Upside Down

As I was about to take a friend out for a birthday lunch, my phone rang. “Nurse Dede UCSF” my caller ID read. “Oh this must be about the application for the handicap sticker,” I thought.

“Hi Dede,” I chatted happily into the phone.

“Hi, Jennifer. I wanted to let you know I got your paperwork but the reason why I am calling is because we are having contractual issues with your health insurance (Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield) and Dr. Diab is no longer in your network.”

My heart sank. My knees felt weak. I had to sit down. I wanted to vomit.

“We have a few options: #1 is we can find out how much out of pocket would be, or #2 you can go to a doctor in network.  Have you received any paperwork that you were denied?”

“No,” I responded weakly.

“I will cc you on an email to our health insurance specialist and we will find out how much out of pocket is as this will not be resolved any time soon.”

“OK, thanks.” I hang up, bury my hands, and bawl. I see my world, once again, turned upside down. I have survived many childhood traumas in my life, and somehow I survived. I thought the Universe was done kicking my ass.  Guess not.

Oddly enough, when I realized I was crying out my disappointment, I immediately shut down my emotions. Survival mode. Time to call Stanford. I call, explain my situation, plead my case, how much pain I am in, how I can barely walk (this is made worse with the 10-20 degree temps we have been having in Colorado). Yes, Dr. Bellino is in network (ok, 1st hurdle) but we will leave a message for Rachel his surgery scheduler (next hurdle).

I am a mess. I cannot wait. I am the most impatient person in the world, especially when it comes to my survival. This is a matter of my survival. I have lived with pain for almost 10 years, with severe pain in the past year, and it has been a rapid downward spiral for me physically and emotionally. I am no longer sleeping, the pain is so bad. I can barely walk. And here when I thought there was light at the end of the tunnel, that door got slammed in my face. All my plans: airfare, caretaker plans with my sister, fun plans with friends pre-PAO, the nonrefundable ticket that my aunt purchased to come help me in late March, cat sitter, my work schedule, basically, everything got turned upside down.  I, myself, am upside down. I cannot see straight.

About an hour later, I call Stanford again. I am a frantic pest. I think they realized I was not going to stop calling so magically I got on the phone with Rachel. I plead my case again, sounding desperate, the pain almost making me sound insane.  “The soonest I have is April 8,” she replies.  “I can put you on the wait-list if there is a cancellation.”

Its not my ideal date, but I eagerly signed up for April 8.  As I write this seven hours later from when Nurse Dede first called, I realize that when things are turned upside down it takes us a while to get right side up.  But we get right side up, it somehow always ends up that way. At one point I thought I was just going to completely break, but I didn’t.  I am thankful that I am able to see another Bay Area surgeon who does this very specialized surgery. Now its up to me to trust that things will work out, that my planning was not in vain, and that I can manage another 5 weeks with this crippling pain.

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