In Our Corner of the World

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I called up my buddy Tom the other day to see if he wanted to go get some dinner (that's what we call lunch in the South; that meal you eat in the evening is "supper" around here). Anyway, he said, "No, I have a telephone hearing with a judge and payer about getting paid for a leg I delivered last year." Last year? I asked. Didn't the patient like it? "No," Tom said, "the patient said it was the best leg he's ever had." Then what's the problem? I asked. He said he wasn't sure, but he was sure he would have to get a rain check on lunch.

Remember the good old days when we only had to worry about making a leg or brace that worked like it was supposed to? Remember when the only folks we had to argue with were relatives? Or, when the challenge was making a brace that fit, not getting it paid for? Just thinking about it can leave you bewildered and asking yourself if you've got rocks in your head to keep doing this day in and day out.

The Big Question

It reminds me of a rare opportunity I had a couple months ago; it was something that only happens once in a blue moon (kind of like getting paid for what you bill). I had the chance to impart some "EDGY wisdom" to my teenage son. As kids do at a certain age, he began to look around at the world through eyes of a grownup, with a kid still behind them.

EDGY Jr. had lost a buddy in an accident recently and began to question what life is all about. I think it went something like, "Life is cruel, and it's not fair that someone so young is dead." Then he asked me the big question: "What's the point? Best-case scenario is we're here for maybe 75 years, get married, have a couple of kids, some grandkids, and it's all over."

When I stopped counting backwards from 75, I swallowed hard and said, "Well, Son, I guess you might see it that way, but let me tell you some of what I've learned about life.

"Life is not fair; there are a lot of wrongs in this world and more suffering and pain than one man can bear. You have a choice: you can let the world wear you down, make you old and bitter, or you can set about to change the world." It was about then I noticed the skeptical look on his face, so I said, "Well, maybe not the whole world, but at least your corner of it. Look around, there are wrongs you can make right, there is pain you can ease, ways you can make a difference in your corner of the world. And if other folks learn to do the same by your example, you can change the world."

Make a Choice, Make a Difference

O&P is our corner of the world. Things are not always fair, a lot of things are wrong, and Lord knows we see more than our share of pain and suffering. We too have a choice: we can become bitter and skeptical, or we can set about to change our world. Look around, the choice we made is obvious-just being in O&P means we help mend things that are broken, straighten others out, and do our best to make others "whole again." How many people out there have the opportunity to touch lives at the level we do?

Sure, things like reimbursement issues, audits, privacy laws, provider qualifications, and quality standards are burrs in our saddle. But we can't let those things take our eyes off of the reason we're here: we make a difference in our corner of the healthcare world. So, volunteer for a medical mission trip, provide a free limb to someone who needs it, host a free clinic, or write a letter to your congressman. Do something good every day, and like one of my favorite gospel singers says, "Don't let the devil* steal your joy."

*Devil in this case is a generic term; any similarity to an actual government agency or other payer is strictly coincidental.

Me, I'm gonna try to change the world by being just a little less ... EDGY

Editors note: EDGY, as you might guess, is an amputee who works in the O&P industry. You can e-mail your own EDGY comments and stories to: OandPedgy@aol.com