When the female Dual G (gimpy and grumpy) awoke following the surgical repair of her left Achilles tendon – which Dr. Oloff has characterized as ‘textbook’ in execution and expected outcome – there was a blue tube poking out of her foot to mid-calf bandage. It was attached to what she know refers to as “the new miracle on ice” – the Polar Care 500 cold therapy machine. It’s one of similar models that, while not covered by most insurance companies because it’s ‘comfort’ not ‘necessary’ care, provides continuous soothing cold water to the surgical site and is designed to reduce pain and swelling.
Now 24 hours later, there appears to be no significant swelling – and the female DG is relatively pain free. There is some kind of ongoing discomfort, but she has a hard time characterizing it as pain. (The litmus pain test to her, like many women, is child birth, and this was way on the other side of the scale.)
She is so convinced of the unit’s efficacy that she urges anyone having orthopedic surgery so ask the doctor early along the diagnostic path about what ‘he/she does for post surgical swelling and pain,’ and if part of the answer is not ‘order cold therapy treatment’ (presume there are other brands than Polar Care) she’d be tempted to march out of the office right then and there. (According to Oloff, these kinds of devices have been in use for about a decade but are increasingly popular.)
There are really only two drawbacks to cold therapy. Because of its continuous nature, the recovering patient is tethered, so each bath room visit or other movement requires stopping and unhooking the tube from the surgical site to the machine’s pumping tube. The female DG was able to get the thing undone but it was hard for her to hook it back up, requiring the services of the male DG pretty much 24/7. In its favor, if he could reattach it with his near useless left hand, anyone should be able to. The other downside is the monitoring required to make sure the mix of ice and water is correct.
Otherwise: this thing is a miracle and incurred only a minor amount of grumpy and groaning from the male DG.
Note to all insurance carriers: Have to believe there must be some statistics about negative consequences (falls for one) of prescription pain killers of the strong enough variety – Oxycontin or Percocet – that providing an alternative to their usage, or at least minimizing their usage, provides some cost benefit to the carrier.