Australian “Fiddleback” red gum timber is very hard, brittle and has a beautiful convoluted grain similar to Walnut burl. It is also excellent winter fuel, burning very hot and leaving very little ash. This is why my stepson and I were using my 40 ton hydraulic splitter to convert a few old logs into firewood on Sunday.
We had a good working rhythm going – me feeding and stepson working the actuator and clearing when we struck a particularly hard and knotted block with no obvious fault line. In about a second, I heard and saw the machine load up as it tried to cleave the timber before the block shattered, firing a high velocity baseball sized chunk that hit my left hand. Not being one to waste an opportunity, I though it may be useful to the occasional Turcopoliere debate on healthcare to catalogue the full costs and operation of our healthcare system as it applies to my case for perhaps future reference.
It was obvious from the pain and new shape of my left thumb that I was in trouble so we made plans to head for the city on Monday morning to seek a specialist. It’s a three hour drive and there was no point in consulting a local doctor who was only going to direct me to a city specialist anyway.
I had a name of a specialist orthopedic hand surgeon by Sunday night and I rang his office at 8.00am while we were halfway there. His office told us to keep coming and he would fit me in to his consulting schedule. We arrived 10.00 am at Cabrini Malvern, a major private hospital. I was x-rayed 10.15 am and by 11.00 I was on the specialists surgery list for Thursday. I have broken the top joint of my thumb into three pieces. The plan is for these to be screwed back together with tiny titanium screws and plates or, if that isn’t practical, he will use wires although that will require another operation later.
This is typically a day procedure assuming no complications, it requires an anesthetist and assistant surgeon. As always there are risks which I prefer not to think about. I am told that I will be good in six weeks but that full use will take six months or so.
We have private health insurance costing the pair of us about A$6000 per year in total.
Costs so far: X rays – free (I have a concession card due to age)
First Consultation – free (covered by Medicare)
Temporary custom made splint/orthotic – $150
Drugs – Paracetamol / Codeine pain relief – $6.00
Hospital bed – free (covered by health insurance)
I will hopefullly report after surgery.