All I ever do is write about doctors. Subtitle: wtf Janine?

Sometimes I feel like all I ever write about is going to the doctor. I think I could fill an entire book with essays on dental checkups.

Saw Eye Doctor today, and apparently this insurance kerfuffle is water under the bridge. Great. Maybe insurance isn’t the epitome of evil after all. Okay.

His office is in one of three Doctor’s Building(s) on the campus of a hospital that grows exponentially each time I visit (Brother, if you’re reading this you’d barely recognize the place). Everything is under perma-construction there (actually has there ever been a hospital not under perma-construction?). I think the hospital grew another parking garage and sprouted a Cancer Center while I was there.

I actually got a little lost trying to find the office (another side note: is there some kind of trend in architecture/construction where every doctor’s office building is just 492 miles of shittily-lit beige corridors? We can’t come up with something a little more inviting? This isn’t a place most people enjoy visiting. Come on). Thankfully, I found a point around which to orient myself:

IMG_1003

Pepsi and Coke in the same machine? Wha?

 

This used to be the Coke machine where my Mom would purchase a soda for my brother if he behaved himself. I took this picture to send to him. Oh, memories.

Once I found the office (Brother, if you’re reading this: same eyeglasses on the wall! I would have taken a picture but there were 42 other people in the waiting room and I was self-conscious) and was seen to an exam room, a lady I’ll call Janine because that was her name started to go over my medical history.

The first thing she asks is if I have primary care physician. I tell her no. Okay, okay, I understand this is a thing that I should have. And that will be amended this summer, thanks to a friend who recommended hers to me (it was either that or eeny-meeny-miney-moe off of my insurance’s website. Until I can search by “not a douche” or “doesn’t make me feel like an idiot” I’ll take word-of-mouth recommendations for these things, thanks). Janine seemed confused and anxious that my answer was “no,” but she stopped wetting herself long enough to go through my medical history.

I’m not bragging – but hell, maybe once I actually see a doctor she’ll uncover dozens of problems I never knew I had – but I just don’t have much physically wrong with me. Even though I’d checked NO to 99.9% of the entries on the 83 page check-in form, Janine persisted. “Nothing? No trouble with your heart or breathing?” she asked.

What the fuck, Janine? Don’t you think I would have mentioned that? Yeah, I’m good. Except for that heart transplant last year. That was a thing that happened. Seriously, Janine. If you’re just looking for something to write on the form, wouldn’t you pick something a little less life-threatening?

“No skin problems?”

Again, Janine. No. I’m good.

“Nothing?” So incredulous. So much sadness in her eyes. I’ve hurt her. “No surgeries?”

Oh, well yeah. That’s the whole reason I’m here: a handful of eye surgeries when I was a toddler. A baby, really. We’re talking 30+ years ago. But she finally had a YES answer, and that really got Janine’s butter churnin’.

“Oh! Any other surgeries?” She’s practically licking her lips.

No. I mean, I had a hernia repaired when I was, like, 8 years old. But at this point I don’t want to give her anything else to get off on.

And Janine takes my file and scampers off in to the bowels of the office to paste my chart to the walls of her secret lair.

 

I’m not a quitter; I’m a realist.

…got a lot of mixed feelings about this one, folks. This morning I decided to withdraw from my current course.

I am:
Elated. For the next few weeks, there will be no more rushing home in order to turn assignments in by 1:59 am. I will be able to spend my free time not reading for un-pleasure or completing assignments. I will be able to work through my 30-minute lunch because I won’t have to spend every. spare. second. working on homework.

Disappointed. In myself. Obvs. Ya couldn’t even get one whole class in before you quit, huh? says the voice inside my head.

Angry. The deadline to withdraw with refund potential has passed. Argh.

Optimistic. As of right this very second, my intention is to pick back up when the next term starts again. I’ve honestly enjoyed what I’ve learned so far, and I genuinely look forward to applying myself when I retake the course.

Informed. Yeah, now I actually GET what this entails. The decision to enroll was initially pretty slapdash [though if I hadn’t bit that bullet right then and there I would have put it off for another year…or more] and because of this, I did not fully grasp how I’d need to more consciously organize my time. Part of my “problem” is my work schedule. Because I work an evening shift, I often feel like I have NO TIME to do ANYTHING. This is untrue, of course. I’ve been working on waking up earlier (going to bed earlier helps, ha) in order to have more time to be a functioning person before I need to leave for work at 3:00. By the time the next term starts back up again, I will have myself on a better sleep schedule.

