Payin’ the Bills
I hate when the bills come rolling in. Oh, yeah, we all do. We hate that they need to be paid, hate writing the checks or sending them online, whatever. They are a huge annoyance.
In our house, Hubs will say “gather up the bills and we can handle that tonight.” This means taking each bill and totalling up the balances. When he comes home we decide which ones will get paid immediately and which ones will wait until next week. Then I write the checks and stuff the envelopes (because the internet cannot be trusted with the information needed to pay the bills. ‘Big Brother’ and all that..)
This month we – and by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’ – are dealing with the billing company used by our back doctor. When we go to his office, we have an option of paying the co-pay or being billed for it. The next time Hubs wants to be billed? I will punch his junk. Seriously.
In January, we went into the office and were told that we owed a balance. So we paid that balance and the co-pay. That’s that, right? Nope. Then we get a bill for $50.00 (The old balance) We told them we paid it. “Oh, okay. I see that. Ignore this bill” Then, we get a new bill. Hubs owes $40.00 and I owe $10.00. Hmmm….So I call the doctor’s office. The woman is pissed off by the incompetance of the billing company and she goes through this all the time. Yes, we paid. If billing has a problem, tell them to call the office.
Big sigh. Finally it’s finished.
I get a call from the billing department. Seems that we owed something from 2009. When we paid in the office, they used it for the back balance. Now we owe co-pay for the January visit. Fucking $80.00. I should have just paid the $10 and $40. I understand the billing. She explained it over and over until I ‘got it’ . Now I have to explain it to Hubs. I don’t see this going well.
The doctor is in the process of finding a new company because shit like this is happening to more than a few patients. What if I pay it and it is actually less or non-existent? What if I ask why I haven’t been billed before now and then they look closely at the bill (as they did this time) and I find out that it is substantially more?
I loathe incompetance. This is beyond a small mistake. It is happening to other people. When Hubs and I go in for the back injections, we are among the younger patients. How many of the older people are from the era that ‘billing is always correct’ ? How many will pay it, no questions asked? How many of you double check the dates of the services you are provided?
Short Procedures -Pt.3
When the diverticulitis first struck me, I went to “T” Hospital because it was the closest. None of my usual doctors are there, but at the time, the pain was so bad that I HAD to go there. I was amazed that the tests were done fairly quick for a weekend. I had gone in around noon, had a CAT scan, was diagnosed and in a room by dinner time. For me, that is an unusual thing. I am used to sitting for 3 hours or more in the ER with my kids, or waiting around only to be told that no testing is done on weekends. (Except for severe things) Since the doctor that treated me was there, I went to “T” for the colonoscopy too.
On that day, I went into the Short Procedure Unit and gave my name. The man at the desk already had the chart I had filled out in the Doc’s office in his hand. I signed my consent to be treated and was immediately ushered into Room 2. In Room 2, the nurses took my blood pressure, temperature, and asked me a few health history questions. This took ten minutes…tops. Into Room 3. In bathroom off to the side, I put on my gown, and hung my stuff up on a hook. Coming out, I was in the procedure room. IV went in, I rolled onto my side and I was done. When I woke up, I was handed a drink, they took my blood pressure and handed me my clothes. After I dressed, they took my blood pressure one more time and I was good to go.
That was it.
Yesterday (and all the other times) I went in for my back injections. I enter “F” Hospital. I must go to the main desk and tell them I am here. The old woman tells me to go across the hall. (Duh, I do this every week. Plus I have done this for the past four years that I have been getting this done) Across the hall, the woman gathers all of my insurance info. They check my address, phone number and Social Security number. EVERY SINGLE WEEK. They have computers. They have all of this in front of them and yet, we must do this every week. I sign papers and then I am told to go upstairs to the Short Procedure Unit.
