Archive for December, 2007

hopefully every medical student experiences this

Posted in medicine, random rants on December 27, 2007 by whenispark

this experience can be easily summated in two words: insurance companies.

 for my entire life, until the ripe age of 23, i was covered under my father’s insurance, and the only reason i am no longer on his insurance is because of turning 23. for the majority of this time, the only physician encounters i have had been minimal.

i know that i will be traumatized for the rest of my life because of my experience with insurance companies. my experience has made my choice in emergency medicine/icu an easy one.

since february of 2007, i have had an ongoing medical issue, that recently came to a [hopeful] resolution in september when i underwent minor surgery. unfortunately, from february to september, i technically had 3 different insurance companies.

until june, my father’s work was under united healthcare (the bane of my existence, henceforth named ‘bome’ or ‘uhc’).  my bome had given me trouble for years, continually not paying my bills, and everytime i called, they asked, “are you a student?”. yes. and i will be for the next several years. then they still wouldn’t pay. this went on for months, when finally, one employee decided to tell me i should have my school fill out a piece of paper confirming my status as a student, and suddenly all of my problems disappeared. however, at this same time, my father’s work switched from uhc to medical mutual, much to my initial celebration. they, too, wanted my school to fill out a piece of paper confirming my status as a student, which i promptly did. i only visited the doctor during this one month of coverage by medical mutual, because i soon realized that medical mutual only covers students under their parents until they are 23. dun dun dun.

now it was time to enroll in my school’s insurance, and to my horror, they use bome. nevertheless, at the end of august, they took over as my insurance company. i had surgery during the 3rd week of september, and as it stands today, they still have not paid anything for my surgery.

they want proof of previous insurance coverage for a previous condition. even from themselves. i asked, ‘do you need a proof of coverage form from yourself?” oh yeah, they do. but what’s even better is that they have to mail the form to me, and then i have to mail the form back to them. sadly, that’s the easy part.

they also want proof of my one month coverage by medical mutual. i call medical mutual, and guess who has no record of me ever being on their insurance. now, i have to work with the man at my father’s workplace to figure out what the HELL happened. this is necessary because one month of no insurance coverage is enough grounds that uhc could refuse to cover my surgery, even though they were the ones originally covering me when this whole disease process began.

as if having surgery and medical issues weren’t enough, as a patient, i have to deal with this. most medical students and residents will not deal with insurance because most people at this age are young and healthy. their extent will be regular, healthy check-ups. my experience is not the norm, but it gives me one more glimpse into the life of a patient with a chronic disease, continually battling the insurance companies, receiving bills from all the different healthcare facilities involved in the meanwhile.

the stress is insurmountable at times, and all i can do to cope with it is curl up in my bed and cry. as though dealing with a disease were not painful enough – i cannot begin to imagine the pain of ongoing, chronic illnesses.


what does i want for christmas?

Posted in tangential/circumferential on December 25, 2007 by whenispark

yes i wrote, what does i.

what does god want for christmas?

Posted in the home life on December 25, 2007 by whenispark

similar to last year, i attended my church’s midnight mass, this time arriving 20 minutes early. last year, steve (stepfather) and i arrived “on time” which meant we had to sit in some hall and stare at the wall.

the church looked lovely with it’s mountain (literally) of poinsettas, pine, and candles. the lights were dimmed and the choir singing christmas songs as we waiting for mass to begin.

 however, i want to keep this post simple, because it really was beautiful, and it’s all that needs to be said. our priest asked, “what does god want for christmas…god wants you to give yourself, because afterall, that’s what he did.”

i just thought i would share that with whoever passes by this christmas.

stuck in the middle with you

Posted in random rants, the home life on December 23, 2007 by whenispark

i love being the middle child most of the time. i don’t love it when the older sister and the younger brother start to fight. from years of experience, i usually notice the calm before the storm.

the latest one is a toughie. every year, the three of us divide up between our parents. we’ve worked it our beautifully, except for one small kink: my brother, being the typical 21 year old boy, has no ability to save or think more than two days ahead. every year, rachel and i approach the christmas season hoping that with our brother’s new raise or new job he will be able to help us buy presents for our parents, because really, she and i aren’t rolling in the dough either.

this year has been a little different. now living with my brother, i do see his side, and i definitely see where my sister is coming from, since she and i have been dealing with this since we became old enough to buy our parent’s presents. my brother this year was in charge of my father and marie (a joint gift) and gretchen and kevin (another joint gift for our cousins).

this year, my sister found out that my father and marie could really use a microwave for their new home, and this…is revolutionary. in all the years we have asked them if they need anything, we have never gotten a suggestion. we thanked god for his mercy when seinfeld started coming out on dvd. we haven’t run out of seasons to purchase, but we now have a chance to get them something they need.

the problem enters in that chewkie was supposed to get paid on friday, and was never given a check. he had anticipated using that money to buy the gifts of which he was in charge. he was able to buy the wii game for the cousins. he tells me he is unable to buy the microwave but that as soon as he gets paid he will be able to contribute. already knowing the stir this is going to cause, i tell him, “call rachel”. this probably wasn’t fair of me, but she was the only one who knew the dimensions of the microwave and it was her idea.

