Might Need Brain Surgery, Too

, | Healthy | January 1, 2018

(My mid-60s father was recently goofing off and pulled a stunt where he rode a luggage cart down a hill and wiped out hard. The injuries are mostly scrapes and bruises but he also has a small break in his wrist. There is lots of back-and-forth over whether he needs to do a re-aligning surgery. He is in the doctor’s office consulting with the surgeon, who he said was barely 30.)

Doctor: “So how did this happen?”

Dad: “You want the real story or a version that makes me look better?”

Doctor: “…how about the real version?”

Dad: *recounts story*

Doctor: “I see. Well, to be honest with you, we don’t like to do these kinds of surgeries on patients over the age of 60 because [reasons].”

Dad: “Well, yes, I’m over that age, but if you’ll recall the story, I was clearly thinking like a 16-year-old.”

Doctor: “That’s a good point. We’ll schedule the surgery for tomorrow morning.”

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Flipping Out Over This

, , , | Healthy | January 1, 2018

(I accidentally remove most of the tip of my middle finger with a gardening tool and am getting fixed up in the ER.)

Nurse: “There you go. Would you like me to tape your middle finger to the one next to it?”

Me: “Um, no. Why would you?”

Nurse: “Well, sometimes with a injury to the middle finger people ask us to tape an adjacent finger too so that they don’t inadvertently flip other people off.”

Me: “Are you kidding? This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for!”

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Acerbic Allergic

, , | Healthy | December 31, 2017

(I am 15. In my family, most of the women on my mom’s side have a condition called Restless Leg Syndrome, which is a brutally frustrating tic where your muscles in your thigh and calf feel like they are in spasm, like a small electric shock. It comes randomly, and nothing seems to help it stop once an episode starts; you just have to ride it out. I’ve been dealing with this myself since I was a kid. What my mom thought were growing pains turned out to be RLS. I’ve been referred to a specialist to see what my options are. Part of the process is conducting a nerve path function test. I have small needles pointed into the tips of my fingers, with electrical simulation higher up my arms to track if the signal is flowing properly. The test is uncomfortable to say the least.)

Specialist: “The results seem to be okay for your arms, which is a good indication that your legs would reveal the same.”

Me: “No short circuit, then? Bonus!”

(I am trying to lighten the mood as my mom is stressed at seeing me in such discomfort, and I am trying to take my mind off of it as well.)

Specialist: *stares blankly at me* “Your RLS is likely caused by poor diet and lack of exercise and in many cases, alcohol.”

Me: “Well, geeze, Mom, if you had just laid off the whiskey at bedtime, we wouldn’t be here now!”

Specialist: *blank stare* “In the event we have to do a minor surgery to explore nerve function, is there anything you’re allergic to in terms of medication?”

Me: “Penicillin.”

Specialist: “And what happens when you take it?”

Me: “I get a terrible rash over my stomach and chest and become very sick to my stomach.”

Specialist: “So you’re not allergic to it.”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Specialist: “You’re not allergic to it. You wouldn’t die if it was given to you.”

Me: “Well, no, I guess not but—”

Specialist: “That’s an intolerance. You shouldn’t say you are allergic to penicillin. What if it was required to save your life from an infection?”

Mom: “Well, there are plenty of alternatives out there, I think it’s a semi-common allergy? She’s had to have antibiotics for various infections, and they always seem to find something else.”

Specialist: *to my mom* “Do you have allergies?”

Mom: “Yes, I’m allergic to strawberries.”

Specialist: “And what happens if you eat them?”

Mom: “Well I go into anaphylactic shock very fast.”

Specialist: “THAT, is an allergy. I’m not writing on your chart that you’re allergic to penicillin. See the front reception to re-book when you’re ready.”

(He promptly leaves, with my mom and I sitting in stunned silence. I suppose he was right — I wouldn’t die if I was given penicillin in an emergency, but the marvel’s of modern medicine mean I don’t have to when there are so many alternatives. I am careful to tell other doctors now, that it’s not a life threatening allergy, but to avoid it if possible!)