In SPU, I am given a gown, I get changed and then they take all kinds of medical history. What meds are you on? Any history of this or that? Why are you here? EVERY WEEK. None of this ever changes. These women see the same people over and over week after week. Hubs and I are getting to know their faces too. We all see the same doctor. We all do the same procedures. Sometimes the nurses even ask us about our vacations, kids, spouses and if we are still taking “X” medicine or if we had “Y” procedure that we had chatted about last year. Really. That’s how often some of us are there. And then I sign more papers.
After they ask these questions, we sit in a holding area for an hour or more. Yes, an hour or more. Finally, someone comes to get us and we go to another holding area where they put in an IV, ask us more questions and make me sign more papers. the doctor comes in to say hello and prove that he is sober(I assume). He puts little x’s on my back and I am wheeled into the procedure room.
When I awaken, I am in yet another room where I will stop being groggy and lay there listening to the nurses’ idle chitchat. After a half hour or so, (an additional 20 minutes for each shot I may need for pain management) I am taken back to the the SPU. I get some juice and they take my blood pressure and temperature and oxygen reading. I eat a few crackers and they take my blood pressure and temperature and oxygen reading. I am finally given my clothes and after I dress, they take my blood pressure and temperature and oygen reading.
THEN they will make sure my ride is there and let me leave.
Two hospitals. Two hugely different methods of intake. I don’t understand this. At “T” Hospital, when I told them how surprised Iwas at how quickly things were managed, they were shocked to hear how long things took at the other hospital. At “F” Hospital, they were amazed at how quickly “T” handled business. “F”‘s nurses were convinced that somehow “T” was running a less than efficient SPU by cutting corners…somewhere. They agreed with me that all necessary info was gathered by both hospitals. All steps were taken to insure my health. But I had gone in for a procedure and got out within an hour and a half…tops. For the shots, while I will concede that it is very different procedure, the intake should not be all that different or more complicated.
Why can’t my info be saved until next week? Why can’t they look at it and say “has anything changed from last week?” So much of what they do seems to be redundant. I wonder how much money could be saved by cutting it down to a a clean routine like “T” Hospital seems to implement?
Is this part of why our health care costs so much? Or is this a sign of ‘Health-care-yet-to-come’?
Short Procedure? PFFFTT!
Short Procedures-Pt. 2
In October, I ended up in the hospital suffering from stomach pains. The diagnosis? Diverticulitis. Small little pockets grow on the sides of the intestines and manage to catch all the little things that you might see in a groovy shit. (Raisins, nuts and oh yeah, corn) It is manageable and mainly depends on carefully watching what I eat. This new way of eating consists mainly of avoiding nuts, seeds and many raw vegetables. ( I must say that my snacks of choice are popcorn, a handful of nuts or any kind of berry-mainly blackberries. These are now considered no-nos.)
But the best was yet to come….
It was necessary to endure a colonoscopy. Ah, yes. The supreme violation of my delicate, virginal asshole.This was not something that I was excited about so I put it off. Past Halloween. Past Thanksgiving. I was feeling great so I decided to ignore it altogether. But alas, the holidays are chock full of hidden dangers. Walnuts, almonds and peanuts are everywhere in brittles, cookies, and chocolate covered delicacies. I indulged in them all. A week before Christmas I had to see the doctor who told me that ‘we’ would schedule the test for the 23rd. Not the 23rd of January, but of December…..two days before Christmas.
Fine. What the fuck ever. Let’s do this.
Anyone who has had one, can tell you that it is not the procedure itself that is the -pardon the pun- pain in the ass. It is all the ‘prep work’ that sucks. It is the little, bitty pills that cause your stomach to cramp and your bowels to clench in pain. It is the clear fluid in the little green bottle-magnesium citrate to be exact- that causes your intestines to turn themselves inside out.
