Thursday, August 6, 2009

Meltdown #3

Or was it #4. I might be losing track. Anyway, here's the deal.

Today has been just awful in regards to Michael's health care. Here we've been waiting since early last week for our request to see Dr. K at UCLA to be approved. Then we find out today that they (Greater Newport Physicians, not our insurance company) are not going to do that for us - not until we go back to the original oncologist, Dr. M. Why couldn't they have told us that days ago?

We've been calling every day to find out what is going on, and finally today I pressed the issue and was referred to some nurse at the medical group. I was so upset by the time I was transferred to her that Michael had to take the phone from me and talk with her. It's really simple actually. The request for referral should never have come from our GP. It should have come from Dr. M the oncologist. Had we known that, we certainly would have gone that route! Instead, we wasted nearly two weeks waiting for a response from our medical group. Two weeks is a long time when a person has Stage IV cancer.

So, next Tuesday we will see Dr. M again. He will put in a referral for us to see Dr. K for a consultation. Once the referral goes through, we will see Dr. K and he will have to submit a treatment plan to Dr. M, who will then send that back to our stupid medical group. Should they approve that, then Michael will be able to begin treatment. I'm afraid that the rest of this month will be spent twiddling our thumbs as we wait for all this paperwork to be processed. What is happening is just so wrong. I'm all for health care reform, but my idea of health care reform is common sense regulations for insurance companies and medical groups. For instance, one of my great ideas is that all requests for referrals must be denied or approved within 72 hours, and patients must be notified by email or phone within 24 hours of the approval or denial. Heavy fines would be levied against those companies that didn't comply.

So, all this was going down late this morning while we're trying to get out the door to see Star Trek. I had an emotional exchange with the customer service rep from the medical group, and then she wasn't going to let me talk with the nurse unless she had a verbal approval from Michael that I could. Unbelievable! I'm his wife!!! At that point, he took the phone from me and talked to the nurse. How he remained calm and finished the drive to the movie theater is beyond me. I was so angry at that point. I started crying the bitter tears of frustration and they didn't stop until several minutes into the movie. Why does everything have to be so difficult? We do everything they ask us to, and we still get the runaround. I can't tell you how helpless I feel at this point. How the medical director of that medical group can live with himself while he's delaying treatment for Stage IV cancer patients is beyond me!

I'm just sick about all of this.

So, unless things move a lot faster than they have been, Michael probably won't begin the HDIL-2 treatment until September. I'm worried that those cancer cells are going to make their way to other parts of his body like his bones or his brain. Lord, have mercy!

I'm supposed to report back on September 2nd, and school actually begins on September 9th. There's a good chance that I'll be missing those first days of school, but my place is with Michael. I will prepare my classroom ahead of time, meet with my new principal and bring her up to speed, and get a sub lined up. It's a lot of pressure - a lot to coordinate.

Help! I'm melting...


My friend, Suzee, posted this lovely Hasidic prayer on FB earlier tonight. It really says what I need to say tonight:

I know the Lord will help — but help me Lord, until You help.



~K said...

Firstly... don't give work a second thought... that's all it is.. second. They are professional (I hope) and will figure out what to do in your absence... It's not your problem, that's why we have a boss.

And Secondly, I am just sick over this for you... the run-around you are getting is just so unnerving. Michael just needs to get treatment and they need to provide it in a timely manner and worry about the paperwork later... I just hate this for you.

I'm praying that someone will have the heart to just take care of what needs to be done and get on with it.

He WILL be okay... keep your faith in that.

Love and hugs to you both. prayers in abundance.

Kathy and Joel said...

I can't even imagine what your little heart is going through. It is ABSURD that someone with stage IV cancer has to WAIT for red tape to be cleared before receiving life saving treatment. As someone from Canada, I just don't get it. Honestly, I don't get it. I'm not saying that our system is flawless because it is FAR from it (the wait times are enormous here) but we don't have to fight insurance companies to be approved for treatment. Sigh.
I was getting angry just READING about how you were being treated today.
Please don't worry about school. Be with Michael and take care of him. Remember what we said before about taking care of other peoples' children for so long? It's time to take care of your family. No guilt, so excuses to anyone. You deserve to focus primarily on Michael.

Terri @ in His hands said...

Unbelievable that you have to go through this. I don't even know what to say other than I'm praying for you.


Swampgirl said...

