’s to lift him, maybe that would be an option for you?

    Lots of things to consider/research which I know you will do, keep a positive attitude and always remember “where there is a will, there is a way”.

  20. Sorry to hear he won’t give you a fixed price. That is scary. I too have soaked my hands in paraffin then wrapped them in plastic bag and a towel over that. It feels so good. Works for arthritis not sure about your trigger fingers. I also think a great Accupuncture treatment might help. Although I know it’s hard to find a good practitioner. Maybe the girls could ask their friends for a referral.

  21. Oh! How frustrating! To pay for insurance and then have to pay so much more. I think you’re wise in wanting to know the final figure before going ahead. But I can only imagine how painful and distressing your hands must be.

    If you can wait for Medicare and a good supplement (we have Aetna) I think you’ll find almost the entire cost would be covered. My husband has had two heart ablations in a year billed at close to $300,000 (!) and it was all covered and he went to one of the best hospitals in Phoenix. Medicare without a good supplement will leave you paying up to 20% of the cost. The supplements are well worth the dollars you spend for them.

    On Facebook recently I’ve seen advertised a device that you put your hand into for warmth and therapy (like for arthritis) and people are giving it rave reviews. Maybe something like that would give you some relief. I can’t remember the name of it — if I see it again, I’ll try to send it to you.

      1. I think this is the one I saw on Facebook.

        https://pleasantspirit.com/product/comfier-wireless-hand-massager-with-heat-3-levels-air-compression-heatingrechargeable-hand-massager-machine-for-pain-and-circulationcarpal-tunne/?fbclid=IwAR1-_RgN2MLCO8KEcEXlu_Gm2uj4G1Qj5kF81T225ZXVQsJ7Xn2JUOScTqA

        A couple I looked at on Amazon were for acupuncture on your hands and looked a bit harsh. This looks more soothding. I’m sure there are many brands out there. Hope you find something that is soothing.

  22. It’s meant to be to not get surgery – the contractures that cause the fingers to lock up on you can be eased with warmth, gentle range of motion, CBD oil and stretching the fingers – it took me weeks but eventually the tendons relaxed and I have full movement of my fingers again without pain or clicking.

  23. I think JoyceD is right with her comment below. I’d like to think the same, and that things like this happen for a reason. If you can hold off until you receive Medicare, (but 9 months is a heck of a long time) maybe something like the other comment from MaryM, about acupuncture (if available) would help (and not be too costly). Good Grief, with health insurance, I have never heard of “payment” up front before a procedure, and then not be able to tell you the complete cost. Do you think your Dr. might have suggestions or anything??? you could perhaps purchase over the counter, to ease the pain and stiffness. Something temporary? I just feel so bad for you and Charlie too.
    You are in my prayers.Brenda, you have endured so much already, hang in there..Hugs…

    1. Well, if I don’t make it 9 months and can’t function then I’ll have it done. So far I’ve just postponed surgery. Leaving it open ended.

  24. I have a friend who has quite a bit of trouble from her hands due to severe arthritis. She soaks her hands in Epsom salts with hot water as hot as she can stand sometimes 2-3 times a day because each soak gives her several hours of relief so it might be worth a try. I also have a friend who does hot parafin dips for her hands because that holds the heat in her fingers. Both work enough to give them relief. Trying something like this might give you enough relief to get to the winter when you can get on Medicare.

  25. Hi Brenda
    I’m sorry you had to postpone but understand. Currently I’m on disability and have Medicare but too young to get a supplement. I’m 62 and have to wait til 65. So I pay the 20 percent which gets expensive with constant doctor visits, etc. Hope you can wait it out. So many things to consider. Praying and thinking of you.

  26. Brenda, Have you thought about finding a super Acupuncturist who specializes in Chinese Herbology to treat your hands? I had both hands frozen at the same time. I found a great person to use acupuncture on my fingers/hands. It worked for me. Now, there is no quick fix. I know you realize that surgery is no quick fix either. You would be rehabbing for a long time plus the down time from surgery alone. I know each person’s problem is unique to them. What works for one, doesn’t for another.

    I have withdrawal when I don’t see a blog from you. I thoroughly enjoy your sharing your journey. Great job!

  27. I doubt the pill pillows would even help with Charlie. I’m sorry. Is it possible for someone doing delivery to give him his pill if you paid extra. My what a hard time.

    1. I use the pill pockets. I put the meds inside them and then put them down his throat. I’d never be able to get those little pills down him otherwise.

  28. Something tells me it is meant to be for you to hold off on surgery! Besides the cost, your concerns about how you would take care of Charlie! Hopefully things will not get worse and you can make it until you can receive Medicare! My prayers are with you!

    1. Hi Brenda,
      I once commented on the pill delivery for your sweet Charlie.
      Grinding the pill, adding a dropper full of tuna juice, or boxed chicken broth, any liquid that he prefers, drawing that back into the eye dropped or syringe, get on the floor with him backed up to you, between your thighs . Then just slip the syringe down the right side of his cheek. Voila, no drama, piece of cake, they actually grow to look forward to it. Assuming you can get down to sit on your heels. Are you still doing your yoga? If so it should be easy. Syringe and eyedroppers of all sizes at Chewys, syringe holds the liquid indefinitely. If you are at all trepidatious, look at u tube videos. Good luck!
      Deb.

      1. Can’t do the yoga down on the floor anymore because of my back. Had been doing it over 20 years. And my fingers are too messed up to use to hold parts of my body for the yoga.

    2. Hi Brenda,
      I once commented on the pill delivery for your sweet Charlie.
      Grinding the pill, adding a dropper full of tuna juice, or boxed chicken broth, any liquid that he prefers, drawing that back into the eye dropped or syringe, get on the floor with him backed up to you, between your thighs . Then just slip the syringe down the right side of his cheek. Voila, no drama, piece of cake, they actually grow to look forward to it. Assuming you can get down to sit on your heels. Are you still doing your yoga? If so it should be easy. Syringe and eyedroppers of all sizes at Chewys, syringe holds the liquid indefinitely. If you are at all trepidatious, look at u tube videos. Good luck,
      Deb