The doctor told me to drink one bottle of hellwater at 7am. This ended up being a whole fiasco on it’s own. That shit was horrid!!! On my countertop, I lined up the hellwater, a tall glass of Gatorade, and then a glass of water. I downed as much as I could without throwing it all right back up. Quickly, I pass on to the Gatorade, which only served to give me a funky taste and feel in my mouth. Appalled, I rushed to the water to rinse my mouth. You know when you are drunk, and you know that you are going to throw up? That hideous rush of saliva into your mouth? The rapid succession of breaths that come out like Lamaze? Yes, my friends. That is what happened. I had to hold it together, because guess what? If you don’t do this procedure ‘just so’ the hospital may end up giving you an enema.
Uhhh, yeah. Not for me.
Within half an hour, every bit of food that had EVER crossed my lips in my entire life seemed to be shooting out of my ass in a deluge. I don’t remember anything after I sat on the toilet. The white-hot cramps seemed to lift the top of my head off and stars crossed my vision. I stayed there long enough to read two full chapters of a book I was reading. No lie! (Heh! I almost said ‘no shit’)
Later on in the day, I took the diuritic pills and then repeated the horror of the hellwater at dinner time. Believe me when I tell you that I lost 15 pounds that day. Ask Hubs. I made him look at the scale because I thought I was delirious!!
The next day, I went to the hospital and I was in and out in no time. (Yes, I said “in and out”) They put me to sleep and I woke up when it was done. I couldn’t believe that all that prep was needed for something so fast!
The bad news was that I had a couple of polyps. The good news was that they removed them. The better news was that there is no cancer. But worst of all?
I get to do this all again in one year. Don’t worry. I won’t forget about it or ignore it.
Hubs made sure to ask the doctor’s office to send a reminder in November.
Who Does That?!?
I don’t know if you remember that Mom told me that my own cousin almost died before Christmas. It was a shock and she swears that she told me before but she hadn’t. Whatever.
Tonight Mom called to tell me that the sweater I gave her for Christmas is too small. Can I exchange it? Sure. Oh, and my uncle in New Mexico (whom I have only met once) told her that I never write or call him. Well, every time I do, it’s “When are you coming?” ….Repeatedly. No matter what direction I try to steer the conversation, it comes back to that. Again…Whatever.
So I was asked to do her a favor. And she scolded me and told me to call Uncle Angie.
“Oh,and by the way, when they found the hole in Jen’s heart, they also found cancer in her stomach.The doctors removed most of it and she will get chemo to try to kill the rest of it. She’s home now.”
Who does that shit? “Oh, by the way…”
It’s too fucked up for me to wrap my head around. I want to go to bed and wake up next month.
Well, yes it’s only Tuesday. I wish the week would just fucking zip by while I go to sleep.
Sunday was spent taking it easy. We just got to hang out and watch movies. (Which, as you know, is one of our favorite things!) In between the movies, I would look over at the Christmas tree, just dreading the thought of all the crap that goes along with dismantling the tree. I never just stop at the tree. All of the stuff that goes on the tree gets stored underneath everything else, so it follows that I must take the other stuff down too. The thought was exhausting. As we finished off one movie, the phone rang. Hubs’ cousin passed away due to complications of pneumonia. ‘A’ fought valiantly through the holidays but in the end was no match.
Our week was not looking good..
Monday came and with it, the visit to the doctor. We each woke up feeling relatively normal. Hubs checked out a small job and I managed to do laundry, and clean the ‘piles’ in the yard. The afternoon trip to the doctor changed all of that. During the examination, he ran his knuckle along my spine. NOT COOL! I was almost in tears! He pushed on Hubs’ back and set off his back as well. Now we sat there-in horrible pain- and the doctor informs us that the insurance company wants to cut a “6 step” procedure into a “4 step” procedure. (Not just our insurance…ALL of them) He explained to us the logic that insurance companies are using. Then he explained the way our “6 step” dealy works. Now, I am not a doctor and neither is Hubs (although it is one of our favorite games.) Even as ‘medical illiterates’ we could understand how dangerous a proposition this could be. Anyway…without too many details, we may join our doctor in a class action lawsuit against the insurance company. We will be David to the insurance company’s Goliath. I am not going to hold my breath.
