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Archive for August, 2009

Stupid people suck

August 31st, 2009 at 07:24 pm

So my local Tricare rep is a bit ignorant. I say that because she went ahead and told me I had close to $1M in unpaid bills for two days, then when I asked for paperwork on it, she went to get the reg to show that I needed Medicare Pt. B despite me never having been told that, so she got out the reg, and it says in bold verbatim "Medicare Pt. B is NOT required for Active Duty"... The woman looks at me with a stupid look on her face, and says something must be wrong because she's always been told Pt. B is a must. Wrong. She had to call her boss at a different post and get clarification, and her boss dug into my file, and low and behold, I owe nothing. I still have to appeal the $8,419 bill and I just got two $60 bills in the mail to appeal, but it's a far cry better than $1M.

DW isn't getting any better, worse actually. I got the docs to finally do an abdominal ultrasound to find out why she's seeping fluid a month later, and there is fluid, and it is infected, and her immune system is so compromised she cant mount a fever. And her blood pressure is unstable, but high, like 145/100 is the best it's been in a week. Usually around 160/120 as an average, with a pulse around 100 bpm. So we leave for the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in the morning. Fun stuff. Burning up leave like it's going out of style, but that's what it's there for. I get reimbursed for travel and lodging anyway tho.

So we're getting better. My car still needs new coils, and my house AC still needs fixed, but one thing at a time. We have 2 cars, and we're living at the hospital at the time, so those are back burner issues. We'll make it through alright, so long as Mayo can get her healthy and it's not terminal. Lets pray.

So I suppose this will be the last update for a while. I'm leaving in 9 hours for a 400 mile trip to Minnesota. God Bless.

Tricare, Medicair, and Soc Sec... Wow...

August 27th, 2009 at 09:22 am

No fluid around the heart, but it's making some really strange sounds that are unexplained. Working on figuring that out. 85% vein stenosis causing the blockage in her chest. Pool of fluid in her stomach where her kidney was is becoming infected. Diarrhea and vomiting all last night, despite meds. On an TNP IV feeding tube, again. At dialysis right now.

Investigating Tricare bills, found that they haven't paid anything since June 2008 and never told us. In order for the bills to be covered, Social Security has to get her put on Medicair Pt. B. Tricare has her as being on Pt. A since June of 06, Social Security has her as being on Pt. A since 94. I'm going to get stuck with past premiums to get her up to date on Pt. B, but Social Security can only go back to August of 08, a year. Problem is, the bills go back 2 months before then. So guess who is going to be left on the hook for that? Well, I'm going to write a letter to my congressmen and get my Battalion CSM in Tricare's office with me. My platoon sgt went and talked to them the other day, but there wasn't much they could do. A BN CSM can go much higher than a SFC. If I get stuck with the past premiums, it's going to an AER grant. I can't believe it's this much of a mess, and not one of the hospitals complained about it yet. Her hospital said they have been billing tricare, it getting kicked back, so they turn around and bill Medicair Pt. B, and it gets accepted. Makes no sense since Social Security has her as not being on Medicair Pt. B, and Tricare is trying to bill me for the bills they get and kick back. A huge bloody mess. And the government wants to run our nations health care? Are you kidding me?

Furthermore, this completely removes all incentive for me to not take a compassionate discharge. The only reason I've turned down the offers of it thus far is because I thought Tricare was paying the thousands of dollars in medical bills I now find out I'm on the hook for. When they do pay them, it's not Tricare paying for them, its Medicair Pt. B paying them, and Tricare paying the premiums. But they won't pay the past premiums and penalties, and the current premium is only $113 a month for my DW, so that's about the same as a high utility payment. I might as well get out and do what I want to do with my life as opposed to be put in harms way when Tricare won't even take care of it's own.

If I end up getting charged anything for this in the end, you better believe it's going to be on like donkey kong between me and DW's tricare case manager. That woman told us Pt. B was not an issue in August of 08, when it could have been back dated to the day we got married then. Really frustrated. How do you let unpaid bills go a year and not tell the beneficiary there might be problems with the account? Let alone that I talk to Tricare at least one a month about bills. And how does tricare and social security's records - both government entities - show different dates for Pt. A? What? Huge mess.

But at least there is no fluid in her heart. And Disability is expediting her payments, and backdating the application to May of 08, so she should see a $11,844 check for that if all goes well. This would cover the past premiums on Medicair, but that's not the point. So effing frustrating that I'm dealing with my wife in deteriorating health and the insurance that's been keeping me in the army, really isn't doing jack but paying $113 a month. To me, that's like telling me I've been staying in for an extra $113 a month when I could have been going to college for free this whole time and working part time. Afterall, the GI bill covers my mortgage while I'm a full time student.

So once we get this insurance crap worked out, and the disability payments start, I think I might take up that compassionate discharge. I've done my 4 yrs. I would be able to finish college full time, have my mortgage paid by the army thru the GI Bill as long as I am a full time student, and have DW's disability checks. That's without either one of us working. Our income would drop $1,000 a month, and I could work part time to make up that difference until I finish college. I'm so pissed off about all of this bullshit right now.

Creditcardfree, any advice on this being a military spouse?

The waiting game...

August 25th, 2009 at 11:50 pm

So DW had some preliminary tests run yesterday that were indicative of fluid around her heart. Tomorrow they will run a pretty solid battery of tests to see what is and isn't affecting her fluid accumulation. They don't know how to treat the heart fluid yet, because she doesn't have kidneys, so no way to flush it out. There has been talk of doing dialysis more often and seeing if that helps, but it hasn't seemed to yet. The cardiologist told us they will do what they can, but they don't know if there is much they can do for her. Ima ask for her to be transferred to a better hospital if they tell us there is nothing to be done. So we're just waiting for a diagnosis and a prognosis on it. Shit sucks.

Taking the good with the bad...

August 24th, 2009 at 06:51 pm

So I took DW to the hospital to get her staples out today. The doc only took about half out, because there is apparently an unknown pool of fluid in her abdomen where her kidney used to be, which is highly unusual. So guess what, we get more tests to figure that out.

We asked him about her signs and symptoms related to her swelling, and he did everything in his power, but to no avail, as it is not surgery related, and he is a general surgeon. He called the nephrologist (kidney doc) but he couldn't admit her for insurance reasons. So tomorrow, we go to dialysis, and chew them out until we see her primary nephrologist, who can admit her, and then get a direct transfer to the research hospital that the insurance won't cover unless admitted through the ER or a direct transfer. Yeap. That's us tomorrow. And then I go to work tomorrow night. Yae.

But on the good side, my car is alright. The mechanic said that when they power washed the engine before giving it back, they must have gotten some water in the coils, which will make it misfire until the moisture is burnt out. Well, it stopped misfiring right as I pulled into the shop. Stupid cars. But at least I dodged the bullet of having to pay to have 2 new coils put in.

On the other downside, just as I pulled my car back in, I opened the mail. To a $8,419 medical bill. Tricare approved the surgeon, but not his two assistants. So I have 90 days to appeal, but the hospital has to file the appeal on my behalf because they have to provide supporting med records. I told my boss, who in turn told the SGM, who happens to be his drinking buddy, so they want a copy of the bill tomorrow. At least that will get taken care of. I'm thinking AER will probably give us a grant for it if Tricare denies the appeal and Medicair won't pick it up. I just can't kick out $8,419 after getting the AC fixed, car deductable, etc. So it's off to bed for me. I just talked to DW, and her eye is so swollen it's seaping fluid out from the tear ducts. Nasty. Definately getting admitted tomorrow.

It happens...

August 23rd, 2009 at 12:22 pm

So the last few weeks haven't been so hot. I went on leave, which was fun. Really enjoyed myself. But on the way there, I hit a mule deer in Nevada. $1000 deductable. I got home, and find my AC unit froze up when we turned it back on. Thank God we had the insurance on appliances that the realtor baught us. Only $155 copay. I picked my car up from the shop friday, and the engine took a dump the next morning. Fun.

On the health front, DW is getting progressively, and quickly, worse. She had her only kidney removed on the 5th, but has 35 staples as a result. Also had to have the artery connecting the kidney replaced an artificial one.

She has since developed severe pitting edema - swelling that leaves deep indentations when you put pressure on it - in her legs, face, left arm up to the shoulder, and her chest. She at times has trouble breathing and chest pains. When these first developed we took her to the ER, who essentially told her that since the test results for blood clots and fluid in her chest came back clean, they weren't going to help her, and sent her home. We don't know the direct cause of the swelling, aside from that it is often a side effect of having no kidneys and leads to one of two things: pulmonary edema or congestive heart failure. Her serum albumin is far too low to be considered for a transplant, so we don't have much to look forward to other than praying that we can get her albumin raised up. We've also been having an average of 1 to 2 units of blood transfused a month. Not much we can really do other than hope and pray.

So now she goes tomorrow to get her 35 staples taken out from surgery. She will be allowed to bathe for the first time since July 2nd. It's a much needed emotional boost for her.

