I'm not going to sugar coat this post dear chickens, this month has been a shit-storm for me. Whilst January felt so full of hope and good things to come February has kicked my ass. HARD. Really, really hard. Everyday this month has felt like "what disaster is going to happen today?" and that is not how I like to live my life. Just to get you in the loop here is what has been going on.
I participated in the Los Angeles 5K Color Run for charity. I was part of the Second City Hollywood team. This was AMAZING. I had a blast. The event was wonderful, the people I walked with were wonderful. I had the most fun. See my last post for some pics of the amazingness. This led me to believe this month would be great.
Then my body felt like total crap after working 2 days of 14 hour shifts, walking 3ish miles and I got super sick. I also had my last day of full time work which means my income ground to a halt. Which when you have a major surgery on the books is SUPER SCARY. My bank account hit negative in checking, in savings, my credit card was overly maxed, and I have a loan I'm paying on PLUS too many payment plans on hospitals/doctors/medical crap to even count. I began to panic. My amazing parents & in-laws helped my husband and I out of a jam. I cried a lot about how grateful I am for them and how awful I felt to even have to ask them to give us money. I told you I am not sugar coating this today. I spent the week in bed trying to sleep as much as possible, rest, and recover.
I got an email that my surgery needed to be moved. My neurosurgeon had to be somewhere on the day we had scheduled so I had to move the surgery. Of course I went into full panic mode. Thankfully we worked it out that it only got moved back a day. That was a HUGE relief. Then my back went out so I heating padded up, burned my back, popped some pain meds, & suffered through.
February 11: Joe & my 7 year anniversary. Also our married for 4 months-aversary. Instead of being amazing and romantic (though I did give Joe the cutest surprise of a book of dates from Datevitation-he loved it!) our little 3 year old Beaglerrier fell off the bed (in an attempt to steal an apple slice from my plate) and hurt his leg. It was instant high pitched yelping, crying, limping, my lifting him into my lap and him crying there whilst I called Joe balling and in a panic that my baby hurt himself. I got an appointment for him in 2 hours time (to avoid the Emergency fee at the vet) & we brought him in for an X-ray & pain meds. Welp, that turned out to be $460 and we still didn't know if anything was broken. So we went home with instructions to not let him do anything on his hurt leg (back right side leg). The next day we got the call that it was a non-displaced fracture in his ankle and he needed a cast. Poor little man was so hurt. We scheduled the appointment for first available (so Valentine's Day morning). So on Valentine's we headed into our vet's for a cast for our man. He got a purple heart on it for being so brave. Needless to say we were heart broken he was hurt and out quite a bit more cash. So anything like a dinner out, etc. went out the window as our bank account went negative again. Joy of all joys week right there. Hurt fur baby and broke. And to be honest (and even though I feel a twinge of guilt saying it) I was jealous of everyone on Facebook posting their flowers, dinners out or in, the chocolates, etc. when Joe and I got to do nothing but stress and cry and sit in our vet's office like wrecks and watch our bank account spiral into negative land. Then Joey wrote me a letter titled "To My Loving Wife" and my heart felt a bit lighter.
I got paid which helped us back into the black in our account so we weren't so scared. Then Colonel Mustard chewed through his cast so we had to go get a replacement. Then we coned him when we went out with a soft flexi-cone. He chewed through that and we got a THIRD cast & a hard-shell cone. Out more money. Then Joe went out of town for the weekend on a chess tournament that he couldn't afford but didn't want to let down the rest of his team. So he packed food, he drove (he got gas money for it) and then got a speeding ticket-which includes a court date and most likely a $300 price tag. I had a dear friend come over and I cooked us dinner (which I made enough of to eat for the rest of the weekend until Joe got back into town because this girl knows how to stretch meals when she is broke let me tell you!). We proceeded to drink a lot of vodka. And damn it I needed it. The next morning I had a brunch date with some pals in my improv conservatory class and then we had our last show together as a group. It was really bittersweet. These people have been in my life for a year now and not only do I love play improvising with them in class but they have become dear friends. We had our last class the next day which was also really bittersweet. A few of us were going to meet up that had been together since the beginning level and say our goodbyes and we ran into a few others from our class. We ended up sharing some margaritas and a few people got quite tipsy. It made for a hilarious last class to take the tinge of the sadness of it. I really love my improv family!