Today I took down the tree. It was a long, tiring undertaking and I worked alone. While not exactly in pain, I’m just tired and achy. Son2 called to say he was in agony with a toothache. He has no dental insurance and work is getting slow for him again. He can’t catch a break. This means that Hubs and I will most likely end up helping him to pay the dentist. And Babygirl’s orthodontist bill is due next week…and Bandit needs shots….and our shots will begin….and yadda yadda fucking yadda….
Thursday will bring grief all it’s own when we travel out of state to his cousin’s funeral. Fifty-two is just too goddamned young to die from pneumonia. That is only two years older than Hubs and that is a scary thought. I’m tired of grieving. It is too much of a weight on my soul, my heart, my…..
Hey! Maybe that’s what making my back hurt! All that motherfucking weight I carry on my heart…..
And the week marches on…..
It’s That Time…
It’s that time of the year again. No, not the new year, not the white sales, not holiday returns.
It’s time for……the needles.
My back is always hurting on and off, sometimes it’s enough to take tylenol or ibuprophen. Other times, it’s necessary to use the Lidocaine patches or percocet. Lately, it has been more frequently the latter. All the preparations for Christmas didn’t help matters much. Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to repack all the pretty decorations…..and time to start aching again.
Hubs is such a manly-man. “Let me carry that for you”, “Don’t lift that box” and “Stop vacuuming” are often heard when he is around. But his back is no better than mine! He is just better at hiding it than I am. A few weeks ago, we had snow….lots of snow. According to the weathermen, we had one inch higher in a twenty-four hour period than has ever been recorded in the Philadelphia area. And rather than waking up our son, Hubs wanted to shovel. This is something he really enjoys. So on came the boots and gloves, and out into the storm he went.
He did all the shoveling that was ‘necessary’ and suddenly no more than that. His back hurt. He took a hot shower, some ibuprophen and went to bed. And didn’t get out of it for two days. Then we had our Christmas Eve party and he carried bags of ice, cases of soda and held nieces on his lap and threw nephews into the air and threw his back out again. This time, he didn’t tell me. He just medicated himself and got through the holidays.
All the hostessing at my party tweaked my back too. And then standing and sitting on hard chairs at my SIL’s house and my mom’s house didn’t do it much better. Eventually, I was also in lots of pain.
Hubs and I began to squabble over the heating pad, who would stand up to let out the dog or answer the phone. We bitched about who was staying in bed while the other one got up to do this or that. We carefully watched that neither of us was hoarding the meds.
Now that everyone is getting back to their jobs, the doctor has also returned to his office. We will see him Monday, and make arrangements to get our shots and the epidurals into the nerves. We will go on the same days and at the same times.
We are so excited.
Isn’t it pathetic that we can get so excited about a medical procedure? It sounds like a romantic getaway!
I can barely contain my joy!
When I sat down to write the last post, it surprised me to find that I had been away from the blog for so long. Oh I had stuff….tons of stuff. Just not the time. And even then, when I did have the time, all I wanted to do was put my feet up, or walk the dog, or open a book.
During my absence, I was sick. I had managed to get the flu in all of its feverish, mucus-filled glory. This was the visitor that wouldn’t leave. For two weeks it held me in its grip. I hated to even move my eyeballs, but I did. And I survived.
Towards the end of the flu, I suffered the sudden loss of my Aunt Anna, who was also my Godmother. I got a call on Monday that she was in the hospital and that after the testing, I could call to ask how she was doing. On Tuesday, before I could make that call, my mom called to tell me that she had died of a blood clot in her lung. It was enough to steal my breath with its suddenness. The rest of week entailed the business of death. The viewing, the funeral, the burial and then the business of reconnecting with family. I saw cousins that I hadn’t seen in years, the same cousins that were in my back pocket for the majority of our childhood! They (and I) have gotten ‘thicker’ and grayer, but the smiles are the same, as is the laughter. We are all hoping to start having a “Pot Luck Cousin’s Dinner” every other month. I hope that we do. Those links are far too important to lose.
