Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bone on to the next thing

Up early waiting for the pain to subside. It's Thanksgiving. It will be just the two of us, as usual, minus our son who is married and 900 miles away. I'm sure his holiday will be happy and filled with laughing family, that they will be with his wife's family who live close. This gives us much to be thankful for. A happy child. And so much more.

Yesterday was the bone density test. It was quite strange, how it went, due to a snarky technician.

As we drove the 35 miles through very dense fog that morning, I suffered silently in so much pain. Deep, central nerve pain throughout my body, especially in my hips and legs. I had taken a pain pill at 6:30 am, and at 8, while on the drive, I took a 2nd one, since the first was not working. As I struggled out of the car at the "bone scan place," I was hurting so badly, and the weakness was profound.

I was the first one in to be tested that day, and never saw another patient in there while I was there. I chatted with the woman at the desk, who was quite nice. And we happened to visit about how nice people were, in general, in the northwest and this area in particular.

I was called back by a middle-aged, blond woman and asked to remove my shoes, place my things on a chair and stand to be weighed. I've not gained a pound in a year, very thankful for that. With the ebbing ability to do much of anything at all, I work each day to eat healthy, cook healthier. The hoped-for payback would be weight loss, but I've chosen to find victories where they hide.

Then I was shown into the room for the scan, and asked to sit on the table. The woman (she never told me her name and I didn't see a name tag) at first could not find me in her system on the computer but I assured her I'd been there before.

She found my name, clicked on it, and immediately turned to me and said, "I won't do this scan today."

Of course, I asked why, and Nameless said, "It hasn't been a year since your last scan. Your insurance will NOT pay for this."

I opened my mouth to explain, but Nameless sniped, "You will have to pay for this yourself. You have to know that. I won't do this scan today."

Again, I tried to tell her that this is a pre-surgical test, but she interrupted me again. To me, it felt like she was cramming my words right back into my mouth.

I asked, "How much are these scans?"
"One hundred and eighty five or more. They've gone up."
"Okay, I'll pay for it."
"But you have to see that you will not be reimbursed! Insurance demands that bone scans are taken at least a year apart, and most insurance requirements are two years."

I said, "This is workers' comp."
"Work comp is worse!" came the return volley.

Certain that I was talking into the wind without my words reaching her brain, I kept trying to gently break through that wall of "know-it-allism" while Nameless avoided my eyes while looking right into them.

Each time, she headed me off at the pass without a bit of caring for my situation. I could not help it, I started to cry. She did not recognize it however, did not hand me the kleenex box on the counter behind her, even when I pulled a rough, paper hand towel from the dispenser to blow my nose.

Finally, thinking that I could break through to her, I sobbed, "With the brace off, everything crushes down and it's hard for me to handle this and I'd like a little sympathy from you about it."

("Sympathy" was the wrong word for me to use, but it is what came to my brain. I would have said "understanding." Sympathy really demotes you to a woman like this.) And it was so odd, because she had such a controlled way of talking, same decible level, so unemotional. She was a Stealth Snark, the worst kind.

Each time, over and over, I tried to tell her it was okay, this was a different situation, I wasn't just having a bone scan for a lark. Once, she snipped, "Okay, enough of this. I don't have time for this, I'm busy. I'll do the scan but you have to be aware that insurance will not pay for it."

I said I was aware.

She said, "Dr Fu would never order this scan now, he'd know your insurance would not pay for it."

To me, it was if, with this statement, I was on the defense stand. She felt I was lying about Dr Fu, even though Dr. Fu wrote the order and his secretary made the appointment for me.

I replied, through tears, "I was just in his office last week! He DID order this test. I need this test and the results in order to move ahead with a surgery I really need immediately!"

Nameless Stealth Snark couldn't have cared less. "Dr. Fu would not have ordered this test in normal situations."

"Yes, that is what I'm trying to tell you! This is not normal."

With a cloud of dismissiveness around her, NSS looked at the screen and said, "All I need is to hear that you were told by me that your insurance will not pay for this and you have to pay for it yourself, and then we'll do the scan."

"I told you I understood ten minutes ago!" I sobbed.

We proceeded with the painless scan, a test I've had several times and had expected to proceed easily. I dabbed at my nose with the paper towel while she put foam blocks under my knees and instructed me on how to place my legs and so forth. I held it all in, the only sign of my emotional pain seeped out of my eyes while I silently coached myself not to cry.

You know what? When I got up from the table, I apologized to HER. I guess, instinctively, I know what I need to survive, and I did not need to walk out of there mad, things unresolved. I wasn't going to be teaching her any lessons. She was probably about 50 and had many years behind her, learning her behavior. I apologized for my own good.

And she said she was sorry. But it was insincere.

As I walked down the hall and toward the safety of my loving husband waiting in the parked car outside, there was not another soul in the office waiting for a bone scan.

She said that Dr. Fu would not get the scan and evaluation until the middle of next week. And she said that if I would call in TCI's fax number, she would fax the scan immediately to Dr. B. I thanked her profusely and left.

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