Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Counting the Cost

We're back from an trip to Amarillo where we got some good news- Georgia does not need chemo, "just" radiation.  That was a huge relief, of course.   While G continued on with her doctor's appointments, I made a run down to Lubbock to hand over my permanently injured prairie falcon to a raptor rescue group where she’ll be used in education programs.

I know that Georgia is feeling better because she woke up angry.  Not at me, fortunately, but at the medical process.  She _cannot_ get a straight answer on "How much will this cost?"  Even when a procedure is "approved" by our insurance- BC/BS- we still get bills for the portion that BCBS "didn't cover".   I mean, we have a letter in hand stating that BCBS has approved this or that procedure and we still get bills for it.  

NO ONE- the nurses, the hospital financial staff, BCBS (who you can't even get on the phone- G was on hold for 90 minutes a few weeks ago)- can answer or is willing to answer the question of "How much will this cost?", This happens even when G is told about a procedure: "It's a recipe...we do this, we do this, and we do it for all patients".  If it's a recipe, you should know how much, or at least have an estimate of how much, it'll cost, no?  Georgia's been on the phone non-stop for the past 3 hours, asking questions and looking for answers.    Here's hoping something gets accomplished.

We went thru this already with David, but in that case, I didn't care about the money and we had no other known option.  When we got aggressive about trying to fix him, all I cared about were results.  As it turned out, we ended up with LOTS of bills and poor results.  True, we were battling an inherited genetic disease, but David actually died not from that, not from the seizure, but when a nurse rolled him over and his tracheotomy  tube came out and could not be reinserted.  I’m not going to blame that person, as accidents happen (and God’s will is done), but David died as a direct result of medical.... let’s not say “incompetence” but let’s say, maybe, “limitations”.  Why wasn’t a longer tube used?  Was there no backup plan to the admittedly too short trach tube?  Why was he rolled over?    In any case, the results were poor and the bills still flooded in.   Are we in that spot again?

I don’t think any one person is to blame for this boondoggle.  I think it’s more of a problem with compartmentalization and specialization.  There are few overseeing advocates- at least few to to whom the job is more than just a paycheck.  The office people do their job and don’t (“can’t”, as in “not allowed”, perhaps?) look past their responsibilities.  The nurses do their job, but in our experience, they are clearly discouraged from looking past their position.  They say it all the time- “I can’t say anything about that... you'll have to ask so-and-so.”  The doctors do their job and I’d certainly not lay blame at their feet as most of the actual doctors (and nurses) we’ve dealt with have seemed to truly care about the person in front of them.  The blame goes past them- hospital administration, perhaps?   

Something has been lost between the actual hospital, where people are trying to help people and save lives, and the insurance companies, where money is made and shuffled.  And I’m sure that drug companies- where billions of $$$ are made- have a strong influence.  It’s a parasitic mess and I’m sure there are hundreds of books on this topic all of them with proposed solutions, most of which are probably different from each other.   On the whole, you know what I think?

1Ti 6:10 NKJV  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

 Psa 135:15 NKJV  The idols of the nations are silver and gold, The work of men's hands.

I think that when lots of dollars get involved, that the higher purpose gets lost.  What to do about it, though?  
As of now, we’re not in an emergency situation so we're calling around to other places to see if we can find answers we like.  If necessary, we’ll abandon our current facility and go elsewhere- Santa Fe?  Another place in Amarillo?  Who knows?   What an incredibly frustrating thing this is, though, especially on top of one's actual medical needs.

Well, it's time to get to work and make money to pay bills.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Weak in the Knees

Isa 35:3 NKJV
  Strengthen the weak hands, And make firm the feeble knees.

Here we are again... first, an update on Georgia.  She has more or less recovered from her two surgeries and we are just awaiting results to find out if she needs chemo or radiation or both.  It’s kind of frustrating- as these things can be- because 2 weeks ago we drove to Amarillo to discuss this only to find out that the doctors couldn't say anything and simply needed her to sign a permission form so they could then get the needed test.  So, 7.5 hours of driving and 4 hours of sitting around just to sign a form.   Oh well, we made the most of the trip and did some needed shopping.  And BTW, just in case you missed it: Georgia's Cancer Treatment Fund. [link removed as this is now an old post]  We've gotten some very generous and very much appreciated help from friends thru this.  

It's been a very windy spring.  The wind is the worst thing about NE New Mexico... it can be just incessant sometimes.   And destructive?  Stuff never rots here- it blows away long before that.  I've heard it said that if the wind doesn't blow, the summer rains don't come.  At this rate, we oughta have a genuine wet year.

A touch o' a breeze

In New Mexico you have to draw for just about every hunting opportunity and this year I was fortunate enough to draw a rifle bull elk and archery deer tag.  I’ll go to the spot where I killed the cow elk a few years ago and with that in mind, Derek and I took our turkey tags out for a little turkey hunting and elk scouting.  We didn’t see a single turkey or any sign, but we did see quite a few elk and picked up a decent shed antler. 

Shed elk antler

We walked- according to Google Earth- about 3.5 miles up and down canyons and my knees just flat-out gave up.  That’s the first time that’s ever happened.  I've gotten muscular tired before, but this time, my knees just quit and going downhill was painful.  I was carrying my new pack- a Horn Hunter Full Curl- with about 20 lbs of stuff in it, but still...  On the upside, now that I know I can’t rely on my inherent conditioning anymore, I have all summer to get my knees strong enough to pack out the big bull elk I’m going to take this fall. [< update!] The next day, I felt pretty good with no lingering stabs of pain, so I guess it’s good that I can still recover.

In the archery world, Derek and I traveled to ABQ in early April to shoot the State Animal Round.  Derek shot very well and, as usual, won.  I shot good at first and then fell apart a little bit- the uphill and downhill shots got me.  I ended up 2nd place, missing 1st by 1 point.  But, we got our scores in from the Vegas Indoor Round back in Feb and got a surprise.  This was a "sectional" shoot, covering CA, AZ, NM, CO, UT, and NV.   Derek took 1st place is now the Sectional Champ!  My score was good enough for 2nd and I'm not complaining about that.  Scores aside, we're having fun shooting.

David’s 13th birthday has come and gone.  In observance, we went to the grave site and placed some solar-powered crosses on the site.  We went back a few days later at night and they were all lit up and looked nice- as nice as a grave site is going to look, I suppose.  That was Weds night.  Thurs, Derek and I went elk-scouting and turkey-hunting.  Saturday, my gout returned and Sunday, it hammered me.  I really need to get a number on this thing.  It’s probably not any particular food I’m eating, but may be a result of general kidney decline.  For now, I’m drinking lemon water and lots of it, and here on Sunday evening, it’s feeling better.

We have cattle on the ground, it’s rained a little, the grass is greenish, and here we go into another cattle season- my 19th.  Hopefully, I’ll be showing pictures of green grass soon.

Early morning visitors