I started skateboarding in middle school. I enjoyed it because it never got boring. The more I practiced, the better I got. Around the same time, snowboarding was rising in popularity among my peers. Many of my friends would buy season passes to the ski resort each year for $300-$400! What a bunch of suckers, I thought. I could skate for free. Turns out the joke was on me.
Who snowboards in Las Vegas anyway?
There isn’t much snow to be found in Las Vegas, but there is a ski resort about 40 miles out that usually stays cold enough to maintain man-made snow throughout the season. I started constantly hearing my friends at school say “Dude are you going boarding this weekend?” They eventually stopped asking me when they realized I was happy in my frugal skateboarding ways.
Why would I clock 2 hours of travel time, put on a ton of gear (which doesn’t make bathroom breaks easy), wait in lines, waste time on a ski lift, and pay tons of money all for a few quick rides down a hill on a gravelly snow mixture?
Snowboarding is a blast, don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t think it was worth all of that hassle. I could have just as much fun (if not more) skating. When homework was done, it took me no less than a minute to slip on my shoes, grab my board, and be out on the pavement. Free and instant gratification!
One moment changed it all
One day, while attempting to jump over a 55 gallon plastic drum, I came down on my board wrong and broke my ankle. It seemed to heal fine, and I was back out in a few months.
In one of my follow up appointments, however, the doctor noticed a complication, and we decided to operate. That led to me sitting out my junior year of volleyball. I was able to play for my senior year, but the old foot was never quite the same. 14 years later, I had another operation. Three months ago, I had my third.
Cost of surgery
I was 16 when I had my first one, so my parents got stuck with that bill. I had my 2nd surgery at 30, and thank goodness for insurance! Even after the insurance provider discount, in total it still cost over $20K. Here’s the breakdown for that one:
- Cartilage implant $9K
- Hospital $7K
- Surgeon $3K
- Anesthesia $1.5K
- Total: $20.5K
I think we had already met our deductible at this point. Our coinsurance was 20%, so we paid about $4K out of pocket.
10 months later came surgery number 3. Luckily, it was much less invasive and cost a heck of a lot less. The main reason for the reduced cost is that it was a procedure that could be done at an outpatient surgical center rather than a hospital. Here’s the breakdown (after provider discount):
- Surgeon $1K
- Facility $1K
- Anesthesia $1K
- Total: $3K
Again, we had met our deductible, so our 20% out of pocket came to less than $700!
When you add in physical therapy, travel, medication, and follow-up appointments, we’ve easily exceeded $5K in the last year. Ouch.
Moral of the story
There are many morals of this story. I can’t really choose just one, so take your pick.
- Healthcare costs are a joke!
- Skateboarding is not for wimps
- Frugality can come back to bite you
- “Free” isn’t always really free
- Don’t get hurt
- Be prepared with proper health coverage
- Choose your hobbies wisely
- Your life (financial or otherwise) can be completely altered in a moment
Uncertainty can drive people crazy. When our routines get thrown off, we can get irritated. Not knowing when a problem will be resolved is unsettling. I still can’t do much on my ankle, and I don’t know if I’ll ever make a full recovery. I was not prepared as a 16 year old kid to take on an injury that would last for the next 15 years and will probably have lasting financial, physical, & emotional implications. But the reality is that unexpected things will happen. Some will be pleasant surprises while others will involve hardships. All we can do is try to be as prepared as we can.
Any others morals you can think of?
Be financially and physically safe out there!