Friday, November 21, 2008

A Special Kind of Hell

Ah, I've recently visited a special kind of hell. The hell reserved for mothers of sick children. And I'm not saying that lightly. My visit there will be short and for a relatively minor reason. I can only shudder and imagine what it's like there for mothers of children with life-threatening illnesses or conditions that drag on and on for years. (Oh and fathers of sick children, too, I should say. Although I seriously doubt any of them would call a receptionist a BITCH and threaten her with bodily harm. I'm pretty sure that's a mother thing.)

But this week brought endless hours of phone calls to numerous hospital departments, doctors' offices and insurance companies. And let me tell you, that's a special kind of hell. On Tuesday I was frantically calling around trying to find an orthopedic surgeon - frankly, anywhere in the state - who could give us a second opinion - preferably BEFORE the surgery that is scheduled on Friday. HA! Good luck with that as I was told over and over again that the soonest appointment I could get was January.

"Okay, let me get this straight. My kid has a chipped elbow and I'm supposed to wait two months to see the doctor?"

And the really funny part was always the receptionist's answer, "Yeah."

I tell you, Cuba is beginning to look better and better every minute!

But my lowest moment had to be when I was on hold - for about the fifth time - with the bitch (and I do not say this lightly, for this particular woman really earned the title) at my (very possibly soon-to-be ex) pediatrician's office. I'd left a message there first thing that morning (after being put on hold) asking for the doc to call me so I could tell her what had happened, get her thoughts on the orthopedic surgeon's recommendation, and maybe get some help finding someone to give us a second opinion. Two hours later, when the doctor's nurse called me back, I was on hold with yet another orthopedist's office, trying to wheedle my way into an appointment sometime this year. I called my pediatrician's office back - mere moments later and was immediately put on hold. Well, maybe I should not say immediately. For the receptionist did first ask, "Mind if I put you on hold?" to which I answered "Please don't put me on hold. I just missed a call from the nurse and I need to catch her before she goes in with another patient." None of which mattered or was even heard, because the receptionist put me on hold the second the question came out of her mouth. It wasn't really a question anyway. I was getting put on hold, whether I minded or not!

Let me just cut to the chase and say that this same scenario happened about four more times, once with the variation of being cut off while on hold. Until finally the phone call in which I cut the receptionist off mid-"Mind if I put you on hold?" with "IF YOU PUT ME ON HOLD BITCH I WILL PERSONALLY COME DOWN THERE AND THROTTLE YOU!" At which point she put me on hold.

Then there was the lovely conversation with our health insurance company this morning. I was surprised to find out we did NOT need any pre-approval for his surgery. But I shouldn't have been. I doubt they'll be paying for any of it. Each family member has a $2,000 yearly deductible before the insurance company even pays out a penny. And lucky - or unlucky us - none of us have even spent a penny in deductibles. So we'll be paying at least $2,000 of whatever Jeremiah's surgery costs. Okay, but it just begs the question: WHY ARE WE PAYING FOR HEALTH INSURANCE????

Jeremiah's surgery is scheduled for this afternoon. I'm sure he will recover just fine. I'm not so sure about me. And we will be looking for a new pediatrician. Possibly one in a country with a more humane healthcare system - like Cuba!

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