The Tooth Of The Matter Is, They Suck

, , , , , , | Healthy | January 22, 2020

Around mid-October, I begin to feel pain on the upper side in the back of my jaw. I didn’t have my wisdom teeth out as a teen, so I know I’ve waited too long to have them removed. At this point in my life, I’m on state Medicaid; I find a dentist who takes my insurance and see them in early November. The dentist confirms it’s my wisdom teeth coming in and refers me to an oral surgeon, as the X-rays indicate that all four are bone-impacted. 

I call the oral surgeon’s office and get an appointment for December 28th. It goes well; they take another set of X-rays that informs us that the roots of my top wisdom teeth have grown into my sinus cavity. The bottom two are close enough to my nerve that he wants all four extracted, I will have to be anesthetized for it, and they need to come out ASAP. He assures they’ll submit the paperwork and the insurance will get back to me within two weeks. 

I leave satisfied. 

Two weeks roll around, nothing. I give calling the insurance an extra day, due to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. They inform me that they have no record of any submission at all. They call the oral surgeon’s office and assure me that the office will resubmit the paperwork. I ask her how long it will take — by this point, one wisdom tooth has partially erupted; the other side of that tooth is pushing on my last molar — and am informed if the office submits online, it will take two days. 

I then call the oral surgeon to find out how they might be submitting the paperwork, so I can find out how long I’m going to be in pain. I speak with a lovely woman who, in response to my question, replies, “I don’t know,” and hangs up on me. I call back immediately; it goes straight to the office message.

I call the insurance company back and ask if anything can be done. At this point, I can only wait for them to submit the paperwork, but I am urged that if they don’t, to contact state Medicaid and make a complaint. 

I wait 24 hours and call the surgeon again. This time I get another woman, who is actually helpful. Surprise, surprise, no one submitted my paperwork. They also can only submit by mail, so there is at least a two-week wait. [Employee #2] assures me that she’ll submit the paperwork. She apologizes for her coworker with an exasperated sigh that tells me this isn’t the first problem [Employee #1] has caused. 

Two weeks pass. I finally get a response from the insurance company in the mail: the extraction is approved, but general anesthesia is not. According to the paperwork, whoever submitted used the wrong code for the new year and it needs to be resubmitted, again. 

It’s now Mid-February and I have been dealing with wisdom tooth pain since October. I can barely eat or sleep because of the pain. 

I call state Medicaid and make a complaint about the way I was treated and how the situation was handled. I am told that my complaint is not valid because I did not receive services from the surgeon. They also will not approve the general anesthesia because I do not have any medical reason for it, i.e., fear of needles, anxiety, etc. To have all four bone-impacted wisdom teeth removed. At one time. No need. At all. 

I find another dentist farther from my area and make the earliest appointment they have. They recommend me to another surgeon, even farther than the first surgeon. I get an appointment with the second surgeon within the week. He apologizes for the first surgeon and assures me that they’ll handle it properly.

It’s now the beginning of March. I get the paperwork from the insurance regarding the new surgeon’s submission; everything’s perfect. I have the surgery on March 27th, half a year after the pain started. It takes longer than expected, as my mouth is small; the surgeon has to take my bottom wisdom teeth in pieces to work around the nerves. I am advised to stay on bed-rest for the next five days. 

Everything works out just fine — months pass and my jaw has healed completely. I end up getting a full-time job and dental insurance — different from state Medicaid — through them. 

Sometime around August, I get a letter in the mail from my insurance, denying payment for an appointment from the very first dentist I saw about a referral to an oral surgeon. 

I call that dentist and have my files transferred as quickly as I can.

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Mental Health Professional Can Do Nothing For Retail Workers

, , , | Right | January 16, 2020

(I am ringing out a patient of my pharmacy who also happens to be a mental health professional. He gives me a new discount card to see if it will give him a smaller copay than his insurance does. I am skeptical, as the prescription is an expensive one, but I’ve been wrong before, so I process the card anyway, just to be sure.)

Me: *when the copay comes up significantly smaller* “Oh, hey, I was wrong! Here’s your new total; that’s a nice deal!”

Customer: *with practiced couch-side manner* “You didn’t have to say you were wrong so enthusiastically. Is there someone at home who demands that sort of subservience from you?”

Me: *blinking* “No one at home, sir. But, y’know, I work in retail.”

Customer: “Oh, right. You poor thing.”

(He left me his card, but I haven’t taken him up on the matter yet. If you’re reading this, sir, I’m completely okay! I’m humble enough to admit when I’m wrong, but retail has also endowed me with the backbone to stand up for myself when I know I’m right, too!)

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You Have To Spell It Out To Them

, , , , , | Healthy | December 29, 2019

(I have recently been diagnosed with epilepsy at age fifteen and am at my fourth or fifth neurology appointment. For some background, some types of epilepsy can be categorized as “reflex,” meaning there is usually a trigger — most people are familiar with flashing lights — but there are a huge variety of triggers, ranging from drinking alcohol to hearing a specific kind of music. I am describing to my neurologist some symptoms I’ve been experiencing.)

