Published on the Doomstead Diner on August 28, 2015
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Today I go in to have my neck carved up by the Pros From Dover, after several months of trying to get costs hammered out, insurance hammered out, etc. I was never really able to do that, and I go in for this operation without any real knowledge of what I will be billed for in the end. I know I am supposed to have a $5000 Deductible and maximum out-of-pocket for the year around $1500 and 100% of the costs are supposed to be paid beyond that, except that is only for what the insurance company deems as “reasonable and normal” charges. Needless to say, often enough the charges dropped on your tab are unreasonable and abnormal. The cost of Spinal surgery is unreasonable and abnormal from the get-go, this will go well into the 6 figures.
Although it sticks in my craw, I am going in for this operation regardless, because my lawyer tells me I should, and I agreed to follow his advice when he took my case. I don’t really have a choice here other than to go forward with this, even without all the details hammered out. I will be asked to sign an open end contract that I will pay whatever is charged that my insurance company does not pay, and I have no idea what this amount might be.
I wrote what follows below as a script for an audio rant about a month ago, but after 2 tries I couldn’t do the read of it without getting overly emotional, so I’m just going to post the script.
Greetings Doomfans, and welcome to another edition of the Frostbite Falls Daily Rant, here on the Doomstead Diner.
I decided to do Episode 3 of Days of Our Doom Lives as an Audio Rant, rather than another plodding text discourse on the failures in our current health care and legal systems. Mainly this is because there is tons of shit to write on in Collapse right now which is treated better with text and graphics, and my Personal Doom story doesn’t need a whole lotta that shit. I’m doing just one text blog a week and one audio rant a week now, in an effort to not burn myself out on laptop time. So I have to pick and choose and do some rationing here. For those of you who have not been following this clusterfuck, a brief recap.
About a year ago I took a fall on the job and injured my neck. The symptoms from it started cropping up inside a week or two, at first just dull pain, and I wasn’t sure where it came from. I thought maybe I just slept wrong or I was spending too much time in front of the laptop with bad posture. LOL. In a few more weeks, this escalated to EXTREME PAIN, to the point every day even at work I had to lie down with a heat pad on my neck to try to relieve it some. Eventually that pain subsided some, but then I got a NEW PROBLEM! My right arm became paralyzed, Not 100% paralysis, but enough to make the arm almost useless for many tasks, like shaving or wiping my ass for instance. Fortunately I am left handed, so I still can write with a pen sort of, but that isn’t too good either. My keyboarding on the computer is a good deal slower these days than it used to be too, but at least I can still do that right now. So at this point, I know I need to find out what I wrong, except one small problem. NO MEDICAL INSURANCE at this time!
I also don’t want to go down the Workman’s Comp path at this time, because first off I hope it will get better, and second I don’t want to leave my job either. So I wait it out and finally get some Insurance in January of 2015, and head in for the VERY EXPENSIVE testing necessary to get a diagnosis of the problem. Just to get fully diagnosed here cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $10K, between the MRI, CT Scan, Xrays and visits to a variety of Doctors, my primary care physician, a Neurodiagnostician and the Surgeon who is supposed to carve up my neck and try to stabilize the problem. Those preliminary visits are not done with yet either, because prior to going in for surgery, you have to have visits with the same pros from dover in the last month before the surgery, and I will tell you from experience these visits are a complete waste of time. All the information they need is in the imaging that was done. About the only thing important is to do a final Blood Workup before the surgery to make sure there isn’t some thing that will make the anaesthesia a problem.
Anyhow, the whole biz led up to my leaving my working life about 5 months ago now, trying to get Unemployment Insurance, getting a Workman’s Compensation case going and applying for SSDI, since nobody is going to hire a one armed guy who has trouble walking , bowel problems and tinnitis (ringing in the ears) for the type of work I do. Have I been able to get any sort of assistance from any of these agencies? Nope, as of yet, Zero, Zilch, NADA! I am fortunate I am a Doomer and have my own savings and preps, otherwise I would have been Homeless and dying as a Cripple on the streets of Palmer Alaska 3 months ago! I still may go out that way. Definitely do not count on Da Goobermint to help you through a crisis, even IF in the end you can win your case. By the time you win, you’re DEAD!
The intervening months have been a nightmare of trying to negotiate the medical insurance industry, the doctors, the legal system and the Goobermint bureaucracy. I have received all sorts of interesting advice here on the Diner on how to approach this, and I have my own thoughts on it as well, but the only advice I really can follow is that of my Lawyer, because I made the promise when he took the case On Spec that I would follow his advice. He has 40 years experience trying this type of case, he doesn’t take cases he doesn’t think he won’t win, and he tells me what I need to do. I am obligated to do that, and I live up to my word, always.