So we're not doing so well right now all things considered. Our marriage is stronger than it's ever been, but DW's health is deteriorating, and our finances are dwindling from the car repairs, ac, and unexpected med bills that pop up occasionally when the insurance denies some tests. As much as I don't like Obama, he is accurate in that as much as 80% of the total health bill is for the chronically ill and dying.

We've also applied for disability for DW. She stopped working May 18, and officially quit her job July 18th. We thought she would be able to get back to work before the year disability requires in order to qualify, but it doesn't look that way any more. She's qualified for disability since last June, but we preferred her to work outside the house and have social interaction with friends at work while she could than sit home and collect a check while being depressed about her situation. Any distraction is a good thing for the most part.

DW is dealing with things pretty well. I think she's come to terms with it. Neither one of us can control if she lives or dies aside from her watching her diet to make sure she doesn't have a seizure. So we live life to the fullest, and right now have kinda said to hell with trying to save, because if she doesn't live, we want her to enjoy what time she has left. Afterall, that is the point of saving right? So we have money to live the end of our lives how we want to? We're not going into debt at all, and haven't stopped the Roths, but are only putting enough in savings to replace what we spend out of the EF.

Whatever she wants, she gets. She can't travel, and we never got a honeymoon, so she wants to do that as soon as she's healthy again. We want to believe in our hearts she'll see that, but at the same time have to be realistic that it might not happen. I bought her a new coach purse the other day, and when she's healthy and can go out, we'll get her a new wardrobe since she's lost so much weight even her pajama pants fall down when she walks. She's gone from a size 18 to a size 8 over the last 7 months and has had no exercise involved.

I think the most depressing thing for me is watching her endure the pain she is in. She can't get in or out of a car on her own very often, it's a real rarity when she can. Climbing stairs without help is one thing she prides herself on, though she can't carry anything. She can't bend over to do laundry or dishes anymore, so her house hold chores have been limited to folding clothes and on occasion putting groceries away. She did make a great manicotti for dinner a few nights ago all by herself, which was pretty impressive, though the exertion to do it put her in bed until late the next afternoon.

She usually prides herself on her looks, but lately hasn't tried to take care of herself. Yesterday, I took her by the salon to get her eye brows waxed and she almost cried looking at herself in the mirror because she looks so rough.

Since she gets her staples out tomorrow, I told her one day when she feels up to it that I'd take her for a couples massage and get her a mani/pedi with it. She's been begging me to do a couples massage with her for months. Normally I wouldn't be caught dead in a spa, so I told her no, but I can't deny her anything right now.

All she wants right now is warm blankets, thin crust pepperoni pizza light on the sauce, diet sprite in a can, and the remote. She's on bed rest, and gets sick to talk.

Yesterday was the best day she's had in over a month. We managed to do lunch and a matinee after dialysis. She even ate dinner, which was a first since the nephrectomy. She hadn't had 2 meals in one day since August 4th. Normally she doesn't eat more than about 8 oz of solid food in a day, so for her to have 2 meals and then still be hungry was really good.

Today, not so much. She was still asleep at 11:30 when I called from work to check on her. She's sick again today, and can barely talk. She doesn't sleep very well because it's painful to move - the swelling makes her skin very tender to the touch and when she flops around in her sleep, it wakes her.

We're praying she will make it. She can't have a transplant with transfusions, so she has to have a blood treatment called plasmapheresis done. They will not do that if she is otherwise ineligable for a transplant, which she is if her albumin is below 3.5. It's at 2.0. So we have to work on her albumin first before anything else. And then when it gets to 3.5, we have to maintain that for 6 months. During 5 of those 6 months she would undergo plasmapheresis during dialysis, in which they filter the plasma from her blood and replace most of it with mine, and some with hers after they manually remove the antibodies from her blood. This makes her body slowly acclimate it's immune system to my blood and antibodies, so that when she receives my kidney her body has gotten used to the cells and doesn't reject.

The sixth month would be a transplant. She would receive my kidney in her left abdomen, and have 3 months of recovery before she could try to go back to work, and would still qualify for disability for the first year after a transplant, allowing her to go back to work at her pace instead of out of necessity.

It takes an average of 30 days to raise a point of albumin. So she is looking at, as a best case scenario, 45 days until her albumin is 3.5. Then 5 months of blood treatments. Then a transplant. Then 3 months of recovery. Best case scenario is 10 1/2 months before she's able to be self sufficient and travel again. Worst case, other than death, is congestive heart failure. It's irreversable, and at 25 years old, leaves a pretty bleak outlook on life.

It'll be a tough row to hoe, but we can get through it. Get this albumin up, and we'll be ok. But I'll be damned if it aint hard. Been working on albumin for 2 months and only gone up 0.6 out of a needed 2.1. But progress is progress.