Confident. The initial feedback I’ve gotten so far is that I will likely succeed in this once I, of course, apply myself. Shit that I’ve written at the last-minute has gotten positive peer and instructor comments (go fucking figure). Imagine what I can accomplish if I try!

Embarrassed. I guess this could also be filed under “disappointed.” Surely you don’t have that much going on that you can’t do this ONE OTHER THING, says the voice inside my head.

Shut up, voice.

Overall, I think I’ve the right decision for me. I know that no one else in this entire goddamn world cares that I’m withdrawing. In fact, I’m sure the university is salivating at the prospect of my next payment(s). Maybe withdraw from a few more after the refund deadline, Julie. You earned it, girl! 

This is a pause, not the end. And I’m okay with this.

 

clarification for the sake of clarification

Okay, alright. I’ve moved on from the insurance rage thing.

Okay, not really, but I have seen most of the errors of my ways. My knee-jerk reaction to confusion is anger.* Going on 35 years on this earf and I’m still trying to break myself of this. I simply didn’t understand how the process worked and yeah, that little switch in my brain clicked on like a pilot light: whoosh! 

I’m not apologizing; that’s another automatic response I’m trying to break myself of. I guess I’m just stating that I see the pettiness of my rant and am fully aware that so many others have it much, much rougher than I.

Enough of this. Here’s a picture of me and my brother, around the early 90s, to brighten your day:
993749_10100784002000877_1279329263_n

 

 

*My knee-jerk reaction to almost anything is anger: Pain. Being startled. Change. Inferior macaroni and cheese. Oof.

insurance rage

I’ve seen the same ophthalmologist for over 20 years. When I was no longer under my parents’ insurance, I went though my own. Then I didn’t have insurance, and just paid out of pocket to see him. They were always very nice, sometimes not charging me at all for what amounted to routine checkups. In retrospect, I took that kindness for granted I guess. And today I feel like a fool. Nothing makes me more upset than feeling like a fool.

I got a reminder postcard: time for your every-three-year checkup, it says. I call the office and immediately hit a wall. “I got my postcard, I want to schedule my checkup.”

“Who is your insurance carrier?”
“Um, I don’t have vision coverage.” This is true. I don’t. I opted out of that part of my plan because I see an ophthalmologist, and I always thought that fell under medical coverage, not vision.
“We are a medical doctor’s office.” Okay, fine. I see what you’re saying. I tell her the name of my provider.
“Is this an HMO?”
“Ah, yes…question mark?”
“We will need a referral to schedule the appointment.”
“Even if I’m an existing patient?”
“That’s not how this works. You need your primary care physician to make a referral.”
The rage is building inside me. That’s not how this works. I want to reach through the phone and punch this bitch right in her smug throat. I recognize now that my anger is because I was asked questions to which I did not know the answers. I don’t have a fucking primary care physician, and I don’t want to be shamed by That’s Not How This Works Lady for it. I had expected a very fast phone conversation and this was not happening. I feel like a fool. I want to tell the lady to forget it, I’ll go to the fucking mall. But I don’t. With all of my might, I calmly explain that, in the past, I have paid cash for my visits, would this be an option now?
She goes on, says that if the doctor makes any kind of medical diagnosis during this checkup, that it needs to be run through my insurance. “If he tells you you have an infection, or glaucoma, or cataracts, then that’s a medical diagnosis.”

I don’t even want my eyes checked. You’re the ones who sent me the fucking postcard to begin with. I don’t have fucking glaucoma. If I thought I had an eye infection, I wouldn’t call to schedule an appointment for three weeks from now. Again, I fight every urge to tell her to forget it.

“Do you have vision coverage?”
What? What? I just told her that I didn’t.
“No. I do not.”
“I see you paid cash before…”
“Yes, I did.”
“I guess we can do it that way.”
I say fine, sure, whatever you have to do. But I know that I will not be out of pocket the 40 bucks they’ve charged me in the past. I know now that I’m going to get a giant fucking bill. The doctor will hand me a tissue to wipe my eye and I’ll be charged $75 for some sort of medical supplies.

Maybe my first instinct was right. Maybe I should just forget it and go to the mall.

 

I drew a graph to summarize the root of (much of) my unhappiness. It helped me. Maybe it will help you too?

unnamed (1)

back to school, back to school.

