healthcare

Three weeks out

June 23, 2018 – I was with my mom and brother in Disney or most of this week (where I couldn’t take any photos because I couldn’t steady my camera without use of my left arm), so I don’t have an exact arrival date. But, as soon as I returned on Saturday, I found a letter from Florida Blue: “Our independent panel of medical experts have reviewed all documents associated with your claim and determined that it DOES NOT meet the criteria for a medical emergency.”

Wait, getting hit by a fucking car is “not a medical emergency?”

“…therefore, neither Florida Blue nor any of its subsidiaries are liable for any payments associated wit your claim.”

But don’t forget to keep paying us – that’s right, I have to pay them to not do the one thing I overpay (due to an error on their part but claim it’s MY fault for “not catching it sooner”) them to do

June 25, 2018 – I finally got the nerve to call the lawyer the physical therapist gave me, and he has tentatively offered to take my case. I meet him at the IPM offices on Thurs, which is good since I can show him the rejection letter from Florida Blue.

June 27, 2018 – Got a call this morning from an “unavailable number” who turned out to be the “Billing and Payment Office” at ORMC informing me that my insurance is not paying for my Emergency stay but SOMEONE is…and I get the distinct feeling I don’t want to ask who that “someone” is (especially since I was the one on the other end of their message).

If only, there was a way to prepay into an account in the event that something like this happened to me… oh, I do? Tough luck, kid, here’s your bill. Yes, you HAVE to pay it.

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Categories: adventures, Advocacy\volunteer, florida, Health, healthcare, insurance, Orlando, Williamsburg | Leave a comment

Slightly better Saturday

4:23am – I thought being moved up to the surgical suites would make the rest of my night quieter, but, no, there were still people pacing up and down the hall, staff laughing at the nearby nursing station and machines making various noises.

In fact, if I got out of bed to use the restroom and an ear-piercing alarm goes off so now a half-dozen (young female) nurses know I have to pee: “That’s why we have that pitcher next to your bed. Just go, we’ll turn it off.”

4:43am – I finally get my pants back up and my belt redone (neither task is easy to do one handed), and as soon as I’m back into the bed and almost asleep, a female Orderly comes in to clean the bathroom.

7:30am – Daylight.

Also, the time I hear the door to the room open and Dr. McDreamy from whatever that show was called walks in. He’s a surgeon, he’s gone over my reports and has determined I don’t need surgery after all. However, he still needed to hear a comprehensive medical history, a complete report on what caused the crash, a full list of symptoms (tbf, the pain had gone down noticeably overnight). He tells me “I’m not releasing you today” and leaves.

8:37am – A male Orderly comes in holding what turned out to be a standard Continental breakfast, and just as I’ve almost pulled myself up to an eating position… the NT comes in, takes my temperature, gives me a pain pill and checks my blu-presser: “Eh, eeeezzz still no good, but maybe better. 143/105.”

9:23am – Regular floor Nurse arrives (not the one from earlier). She tells my vitals, while “not good” appear to have “stabilized,” but the doctor said I’m “most likely” staying overnight again for “continued observation.”

10:29am – the exact same nurse walks in, and immediately asks: “What the hell are you still doing here? You were discharged over an hour ago.”

12:29pm – Yes, I am still here, but I just finished the saddest “Turkey Club” since my mom packed my lunch in the 4th grade, but at least, I got to eat it sitting up. I’m told the discharge papers should be ready any time now.

As I force myself out of the chair, I see a familiar chocolate colored boy in a tight, black shirt ambling down the hallway before the door next to mine slams. Apparently, you can have the same highlight twice on the same trip. Who knew?

1:15pm – The nurse comes back in with a copy of my discharge paper which she rather quickly goes over with me. No weight on shoulder, contact primary for folo in 5-7 days, pills every four hours… when I asked when the cab was coming to get me, she just looked at me blankly. Why not just drive my own car back? Oh right…

2:29pm – The nurse just happened to be outside my room (walking an elderly patient) when her cell phone rings telling her the cab was “en route” and would arrive shortly so she had to quickly (or as “quickly” as hospital staff move) her patient back to her room and get a wheelchair out of the closet at the end of the hall for a leisurely trip down to the lobby.

2:43pm – Finally arrive at the main entrance where, yes, a cab was already waiting. Surprisingly enough, the driver was friendly and managed to get me back to Williamsburg in decent time, despite “heavier than normal” afternoon traffic.