Then last Saturday, on Babygirl’s 18th birthday, I was felled by a sudden pain in my stomach. It was so bad, that a trip to the ER was required. I was diagnosed with diverticulitis and promptly put into a room that would be my home for the next few days. I took tons of antibiotics, ate lots of jello and had more than my fair share of broth. I was a good girl and they let me come home on Wednesday, armed with more antibiotics and a list of “dos and don’ts”. Now I feel normal and I have been doing my usual routine of yardwork, laundry and dinner.
It feels like a never-ending list of things. I hate getting sick. I try to eat well and take my vitamins. I stopped smoking, and although I enjoy a drink or two now and then, I am far from being a raging alcoholic. At what point do I become a healthy adult? *Sigh* At least I have it better than many others….
Welcome to the World
I tend to keep the “deeper details” of family off the radar here. I feel like it is a violation of privacy somehow to post certain events unless they directly involve me. But today, I am going to break that rule because it is a good broken rule.
My brother-in-law and his wife had decided to wait a few years after getting married to have children. My SIL was very much career oriented and was the financial decision maker in their home. Therefore, it as up to her to decide “when” and “if”. When she finally made the choice to start a family, she never seemed very happy. She had morning, afternoon and evening sickness. She gained a lot of weight (she was stick thin, so this was obviously a huge deal to her) And still she worked, sometimes overtime to compensate for the time lost after the baby was born.
Then, my niece Kelly was born. She was a perfect baby in all ways but one…..
She was born with a hole in her heart. Within days, surgeons opened her tiny chest to make repairs that would help her to survive. The scar against her perfect skin was simultaneously hideous and beautiful–hideous as a flaw, but beautiful because it was a sign that she had been saved. Doctors told her parents that she would need further surgery as she grew up. This did not go over well with my SIL. She was a worrier and she would never share information with the family and became quite upset if my BIL did. She did not want constant questions of “How is she?” and “What will be done?” or even “What day?” The fear of losing her child was too stressful for her.
Kelly had a corrective procedure done at the age of four. She would probably need it again around the age of twelve.
At the age of twelve, the doctors agreed that her heart had done a good job of growing with her. The family were all warned that she would have to be especially vigilant in avoiding tobacco and alcohol, being monitored before sports, and……pregnancy. The stress of carrying and pushing out a baby could prove fatal.
Kelly is now 21. She is a beautiful girl who has followed doctor’s rules for the most part. (She did smoke for a time) She made sure she was on birth control, but….it failed. And although Kelly was advised to terminate the baby for health reasons (which her mother begged her to do), she decided to keep the baby.
Our whole family has been watching her grow larger and more glowing. She has been so happy and healthy. Not only did she have regular Ob/Gyn appointments, but also cardiologists. She was due in late August but doctors were convinced that she would have her baby in July. And we were prepared. She had an apartment with a nursery and all it’s bells and whistles. In July she was put on bed rest, and as hard as it was, she stayed put for a month.
Last night we got the call that it was time. Kelly was in a local hospital with a trauma center and excellent neonatal facilities. More importantly, her cardiologists were at her side. We settled in to wait.
After a long night, the heart doctors decided that after all the labor, she might not be able to withstand pushing. They made the call for a Caesarian section.
My niece Kelly gave birth to her daughter Mackenzie this morning. The baby is normal in every way.
Kelly now has a new scar badge of honor.
Welcome to the world, Mackenzie. And welcome to motherhood, Kelly. I love ya like crazy.
My Secret Pain
About six years ago, I had rotator cuff surgery on my left shoulder to repair damage that I had done by years of lifting babies, strollers, laundry and a certain woman who claimed to be 150 lbs (I know for certain that she weighed no less than 180!) My orthopedic surgeon had warned me that I might need to have that surgery done on the right side eventually. But I felt so good, and since I had learned the ‘correct’ way to lift things, I continued to watch infants, take strollers out to walk and still carried laundry.