Film and Television

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore Collection / Rex Features (1561859a) Billy Madison, Adam Sandler Film and Television

A few weeks ago I decided that I needed more kitchen towels and spent several hours researching just what I wanted on Amazon. A few days after that, I decided that I wanted to find out more info about possibly going back to school and had transcripts requested, registration completed, and a large amount of money charged to my Visa in half that time.

This is how I make Major Life Decisions: swiftly, decisively. It sounds like a fault, but I guess it hasn’t failed me yet.

It’s an all-online thing. A certificate-type deal. I won’t have another degree when I’m finished, but it’ll be a possible gateway to another degree. If I stick with it and take it seriously I should be done in two-ish years. I’m easing into it; just one class right now. It’s got a syllabus and textbooks and everything! I am excited. I have always enjoyed having a full, busy schedule. Maybe I’ll take up tap dancing while I’m at it.

The program is for writing – creative writing, that is. It’s not Joe Schmoe’s School O’ Stuff; it’s through an extension of a well-known university. I guess if I want to lie to people I can say I’m enrolled at Well Known School but the extension is its own thing. Overlap with faculty and such, but I won’t have any kind of diploma from there.

Anyway, I’m going to go figure out all this online stuff and hope my textbooks come before, say, June (hey did you know you can RENT textbooks ONLINE now? WHERE WAS THIS WHEN I WAS IN SCHOOL BEFORE?).

Wish me luck!

 

 

 

A Beginner’s Guide to the San Jose Sharks.

Hey, St. Louis Blues fans! You’ve probably heard by now that our next opponent in the NHL playoffs this year will be the San Jose Sharks. Oooh, sounds intimidating eh? You’re probably wondering what we can expect in the next 4-7 matches. What makes this team tick? How do they play? Who are they?

I’ve put together a brief guide to answer these questions and more. Please – enjoy!

Head coach Peter DeBoer has been with the organization for just shy of one year during which he’s proven himself a capable and coach-like coach. His methods are interesting and unorthodox; he has been known to release exotic animals onto the ice with the players during morning skates. Zebras. Boars. Giraffes. Alex Stalock wasn’t traded; he was mauled by a rhinoceros.

The “big names” with whom you’re already familiar are probably the likes of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan “Juicy” Couture or Joe Pavelski but how much do you really know? Their career highlights and individual game stats are smeared all over the World Wide Web. Any schmuck with WiFi can tell you, uh, just a second here, that… Any schmuck can tell you that, ah, HERE! That Pavelski scored a goal in his first NHL game… But are you aware that he is a strict vegan who travels with a personal chef or that his first career choice was to become a tree surgeon?

I am certain you were not aware of any of that.

“Old Joe” Thornton’s history with the Sharks (or the Bitey Fish, a term used by die-hard fans) is marvelously colorful. A former wearer of the Captain’s “C,” he was demoted to “A” before the start of the 2014 season. The circumstances surrounding the change are shrouded in mystery. Sources point to a kerfuffle involving Thornton, head coach at the time Todd McLellan and SJ Sharkie, the team mascot portrayed with zeal by actor Kevin Costner. To this day, no one knows what words were exchanged in that In-N-Out Burger.

Also, it took Thornton 14 hours to grow his current playoff beard.

Patrick Marleau has been with the Sharks organization since I think they became a team. His stunt double is actor Kyle Chandler. Some episodes of Friday Night Lights were filmed with Marleau in the role of Coach Taylor.

Goalie Martin Jones was born in Siberia. Before being signed by the Sharks, his legal name was Vladimir Oxtoboxtokovski. He chose his “American” first name after watching the 1980 classic film House Party and proclaiming Martin Lawrence as the “American ideal” to which he aspired.

I could go on, but let’s cut to the chase: what can St. Louis expect in game play against the Bitey Fish? Are they highly strategized? Do they play a fast, tight game? Do they rely on telepathic communication among players? The answers to these questions are yes, yes and yes. The best thing the Blues can do to interfere with the Sharks’ on-ice communication is to wear caps of aluminum foil beneath their helmets so their brain-rays don’t get intercepted by San Jose’s brain-rays. Science.

Blues fans, I sure hope this brief introduction to our next opponents serves you well as you tune in to the Western Conference finals. I will try to produce follow-up material as my time and attention span permits (read: never. Never ever ever). But in the meantime, I leave you with one piece of advice that will be paramount to your understanding of this series:

THIS. IS. OUR. YEAR.