I get out of his vehicle, go up to the unit, open the door and see the time on the oven was… 3:15pm.

Categories: florida, Health, healthcare, Kissimmee, Orlando, Osceola Regional Medical Center (ORMC), Williamsburg | Leave a comment

WORST Friday ever: part 2

Midnight in the ER is nowhere near as quiet as certain 90s TV shows liked to portray. Sure, the old lady next to the doors for Radiology who spent the past 3 hours bitching about being in a hallway was replaced by a black family who spent the last hour walking up and down the hallway until the doctor (or billing agent) came to see their daughter. Also, the two cantankerous old men in the rooms behind and across from me had finally gone to sleep just in time for the relatively quiet woman in the bed next to me to be wheeled upstairs to be quickly replaced by another accident victim (a hot chocolate colored skin dude in his mid-20s with a tight, black shirt).

While the billing lady was taking his information (in Spanish), two doctors showed up by my bed again (apparently, they’re like buses) the one in the lab coat said he was “familiar with my case,” had “thoroughly examined” my Radiology and CT reports… but still needed a full history, description of the accident and complete list of all my symptoms anyway.

He completely ignores my ankle, but takes a slight interest in my stomach cramps, dizziness and lightheadedness… until I told him it was probably due to lack of eating in past 10-12 hours (my mom nearly died last year from something called “Glycemic Shock”) before abruptly moving onto the guy in the bed behind me (in English: Korean SUV, rollover crash, works as a dishwasher at Bob Evans, also has a fractured shoulder).

An hour later, the younger doctor comes back with a portable EKG machine just to “rule out” more serious causes of my stomach problems. It was patently clear this was not how he wanted to spend his Friday night. Luckily, all I have are Kidney/Gal stones, but nothing to actually worry about. He wipes that weird gel off my chest and pushes his cart away.

A half-hour later, an orderly comes by and wheels me through the labyrinthine, semi-lit hallways on my way to the “brand new” surgical wards. It certainly LOOKED newer, and the room was easily TWICE the size as the ones downstairs (with a large clock on the far wall).

Unfortunately, the two nurses there were anything but helpful. Particularly, the male nurse (who was easily half my age) yelling at me for “not transferring properly,” and then making a HUGE deal about being asked to put my shirt, sandals and the envelop with my checks in it on the counter behind him.

“Why the hell do you have a check for $8,152.68 here – in a hos-pit-all at 1:15 in the morning? Why didn’t you just take it to a BANK like a norm-”

“Where the fuck did you THINK I was going when the collision took place? Oh, wait, sorry, I forgot I’m Autistic, we stand in the middle of the road and flap our arms for fun.”

“DON’T YOU DARE TALK TO ME LIKE THAT,” he roared pointing his finger at me threateningly. “I AM TRYING TO HELP YOU HERE. HELP YOU.”

“By opening it, reading it outloud and questioning me about it in the most judgmental way possible? That is being ‘helpful?’”

“UM, YES, BY DETERMINING IF THIS ENVELOP ACTUALLY IS YOURS OR NOT. BUT SUUURE, FINE, WHATEVER, IF YOU THINK I (scoffs) ‘OFFENDED’ YOU, FINE, I’M ‘SORRY,’ BUT I WILL NOT PUT UP WITH YOU OR YOUR ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR ON MY WATCH. DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?”

He walks over to the door picks the ugly camo gown of the hook and comes back to throws it at me before storming off in a show of maturity.

“That was unnecessary,” the female nurse said taking the gown off my head.

“I’d say so.”

“I was talking about YOU. He was merely doing his job, and you were an ass… jerk to him for it. Now, I know you aren’t going to be happy about this, but I need to ask about your history, what caused the crash, a full list of patient symptoms – plus a number of additional questions guaranteed to ‘piss you off’ further.”

As the nurse continues her rather long list of questions, a Nurse Tech with a thick accent comes in and puts a pair of yellow ankle socks and a straps a foam brace on my RIGHT foot. As I am about to correct her, she pulls out a similar brace to that as well. She then leaves unceremoniously as the nurse leans in to explain the TV and lighting controls on the remote.

Unfortunately, the recessed lighting directly above the bed stay on for “safety reasons” so I’m stuck staring into them for the rest of the night so I pull the second pillow over my head… and the Nurse Tech returns with another Motrin and a Blood pressure wrap.