rachel was, as expected, irate, and quickly belittled chewkie to all worthlessness. chewkie is then fuming around the house. i decide this would be the perfect time to call up briana and ashley, two of my best friends from high school.

i guess in the end, i hope that rachel realizes that with a little more patience, she might have found out he was going to be able to promptly pay her back, and i hope chewkie realizes that if he just saved and planned ahead, he wouldn’t have to deal with these types of problems.

yuck. merry christmas.

the spawn of satan

Posted in the poopers on December 22, 2007 by whenispark

at least that’s bailey’s name according to chewkie.

bailey is the 14 (?) year old cocker spaniel that parents didn’t want to take down with them to atlanta. i can’t entirely blame them considering the circumstances: georgia and sadie (two very large bloodhounds) in the back of a chevy blazer driven by steve (stepdad).

i’ve seen them play ragdoll with bailey once before, but i don’t think they need to prove what they can do to steve. (i might add that by ragdoll, i mean that sadie grabbed the back leg, georgia the front, and delilah going for the other side.) 

everyone except for rachel has a love-hate relationship with this dog, mostly because of her jekyll-hyde personality (although, steve’s is more like a hate relationship). one minute she’s this cute, snuggly little dog, the next minutes she’s trying to bite you – and we have been bitten.

at 14 years old, her age shows. her cataracts are blatantly obvious, she’s half deaf, her body is scattered with lipomas (benign fatty tumors), and she’s very cachectic. chewkie and i have tried a number of things to beef her up, but i can feel just about every crevice of her pelvis, her spine pokes through her hair, and i can strum my fingers down her ribs. my favorite part is her easily palpated afib (atrial fibrillation – see dictionary) causing her repeated mini-strokes, where one eye will roll in the back of her head.

despite all of these problems, she insists on living with such a vigor, we have begun to think it’s to spite us all. for awhile her control of bowel function disappeared, leaving her to crap everywhere. this prompted some mentioned of putting her down if it persisted, but after giving her some time, she pulled through.

i should mention that when this discussion was held with rachel, this would be the response i got, “that’s inhumane“. clearly the humane thing to do would be to let a dog sleep in her own dog shit through the night (because that’s when she would manage to crap) over putting her down.

it’s not like we are scrambling to put her down just because she poos in the house occasionally, this was frequent, mass diarrhea. 

turning into my mother

Posted in the home life on December 22, 2007 by whenispark

i’ve already told her this, so there will be no “i told you so” from her, but only because she already said it.

when i came home from my exam yesterday, i promptly began to clean. i started by cleaning out the spice cupboard which was long overdue for a proper cleaning and filtering through. who needs 14 different ways to season poultry or seafood? i only threw away the ones that looked really gross and old, and by this i mean the packaging looked like there were from the 1970s.  the cupboards were my next victim, but this was more a matter of reorganizing than trashing anything.

as i go around cleaning the kitchen and i pick up the boys’ messes, i notice the same things irritating me that irritated my mother as we grew up. chewkie had a planner sitting on the ledge about the kitchen sink – just a small black planner in no one’s way, but i demanded he take it to his room. all their junk on the table? ‘put it in your room’. the mail strewn about? ‘put it in your room’. and it’s not just the junk left around. it’s also choice items like food caked on the stove, counters not being wiped properly, the sink not being wiped til sparkling clean…and i have to ask myself…WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?

however, the one trait i have yet to inherit, and i’m hoping i stave it off (it’s chewkie’s least favorite, too). my mom would be sitting comfortably watching tv, and we’d hear her call one of our names.

“[unlucky chosen child] will you get me a pop?”

mind you, our pop (or soda or coke, depending where you live) was kept in the garage, and with my mother being in the living room, there was a 100% chance she was closer to it. unfortunately, “you’re closer” doesn’t work on the woman who birthed and raised you (even if she cheated with a c-section).

weeping with joy

Posted in medicine on December 21, 2007 by whenispark

it’s official. i am done with surgery. my two hour shelf exam is completed, and i walked out with that feeling of passing. if i’m lucky, i will achieve an 80/100 and “honor” the shelf, and then hopefully the whole rotation.

it didn’t start well though. the shelf was at 8, and i woke up at 737. you’d think after 3 months of waking up at 4-5 am that i could get a grasp on this waking up on time thing. being accustomed to waking up late, i did manage to make it on time.

the shelf exam wasn’t too bad. there will always be those questions where i read it and have no idea what the answer is. unfortunately, questions on the shelf are never what does this patient have? they expect you to know that. they want to know, given that you know the patient has “x” disease (they never 100% confirm it), what would you do next? however, it’s over and i can finally clean the house properly (you don’t even want to know).

as for “honoring”, this is the only way to get ahead in medical school from a class rank stand-point. at my school, you have to achieve a certain, pre-set percent on the shelf, in addition to getting excellent marks from your clerkship attendings and residents. this is challenging because you typically have to do one of two things: 1. get to hospital early and leave late to show your committment to working hard or 2. sneak away every chance you get to study. it’s difficult to find that balance for both.

for now, i have the opportunity to clean, wrap presents, hang out with delilah.