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    To some people, $18,000 is a lot of money

    November 29, 2006

    We got our first bill for Derek’s operation.  It’s not really a bill as Blue Cross is going to pay it.  Either that or we will be moving sooner than we think.  Of course all of the bills say “Derek” and since Blue Cross doesn’t even know Derek by the name “Derek” we may really be moving sooner than we think.

    Since my father-in-law just published a scathing article on billing procedures in hospitals resulting in the entire surgical community calling for his head on a platter or just a public burning at the stake (which made him downright gleeful), I thought I would conduct an analysis of the billing for Derek’s surgery and share it with all three of you that read this blog.  Props to Grandpa for also anonymously quoting me when he referenced the “bloated bureaucracy” that was my former employer.  I’m sure no one in HR could have figured out that the comment came from me.  Luckily they already “let me go” so they didn’t have to do it again.  Since 64,000 hits came up for “bloated bureaucracy” maybe I am still safe. 

    Laboratory–$461.50

    This
    seems a little low since they did 6 million tests on Derek before the
    operation.  But I am only saying that because I just got the insurance
    paperwork from my last maternity bloodwork and the lab was submitting
    charges for $900.  What the hell are they checking for in my blood–DNA
    to prove that the baby I am carrying is mine?  Good gracious.


    Note:  Just got another bill in the mail from the hospital for “Other Diagnostic Svc” to the tune of $1,129.00.  I guess that sounds more like it–the price of having a tube shoved up your nose, down your throat and into your stomach should cost you more than just pain. 

    Pharmacy–$565.56

    This
    definitely seems high (narcotics pun intended).  My husband was arguing
    for half dosages of everything.  He would take half a vitamin if they
    didn’t taste so nasty when you break them in half.  This is some sort
    of mental block that he has.  He takes great pride (read
    “self-righteousness) in the fact that he takes 1/2 a Tums, 1/2 a
    Tylenol, 1/2 an aspirin.  Shock of all shockers, these things don’t
    work at all in half dosages (i.e. a total waste).  I guess he makes up
    for it with the 2 beers, 2 glasses of wine, 2 gin and tonics.

    Additionally,
    according to my BIL who got out of knee surgery 2 months ago and was
    too big a pansy to take his Percocet, those bad boys go for a whopping
    $5 a pill on the mean streets of the city.  Which means that my BIL can
    buy his kids a Playstation 2 for Christmas should he choose (see Supplies below).  Derek, however, has liquid Oxycodone.  About 10
    gallons of it.  The low budget/less addictive half-brother to 
    OxyContin (or Oxy Cotton to all you junkies), I fear it may just find
    its home down my brand new drain.  While looping you up nicely, it does
    have that nasty side effect of stopping you up for a week (so I’m told since I am pregnant and cannot help myself to any of the goods).  Kind of
    takes the attractiveness out of it. 

    Room Charges–$1082.00

    That’s
    right, kids.  That prison-sized room with the bucolic view of the
    parking lot and the alley with the bed that was 2 inches too short and
    had plastic pillows?  Cost over a grand for an 18 hour stay.  I mean,
    there wasn’t really even room for the both of us in that bed.  You
    can’t even imagine how difficult it was to push my post-operative
    husband over in bed up against the railing so I could climb in beside
    him.  I had to put the railing up on my side too so we could fit.  When
    you envision “fit,” feel free to do so in the loosest sense of the
    word.  Where did they expect me to sit? In that folding chair in the
    corner designed to make visitors go the hell home?  I think not.  As a
    comparison, I queried the five star Ritz Carlton
    in New York to find what we could have gotten for the same amount
    (although I imagine Blue Cross would have baulked at footing the bill).

    Harbor View Suite–$1,000.00–Executive Harbor view Suite* seperate
    (sic) living room has a city view and king size bedroom has a spectacular
    harbor view
    (I’m disturbed that the Ritz misspelled “separate.”  Anyone else bothered by it???)I’m thinking Dr. John could have set up his OR in the
    living room and we could have enjoyed the view of the City while he had
    at it. 

    Quality Room–$399.00–Weekend Rate * Deluxe city view * (1 King or 2
    Double beds) * City view overlooking downtown New York City *
      A
    king size bed in the hospital room would have required either knocking
    out the wall or the windows on the opposite side of the wall.  So we
    could have had a 2 nights stay (with taxes) and 2 martinis a piece at
    the Rise Bar (4 X $22) at the Ritz for the cost of the hospital room
    for one night.  Hmmmm.