“Blu-presser esteem high. 150/105. Very, very bad!”

“It’s not like something stressful could have happened to me in the last 12 hours to cause it….”

Categories: florida, Health, healthcare, Kissimmee, Osceola Regional Medical Center (ORMC) | Leave a comment

WORST Friday ever: part 1

2pm – Realize I’m still wearing the same clothing I wore to bed last night so I hurriedly changed shirts and put on the nearest pair of shorts I could find before going down to check the mail. There is a medium-sized package from my mom and a dividend check that she forwarded to me.

2:45pm – I take the package up to my room, grab some change off the counter and go downstairs to wait for the trolley. I was hungry too. Maybe, I’d get something to eat on the way back…

3:15pm – Wait for trolley to leave, check that were no cars coming and got two feet away from the median when suddenly a navy-blue car came out of nowhere and struck an old, fat guy dressed identically to me. A few seconds I reach for my glasses under the aforementioned car, more worried about the checks not getting lost or damaged than the throbbing pain in my left shoulder or the bleeding from my left ankle.

3:35pm – Firefighters show up (they had a station literally 3 blocks away so, of course, they arrive first), and stand around while one guy takes my shirt off (that’s right, I’m surrounded by a dozen hunky firefighters and I’M the one taking my shirt off) and another probably older one barks: “this don’t look like no ‘crosswalk,’ so I reckon you deserved this” (no, really).

3:45pm – Paramedic van arrives, and I’m lifted onto the gurney and into the vehicle. As they are about to shut the door, the older firefighter sneers and says:

“Don’t worry, buddy, the cops will meet ya there, hahaha.”

Not only were both of the EMTs are younger than I am, but one casually mentioned that he’d only been on the job a few weeks and had to ask where everything was as we careened down the highway, every bump, stop and acceleration felt like bloody murder on my already hurting shoulder and it didn’t help the soreness from where the rookie hooked the IV into my right arm.

This wouldn’t have an issue if they had taken me to Dr. Phillips Medical center (which the rookie correctly stated was “less than 15 minutes out”) …but instead they drove me to Osceola Regional Medical Center (a roughly 30-minute drive in late-afternoon traffic) because as the older guy said:

“It looks like he’s some trauma or something from the collision. We should take him to Ozzy, they have a Shock-Trauma center there. It’s better to cover our asses NOW than get in trouble later if he needs a transfer.”

4:15pm – Arrive at ORMC and dropped off unceremoniously in a hallway in the back of the E.R where doctors and nurses rarely tread. It is also one of the last confirmed time stamps I had on my visit.

An hour or so passes and a woman with a clipboard, a name badge and a rambling cart with a laptop computer stopped next to my bed. I initially thought she was a nurse coming by to take my medical history. Nope, just my insurance information (I should have known better, actually).

However, a few minutes after she leaves, I’m met by another person with a badge, but, unlike my threatened encounter from earlier, the officer was generally calm and professional which was a huge help considering the level of pain I was in (remember, no doctor or nurse has come by to see me yet).

Roughly two hours later, a doctor finally found my bed. He asked me about the accident than pushes and pulls my shoulder. I ask him to see if my ankle had stopped bleeding, so he reluctantly lifted my leg for two seconds, put it down. He turned to me, said “no,” and disappeared into the ether, never to be seen again…

Another hour passes and a cute girl in red scrubs with a faded “Rad-olo-y” badge comes by and wheels me 500 feet through the double doors and into the ancient, positively cavernous room with a monstrous X-ray machine that looked like an early boss battle from a video game. It was slow, loud and not particularly agile… kind of like me, and if I thought that realization hurt, they had to reposition my shoulder five or six times to get “good” shots.

So, after 40 loud, painful minutes, I’m rolled back into the ER and dropped back in the hallway where I eventually retrieved for a CT scan from a surprisingly modern, almost normal looking machine. The only real problem I had was that the guy working it pulled me off the bed with my LEFT hand. Thankfully, when he pulled me off six minutes later, it with my right and that was nowhere near as painful… as being wheeled out into the same lonely, depressing hallway.