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It Takes More Than Money To Clear A Bill, Part 2

, , , , | Healthy | December 30, 2017

Several years ago, I started to receive bills at my home in Nebraska, from an insurance agency on a policy that I no longer had, denying payment for psychiatric care/services. When I got the first bill, I called the number listed for the practice — in North Carolina. It turns out that they had a patient with the same name, down to the middle initial, and the same birthday. The doctor’s office agreed that I was not their patient, but said that it was up to the insurance carrier to sort out.

Three weeks after I contacted the insurance company letting them know I was not the right person, I got a letter in the mail telling me that according to their records, I *was* the right person, and could I please pay the bill. So I contacted them again. I was assured that it would be straightened out.

Sure enough, I got another letter in the mail from the insurance company telling me that their “investigation” is complete, and that I am the “right” person after all, in spite of living half-way across the country.

This back and forth with the insurance company went on for SIX MONTHS, each time the insurance people coming back telling me that I had made these appointments for psychiatric care, and increasingly nasty demands for payment.

Finally, I contacted a college buddy who was a lawyer for [Insurance Company], where upon he taught me the magic words: Violation of HIPAA.

Finally after nearly seven months, the magic words did the trick. I later found out that the insurance billing department was looking up patient information by name and birth date instead of social security number, and that my name was apparently the first one listed, in spite of the fact that my policy had been cancelled over four years prior due to a job change.

Related:
It Takes More Than Money To Clear A Bill

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The Solution Is As Clear As Glass

, , , | Healthy | December 29, 2017

(I need to get new spectacles, so I get assessed. During the sight test, the optometrist notices I have the start of macular degeneration in one eye, tells me it isn’t serious at the moment, but warns me to watch out for lines appearing wavy when they should be straight. She gives me a leaflet to put on my fridge door, so that I’ll look at it several times a day and be aware of the need to check. She also instructs me to come straight back for another test if anything changes. This all freaks me out a bit because I’ve never heard of macular degeneration, so I dutifully put the leaflet on my fridge door and inspect that thing every time I go in the fridge, for about a month. I start noticing the sight in my left eye is quite blurry. So, off I trot back to the optometrist. I explain everything to the receptionist, then the optometrist, a different one to my first visit. He sight-checks me then leaves the room for a few minutes. He comes back in and asks if I mind him checking again. I don’t mind, but by now I’m sweating and my imagination’s working overtime. He does the same tests and asks me to explain again what the problem is.)

Me: “Look. I cover up my right eye…” *demonstrates* “… and you’re blurry. I cover up my left eye instead…” *demonstrates* “… and you’re not blurry.”

Optometrist: “Well, Mrs [My Name], both sight tests we’ve conducted today show no changes to the other test we did recently.”

Me: “Seriously? But I’ve definitely got strange vision in my left eye? How is that, if the test results are the same? Look, doctor, if it’s psychosomatic, tell me. If you think I’m dreaming it up because I’m so worried about losing my sight and I need a psychiatrist, just tell me straight. I really can handle it.”

(By this time, I’m near tears. I don’t know whether I’m losing my sight or my marbles.)

Optometrist: “Show me again.”

(Demonstrates covering up the eyes, etc.)

Optometrist: “I… might be a bit off course here but… did we provide your glasses?”

Me: “Of course, yes.”

Optometrist: “It looks like the common denominator is your glasses. Let’s get them realigned and see.”

(Aaaand I felt a fool. Mind you, so should they, too. My ‘demonstrations’ of blurry vs normal sight were done wearing my specs. The sight tests had been done WITHOUT my specs. It turned out there was a minuscule adjustment needed for the left lens. He brought my specs back and the blurred vision was gone. At least I know I haven’t lost my marbles yet. Not about that, at least.)

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