#LGB

 

 

 

rock the vote, bonus points if your polling place is a casbah.

All right, real quick here, y’all:

My Facebook is ‘sploding with “I Voted!” stati. This is great, guys. I’m truly happy about this, for real.

But wouldn’t it be neat if there was no need to advertise it? If the whole “I Voted!” thing was just assumed, because duh everyone votes! Why wouldn’t you vote?!

Also, I think we should all be proud that we voted – not as a pat on the back, not to brag about how informed/cool/saintly you are – but because HOLY SHIT THIS IS HOW WE CHOOSE OUR LEADERS IN THIS COUNTRY ISN’T THAT AWESOME?

(Please leave your arguments about the flawed electoral process elsewhere. I understand them. I’m merely commenting on the incredible freedom that comes with the ability to case a ballot).

Also, also: apparently casbahs are truly only found in north Africa, sooooo…

“fine print?” More like “horrible print.”

In the past six months, I’ve been able to experience the full reach of my health insurance benefits. I decided, rather than going to regular doctor’s appointments throughout the course of the year, I should just get hit by a truck and break my leg and blast my way through those deductibles all at once.

But whatever. This is not a rant against the insurance industry. Well, it kind of is. But it’s not a rant against the particular insurance plan my workplace affords me. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the reach of my coverage.

Instead, it’s a rant against paper. Not even paperwork (though filling out endless medical history forms at multiple medical offices is not my preferred method of rest and recreation. Side note: Sure, they give us a clipboard, but why not a table? Or why not let us stand at the counter? By the time I’ve filled up 8 pages front-and-back with my detailed medical history, I need an additional appointment with someone to discuss the awful burning pain in my neck from looking down at such an awkward angle).

Heh. So that did turn into a little rant about paperwork, eh? Ahem. Moving on:

Initially, almost all of my “explanation of benefits” came via email. This is great. Everything seemed pretty straightforward and well-explained. Again, I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of which I could navigate the provider’s website.

But then, about three months post-dx I started receiving envelopes in the mail. One, two, twelve, six hundred. Most of them were pretty clearly labelled THIS IS NOT A BILL. Okay, fine. These were basically detailed print-outs of what I’d already reviewed on the website. Wasteful, but recyclable.

Scattered throughout Big Bill Mountain were thinner envelopes with phrases like AMOUNT DUE and PROVIDER OWED. But due what? Owed to whom? I swore to the almighty chocolate-covered-peanut-butter Christ that I’d already paid for this shit! I went through my checking accounts to see if checks cleared. I took a fine-toothed (tooth?) comb to my credit card statement to compare dates of services rendered and charges made. I got toddler-angry; no amount of reasoning or logic could calm my rage. No phone numbers to call, no return envelopes in which to mail my check – no that that mattered, because I didn’t even have a fucking MAKE CHECK PAYABLE TO.

So I did the mature thing and scooped up these envelopes – the ones that made me feel stupid and confused – and put them in a pile to be dealt with At A Later Time.

When that Later Time eventually arrived, I took a deep breath, thought Cleansing and Happy Thoughts, and carefully read through the pile, where, 100% of the time, I found a tiny hidden phrase: PLEASE WAIT FOR A PROVIDER BILL BEFORE MAKING A PAYMENT.

“Why the hell didn’t you see this the first time around?” you’re asking me. To which I respond: MAMA SAID KNOCK YOU OUT. I mean, EASIER SAID THAN DONE, OL’ PALLY-PAL. In fact, I had to take a couple minutes to re-read through these letters to find that phrase again just so that I could quote it for this rant. Don’t TELL me I don’t suffer for my art.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must make an appointment with someone to discuss my transient, intense rage issues.

 

 

 

scenes from an American apartment complex, pt 1

EXT. PARKING LOT – DAY.

The sound of multiple loose automotive components in a dark green Chevrolet punctuates the calm afternoon. The sedan sits idling next to the Dumpster. A voice calls out:

                    DRIVER (yelling)
YOU ARE IN-FUCKING-CREDIBLE!

A full, white garbage bag flies from the driver’s open window into the Dumpster. The driver attempts to rev the engine and make a quick exit. The car squeals and slowly inches forward, loudly clanging as it pulls away at below-average speed.