8:45pm – A nurse comes by and offers to get me pain pills (finally). She returns 15 minutes later with a shot of Morphine (administered through my IV) and a single Motrin tablet. It wasn’t much, but it was a welcome start. Now, all I needed was some food, as the nurse disappeared into the ether…

Categories: adventures, Advocacy\volunteer, florida, Health, healthcare, Kissimmee, Orlando, Osceola Regional Medical Center (ORMC) | Leave a comment

Healing a pain in the backside

Came back from my Primary Doctor this afternoon (after trying to get an appointment for the past month or so), I arrived about 20 minutes early to get paperwork and whatnot out of the way. But all they did was have me sign in. After a half-hour of waiting, the nurse calls me back to get my vitals.

While she was checking my BP, I was telling her about my diet and getting out more…and when I stepped off the scale she looks at me and says: “you’ve gained 15 pounds.” She leads me around the corner to an exam room and tells me the doctor will see me “shortly.” Finally, another half-hour later, the door bursts open and another nurse comes in:

“You forgot your co-pay at the desk,” she said shoving a receipt or something in my face.

We can’t forget what’s really important here now, can we? I checked my bag…and, naturally, my checkbook isn’t in there (it was back on my desk). She informed me they didn’t take cash so I either forked over a credit card… or forfeited my entire afternoon. She returns 10-minutes later with my card and a receipt for me to sign, and 10-minutes after that, the doctor finally comes in the room.

He looks at the chart he picked up from the rack in the door and asks what brought me to his office today: “Alternating diarrhea and constipation,” “occasional severe pain in my stomach,” “queasy, bloated, semi-nauseous feeling that is sometimes relieved by eating and sometimes made worse by it.”

He stops me and informs me of what I already know: “That’s definitely Irritable Bowel Syndrome.”

“That’s odd, YOUR nurse prac on my last visit said it was ‘Kidney Stones’ with a ‘Urinary Tract Infection.’”

He looks at me sourly, gets up, takes his laptop with him and leaves the room. Ten minutes later, he returns with another sour look on his face but says nothing. After sitting down on his stool again, he asked in a professional tone if I had “any other issues” to discuss with him.

I asked him about my shoulder, he grabs it, lifts it up (though I only got it up halfway)\towards him (yep, halfway again) and back behind me (less than a quarter, but it definitely hurt the most). He asked if there were any “continuous, repetitive motions” I made on a “regular basis.” I told him, “yeah, but I use my RIGHT hand for that.” Hey, that’s the same look he gave me too.

He then shrugged and said it was “probably mild Tendinitis, nothing to worry about.” If this is “mild,” I’d HATE to know what “severe” feels like.

Speaking of severe, I mentioned the other pain and swelling my IBS was causing (that and a failed, um, “experiment” I won’t get into here) – that it was making it painful to sit down and next to impossible to sit still though I conceded that was “probably my Asperger’s or ADHD,” he shrugged both suggestions off – which I wasn’t sure if that meant he didn’t believe it or took it for granted.

Regardless, he said of my rectal issue, there is only ONE way to check it. I asked if he was SURE there wasn’t some “less invasive” method of doing this, and he looked at me like that was the dumbest question he’d heard all day. Let’s just say if I thought having strangers touch my shoulder was awkward… (yes, I know, gay man in his mid-30s should be totally used to that by now… but I’m not – I can’t stand people touching me).

Fortunately, he didn’t find anything too bad: some redness, irritation and “minor hemorrhoids” (yes, I definitely felt it when he found it) saying some over the counter medicines (which burn like Hell for 8-10 hours after application) and they’ll “be gone within a week.”

The doctor directs me back to the payment counter, and the nurse asks me about scheduling a “follow-up appointment.” I know, I should have, but I need a chance to recover first…

Categories: Autism, florida, Health, healthcare, Orlando | Leave a comment

Valuable information

Great news – the receptionist said the insurance company declined my doctor’s visit this afternoon. You know what it means when the doctor can’t help you: I’M CURED…or not. The truth was, I had zero interest in or need to see said doctor – especially on such a cold, miserable and rainy day.

In fact, I spent the entire morning on the phone with the insurance company making sure I wasn’t wasting my time going out to this appointment and then calling the primary physician to confirm it with their office to recall the insurance company… and at that point I was going through with this regardless.

Keep in mind, I can’t just hop in a car and drive there. Unfortunately, I had to anyway just so the driver can literally pass right by me without stopping and report me to the app as a no-show. I was literally exactly where I said I was standing, and with waiting for a new driver (who the app assigned 5-stars on my behalf) very nearly made me late for my appointment.

