Getting Stoned

There is nothing like spending several hours in the ER. You go there because you know something is very wrong with you, but you spend a rather large amount of time once there waiting till they figure out what to do with you. Meanwhile, you just hope they’d hurry up with a pain pill, or something to put you out of your misery.

That is where I found myself late Friday evening. I had been having some issues with my bladder, where I’d had experienced a little discomfort and increased feelings for the need to go with less then stellar results. I thought I was coming down with a possible bladder infection so I had upped my water intake and has purchased some cranberry pills to help. Apparently Cranberry is good for that sort of thing. The problem had been occurring off and on for about a week, so I didn’t really give it all that much thought, until late Friday evening.

The “need to pee” feeling had been going on for several hours by the time I had gotten home from work. I was hit by a sudden strong pain trying to address that need. I immediately knew what was occurring. Between short sessions of rolling in agony on my bed and throwing up into a trashcan, I was making phone calls, for someone to come get me, and to my family doctor for some panicked advice. I feel sorry for the person who handles the on calls for my doctor She got to hear my digestive distress, as I was trying to give her information.

Finally, after a seeming eternity, which was actually only about 20 minutes, my younger daughter showed up. She had been spending the evening with my older daughter. She loaded me up into her car and off to the hospital we went. After a few hours, it was confirmed that I had a kidney stone. They gave me some pills to get through the night, some prescriptions to fill, a referral to a urologist and a little strainer to catch whatever was causing the issue when it appeared.

Thankfully I am largely back to the original symptoms, but the stone, which I have dubbed Crystal Meth-od of Pain, has yet to make its appearance. It will show or it won’t, time will tell, that or my patience with that strainer will end.

I can now sympathize quite fully with anyone who has gone through the kidney stone dance. It is no fun at all, and it is an event that I hope to never have to repeat. It is of course a sign that, one I am getting older, (damn) and second, that I need to do a better job of taking care of myself. (where have I heard that before?)

I can also sympathize even more fully as to what a royal pain in the bladder dealing with insurance can be. I recently switched to new coverage after my divorce. There was some initial confusion with the switch, as my new insurance plan was held by the same company that my old insurance plan was held. When the intake person at the hospital informed me that my insurance had been rejected, I in my pain induced haze really didn’t care, I just wanted to feel better and to go home and sleep. She assured me that it being just after the first of the year that such things are common as insurance companies work to roll over patients into the new year. I would just have to call on Monday to clear things right up. You’d think that enrolling in health insurance plans months in advance would prevent things like that from happening, but apparently my scenario was pretty common, or so I thought.

So Monday morning, I call my insurance carrier,who informs me that I have no coverage. Giving my blood pressure a moment to lessen, I then call the HR department for the company I work for. They assure me that I do indeed have coverage. By this time I have my insurance company’s website pulled up and discover that according to them, my coverage ended the first of the year. What occurred over the space of the next ninety minutes was a series of conference calls between different segments of my company’s HR departments and my insurance carrier. I am usually on hold during most of the time, of which I spend the time going through my email, fuming and complaining on Facebook. Finally, I am informed that I am being reinstated but that it would take up to 72 hours to be reactivated. The cause? A glitch in the system. (where have I heard that before?)

I have friends in Canada who are quite sympathetic with my plight and listened patiently to my rant about the situation and the fact that the medical billing practice has become much less patient with those of us who are trying to pay medical expenses on reduced income, only to have them turned into collection services anyway, simply because you don’t have a payment schedule set up with them. They then inform me that there is no such problem like what we face here in the US with issues such as having to wait for medical care, or being overwhelmed by big medical expenses like what is happening to a lot of people in the US. They also inform me that they can walk into a doctor’s office or clinic, be seen in the matter of minutes and go home with no bills. Color me jealous.

I know we have great medical facilities and wonderful, talented and caring individuals who work in the field. It is just the frustration that many of us experience when dealing with medical costs. I can’t imagine not having insurance and having something like a kidney stone crop up. To trade stories with my friends from parts north shows what a contrast we have in health systems, and it makes me wonder why more people aren’t clamoring for a simpler system like they have in Canada. I of course don’t know all the details of their system, but it sounds pretty appealing.

That of course opens up the debate about the new health care legislation that is the process of being implemented. I believe that our president and all the people over the years who have worked to bring this legislation into reality are on the right track. What we have isn’t perfect by any means, but it is a start. If we want to bring health care costs down, then we need to make it more affordable. We need to make it so that people can afford to see a doctor for minor care and not fear being turned away because of lack of insurance only to end up at an ER, which is much more expensive then an office visit. We need insurance affordable for all income levels, and medical groups to work more compassionately with consumers who are trying to pay off a hospital stay on tight budgets. Hopefully that is what our federal government is hoping to achieve. (where have I heard that before?)

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