I was feeling like even though we were kind of "in the shit", things were looking a bit better. I was feeling grateful to have these classes and my internship that paid for them (which I had my final day of and was so sad about). Then I found a huge golf-ball sized lump in my throat that hurt to touch and made it hurt to swallow, breathe in deeply through my mouth, and yawning was horrible pain. I made a doctor's appointment for the next day out of panic that this could hold up my surgery. The doctor believed it to be an infection. I was given amoxicillin for it and was awaiting results from a throat culture. This was this past Friday. By Saturday I had an itchy patch behind my knee, by Sunday behind both my knees, on my stomach & rib cage, and my left inner arm. They looked like hives or a rash. I believed it to be an allergic reaction to the meds. Monday I saw the doctor again because I was itching myself to death. He said I was allergic to penicillin. I got steroids, a z pack, and instructions to take claritin & benadryl to help with the histamine in the hives.
I got a call late Monday afternoon from the vascular surgeon's (who is part of my surgery team) office saying I owed a $2500 deposit for my pre-op appointment the next day and that his portion of my surgery costs about $15-20k and since he is out of my insurance network I would owe that. I FULL BLOWN PANICKED. I explained no one had told me about this, that no one told me he was out of network, that I can't afford the $2500 let alone $20,000. I said "what the hell am I supposed to do now, my surgery is next week?" I was told someone would speak to the doctor to "try to help me out" and that they would get back to me. I called my neurosurgeon's surgical coordinator who had set up my surgery and the office was closed at 4:30PM on a Monday for some unknown reason. I emailed her. I spoke to the vascular surgeon's office to confirm my appointment the next day only if I heard back about these billing issues. I started crying and screaming because this month has been so hard. So.fucking.hard. Because my surgery was about to be canceled because I will not go into bankruptcy for a $20k portion of my surgery and have the rest of my next 10 years fucked financially because of this. All this waiting and planning and feeling good was being crushed because no one was giving me full disclosure about MY surgery that involves MY money and MY health and affects the rest of MY life. NO ONE ELSE'S BUT MY LIFE. I called my parents and told them the $600 plane tickets my mom bought to come take care of me post-op because I have no one here other than Joe who is at school 6-8 hours a day can take care of me because they all have lives, jobs, careers, kids, significant others, & I can't ask them to hold my life in their hands because who wants that responsibility? might have to eat the $600 tickets because everything might be off. I called my brothers to talk to someone who gets that being an adult sucks but being an adult who had these major medical issues really sucks. I called friends who couldn't or didn't pick up. I felt helpless and hopeless. I felt emotionally and mentally strained and exhausted. I threw darts as hard as I could and that felt better. If I wasn't on meds I might have drank an entire bottle of whiskey by myself. I went to bed defeated.
I woke up yesterday to start the daily fight again. The fight for me, my health, my financial future, my life. I called the surgical coordinator of my neurosurgeon-Not in until noon. I called the office of the vascular surgeon and spoke to that coordinator. She would "take care of me" I told her that meant nothing, that I needed numbers, figures, an in-network provider. I talked to the vascular surgeon's billing department, I said the same things. I called for my neurosurgeon's coordinator again and left her a voicemail. I talked to the vascular surgeon's coordinator again she said "it didn't look good" as my deductibles haven't been met. I called the neurosurgeon's office and asked for my neurosurgeon, amazingly the coordinator was there a whole 3 hours before she was supposed to arrive at noon-SHOCKER-DO NOT AVOID MY CALLS-THIS IS MY LIFE. I went between these three offices from 8:30-2:30 on the phone and then in person I met with the vascular surgeon himself at 1:30pm. We worked out a payment plan for this $2500 deposit he requires as an out of network provider. He said that if the insurance approved my surgery that means he was approved as well and that I am only responsible for this deposit which will most likely be applied towards my deductible being met. I said "why isn't what you just said what your people said to me instead of sending me into a giant panic about everything being canceled?". He laughed. I didn't find it funny. So everything seemed to be fine. Joe and I had vegan pizza from Cruzer Pizza to celebrate that the surgery was still on and that I am going to probably have a stress induced heart attack at any moment.
