The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current, February 08, 2019, Page Page 6, Image 6

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February 18, 2019
Volume 29 Number 4
February 18, 2019
ISSN: 1094-9453
The Asian Reporter is published on
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Ronault L.S. Catalani (Polo), Jeff Wenger
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Julie Stegeman, Toni Tabora-Roberts, Allison Voigts
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n Dmae Roberts
The journey of healing
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he last two months have proven to be a major
challenge and a bit of a milestone for me. I
underwent knee-replacement surgery and
I’m officially a bionic woman — but without
superpowers. In fact, I had to learn how to walk
again and step-by-step (pun intended), I figured out
how to perform simple activities such as dressing,
bathing, and even how to get up from a chair
without causing pain.
The first week I was in the greatest pain and felt
the most helpless. I couldn’t even lift my leg to get in
and out of bed. Thanks to my loving husband
Richard and a creative and adept physical therapist
— who pushed me to move my leg despite the
throbbing and twinges — each week I surprised
myself with how much more I was able to move.
I used a walker the first few weeks, then I gradu-
ated to a cane. By the time this column publishes, I
will not need the cane anymore. Richard really rose
to the challenge by installing grab bars around the
house and a shower bench, and by changing the
showerhead to a detachable one so I could shower
sitting down. He also put in two handrails for the
stairs to my office. It was a joy a couple weeks after
the surgery to be able to go upstairs again.
This experience has really shown me how people
with disabilities are treated by others. A few people
were oblivious and nearly ran into me or my walker.
Others did not make room for me to glide by them
after saying, “excuse me.” Elementary school kids
stared open mouthed. And some adults turned the
other way, as if they didn’t want to catch anything
from me.
At one point, four 40-something women were
gabbing in the vitamin aisle at a Whole Foods store.
I was looking for my multivitamins and a clerk was
helping me, but we were not able to get by them to
find my brand. I asked if it would be possible for us
to go by if they were not looking for an item. One
woman retorted, “We are looking for things,” then
went back to chatting with her friends — without
moving over even slightly.
I only had a cane at this point, but the rudeness
and discomfort people displayed made me even
more determined to focus on disability issues in my
work in the future. I found out firsthand how
frustrating it can be for disabled people, including
discovering that quite a few disabled parking spots
and ramps are not thought out very well. Some of
the disabled parking spots are located right next to
a curb on the passenger side, which makes it
difficult to find solid footing when exiting the car,
while some ramps are so steep that a walker almost
slides down. I also discovered how difficult it is to go
up a steep ramp when you can barely lift your leg.
I learned the value of elevators and handrails as
well as bathrooms with grab bars and tall toilets.
Though I’m getting better each day, it will likely be
about six months before the swelling in my knee
finally goes down and I will be able to benefit from
the titanium in my knee joint so I can take long
walks again without agony. I’m not sure yet if I’ll
regain the mobility I had before my knee became
curved like an “S.”
The thing that still boggles my brain after any
surgery is studying the hospital bill. I tend to
question every item in the bill. Three years ago
when I had a surgical biopsy, I found a $9,000
charge for anesthesia. I called the billing
department. They then discovered that the clerk
had indeed made a typo and wrote that I was asleep
for nine hours instead of 90 minutes.
With the knee surgery, the bulk of the $30,000 bill
(luckily most was covered by insurance) was for the
operating room and overnight stay. I questioned the
$3,000 for anesthesia and asked for an itemized
account. I was shocked to find out that every time
the nurse gave me a pain or nausea pill, I was
charged $33! For a single pill! Nothing I could do
about that, but it’s still a good policy to question
medical bills because people make mistakes. I
believe one of the greatest mysteries of healing is
the astronomical cost of our medical care. But that’s
a subject for a future column.
Meanwhile, I count my blessings and have
empathy and consideration for those whose
disabilities are more permanent than mine. With
each day I feel stronger and it gives me hope.
Opinions expressed in this newspaper are those of the authors and not necessarily those of this publication.
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