Me: “Sometimes while I’m reading, I’ll have spells where the words are very difficult or I can’t read them at all.”

Neurologist: *mostly disinterested* “Oh… Well, have you been diagnosed with learning issues?”

(I’ve told him all of this before.)

Me: “No. I’ve been reading since I was four and it’s actually one of my favorite things to do. I’ve never shown any signs of dyslexia or anything like it.”

Neurologist: “Do you notice any patterns to when this occurs?”

Me: “I’ve noticed it happening a lot when I’m reading in Spanish.”

(I’m in AP Spanish and have been studying the language for around six years; I’m definitely not fluent yet but am reasonably proficient. I have also told him this before.) 

Neurologist: *long silence* “You’re probably just bad at Spanish. Go ahead and schedule another appointment for a month out.” *leaves*

(I ended up not telling my parents about this part of the appointment for around six months because I was embarrassed and believed my neurologist that I was probably exaggerating. However, during this time, the symptoms worsened, so I told my parents who found another neurologist — incidentally, around thirty years younger. He immediately diagnosed me with reading epilepsy, which is fairly uncommon but absolutely not unheard of and has nothing to do with any prior learning disabilities. For me, it is triggered by unfamiliar words, which, obviously, come up more often in a second language. I’ve now, thankfully, been able to receive much better care.)

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Assign The Doctor A Memory Test

, , , , , | Healthy | December 27, 2019

(I have been going to the same GP since I was about fifteen, my daughter since she was born, but it seems to be time to find a new one as ours is showing his age; he has been getting more and more forgetful. I have ordered blood tests as I have developed some allergies recently; my daughter needs hers done for a heart issue and also needs a script for heart meds. He asks her what she needs this particular medicine for and we have to explain, even though he has been doing the scripts for the past five years. We get our bloods at the same time. He starts with my daughter’s and tells her that everything but her iron levels is in the normal range. He gives her the printed results to take to her cardiologist; he is going to print a copy for himself but he writes the results into her file. Then, he goes over mine. He reads out everything as good, but when he gets to my liver results…)

GP: “Oh, no, we need to get you some tests right away; your liver results are not good.”

Me: “Yes, I know. I have [liver disease].”

GP: “You have [liver disease]? Who told you that?”

Me: “You did.”

GP: “Not me. I would have remembered that. There would be notes and paperwork in your file.” *rifles through files to prove it isn’t there and finds the paperwork* “Oh, I did tell you.” 

(We realise that he’s not given us a new referral letter for the cardiologist appointment, so we go back.)

GP: “Okay, [Daughter], we need to get blood tests done for you to take to your appointment.”

Daughter: “I had the blood tests done already.”

GP: “Who with?”

Daughter: “Uh, you.”

GP: *rifles through her files and after looking over some paperwork* “Oh, looks like you have to get more sun; you have very low Vitamin D.”

Daughter: “No, you said low iron.”

GP: “No it’s Vitamin D. Look; it’s only sixteen.” *hands her a blood test result*

Me: “No, she had low Vitamin D last year; this time it was low iron.”

GP: “It says it right there.”

Daughter: “Um, this is last year’s result; look at the date.”

GP: “It has it on this result, too. You had the test in September.” *holds up another sheet that I take off him*

Me: “This is last year’s, too — September 2018. Her last one was in October this year.”

GP: “But the results aren’t here; if I did them they would be.”

Daughter: “You gave them to me.”

GP: “Why did I do that?”

Daughter: “I needed them for the cardiologist.”

GP: “But I would have written the results on your file and printed up a copy, as well; I definitely didn’t write anything.” *runs his finger up the writing on her files* “Oh, so I did.”

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It’s Not Just The Organs That Are Failing

, , , , | Healthy | December 9, 2019

(When my brother is around nine, he wakes up screaming in pain. As we have no vehicle of our own and no way of getting a taxi or a lift, my mother has to walk with a screaming child two kilometers to the hospital. She went to nursing school, but is not currently working as a nurse.)

Doctor: *after barely poking him* “Well, seems to be just some gas. He’s probably just using the pain to get attention.”

(My mother looks at her like she’s crazy, while my brother still cries and screams.)

Mom: “My son is not like that. Look, I am a nurse. I’m pretty sure he has appendicitis.”

Doctor: “Oh, nonsense. You don’t know what you are talking about.”

Mom: “But I do–”

Doctor: “Listen. I am a doctor. You are just a nurse. He is fine. Now leave.”

(My mother leaves the hospital furious. Not surprisingly, two days later, my brother’s appendix ruptures. My mom manages to get a passing car to take them to the hospital, and my brother has surgery. Because the hospital has no full anesthesia, they have to use local — the kind that only numbs the area — and my brother is operated on while awake and screaming. While he is still in surgery, my mother runs into the doctor in the hallway.)

Doctor: “Oh, you are here again. What, does your son have a headache now? It might be a tumor, don’t you think?”

(My mother almost attacked her, but her father entered the hospital on time and stopped her. My brother survived and made a full recovery, and my mother reported the doctor; unfortunately, nothing came out of it at the time, but a few years later she was forced into retirement for repeatedly misdiagnosing patients.)

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