    Supplies–$3,722.95

    Now this is an interesting one.  Dr. John used a surgical tool that
    looked disturbingly like it may have been run by a Playstation 2
    controller.  Having just been to the Sony store this weekend (nothing
    wrong with a little window shopping), I discovered that due to
    Playstation 3, you can now pick up a brand new Playstation 2 for
    $129.00.  What a bargain.  So even if Dr. John picked his up in the
    heyday, let’s all keep depreciation in mind here, people.  Dr. John
    also used 4 Teflon patches to shore up the stitching, twine for the 4
    internal stitches and glued all Derek’s holes up.  I’m guessing you
    could pick up some twine at the Dollar Tree and what is Super Glue
    going for these days?  Two, maybe three bucks?  That leaves roughly
    $900 per 1 inch square of Teflon patch.  Who is buying these things? 
    The Pentagon supply clerk?

    OR Services–$11,040.00

    Don’t tell the OR nurses because I’m sure they would be pissed to
    realize their billable hour rate is so high when their paychecks are so
    crappy.  If this charge also includes the anesthesiologists then it
    makes a little more sense.  The head anesthesiologist said that his
    resident was the best surgical intern in the hospital before she “came
    over to the dark side.”  I’m thinking that if an anesthesiologist
    thinks that the loot is better there rather than in surgery, then their
    pay isn’t too shoddy.

    Maybe they were charging per gall stone.  Or the forehead lift, I mean, basel cell removal on the forehead.  Only my husband can go into necessary surgery and come out with no wrinkles on his forehead.  I hate him.

    But where are the doctor’s bills, you ask?  There was a note in 72-font on the bottom of the bill:

    Please NOTE:  The Medical Group will bill you separately on behalf of your physicians.

    Since there were about as many surgeons in Derek’s OR as there are in Joe’s Bar across from Seattle Grace on a Friday night after a long day of particularly bad behavior, your guess about the grand total of that is as good as mine. 

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    Back to our life of leisure

    November 27, 2006

    This morning my husband went back to work for the first time in 16 days.  I love him dearly, but it was time.  Even if he felt like one of those cartoon characters that when he drinks water you expect the water to come out all 7 of the holes in his abdomen. 

    I wish I was an artist.  That would be a very funny picture.

    He’s back to his wicked ways.  Even though he is supposed to be drinking his meals through a straw, he managed to get a french fry stuck in his throat yesterday.  I slowly sipped my root beer as he doubled over in the middle of the restaurant.  People began to turn around.  Little did they know that the Heimlich will no longer work on him.  At least I don’t think it will.  I continued to munch on the fries (I didn’t order them but by God, we paid $1.75 for them and someone had better eat them).  The fry apparently went down his throat and entered the pea-sized hole that is the entrance to his stomach and I reached deep down to feel mercy.  And there was none.  For the past 12 days I have coddled, cajoled, begged, pleaded, stressed, fretted and no one really cares.  All those high calorie/high quality homemade milkshakes with fresh strawberry or blackberry puree, jacked up with high potassium bananas, chased with a “that was nice, thanks.”  Conversations about not getting hungry because when you get hungry you tend to inhale food rather than actually chew it.  Let’s not cloud the issue with the fact that you shouldn’t even NEED to chew because now you should be drinking. 

    But he went back to work today.  And not a day too soon.  Any more time home and The Boy and I would have died of exhaustion.  All the trips to the park and the playground and the lake and the zoo.  I crashed on the couch and The Boy crawled right up on top of my big fat belly.

    K:  Dad keeps us too busy.  I’m tired.
    E:  Os, Mama.

    With that we fell asleep.  We slept so hard we slept through Jennifer’s phone call.  The phone call she made because after taking care of her 4 week old baby, making dinner and repotting all her plants, she was a little bored.

    She made dinner?  I still don’t make dinner and my child is 21 months old.  I don’t know how some people do it. 

    Four hours later, The Boy and I woke up.  Just in time to pick up Dad from the train station.  It’s nice to be back to our wicked ways too.

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    Funny me, I thought it would take it a little longer

    November 22, 2006

    Ring….

    Derek:  Hello.
    Bob:  Is this Derek?  This is Principal Bob from the Elementary School located just around the corner from your house.
    Derek:  (noticeably more polite) Yes, sir.  This is Derek.
    Principal Bob:  I’m calling to tell you that your dog is here at the principal’s office.
    Derek:  We’ll be right there to pick him up.