Today we woke up, got Colonel his 4th new cast (he has to have them replaced weekly and we finally made it a whole week!). The vet tech said he was chafing which means less activity for him and to come in earlier than a week if certain signs show up. More money, more stress. I came home and exhausted went to bed again until this afternoon. I woke up and called the neurosurgeon's billing office. Apparently there are more problems for me when it comes to billing. I am insured through an insurance I pay myself who shall remain nameless but was amazing in the Midwest and SUCKS ASS out here in California. They won't pay for anything with this surgery because it isn't "necessary" in their eyes as I could live in pain on medication for the rest of my life and just have nerve damage and that isn't a big deal because IT ISN'T THEM. So Joe and I pushed our wedding up and I got on his amazing (though expensive) insurance that keeps auto-debiting our account and fucking us over money wise and giving us the run around on that but we suck it up because they have a 90-10 policy for me and that is a miracle even though my deductible is WAY too high I need them to cover this surgery to get my life back for the love of everything ever. Now I am being told having both these insurances, which in normal cases is a good thing as then you pay less because TWO insurance companies are paying your bills, is BAD in my case because my insurance won't cover and Joe's would then be my secondary meaning I would owe a lot of money I don't have so I can get this surgery. The suggestion was I drop my insurance. I asked for dollars and cents numbers to make that decision. The billing expert couldn't give that to me and had transposed my two deductibles. I had to give her the correct info and she needed the night and tomorrow morning to get back to me with figures so I can make a fully informed decision of should I drop my one insurance and get the surgery or cancel the surgery and try to find in-network surgeons who are qualified and can perform this for me quickly so I don't keep suffering. Then she kept trying to tell me she understood why I might be confused, I explained I wasn't and that I am just pissed off and frustrated that I am not being given full disclosure and complete information to make decisions that involve my health, my money, and my future. She didn't respond. I also said I was extremely aggravated to be dealing with this all DAYS before the surgery is supposed to happen rather than back when this fucking things was JUST STARTING TO BE SCHEDULED. She'll get back to me tomorrow.
I am going to write in caps for a minute here: DEAR ASSHOLES OF THE HEALTH INDUSTRY (that's right health care is a business and NOT actually about patient health, know that before you ever get sick or injured, it'll save you being disheartened often), GET YOUR SUPPORT STAFF'S SHIT TOGETHER. THEY NEED TO GIVE PATIENTS FULL DISCLOSURE AND DISCUSS ALL OPTIONS WITH THEM AT THE BEGINNING OF SCHEDULING PROCESSES NOT AT THE END. THEY ALSO NEED TO BE PEOPLE OF SOME INTELLIGENCE WHO THOROUGHLY UNDERSTAND THEIR JOBS AND CAN PERFORM THE DUTIES OF THESE JOBS. IF THEY CANNOT THEY SHOULD NOT BE IN THAT POSITION. IF THE PATIENT KNOWS MORE THAN THEY DO ABOUT THINGS THAT FALL INTO THEIR CATEGORY OF JOB DESCRIPTION PERHAPS THESE PEOPLE NEED TO BE LET GO. AND NEVER, EVER TELL A PATIENT HOW THEY ARE FEELING, IT ANGERS THEM AND BELITTLES THEM. STOP HIRING AND EMPLOYING PEOPLE WHO ARE UNABLE OR ARE UNWILLING TO DO THEIR JOB PROPERLY BECAUSE THEY MAKE YOU LOOK BAD AS DOCTORS. End rant.
But seriously, figure it the hell out. This stuff is life changing and fucking scary to the people in it. And I am more informed than most as I have been dealing with this for almost a decade. I am usually pretty understanding and willing to walk people through their own damn jobs just so I know I am taken care of. Because the only person who advocates for you in the health care business is YOU. No one else gives a shit about anything other than money. Sorry, that is the truth as I have learned it these past 9 years. But I will not and am not able to be patient with anyone who is doing what these people are doing to me with only LESS THAN A WEEK to go until my surgery. I am done. I am so fucking done I cannot even explain. I need loads of whiskey and vodka and beer and anything with alcohol right now but I am on meds and will not drink. So I am left feeling desperate, frustrated, angry, annoyed, pissed the hell off, hopeless, helpless, and exhausted! I just want to be done with doctors, their support staffs, and insurance for forever. I will have my babies at home by myself just to avoid all this headache. I cannot take it anymore. I cannot take another fuck up regarding my health, welfare, finances, and future life due to someone else's idiocy, confusion, laziness, not caring, or disregard. I AM DONE! And yet I know I am not because I don't know how to not fight. How to not come out swinging, to not scratch/bite/kick/scream until I am taken care of. I will Tom Petty the shit of this situation ("I Won't Back Down") and every other one because I will not accept that answer. THANK.YOU.VERY.MUCH.
So here I am. Feeling downtrodden, broken physically/emotionally/mentally, wanting to cry/scream/rage/wail, and all I can do is be here in this. Do you know what it feels like to sit in this kind of feeling? If you do, please, I need help. If you don't, no offense, don't offer anything other than I love yous because I can't take it. I am sorry but I just can't. The fighter in me is tired. The fighter wants a break and the poor girl just won't get it. And that fighter cannot take any of your advice if you don't get this. So I have to politely ask you to shut up. If you haven't been here, please just say I love you and then stop talking. I have been clinging to Momastery just to feel like other people out there get it. This is too hard sometimes. This thing called life. But I will keep on keeping on and keep on fighting/raging/kicking/screaming/wailing because I don't know how to stop. But for now I need a rest, I could really and truly use it.
Take care dear chickens, please take care. Here are some pics of my little buddy being brave in his casts.