I have to memorialise what happened yesterday because I am astounded and grateful and I bitch so much about the healthcare in this country making so many of us go broke, but this was truly amazing.
On Monday, December 30th, for the hell of it (and prompted by something my friend, Rachel, posted), I decided to ask my brand new doctor (who doesn’t even know me; I was just dumped on her plate when my phenomenal primary care provider left the clinic) if there was any chance we could squeeze in an MRI before the end of the year because I had met my insurance’s out-of-pocket maximum expenditure for 2019 (meaning, in theory, I wouldn’t have to pay for anything else — and wouldn’t it be nice to get the MRI that one of my specialists requested for free?).
Astonishingly, she answered me the same day and said she had put in the order for the MRI, but she doubted it could happen because it needs a prior authorisation (PA) from insurance and that usually takes 8 days or more. I never expected her to read the message during this very busy time of the year, let alone answer it, let alone put in an order without seeing me in person. I was shocked — she trusted what I said in my email! Maybe I should stay with this doctor, after all.
So, yesterday, the LAST DAY OF THE YEAR, at 7:30am, I call my insurance to ask how long it would take to get the PA. They say to call another company, AIM.
I call AIM and they say the PA can only be expedited if the order is marked urgent and mine isn’t (and it definitely doesn’t warrant an urgent request, so I’m not going to pursue that). But they tell me there is a way to get it approved immediately — if the doctor calls them and answers questions over the phone.
I email my doctor to tell her this, making it clear that I understand she probably won’t see the email and wouldn’t have time to call AIM, regardless.
Then I call radiology to see if I can grab a same day appointment, just in case. Radiology Ryan tells me they have one opening left, but I can’t have it unless they have a PA in place.
Then my doctor’s medical assistant emails to say she can’t get a PA without my having an MRI appointment. Well, that’s a catch 22. And she needs a CPT code.
Meanwhile, throughout all of this, I am going to two big doctor appointments — end of year endocrinology and a 2-hour allergy testing for anesthetic agents — sending emails and making calls in between talking to doctors.
As soon as I’m back in the car, around 11:30am, I call Radiology Ryan and tell him my conundrum — that I need an appointment to get a PA. He says their rule only excludes same day appointments, so I can make one for the future just to secure the PA and, if it comes through, call back to reschedule for today. If the spot is still available. Ryan gives me a random January appointment, but tells me the doctor should provide the CPT code. Then, hearing my whimpering, he takes pity and looks up the code for a “lumbar MRI without contrast.”
I email the MA, tell her the code and my appointment date, and cross my fingers.
Soon after I get home, there’s a message from the MA saying she called AIM and got the PA. It’s a miracle!
I call Radiology Ryan. It’s now 1:30pm. He looks for the PA in his system, sees everything is in place, and tells me there’s still a 1:45pm MRI opening. And it’s on a 3T machine, which is what I need. Another miracle!
I shove some food in my face and dash over to the third hospital of the day, which is only 5 minutes away.
The woman behind the desk tells me I have beautiful eyes and my day just couldn’t get much better.
I fall asleep in the MRI (even a few minutes can help!) and then walk over to the medical records office and get copies of my imaging within 15 minutes.
All in all, it was 26.5 hours between my doctor’s MRI order and having my imaging discs in hand.
Mind blown. All of the people who contributed to getting this done deserve wine and chocolates, including the eye flatterer.
Also, after being completely debilitated by head, neck and eye pain for three days, yesterday it completely eased up.
Also, it was a beautiful 7:40am drive downtown, a time that I’m rarely out of bed.
Also, my thyroid levels are dialed in.
Also, all of the skin prick and intradermal tests for medications were negative.
Also, I walked around the hospital by myself for the first time since I used to volunteer there 12 years ago. My husband usually pushes me in a wheelchair.
Also, we stopped briefly at a grocery store and I walked around like no big deal.
Also, the grocery store had tons of good salads in the deli, so I didn’t have to cook.
Also, I succeeded again in inserting my peripheral IV in a hard-to-access forearm vein and it is so much better to be able to move normally throughout the day without worrying about kinking something in the elbow or wrist.
Also, although Penn kept me up most of the night with her fireworks panic, Riley has decided that he’s too old to give a shit and one terrified dog is definitely easier to deal with than two.
Also, I had the best Christmas health-wise since before I was sick. <– This last point is so exciting, it will get its own blog post.
Happy new year, everyone!