    I’m sorry?  How exactly does a dog end up at the principal’s office?  And how many admin offices are there at the elementary school that the dog ended up with THE PRINCIPAL???  And why did it sound like my husband was back in the 5th grade and that he sounded very familiar with that “yes, sir?”

    Based on the michevious child that we have, I knew that we would eventually become regulars inside the hallowed walls of the principal’s office.  I just didn’t realize that Zinni was going to warm us up for it. 

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    He’s alive

    November 15, 2006

    Derek is on his way from recovery now.  Dr. John came by to say that despite there being no symptoms for his gallbladder and the ultrasound only by chance showing one gallstone (which led to this surgery), he actually had 13.  Here’s to hoping my ultrasound technician was right and I am only pregnant with one baby and not 13.  The other more fun part of the surgery involving the esophogus went well.  I would post pictures but it is disgusting. 

    Props to Grandpa for waving down the Chief of Plastics in the hall yesterday at the hospital and having him agree to shave the basel cell off of Derek’s forehead while he was under this morning.  At this rate, he probably should have seen if someone could do a little lipo while they were in there.  Lord knows everything else was going on inside my husband’s body this morning.

    My husband left me a stack of papers which included a holographic will.  In the will he left his books, guns and the copyrights to his “end of the world” emergency preparedness to his children.  He left everything else to me.  In case you were wondering, that would be credit card debt and the mortgage to the house.  Yippee.

    The view from the room is a little shoddy.  Dr. John promised a corner room with a view of the Hood, but apparently being the Chief of Surgery DOES NOT mean you can drum up anything more than the usual room with plastic pillows. There was some discussion about a “penthouse” but perhaps Britney had prebooked for K-Fed.  I shant complain as he managed to do multiple procedures without killing my husband. 

    Special thanks to everyone for your kind thoughts, prayers and calls.  Rumor has it that The Boy is doing fine with Nana.  Apparently she is plying him with high heeled shoes and ice cream.  I say whatever it takes….

    I should probably get off the bed before my husband shows up and needs it.  God bless wireless connections in hospitals. 

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    Carol Brady called….

    November 13, 2006

    She wants her hair back.

    Ever gone to the shee-shee hair salon because you got in a fight with your husband about money and what better way to get back at your husband than to spend MORE money and then you went to pay the bill and realized that your haircut costs $30 more than you paid the last time (which was an arm and a leg THEN) you got your haircut (June) but somehow you don’t feel guilty enough NOT to get shampoo because you ran out and it costs only $.28 an application and it doesn’t make you feel like you just washed your hair with Dawn dishwashing detergent?

    Yeah, me neither.

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    So this was going to be the post about how great being a wife and mother is….

    November 11, 2006

    I was lying in bed alone last night (I’ve resorted to sneaking away to an empty bed to ensure some sleep during the night–crying baby, what crying baby?) thinking about the post I was going to write about how my husband and The Boy take my breath away.  I’m not sure I’ll be left with any breath in me because if either smiles at me these days, I’m cooked.  My son, when he grabs both of my cheeks and says, “Oh, Mama…”

    Even the morning started out magical today.  After the two of them found me and crawled into bed with me, we laughed and talked for a half hour.  I got into the shower and then I don’t know what the hell happened.  My mistake was being in the shower for a half hour because I was hoping that perhaps my sinus cavities would cut me some slack and give me a sniffle-free/hocking-free day.  Finished coughing up a lung, I got out of the shower. 

    Downstairs I could hear the boy wailing.  Not in a “I’ve been mortally wounded” kind of wail but a “You people suck” kind of wail.  As I tried to find clean clothing, he continued to wail.  It wasn’t until I started down the stairs that I heard my husband jump up off the couch and head into the kitchen.

    There was my son, standing in the middle of the living room, wailing.  I was shocked because I was sure he had either fallen down a 200 ft. mine shaft and realized there was no escape or that he had just discovered that his parents had been killed in a tragic car accident and he found himself an orphan.  He was holding a banana in one hand and a car  in the other.  It wasn’t like he was starving or anything.  No knife sticking out of his back.  No pencil in his eye.  Just wailing and apparently for no good reason.  “You OK?”  WAIL.  His father came out of the kitchen questioning the breakfast options.  For 30 minutes one had wailed and one had sat on the couch and now SUDDENLY it was a crisis of epic proportions that there was no ham for an omelette. 

    So for all you people who were holding out for the post about how I actually LIKE being a wife and mother, you are just going to have to wait for another day…

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