This is not to say I myself have not spent many hours in Due Diligence, trying to find out all the costs, how they are paid, who will pay them, etc. It is close to impossible to do this, if not entirely impossible. Maybe you could do it if you had a few years of time available to make phone calls, negotiate automated phone trees and pass Snail Mails back and forth (Doctors don’t do email), but I don’t have the time for that, my lawyer tells me I need to have my neck carved up by the Pros from Dover ASAP. So, in spite of the fact I cannot get all these charges nailed down and how the coverage will be paid out, I did as I was told and I SIGNED UP for the operation, to be performed by the Alaska Pros from Dover who specialize in this type of operation. My date fore the operation: August 28, 2015, 3 days before my 58th birthday. 2-3 days Recovery time if you live through the operation, so with luck, I walk out of the hospital on August 31st, just as I left the hospital carried in the arms of my mother 58 years earlier.
I really do not expect to make it these days. But it doesn’t matter to me, because I got everything tied up now, and everybody dies sooner or later. I already lasted a lot longer than I should have. In a certain sense, it is WORSE if I live through this thing, because then I got a whole lot of new shit I will have to negotiate, like trying to figure out how I will LIVE afterward, because I highly doubt I am employable anymore, even if there is some improvement over my current issues, and it seems unlikely there will be. It was a lot simpler back in the old days, when you got a real bad problem, you just died. Today, you have all these real cool means to keep you ticking, but SHIT they cost a lot of money! Is it really worth it to keep me ticking a few more years? Well, to me it sort of is, at least if those last few years are not lived as a Homeless Person on the streets of Palmer Alaska, but for society in general I can’t see WTF the value is in this is? I personally would like to witness more of this Civilization Collapse spin down and write about it, but it sure will make very little to no difference in how it plays out. I spent the last 8 years or so writing about this shit, all I do now is chronicle the latest manifestations of of the clusterfuck, I had it pretty well figured by 2009. The Diner is the digest of all of that, and its up on the web now for as long as the web is up and running, on the Diner Legacy space.
I still have a couple of more hoops to jump through before D-Day on Aug 28. I have to go in AGAIN for a stupid pre-op with the Pro from Dover on Aug 11, where I will be pretty surprised if I even get to see HIM personally. Just more chats with the Nurses, PA and Billing folks. Then I have a Pre-Op with the Internist on Aug 24th, which actually does have some meaning, he will take the last Blood tests before the operation. Of course though, the charges for this visit will be outrageous. I had to schedule that visit within one week of the actual surgery, otherwise they would have had to do them all over again by the rules here. My own prediliction was to wait this out, see how the WC case turned out before signing up for the operation, even though there is substantial risk in that. Longer you wait on something like this, the more probable you get additional problems and damage. However, which is worse, dieing as a Quadraplegic or Freezing to Death as a Homeless Person? At least as a Quadraplegic you don’t feel any pain on the way to the Great Beyond. My lawyer doesn’t see it that way though, and apparently neither does the system he is negotiating for me and doing the Navigation. I have to follow his advice on this, so under the knife I go on August 28th. I got one more month here of Blogging to do, and I intend on making the most out of it. If I get a new lease on life and get off the table in somewhat better shape than I am now and can keep on blogging after that, that will be another Bonus. I’ve been on Bonus Time for years if not decades now. I should have been dead many times over already. I guess there may be some purpose in the grand scheme of things for me to stay alive a bit longer, and I will try to do that and value it if I get it. But if not, it was a wonderful run through the Age of Oil, and I got to see and experience plenty. I sewed up my Legacy, and I am ready for my meeting with the Grim Reaper. I will cross the Great Divide satisfied with my life and how I lived it.
And that’s all the Doom, this time until next time, here on the Doomstead Diner.
Hopefully, I will make it through and just be offline for a few days to a week, and the other Diner Admins will keep the Diner running during that time. I have up previously written material in the drafts that should publish automatically, if not Surly can drop in and get them published.
If I don’t make it through, I have a Self-Obituary in the drafts which Surly can publish, but not for at least a week not hearing from me! It went up briefly once by accident while we had the server problems, and I don’t need another one of those clusterfucks, so I am not scheduling it to post automatically. LOL.
OK, my friend should be picking me up in a few hours for the drive into Anchorage and I am going to try and get some sleep. Hopefully I will check in with you all again a few days. If not, you know the Tag Lines.
SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN
SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE