Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Rest of the Story

So, Little Diamond, what ever happened with those kitties that were born in your backyard? And what was the deal with the migraine madness? You've left us hanging for the rest of the story....

First, the kittens.

About a week after I last tried to get the kittens, I went back with Christy and her daughters. We were able to get my two kittens but the older kittens ran away. We went back again later and found Mama in a trap (the guy at the school had said he was going to do the trap, neuter, release thing) and one of the babies huddling with her, but outside the trap. It was sad. The kitten was terrified of us and mad, too, but eventually we were able to grab her and put her in a kennel. We brought back food and water to put in the cage for Mama in case the guy didn't come back for a few hours. The other two older kittens were not there and we were never able to catch them.

Christy fostered my two kitties, who went through a series of names but were still always called White Kitty and Black Kitty, and the older kitten who they named Marie. I went over to their house to visit a few times but I don't have any pictures. When the kitties were old enough, Christy tried to turn them in to the Humane Society, but the shelter was so full that they would not take them. The Humane Society did a 4th of July special where all cats and kittens were only $4 to adopt and after that, there was room for our kitties. Christy took them in and they went up for adoption. Hopefully they all found wonderful homes!

Next, the migraine.

For the two months following, I still had a constant minor headache. My neurologist prescribed new medications and then after a month of no real headaches, he decreased the meds. Now, I only feel the effects when I look sharply down and to the side...which I only do when I shave my armpits.

While I am no longer experiencing any real headaches, I am experiencing the headache of medical bills. I should have been alerted when my neurologist sent me for an MRI. His office tried to get the procedure pre-approved through my insurance. My insurance company declined it. I asked the customer service girl why. She told me it was because of my pre-existing condition. "What pre-existing condition?" I asked. She ummed for a while and then said, "Your aneurysm." My ANEURYSM? I've never had an aneurysm! She put me on hold for about 15 years while she looked into this. She came back on the line to agree with me that I don't have an aneurysm (good to know) and to tell me that headaches are never pre-approved. Whatever, I thought. The procedure is $300 and I'd just pay for it if they declined it later.

And then the bills started rolling in. I had to pay my deductibles on all the emergency visits and the CT scans and the doctors at the ER and my regular doctor and etc, etc. But then I started getting bills, BIG bills, saying that the insurance claims were denied. My bills totaled over $8,000! Now if that doesn't give a person a headache, I don't know what would.

I gathered up all the bills and EOBs and all my insurance info and dumped it into the lap of my friend, Irene, who agreed to figure it all out for me. The thought of dealing with the insurance company was WAY more than I could handle. Irene found out that my insurance does not allow a person to go to an emergency room for a headache. Ah. Good to know. The first ER, the one that did nothing to fix my migraine, coded my visit as "headache" and that is unacceptable. The second ER who knew a thing or two about migraines, coded my visit as "acute sinusitis" which was acceptable to the insurance company.

Irene tried to get hospital #1 to re-code the visit, but they would not. The next step was to appeal the insurance company which I assumed would be an exercise in futility. Irene wrote a good letter and I got my doctor to write a letter as well stating that he referred me to the ER since there was nothing more he could do for me.

During the appeal time, my phone was ringing constantly with the doctors and hospitals wanting their money. Hospital #1, though not so great at migraine-treatment, has a really nice billing department. The billing lady assured me that she thought the insurance company would approve my appeal since I sent in a doctor's note, but if they didn't, she would work with me to take 75% off the amount I owe. That particular bill was $5,005, so 75% sounded good to me!

Last week I got a letter from the insurance company. Guess what!? They approved my appeal. I can tell you that I didn't see that coming! Yay! Now I've just got to let all my friendly bill collectors know that they'll be getting new info from the insurer soon. Whew! What a headache.

I have to say though, that I live every day in fear that this migraine business will come back. My neurologist didn't have much interest in talking about the cause. He was only worried about making sure I recovered. All the possible causes - the bad massage, too-tight ponytails, eating a lot of hot dogs (one of my co-workers is convinced this is the reason), drinking too much soda, missing a few b.c. pills - I've avoided all those possible triggers. I haven't had a massage or a hot dog since. I wear a barrette instead of a ponytail holder most days. I take my pills religiously. I don't ever want to go through that nightmare again!

And now you know....the rest of the story!

1 comment:

Craig Brandenburg said...

Thank you, Paul Harvey, er, Jill! This is a great story of health care chaos, the kind I sometimes read in newspapers happening to strangers. It's good you didn't become a statistic.

For what it's worth, I think there will be a lot more DIY medicine in most people's futures. Good luck to us all!