Wednesday, August 9, 2017

My Son's Corrective Circumcision, A Reminder To Be Grateful For Health Insurance

For two years, my wife, Jessica, and I waited for my son's adhesion to tear on its own.  He'd been complaining to the two of us since the age of about 2.5 that his "pipi" hurt.  His pediatrician kept telling us that adhesions sometimes took care of themselves by virtue of little boys curiously touching their privates, or simply from rough play.  Still, we didn't like it.  Mostly because we had elected to have him circumcised as a newborn and felt guilty that his pain was by our doing.

Showing off his stickers.

It also didn't help that the doctor who circumcised him at the hospital didn't take enough foreskin off.  So his wee-wee looked like a cross between both versions of the manhood.  Not good.  I joked with my wife..."He'll never get a part in the porn industry if it doesn't look right."  The pediatrician advised us to wait until closer to four to have him re-evaluated by a urologist.

"Mijo...gotta take you to the pi-pi doctor," I'd tell him.
"Again!" he'd say.

He had no idea that we, the parents, were setting him up for another surgery.  Most of his visits for this purpose involved the pediatrician pulling down his chonis and pulling back his remaining foreskin, checking on the adhesion.  It was in the worst possible spot on his 12 o'clock.  "Let me refer you to the urologist," he said, in late June, close to his 4th birthday.  The urologist gave us his expert opinion: "Yea, this adhesion looks too thick.  It probably won't tear up on its own."

Surgery was in store.  It would require general anesthesia.  The urologist assured us..."I've done hundreds of these.  I'll cut just enough of his skin and make it look good."  He had a prideful smirk on his face.  All I kept imagining was my son dying through the process.  Anxiety sucks!  My wife was anxious too though.  And it was a good thing we both talked openly about the procedure up until the day of the surgery on August 7th.  (Both of us have never had any type of surgery so we had no idea what it was like).

Minutes from surgery.  My son with my wife.

Three days before the surgery, we were given final instructions and the time of the surgery.  My son couldn't eat any food past midnight the day before.  His check-in at the hospital was 12 noon.  Let's just say this added another layer of worry.  How do you keep a growing four-year-old from not eating and staying on a liquid diet from the time he wakes up until the afternoon?  We put all the food beyond his reach so he didn't sneak in a bite from somewhere and watched him like a hawk until it was time to go.

We drove to San Diego from Oceanside, checked in at the new Kaiser hospital they have in Claremont Mesa, and waited in pre-op.  The nurses tended to him, giving him a coloring book, crayons, stickers, and cartoons to watch on TV.  They gave him new socks to wear along with his gown.  What great service, I thought to myself.  Then it hit me.  What do people without insurance do for their kids in scenarios like this?  Did you know...

The Affordable Care Act has yet to be repealed.  That may have been great news to many millions of Americans who still depend on it.

  • The average annual cost on health care was $10,345 in 2016.
  • The average annual deductible for individual plans was $4,358.
  • The average deductible for family plans was $7,983.

I paid $10 for my son's procedure, my copay.  As a teacher, I have great medical, dental, and vision benefits.  In my school district, we have at least three different options, including two PPO and one HMO (Kaiser).  Kaiser is the least expensive.  I think I have less than $400 taken out of my check each month to insure my entire family.

I'm very lucky and fortunate.  I never had to worry about paying a single dime for my wife's two deliveries, and I didn't have to worry about paying any money for my son's second surgery.  (After all, it was Kaiser who didn't do it right in the first place!)  For an individual or family without health care insurance, any visit to the hospital will probably cripple them financially for some time, maybe even an entire lifetime.  It really sucks.

Wearing a one tank-top.

Prior to my son being carted off into the operation room, the anesthesiologist informed us that he would be waking up not being himself, as in grumpy and upset.  This was a huge understatement.  My son went all beast-mode on three nurses, my wife, and me.  He wanted his tube out of his arm vein and exerted every last fiber of his muscles to get it off.  He beat us all up a good five minutes even with a tiny bit of morphine injected in him.  What he needed was a tranquilizer!  Ultimately he won the battle and the tube was pulled out of his vein.

How much would this procedure have cost a parent without insurance?  I'm not talking the type given to newborn boys.  Newborns don't require two specialists, general anesthesia, anti-nausea meds, pain killers, and short stays in a pre and post-op room.  According to this article, for a child requiring general anesthesia, it could cost as much as $3,000.  Sounds somewhat too low to me.  I guess it depends where the procedure is taking place.


My son is doing okay.  The poor little guy had to walk around with one of his old man's polyester (not cotton) tank-tops all day, the day after surgery.  I now have a new appreciation for the movie, John Q., starring Denzel Washington.  If you haven't watched this film yet, and have children, it will tug at your heartstrings.  No parent wants to see their child suffer and every parent wants to do whatever it takes for their child to be happy and healthy.

It should go without saying, but every child (0-12) in this great country of ours should have access to free health care, no matter how grave or ordinary their ailment happens to be.  Their innocence depends on the adults of any great society doing what's right for them.  Thanks for reading!  

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