My summer with a broken foot: Ranking different services as a disabled person

Sept. 13, 2017 / By Jean Jones, CPC

I broke my foot while walking down some stairs at a local pond this past June. I spent my summer in a boot and used crutches to walk. As I hobbled through the days and weeks that followed my accident, I gained a new perspective on what it’s like to be a person with a disability. When encountering different types and places of service, I rated them based on my experience from the best to the worst:

  1. My body-oriented psychotherapist

Not only did she pick me up for appointments, she helped me adjust my crutches, figured out the best herbs and food for me, as well as lent me a stool for the shower. Who does that? No one tops her. A fracture is not just a fracture, people—the impact goes deeper!

  1. Jet Blue Airline

They spot you at ticketing and immediately whisk you away in a wheelchair. The representative even advocated for me during the TSA check. I didn’t have to ask—these people FIND YOU!

  1. Wrigley Field

A young, happy twenty-something gets you in a wheelchair and takes you wherever you want to go in the park. After batting practice, they even get you to your seat, and note what time you would like to be “picked up.” They magically arrive with a wheelchair at the time agreed upon.

  1. Podiatrist office

My experience—and ratings—dropped significantly when I got to the podiatrist’s office. On crutches, I had to hobble and negotiate several doors, and the waiting room had no place to prop my foot. 

  1. My primary care physician

On the bright side, my primary care physician’s office saw me the same day that I fractured my foot. I actually called them from the pond where the accident happened and they fit me in the same day. But when I arrived with a fresh fracture, I had to navigate and hobble my way through the building to their office. After my name was called, I limped and struggled to keep up with the medical assistant as we made our way to the exam room (no wheelchair offered). At this point, I’m in quite a bit of pain. After the medical assistant completed her work and before she left, I begged her for an ice pack. The doctor then saw me and sent me to X-ray. I made my way to Radiology by hugging the walls and putting on a brave face in front of my 9-year-old son. In Radiology, they took a couple of pictures and the Radiology Tech finally got me a wheelchair and told me not to walk. PHEW!  It took a couple of hours to score this ride. He then took me back up to the doctor who attempted to get me in a boot. The boot felt okay, but I had to ask for crutches. At this point, I just wanted to go home and cry—and I did. 

It’s not surprising that my body-oriented psychotherapist ranked first. After all, she’s tuned in to the ways a disability—even a short-term one—can impact mental health and day-to-day living. However, why couldn’t my medical care providers anticipate and accommodate my needs as a disabled person?  Perhaps a better question is why did Jet Blue and Wrigley Field make it seem so effortless?

Jean Jones is a coding analyst at 3M Health Information Systems.

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