Friday, May 14, 2010

When it all goes horribly wrong....

Ok, so here you are sitting here in paradise, just living the dream and then one day, without warning,something happens you can't control. You suddenly get sick. Right, this is how it went....

Can I have a scan?
Because I can feel this big lump in my tummy.
What sort of scan?
I dunno - you know the one you have where you can spot a baby.
So you're pregnant?
No I'm not.
How do you know?
I know, trust me.
Have you taken a test? You do look a bit thick around the waist.
(I feel the waiting room patients strain slightly to hear more and see more)
No, but I am not pregnant ok. (And I grudgingly breathe in)
Ok, but you need to know the name of the scan.
Ok, it's an ultrasound.
All our scans are ultrasound. (in that you complete moron voice and I don't care even though you're sick)
Ok, show me your list of scans.......ok, it's trans-vaginal (I knew she just wanted me to say this in a tiny waiting room where everyone has absolutely nothing to do but listen to your desperate pleas for attention)
Yes, that's correct. (like I'm on this points system)
Well, can I book an appointment then please?
No, come back with a Dr's certificate.

At this point, I realised that sickness was not going to guarantee me a quick bypass around the system here and a first class ticket to communication excellence.

Ok, so then comes the insurance company. I get a form, get it completed and return it to the office. There, I get absolutely no sympathy, I guess they've seen it all before of course, so she just tells me she will submit it to Head Office, . This is on Tuesday, and I tell her I'm due to leave the country on Sunday. On Friday I return to the office and she tells me she's tried to jiggle (sic) it along but heard nothing so contact their office, in the country where surgery is taking place and oh, good luck.

So, I have surgery in 5 days, no insurance confirmation and an amount of EC$20K to pay on arrival at the hospital. I go to the bank, no far too easy that, can I get $20K out in one go - no way, have to give notice. Ok, no worries, I can pay by credit card. Here we go.

Hello, please tell me my credit card limit and balance?
$8,000 dollars is your limit and your balance is nil.
Ok, great. Can I give you $8,000 to put on my card.
What? (pronounced wur-arrr-ttt - sounds far more intimidating you know)
I want to go over my $8,000 limit to $16,000.
No, I am sorry we really don't advise you going above your limit, you might find it difficult to repay us.
No, I'm not, I am giving you in hard cash $8,000 and in return you are going to say I have $16,000 credit limit.
No, I'm sorry it is hard but you have to apply to increase your credit card limit.
But I'm not really you know, I am giving you $8,000 in real notes and I already have $8,000.
Well, on maybe one really important occasion you could go above your limit - what do you want to buy anyway?
I don't want to buy anything, I want to speak to your supervisor.
I'm sorry she will say the same thing as me and it's Friday afternoon and she is going home soon.

I put the phone down and cry.

So, off I go, overseas, to have surgery. I stay in hospital a week. During this time I am asked on two occasions, after surgery, if I would like to see my 25cm, 4 kilos in weight, lump. Now, if it was a baby, yes, but my very very large, very vertical scar, removal of various other organs too, reminds me there's no baby so I decline all offers, much to the nurse's obvious disappointment and observation that inferred I was the mad one as 'everyone' else saw theirs. I wonder, do you think they take a picture of it too?

So, finally I leave and I make it to the carpark, get in the car, and then, even on a Sunday, some jobsworth, clearly single, with no life outside his debt collecting job whatsoever, from Administration, has followed me.....and bangs on the window waving a big wad of paper. From experience I can tell this is the very itemised down to each cotton wood ball, invoice.

You need to pay before you leave - it's an exuberant (sic) amount. (He gesticulates in a breathless voice).
No, I'm not. (Suddenly, I feel empowered, here I am, can hardly walk, constant flashes of hot searing pain, family miles away, completely fed up and the insurance company, who are meant to make your life easy, have failed me). I'm back on Tuesday, I will settle it then. (I say in a don't mess with me voice)
Well sign something.
Ok, gimme something to sign.

So I sign my life away and we finally drive off.

Tuesday, comes and we're off to see the insurance company. Very nice chap and all that but absolutely nothing is resolved, they are questioning a pre-existing possibility. Clearly, I was definitely aware of my growing baby imitator many months before my insurance came into effect, not. So, during our chat, he advises me that the lady in charge of the insurance office in Dominica was very very excited about joining the company's Mediterranean cruise this year. This really wasn't the best bit of information to pass on to me but in my worn down by red tape state, I weakly retorted that I hoped that by actually paying my claim it wouldn't reduce their cocktail and canape intake. The VNC (keep up) found this so hilarious that he couldn't speak for a while. Funnily enough, neither could I.

Finally, I have my stitches out. But they don't come out. So I have a lot of drugs. Fab. They still don't come out. Then I have an injection right into my belly button, not so fab. Stitches come out. More drugs. I'm done.

I can fly home. Yay! I have to wear those very attractive elasticated DVT stockings. Thank goodness I had bought some jeans, sixth sense because I hardly ever wear jeans. So on go the tights and wow, my legs look like perfect staight pins - wow that's so cool. Then I hobble through x-ray. I forgot that these jeans have a built in/on buckle which sets the machine off. I get waved at for the once over hand machine and the officer lifts my t-shirt. Big mistake. Huge great scar staring at her. She nearly dies but has to say, of course, 'have you had surgery'. I want to say no and look down all surprised but I can't keep a straight face. Anyway, I'm whisked through, put in a wheelchair, onto the plane first, given a free drink. Great. When I disembark I reached up for my bag in the overhead locker though and forgot about my handiwork on my tummy again - passengers below me were put off their holiday cocktails for a while I'm sure.

So, I'm home, I'm recovering, I'm fine. The insurance company have agreed that I am not in fact pre-existing but they are not quite sure what I am. Clearly all the paperwork they send you when you are hooked in and signed up and paying large monthly amounts, corresponds to absolutely nothing that you may or may not be entitled to when you actually get sick.

The plus side is that I have this super flat stomach and of course if I get my DVT designer tights on I'd have these super slim pins too. The downside is that Victoria's Secret won't choose me for their next range - ok, for maybe more than just one reason.

1 comment:

Just said...

You poor thing, that sounds like a horrific experience. Are you ok now? I've had loads of surgery to my foot in the past two years because of a crush injury. I'm really ill with a post operative infection at the moment, and work has decided now is a good time to discuss my absence patterns with me. It's horrible when you are genuinely sick that people are so unsympathetic. I wish you all the best. xxx