When it gets maddening for me is when I am assigned an attitudinal do-little-know-less-uncaring-I-am-the-god-of-the-universe doctor. I won't describe him because you've all met him. I don't know anyone who hasn't come into contact with at least one of these self-appointed rulers of the cosmos. They're such one-trick ponies they don't merit much more explanation.
But sometimes, some blessed, wonderful times, you get a doctor who loves what they do and genuinely wants to help people. I think Dr. Chi, my UCSF Immunologist, is that kind of doctor. So......Yay!
She said she would be doing HOMEwork and research (really? For me?) because she has never seen my particular blood result history and wants to get to the bottom of it. Then she ordered more labs. Labs to be run at her first-rate medical center, UCSF, where I've had labs run before. But since then the insurance has changed the rules and they want you to have labs done at their cut-rate facilities, even if they're very specific labs and take specialty equipment and highly skilled techs. Unless the doctor says "No, it must be done here at the hospital." And by the time I discovered that, the appointment was over. Dr. Chi was the one who told me to check with the insurance company before having the tests done.
And the office staff was less than helpful. One sweet little gal cooly informed me that they wouldn't deal with insurance issues and it was my problem if, "I didn't want to be bothered to go have labs elsewhere and come back and forth." I informed her I lived 150 miles away and it wasn't a matter of not wanting to be "bothered." I was SO proud of myself. I didn't reach across the desk and whack her. Because that's what I wanted to do.
Instead, I spoke kindly and managed to at least get her cooperation in asking someone else. And then I prayed. And then I went to work. I took on Satan - also known as the HMO. Wow. Lanie would have REALLY freaked out if I had told her the truth about THEM.
I spent the next two hours on my cell phone lost in the maze of computer prompts. Each time I got a live body I was put on hold and disconnected or sent back to the introductory prompt to start all over again. When I finally got an answer, I was told they had no information for California and I had been routed to Arizona information. How far can your eyeballs stick out of your head before they actually fall out and roll down your chest do you think?Next was our local group. They were the ones who informed me special approval was needed and should have been requested beforehand. But it was a possibility. One caveat: it would have to be requested to be processed STAT. And who would have to do that? Our kindly office staff. Yippee. Just great. That'll probably happen when Hell freezes over.
May I say thank you to all of you who were praying for me this day? Our little stone in a sling actually brought down Goliath. And caused the following weather phenomenon:
I won't go into death-defying details but five office people later and a "chance" meeting with the doctor in the hallway (to ask if she would write a request saying she wanted the test done at UCSF and she MORE than happily said she absolutely did, and did it immediately), the insurance rep who had been less than friendly, took it upon herself to WALK MY PAPERS to the approval dept., got them approved before we hung up the phone, and worked out the rest with the office. And this after another rep with the same insurance company had told the office it would be DAYS before it could be approved.
I saw locked doors opened right before my very eyes. The eyes that were laying on my chest.
And I got validation.
A lovely woman, Tanika, who usually worked in a different department, approached me as I sat in the hallway weaving together office staff, insurance companies, labs, and doctors into something I could actually use.
"I just witnessed what you went through with the office here. And I heard what was said to you by the girl who accused you of not "wanting to be bothered." Here's the card of the department manager. Please talk to her. They can't fix what they don't know about. No one should go through what you just went through. That was completely wrong."
Would she have been on my side if I had lost it with that person? Doubtful. Self-control is a powerful tool. I'm usually on the frontlines of battle ready to take on the world. It is so nurturing when someone else leads the charge. And not something that happens to me very often.
With approval verification numbers and blood test orders in hand, I headed for the lab downstairs.
An older, sweet little Chinese woman was my lab tech. She sat me down and poured over the requested tests. She pulled out eleven vials. And then she stopped and said, "Oh. One of these tests must be performed before twelve noon and it's now 4:00pm. It has to be sent to the Mayo Clinic. You'll have to come back tomorrow."
Now, for some people this might have been bad news. But for three hooligans set loose on the city of San Francisco, this was YAHOO! news. We had been finagling, trying to think up an excuse for staying one more day and failing. We don't really have the money to just spontaneously vacation. Especially in a city like San Francisco where the locals start each day by opening up the window, wadding up a $50 bill, and throwing it out. EVERYthing is expensive. Parking for the day can cost $30-$40. Thinking about parking is an automatic ten bucks.
So when we go, it's usually staying with a friend (who has her dear sister with her right now while said friend is facing her own health battles), or it's an up-and-back in one day. But what could we do? Budget or not, I had to come back the next day. This also meant our few hour trip to the museum would now have to be delayed until the next day when we could take our time and CLOSE THE PLACE DOWN! After the lab work, of course. We tried to be appropriately somber about this financial hit. We failed. We wouldn't get any richer sitting around wringing our hands so we took our joie de vivre and thrust ourselves upon San Francisco. We don't believe in receiving blessings and then lamenting them. If this was where God saw fit to drop us off for the night, who were we to complain?
More about that tomorrow.