I completed my active service in the U.S. Air Force on Nov. 6, 1961 and returned to Roanoke to settle down. Before releasing me I received a complete physical and was determined to have no medical problems.
I went to work at a local furniture manufacturer on Dec. 1. I fell ill around Dec.15 and called the family doctor who made a home visit and diagnosed my problem as the flu. When I did improve the doctor had me go to the Shenandoah Hospital for X-rays.
By 3:30 p.m. I was in the operating room where the surgeon picked out the pieces of my appendix which had ruptured three days before.
I was in the hospital for over a month. The first few days I slept most of the time. I had many injections of Penicillin over many days trying to fight the infection.
When I finally felt strong enough I asked the surgeon because I did not have health insurance (company policy did not kick in until I had worked a month). He did so with instructions as to how to change the dressing on the hole in my side where the infection was draining.
Sounds like I should have been in debt for years to pay for all this.
But this was before health care became big business.
I had a few hundred dollars left from my final payday in the USAF. I assume this was paid to the hospital when I was admitted since I don’t recall making payments after I went back to work. The surgeon charged $100 which I paid off at $10 a month. When my records showed I had paid the $100 I called his office to see if their records agreed with mine. I called multiple times and each time was told someone would check and let me know.
I stopped paying and never heard from them.
The family doctor charged $5 and apologized for having to do that saying this was required to cover some paperwork. He said he felt felt responsible since he had missed the diagnosis earlier. He visited me in the hospital almost every day.