User-agent: * Allow: / Trenton Butcher Block: Have a Readi-Cat and a Smile

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Commentary on national and local events from the standpoint of a Trenton city resident and state worker.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Have a Readi-Cat and a Smile

Readi-cat is a contrast agent used by x-ray technicians to make your innards show up better on film.  Believe me, the taste of this product can not be confused with gin martinis which are my favorite drink,  I would not recommend drinking Readi-cat unless told to do so by a medical professional.

Back in the 1970s, Coca Cola had "Have a Coke and a Smile" as its slogan.  Whis is a take on that.  Today I am going for a cat scan of my abdomen because I have been getting pains in my gut.  Probably they're just muscle spasums related to a fall I had about two weeks ago.  Readi-cat is a nasty-tasting liquid that the x-ray technicians use to make your guts stand out better on a cat scan.  You drink it in three parts.   The first part, which is enough to fill a 16-ounce glass goes down 2 hours before the procedure.  It contains barium and tastes a lot like the Maalox brand of antacid.


It's now Saturday morning.  I had my cat scan yesterday and it was no big deal.  On a scale of 1 to 10, cat scans rate about a 2 in the level of discomfort endured by the patient.  You drink some crap that tastes like chalk, then go through a doughnut hole type doo-dad that reminds me of the time machine on Stargate.  A wheel inside the donut spins around and you get to see some flickers of laser light coming through a piece of glass on the donut, but beyond that, nothing for the patient to do.  It takes all of about 5 minutes.  Compared to an MRI, a cat scan is a piece of cake.

Looking forward to getting back the results.  Hopefully, the docs find out what's wrong so they can fix it or at least I start to heal up on my own soon.

It is Now Saturday June 11.  I got word back on Wednesday that I broke my sixth and seventh ribs on the right side.  The emergency room at Robert Wood Johnson - Hamilton missed this fracture when I went there Friday before Memorial Day.  It took Princeton Radiology's cat scan to find the problem.  According to my doctor, the stomach pain was what is known as "referred pain".  You have nerves that are attached to the back of your 5th, 6th and 7th ribs then go through your  belly in the front.  Break one of these ribs in the back and get pain in your gut.

Well problem found, but a little late.  I already have started healing.  Thanks docs, but no thanks for taking a couple weeks to diagnose my problem.  That's American insurance-company driven health care for you.  Slow and ineffective.  Thanks Corzine for getting rid of the Traditional Plan and switching all state employees to managed care.  I hope you are proud of saving the taxpayers a few pennies.  I will remember that the next time I have to be in agony for a few weeks as a result of managed health care.

How is managed care resopnsible, and how would traditional health insurance make a difference?  For those old enough to remember having such a policy, traditional Blue Cross/Blue Shield allows you to go to any healthcare facility anywhere in the world and get treatment without referrals,  Employer-paid health plans have dropped it in favor of managed-care options which restrict your choice of doctors and hospitals and also ofter require "pre-certification" before getting more expensive procedures such as cat scans and MRIs.

In my case, I went to the emergency room about a day or so after breaking my ribs, but the hospital only did an X-ray.  They couldn't find the breaks on x-ray.  Perhaps they didn't bother doing a cat scan because emergency rooms are overwhelmed with non-trauma patients, because people without health insurance get there knowing they will get to see a doctor.  Also, perhaps they didn't do a cat scan, knowing that would require precertification by the managed care provider.

In my case, I saw my doctor the following Tuesday after I was doubled-over all morning in an office meeting.  By this time I decided that maybe there is actually something wrong even though the emergency room said I was fine.  I couldn't get the cat scan done that Tuesday, because the procedure had to be precertified.  That meant I had to wait to Friday.  I couldn't get it done in a hospital either because of insurance company rules,  They wanted it done in an outpatient facility where it took me a few days to get the results back.

Altogether, everything slowed the process down and the diagnosis came too late to do me much good.

Now if I had traditional Blue Cross I could have insisted on a cat scan at the hospital when I first showed up and had an answer that day.

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