Monday, March 7, 2011

Phone Trees & Paperwork will do me in before Lyme

I just spent the last few days very sick again in a bad flare. I'm talking in bed for 2 days, unable to move. My stomach so sick I couldn't eat for 2 days. My body hurt so much in every muscle and crevice I was walking hunched over when I finally got up.

Today I am ok, the flare has passed. I just got off the phone with my health insurance company. I had to switch over from Old Insurance to New Insurance because my Cobra ended. The transition may be more painful than the actual illness I'm dealing with. I have spoken to New Insurance in the past few weeks at least 2 times a week. Here is how this transition went:

1. I couldn't get new insurance company to send me the application for the insurance I was applying for - had to call them 3 times to get it mailed to me because they said I had to fill out a hard copy and I couldn't do it on-line (mind you I was running out of time b/c my Cobra was about to end and I cannot have a lapse in coverage b/c of this illness)
2. When I called the third time the operator apologized and said I could do it on-line (?) which I did and she personally took it to the department that would approve it (ok, I'll give an A+ for being helpful here)
3. I got the application I had been asking for in the mail AFTER I'd already applied and been accepted, then I got the SAME application 2 more times in the mail
4. They sent me the bill for the policy they approved me for before they sent me the actual information for the policy
5. I've been incorrectly invoiced already (!?) (I've only had their coverage for 2 months)
6. After my first check was IMMEDIATELY cashed, they continued to send me policy information for policies that didn't apply to me
7. When they did send me my policy information, it was the wrong packet, almost causing me to have a heart attack because it said I have pre-existing condition exclusions (even though that was the whole point of the exorbitant fee I am paying so that wouldn't apply to me)
8. They finally sent me my ID cards, and they are for the wrong policy
9. In the middle of all of this I hadn't had a chance to go to my pharmacy and change over my insurance info. (which I couldn't do anyway because I had the WRONG INFORMATION) and I got horribly sick, desperately needed some medicine only to find out that that particular medicine needs a PRE APPROVAL from my doctor before I can get it.

My friend and I say that there are always bumps in the road when switching from one system to another. But seriously, what exactly about this "system" is working?

This is completely unacceptable to me. What's even more annoying is that despite having just gotten off of the phone with them and feeling like I've worked everything out, I know for a fact that I will be on the phone with them many more times. I already feel like I've had to let go of control in my illness (see previous post!), and now insurance has me by the balls. How is it ok to be this sick and have to deal with this level of incompetence (I was going to say bullshit but wanted to take the high road) on a daily basis? Why aren't we all protesting more?

I have now probably spent at least a total of 1 day of my life waiting on hold for someone at new insurance to pick up. I think for every minute I have been on hold with them it should be exchanged for a reduction in my premium. And for every piece of paper that I have received in the mail that is incorrect, I should be able to get a price reduction on my prescriptions. Or at least a vanishing deductible!!!

Add in the amount of time spent trying to decipher the disability application process and all I'm asking is that it should count towards at least a day of reprieve from being sick. Are you listening universe?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lyme Rehabilitates the Control Freak in Me

When I was little, my Mom used to say I was a "sock and belt roller." Meaning, I was so organized I literally would roll my socks and belts in a drawer so they were all lined up in a row. I made my bed before I went to school. I liked to make "to do" lists. Order made me feel like I was in control. As an adult, that translated to my own apartment, work environment, car etc. Everything needed to be in it's place and orderly. I liked to count things and I liked things to be even. Odd numbers bothered me. If I walked into my kitchen and certain things were out on the counters, I had to put them away to feel like things were "right." Can you say, obsessive compulsive? It never occurred to me that this was over the top, until my roommate in L.A. said it was stressful to live in that environment, because EVERYTHING had to be in it's place. Only then was I able to step outside of myself and see my obsessive need to keep things in order, and laugh at myself because of it. Even my desk at work was like that...every paper where it should be, things neat and clean and orderly. My appearance too...I ironed shirts and pants before work, never allowing myself to leave the house with a wrinkle. Even when I didn't feel well I put on my make-up and tried to present a perfect front.

Up until now, I had never come up against anything in my life that I couldn't organize and order into some kind of sense. And then lyme disease arrived. My whole life I have been about setting a goal and laying out the steps to achieve it, a very orderly system. I keep trying to "organize my illness" and it is almost laughable, because lyme disease will just not jump into line. It is teaching me that not everything has to be rolled up neatly in a row. That sometimes it's really messy, that I'm really messy, that things are ugly and imperfect and that even if I organized the hell out of everything around me, that the illness is going to be there anyway. So I've learned that I can let things go sometimes, that it doesn't matter if everything is clean, shiny and orderly. That I can let myself be ugly, messy and out of control and that I can still be lovable that way. Most importantly that I can still love myself that way. That I don't need the counters to be clean and things to be put away to feel safe. That what I need is my own forgiveness, love and compassion.