This is just ridiculous! I thought we had the run around with my husband's medical issues, but, it was only the Dr. part. Our insurance never faltered. We had Dr./ego problems when one Dr. would not accept patients who had already seen certain other doctors! I hope you get support from your principal. You do not need any extra stress on the work front. Things are hard enough at the beginning of a new year without everything else you have to balance. A good principal should take as much of the stress off of you as possible!

AprilMay said...

OH! I am just so angry on your behalf! I want to write hate mail to those people! Seriously. Hello! Show some compassion! Red tape is so frustrating anyway, but when it's literally a life or death situation, well, that is just beyond horrible. I am so sorry! I will pray that things go very quickly from now on!

Alex and Jill said...

Bless you guys' hearts...I hate this for you! I hate dealing with insurance much as we pay in premiums each year and when we finally NEED them to come through and do what they are SUPPOSED to do, they take their precious time. Do they not realize that Michael's time is precious!??

Praying for you guys and praying that your insurance company will get their act together.


Parisienne Farmgirl said...

Oh my goodness, this is why I said I feel like a baby in my blog the other day -
I can't believe what I just read. It is a nightmare! How dare they treat you like that - "first do no harm" my ass.
This is breaking my heart for you. I want to call those people for you! I just don't know what to say - of course I am praying for you but I am praying that you get some tangible answers and results. I am at a loss what else to say I am so infuriated for you.

Sandra said...

I'm a loss for words. Sending hugs. And prayers...

Andrea said...

Joannah, I am so sorry for this ridiculous mess that you are going through. It is so negligent and incompetent.

May the Lord sustain you in this great trial and give you help from his holy hill (Psalm 3). He will be your source and truly help you while you wait for help.

And as I write, how I realize my words are simply spoken. Yet, God's words are faithful and true.

I will pray for you and Michael. And I will ask my husband to pray, too.

God is near. In all this turmoil, I am sure it must be hard to sense that nearness, but be assured He is with you. He will never leave you or forsake you.

I agree with others. Try not to worry too much about being a teacher right now. Being a former teacher, I understand the stress of a new school year. But, I am sure your principal and peers will be compassionate and understanding.

Please take care. So many are praying for you. Take heart and hope, and continue to hold the Almighty's hand.

If I can help you in any way, please do let me know.

Much Love in Christ,


Jenny said...

Joannah- I am SO incredibly sorry for what you are going through. It makes me insanely crazy angry when things like this happen in the midst of a really tough time. I am praying for you.

Catherine said...

My heart is aching for you and Michael, Joannah. Prayers and ((hugs))

onesillymama said...

That kind of red tape is just ridiculous, beyond ridiculous!!! Supposedly the whole point of having to get a referral is so that you aren't going to the wrong kind of specialty doctor when either your GP could treat you, or you need a DIFFERENT specialty. But now, it's all just a silly game. I really feel for you in your frustration, and I am glad Michael was able to complete the last conversation for you. :-)

Don't worry about the delay for the IL2... I look at it this way for myself - if it is going to work, it will work in September as well as in August. I am telling my cancer cells to stay put in the meantime. :-)

Thanks for the update -

Paula said...

I am so sorry that you have to go through all of this. I know how horrible it is to have to deal with doctors and insurance companies. It is so frustrating...

Anonymous said...

Wow, reading this post brings back so many horrible memories. When we were fighting for my mom's health care, I remember thinking that people don't actually die of cancer... they die because they just get tired of fighting the stupidity of the health care system.

The fact that Michael has a strong battalion fighting for him is a great thing... you're doing a wonderful job.

Dawn said...

Melting, no. Human yes. Nobody should have to endure the drivvel that you two are dealing with. It is absurd and unnecessary what you are being put through.
If only we could all do something I know so many of us would feel so much better.

Anonymous said...

you dont know me....but I have been following your blog for a while.
Please, know that I am praying for you and your husband.

God bless,

"No one imagines that a symphony is supposed to improve in quality as it goes along, or that the whole object of playing it is to reach the finale. The point of music is discovered in every moment of playing and listening to it.

It is the same, I feel, with the greater part of our lives, and if we are unduly absorbed in improving them we may forget altogether to live them...."
-Alan Watts

Shelley said...

Oh Joannah, I'm so sorry. Do you want me to work someone over? I so will! :) Seriously. If I can help, please let me know. Meantime, big prayers to you guys!!!