Tiny Bit of Crazy

A chronical of the laughter, revelations and transformations that are possible when you embrace the crazy

Taking Charge September 17, 2012

Get it? This is Charles, from “Charles in Charge”? High five for the awesome 80’s reference!

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 🙂


Mad Phone Skillz October 16, 2010

Filed under: Work — Meredith @ 6:01 pm
Tags: , , , ,

At my 90 day review my boss gave me one area for improvement: “I just wish you could be a little nicer on the phone.” I smiled and tried to look like I understood what he was talking about.

But the truth was, I really didn’t understand because I was fairly impressed with myself at my phone skills. I hadn’t hung up on anyone, I didn’t point out (directly) when they were asking stupid questions, and I rarely sighed (loudly) before saying “no, no, it’s not your fault. The internet is very confusing.”

Apparently my face betrayed my confusion because my boss followed up with “Listen, I’ve done your job. I know. I know how stupid people are, and how annoying it is to answer the same question over and over. But that’s the job. So just try to be a little bit nicer.”

The problem is that, I’ve done this job too. Only then I was 22 and wanted everyone – even strangers on the phone – to like me. I gave really good customer service back then, and I think I just ran out, or that part of my brain froze over or something because I honestly can’t really tell you what I’m doing now that’s so different and less nice than what I did then. Yet, on some level, I do understand that it is.

BUT, all things considered, this is a good job, and I like my boss, and I want to at least look like I’m trying. Otherwise it just gets awkward.

My desk is outside his office and every time I pick up the phone I’m aware that he can hear every word I’m saying, and I remind myself to use that (stupid) old customer service  trick of smiling while I speak, so I sound happy, and I swallow my sighs of impatience, and try to sound sincere when I say “No, really, its my pleasure to walk you through our on-line registration…see where it says Select Category?…ok, so select a category….Oh that’s ok, just click back and then you’ll be at that screen again and this time, when it says Select Category, I want you to select your category, mkay? I know….it IS confusing….” And I think I”m successful at least 83% of the time.

The other day I was away from my desk, and didn’t hear the phone, and so my boss answered it. I got back to my desk just in time to hear him say “you know what? Let me just transfer you to her, since apparently SHE knows what you’re talking about” and I immediately recognized his tone and noted, with a certain amount of satisfaction that it was his “I’m trying really hard not to call you an idiot” tone. It’s the one he uses with sales people right before insulting them.

I answered the transferred call and heard “HEY – its Janice! From yesterday?” Ah yes. Janice. I pictured her as a 24-year-old executive assistant, who takes her job very seriously and believes herself to be expert and final authority on all things, and the ONLY thing keeping that office running. She’s energetic, fashionable, sassy, calls it like it is without ever apologizing, and believes she’ll be running that company before she’s 30. Maybe she’s right. I don’t know.

“Hi Janice!” I say, in my nicest sounding voice.

“OH MY GOD GIRL. That man I was talking to was NAS-TY!”

“Really?” I say trying not to laugh.

“Yeah, I don’t know why he’s answering phones if he’s just going to be testy like that. I’m just sayin’.” Unable to agree with her for fear my boss would somehow understand what we were talking about, but also because I am kinda grateful he’s the type of boss who answers the phone when I’m away from my desk, I just said “So, what’s up?” 

“I never got that email you sent yesterday. Which I was trying to explain to that man, but he acted like I was crazy….”

“I’m sorry” I interrupt her. “I’ll send it again,”  It’s not that I didn’t want to listen to her go off on my boss’s phone skills, I just didn’t know how long I’d be able to refrain from commenting.

 “You know what?” she said “I bet you spelled my name wrong, EVERYBODY does. I KNOW! I’ll send you an email and you can just reply to it.”

While she’s waiting for me to get it she says “And you should tell your boss to RELAX. That man is TESTY. You know what I’m sayin’?” I answered with a non-committal noise. “You should tell him not to answer phones if he’s going to be like that. I mean, SERIOUSLY. I was like ‘um, just transfer me to that girl who USUALLY answers, cause she knows what I’m talking about.”

“Right,” I said, wondering if there was any scenario in which I repeat all of this to my boss and he finds it funny.

As we were ending the call she said ” Now you tell that boss of your’s to RELAX. I think that man is too stressed out. I mean, there’s just no reason to be that unfriendly on the phone. K? Bye!”

After I hung up, all I wanted to do was run into his office and yell: “Who needs to practice their phone skills now, BITCH???”

But I didn’t. Because I am a professional.  

Ok, because I’m pretty sure he’d fire me on the spot and have me bodily removed from the premises before I could even get my water bottle off my desk.  


But now, on those days when I find it particularly difficult to “be nicer on the phone”, I just think of Janice and I don’t have to force the smile into my voice.


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