To be fair, it wasn’t his fault I was an hour late leaving the apartment for my errands. For instance, I couldn’t find the deposit slips for the bank, and the line inside was at probably 15-20 minutes so I had to use the ATM outside which worked reasonably well and got me on my way relatively quickly. I had a disgusting lunch, checked the times for the trolley to Sand Lake Road and opened my transportation app. I already gave you the non-story there so I’ll just say that I arrived with less than six minutes to spare before my appointment.

“New or returning patient,” the receptionist said barely looking up as I entered. I couldn’t tell if the receptionist was bored, uninterested or both. “Here, give me your insurance card and fill these forms out. You’re lucky we aren’t busy right now, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to help you” (an ironic bit of foreshadowing).

As I said above, I have no “need” to see this doctor and filling out the four page packet made that painfully clear to even the most uninterested reader (seriously, it’s like that nurse when I had my EKG in October said “if you aren’t having heart trouble, why the hell are you getting an EKG?” “I don’t know. I didn’t schedule it.”)

Finally, after 45 minutes, she calls “Mr. Twaaaygeer” up to the counter and tells him that he will not be seeing a doctor today. He, sorry I lack permission from the insurance company because I lack a Primary Care Physician – “You’re supposed ‘Primary’ has never heard of you, and your last visit there was with a Nurse Prac back in OCTOBER and the doctor who sent you down here doesn’t count – only a PRIMARY can make a referral. You need to make sure you get all your things in order BEFORE you make an appointment!”

“Thanks for the lecture. I wasn’t the one who made this appointment, the doctor I saw earlier this month did. I knew this was a huge waste of time. Congratulations, I’ve just proven RIGHT!”

“No, you haven’t. You have gained valuable information and now have explicit instructions on EXACTLY what you have to do to move forward with your care. See your primary, get a referral THEN come back, we’ll save the paperwork you just gave me to your file. Have a nice day, and we look forward to seeing you again, Mr. Twaaaygeer.”

Disappointed AND humiliated – burn! But, hey, at least, she cares what kind of day I’m having, even if its in the least sincere tone possible.

It’s just over a half-mile from the hospital to the Dunkin Donuts on Sand Lake Road where I usually stop on my way back from appointments like this as it’s roughly halfway between the hospital and the trolley stop I need to take back to the apartment. It’s a long walk (“35 minutes” according to Google Maps), and I spent the duration of it trying to convince myself I was in a better mood than I obviously was, and when I got to the plaza it was in, I stopped in front of a menu board on the sidewalk contemplating if I should take a sandwich home for dinner (as it was already after 4pm) when I hear:

“Hi, I’d like to talk to you about investing with Primerica!”

Great, as if I wasn’t already feeling bad enough, he effectively has me cornered. He’s standing less than a foot away from me and making direct eye contact with me so I can’t escape. He’s caught me looking at the menu board so I can’t say I “don’t have time” and, frankly I have ZEROS excuses to give him on why I can’t listen to his sales pitch. Literally none are coming to my head – I love when I do that. I need my brain to work, and it doesn’t.

Yep, once again, my “flight” response is triggered with no escape routes (why can’t it ever kick in when there IS one) so my brain just shuts down instead. It’s a perfect defense mechanism as it leaves me utter defenseless. When I finally get away, I’m too anxious to order coffee (what if he’s waiting outside the store?) which I guess is good as coffee\donuts are bad for me.

I continue on Sand Lake Road to the trolley stop on I-Drive. The rain has mostly stopped, but the sky is still dark and cloudy making it feel later it really was (the relatively cold wind wasn’t helping). Fortunately, said trolley arrived within three minutes of me arriving at the stop.

I decide maybe getting some food would make me feel better so I hopped off the trolley near a chain restaurant and proceeded to prove my theory wrong. I also used my return fare for the trolley so I had to take the balance out of my server’s tip (which I really didn’t want to do). At least, I have lunch for tomorrow.

I leave the restaurant to find the last vestiges of sunlight burning in my eyes. It was a hopeful sign (kind of like a blindingly bright rainbow), and I hope it foretells good days to come… as the rain is coming down again as I’m typing this.

Categories: adventures, Autism, florida, Health, healthcare, insurance, Orlando, sensory processing disorder, Williamsburg | Leave a comment

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