Fast forward to June 6th.( I remember because it was just before my trip to Kentucky). Hubs and I went to the store for milk or something and when we got home, Bandit was soooo excited to see us. You might think that we had been away for days or weeks instead of just twenty minutes. He jumped on us and greeted us with the enthusiasm that only a pet can exhibit. I played along with him, running and jumping around the living room. I chased him around my coffee table and as I ran between the sofa and the table, my feet became tangled in the couch cover.
BOOM! I went down….hard. To brace my back (and wrists) I went down on both knees and both elbows. Well, a landing like that jolted my entire skeleton. My neck hurt to turn for a few weeks, my knees and elbows didn’t bruise as badly as I would have imagined, and maybe….just maybe…I tinkled a little bit. (JUST MAYBE!)
I chalked it all up to a lack of grace. Hubs, while concerned, was glad that I got up laughing at my stupidity. But I was lucky that I didn’t break anything.
Or did I?
I haven’t been posting alot because I have been busy with this and that. And there is also a second reason. My left shoulder is in pain. (The one that already had surgery) The right arm has a searing pain across my bicep. (The way that the first injury presented itself) It is hurting me alot to type this out. Actually, I have stopped between each paragraph to take a break and rub them.
I guess this means that I need to see the doctor. Instead of sending me directly for an MRI, he will tell me to get xrays. The next week he will tell me to get the MRI. Then he will most likely operate, (putting another of those scars like the one above) and put me into physical therapy twice a week for 8 weeks. I am surely not excited about this. As a matter of fact, I am so NOT excited, that I haven’t let Hubs in on just how bad it hurts. We are going on vacation in two weeks.
So I will suffer my secret pain. I will relax on the beach when we go on vacation. I’ll mostly stay off the computer (except for reading blogs and an occasional comment here and on facebook). And I’ll take lots of anti-inflammatories.
I have an appointment for the week we get back.
Broken Arm and Heart
I make no secret of the fact that my family pisses me off. It’s not so much my husband and kids. (God knows they do their best on a daily basis) I am talking about my parents and siblings.
Last Sunday, Mom fell in the basement and broke her arm badly. She hit the slate floor and the washing machine. Thank God that Dad was with her and also that they have excellent health coverage. I can’t remember what the reason was, but I had called her last Monday. That was when I heard about her fall.
A day later.
When I spoke to her, she had been splinted in the emergency room. She was due to see a bone doc on Wednesday. Now she had already been told that it was bad enough that the surgeon might need to place a pin in the bones. I know that is serious. I asked if she needed me to help her out at home or with going to the doctor, but she assured me that she only wanted Dad to be there and that he could handle everything. ( This is true. My parents are both healthy, mentally and physically–knock wood!) So I told her that she could call me if she changed her mind and please let me know what the doctor had to say.
I spoke to Dad on Saturday. Mom was taking pain pills that the doctor had given her and he had put her arm in a cast. “No, C, there’s nothing that you need to help us with. I have it all under control.”
And I let the matter drop. As I understood it, Mom would be inconvenienced by the cast, but otherwise, she would be fine.
Around dinnertime today, I got a call from my Dad.
“Mom is out of surgery. The doctor placed a pin near her wrist and she also needed a bone graft. She’s in a lot of pain but the doctor is taking care of that. She is staying overnight, or possibly two days so that he can keep monitoring her.”
My father, my sister and both brothers knew. No one called me. “I thought you knew” “I didn’t want to interrupt business calls” and my favorite-” I didn’t want the phone to wake up the babies in case they were napping”
I can’t imagine what I did to any of them to do something like this to me! She is in a hospital down the street from me! I am hurt. I am disappointed in my Dad. I am angry with my brothers. My sister…well, I’m not surprised.
This shit is why I distance myself. If I stand too close, I get burned…..
…by the people who claim to love me the most.