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Harriet Berkal: “Sound”Advice for the New Year - no need to walk on eggshells - healing comes in “ WAVES”

October 1, 2020


It took about two seconds for me to break my left foot’s, fifth metatarsal, on that fateful day this past July 12. I was looking forward to my visit with friends in Gimli. It’s an annual gathering, but this year fraught with fear of Covid transmission, devoid of social distancing and a visible shortage of masks. I forgot all about the invisible enemy, as I watched my foot ballon in front of me.
I actually had to drive back to Winnipeg with ice on my throbbing foot, before I stopped into the Seven Oaks urgent care, to confirm a diagnosis. Indeed, it was broken. I have never broken a single bone in my entire body.
The doctor said if you want to avoid surgery, we’re looking at approximately 12-14 weeks of complete immobilization. I was splinted and tensored and then given crutches which proved clumsy and awkward. Next stop- orthopaedic surgeon but nine days later.
So in the interim, I acquired all the accoutrements to gain mobility, without compromising my broken foot. This included a knee scooter, a shower seat, a commode, a ramp, etc. - think everything you require in order to NOT WEIGHT BEAR at all for months on end.
The summer was ruined, but not by the pandemic. I had taken my mobility for granted. Trust me, remove that from
the equation, and life becomes incredibly challenging.
Finally, I got fitted with a boot which I am forced to wear 24/7 until the foot heals . I immediately started to research, as I typically do, and what did I discover?
Well, the fifth metatarsal (near the pinky toe) is slow to heal. It doesn’t receive as much blood flow as do other parts of the foot. So how am I going to overcome this obstacle and avoid surgery?
And this is when I learned that a lightweight ultrasound bone stimulation home device called Exogen, used daily, for brief 20 minute sessions, can speed up the recovery period.
“Fractures are often frustratingly slow to heal. Between 5-10% of fractures fail to heal on their own,leaving patients to choose between either continual pain and immobility or surgery and lengthy rehabilitation.”
A pain free, non invasive procedure, I can do myself to assist with my recovery. What ?
“EXOGEN has been clinically proven to accelerate fracture healing of indicated bones* by 38%.”
Wow, why don’t more people know about this ?
So at week 8, I see my doctor again and inquire if he’s ever heard of Exogen and might he write me a prescription for it?
“ Sure Harriet !” He does seem a bit shocked that I am aware of this device. He faxes it directly to the representative at Bioventus, who make the magic wands.
I get a call that same afternoon. The price tag of a system runs close to $4000. They have a department dedicated solely to interact with your healthcare benefit service provider. Then I’m in total disbelief that I am 100% covered and do not have to pay a cent, out of pocket.
The device is fedexed to me the next day and the stimulation process begins. I do a quick FaceTime with the Rep, to help me determine exactly where to place the disc and wishing me good luck. He may as well have said break a leg and curtain up.
I can say that before, I could not weight bear at all. Now I still wear the boot, but I’m able to walk with a cane for my own peace of mind. Would that have happened anyway ? Not sure.
I see my orthopaedic surgeon next week. He will X-ray and therein lies the answer.
All I can say, is there no rental program for Exogen? A person must buy the system. Is this a good investment during the osteoporosis years? It certainly helps when it’s covered by a benefit program.
Also worth noting, is that Bioventus is not a publicly traded stock. It’s a private company. I was curious to ascertain if there was any conflict of interest. None.
Fractures aren’t fun. Would I have been offered this treatment option if I hadn’t discovered and advocated on my own behalf ? Don’t know. I will be saving the government the cost of a surgery, but I was lucky. I had coverage.
Thus far, I CAST my vote for bone stimulation. Lean on all options to assist with recovery.
REPAIR - RESTORE- and above all- RESEARCH. Put your best foot forward to get the best healthcare you can.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.