The problem with thinking that you are a hostage, is that you start to forget there’s any other way to be. You start to settle into the situation, despite how unpleasant it is.
After writing that blog post this weekend about being hostage to our health care system, I had fresh perspective on how ridiculous it was, and I was all “I’m breaking out of here. Hand me a shovel!”
And by “shovel” I mean my insurance card with the number of member services on it.
I’d contemplated this route a few times over the last two weeks, but each time I thought about it I pictured myself lost in a maze of menu options and terrible hold music. Instead I tried going into my profile on my health insurance website to see if there might be information there, but only found a list of all the claims that had been approved. Along with the percentage of each bill that I was responsible for. After I finished dry heaving and posting all of my belongings on Ebay, I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with sitting on hold all day.
But that was more than a week ago. Today I pulled out my insurance card and dialed before I could change my mind. Then I settled in for an afternoon of web surfing while a recorded message tells me they are experiencing a higher than normal volume of calls why don’t I try getting what I need from their website? Which is more annoying than actually being on hold, because isn’t the internet almost everyone’s first step anyway? Does anyone choose to be on the phone when the internet is an option?
But before I could even get on Jezabel.com, I was speaking to a customer service representative. A real person who spoke clear and accurate English. It was like I was in a dream. She explained to me that only a nurse could discuss my claim with me. She transferred me and even told me the name of the nurse I would be speaking to.
Which I immediately forgot, so when a few seconds later someone else picked up the line and asked who I was holding for I said something like “Um, a nurse…who was going to…um…tell me about my claim…or something…” The woman said “you’re holding for Valerie”, which immediately sounded familiar, but before I could agree, I was speaking with Valerie. Something feels entirely wrong with the world when the best customer service I’ve gotten this year is from a huge insurance company that is otherwise fucking up my life.
Valerie told me that I couldn’t have an MRI without a biopsy. I pointed out that I’d had a biopsy. Valerie responded that I’d only had one biopsy but the report indicates I have two lumps. Valerie informed me that I needed to biopsy the second lump before having the MRI. “But the doctor can’t see the lump very well, which is why she wants the MRI,” I explained. “There are other options you can explore, like a guided biopsy, ” Valerie said in a tone that was both condescending and bored. Apparently she was very accustomed to us lazy people trying to get away with these willy-nilly breast MRI’s. On account of how fun it is to be topless among strangers while sticking your boob through a hole in a table before being put into a tiny enclosed space. Although it is much preferable to being topless while strangers stick needles into your boob. Before I could respond she explained this was an inflexible policy and that the only options I had were to have my doctor appeal it, and to then appeal it myself, which would take months and probably wouldn’t work anyway.
So I hung up with Nurse Valerie and called my radiologists, who was the one pushing for the MRI, and explained the situation.
She said that she was afraid this would be the outcome and agreed it wasn’t worth wasting the time to fight it, and so we should just move ahead.
She gave me two options: 1) have a guided biopsy using mammogram technology (I’m assuming that means they squish my boobs in a mammogram machine and then shove a needle in, but I could be wrong. Hopefully I’m wrong. She started to explain the procedure but I stopped listening after “mammogram”), 2. proceed with the surgery that has already been recommended from the first biopsy (not malignant, but will just keep getting bigger and more painful) and take the second lump out at the same time and biopsy it then.
The downside to the second option, is IF, by some random and unlikely chance the second mass is malignant, then I may have to have a second surgery because the surgeon likely wouldn’t have removed enough surrounding tissue. I’d rather have another biopsy than have to have two surgeries. Also, I like the idea of the surgeon having as much information as possible before going in. So guided biopsy it is.
It’s scheduled for this Friday, and I’m sure its gonna be a hoot.
While I was doing all of this – talking to the insurance company and the radiologist – I felt super empowered and grown up and in charge of my life. It felt good getting these things sorted out.
But as soon as I hung up the phone, Stockholm Syndrome kicked in and I was all “What the hell did I just do? Now I have to actually go forward with these procedures!” and immediately became nostalgic for the frustrating yet safe feeling of captivity. Because back then it was all theoretical and my emotions were focused on the ridiculousness of the medical system and the trials of being captive. Now I have to think about what new awkward and painful things were going to be inflicted on my lady humps.
But the good news is that the lumps have totally shrunk back down to the size they were before. Clearly they know they’ve been put on notice.
So at least there’s that 🙂