Story 15Dec2021: Expected Fails

The day started with me waking one last time in the spare bedroom. The master bedroom bathroom will finish today, and I am then moving back into the master bedroom. One thing going back to normal, finally.

I do the usual things and rush the morning as normal. I have a doctor’s appointment in Portland today with yet another surgeon. I also have more paperwork to give to the main surgeon for my leave for my cancer treatment. I was relieved that the leave request for Susie had been updated with the doctor’s paperwork. I have two requests running now.

So off to Portland, I call the Forest Grove Rehab Care Center and ask them to tell Susie in room 44A I will be in for the afternoon (her short-term memory does not always work). The traffic at 9ish is the usual mess, and I take the Providence Park exit and drive through the neighborhoods instead of coming in off the highway at the Pearl District.

The doctor appointment was not that interesting, which is a good thing. However, I was surprised to learn that they will use absorbable mesh and not a permanent mesh to repair my hernia. Apparently, the mess could pick up some infection from the bowel surgery, so absorbable mesh will be used to prevent a long-term infection issue with a permanent mesh.

I stop by Elephant’s Delli and have a Ruben sandwich in the car. The place has everyone masked except when eating, but the tables seemed too close to me for comfort, and I also thought the air movement was a bit low to be safe for the number of people in the shop. So I eat a messy and wonderful Ruben in Air Volvo.

After all that food, I take a mint from the box I keep in the car. My eyes burn soon. Yes, I left the N95 on, and mint fumes built up and then leaked out of the mask, and it hurts! So I call my sister about this, she is a nurse, and she laughs and tells me that if a person is screwing up, they offer them a mint. They straighten up after that offer. Yes, a mint in a mask is a dark joke in nursing.

I drive to the house in Air Volvo without any traffic or events. I forgot to take my meds, so I got them taken. It would be better to take the meds with food as I skipped breakfast, so this worked better.

I take Air Volvo to Forest Grove and find Susie has had breakfast and lunch and is uncomfortable. She cannot articulate what is wrong, but the nurses try to help. We watch Rudolf the Red-Nosed Raindeer on my Apple. I purchased the show for about $8. THERE IS no PT or OT or speech for Susie today, which slightly annoys me.

Susie is dressed and put in a wheelchair, and we are met at the social work meeting room by the head of therapy and nursing for Susie plus Julie, who does the insurance. It is clear to me this is going to be unpleasant.

I was right. The home believes that United Health Care (UHC) will not cover Susie for Rehab after Monday.  Even if UHC does decide to cover Susie, it will only be for three days at a time. It is likely in the next week, Susie will be discharged. Of course, it is not the lack of progress as they have only given Susie about 2/3 of the therapy (my count) they promised due to the chaos of the Covid restart of the home, but the insurance company. I have been down these paths before when folks in medicine blame the insurance company.

The cost to keep Susie there as private pay will be $350 a day. Also, this will not provide any therapy. To their surprise, I told them I would pay and wanted to cover the therapy costs. They actually tell me they would not recommend that as the billing for a session could be more than $1,000. So I just ask them to do it anyway (I do not believe that a 30-minute session will not be that much).

I explain to them that I have considerable financial resources, and this is about caring for Susie and not about how much money I have to pay. I am polite but direct and smile a lot. I also detect that they have been here before and want Susie and me to move on to the next part of our lives and let them have the bed. In the end, it is agreed that Susie will remain as private pay and therapy pricing will be reviewed, and they will get back to me. I am given the phone number for the appeals process for UHC and the phone number for nursing agencies they have used in the local area.

Susie will have to come home once I can manage it. I will pay more than $10,000 a month until then. I sold stock options when Nike broke $171 to cover the remodel for the bathroom, New York City expenses still remaining, and of course Susie’s stay in the home. I knew it would be costly and include a bit of unpleasantness.

I walk Susie around in the wheelchair for thirty minutes as I need to get my focus back, and since she is up, why not a tour. We do the trek about three times. Finally, I returned her tired and upset with the meeting we had to her room, and the nurses took over. I have a headache and kiss Susie goodbye at 3:45ish.

I managed to get back to the house without issue using Air Volvo. I try to find my calm, but that is not working. So I rest and read for a bit, but I am still upset. Jeff is just finishing up the new power plug in the entranceway (yeah!). He and I look over the work. It is most excellent.

My calm is not improved when my boss, Brad Jones, has forwarded a message from my leave request (thank you, Brad!). The paperwork for the initial leave request to care for Susie was incomplete and needs more attention from my regular doc. I call the service that does this work for Nike, and they tell me they have snail-mailed me the explanation and changes needed. I am a bit incredulous that snail-mail was picked. The person on the phone tells me they will email it to me in the next two business days, getting an unseen eye roll from me.

I am shaken now. Tears come. I have to solve this mess while in the hospital. I will try to get some help from friends, but I do not know if the doc is available during the holiday weeks. Usually, not.

Between the surgery prep, the endless driving, the insurance, the discharge, and the fact that every day is up at 6:30 to try to face another day helping with Susie, it is just too much for me. I am overwhelmed this time.

Thusly, I head for dinner alone (I am lousy company) to Sushi Zen and enjoy a fine spread of little plates delivered to me. There is no paperwork (except the bill), no complex human interactions, and a significant number of choices that I alone can make without discussing it with medical professionals. And sushi is so exotic to a person that grew up in the middle of mosquito and farm county in Michigan. Of course, I still have watery eyes, but it helps.

I manage next to take Air Volvo safely to Powell’s Books, explore their gifts, and find three books. This is working too, but the emotions come and go. I purchase a horror fantasy book from a series I have read before, The Bother’s Cabal by Jonathan L. Howard. The books in this series are not always great, but some are. I am hopeful this newer one is good (it is so far). I also find a present for Susie and maybe for Michelle Smith for Christmas (she might have it). My Christmas planning this year is, at best, limited. I also found a calculus book, A Tour of Calculus (the writing about math has improved recently, and I found I enjoy this kind of book now), and another horror novel by the author of Mexican Gothic about vampires–got to try that.

I return home without incident and still am without focus. I finish the bedding in the dryer and move my light, Alexa device, and books back to the master bedroom. I make the bed and find my calm.

While working on the bed, I remember that according to Hesiod, we are here on this earth to strive. It is not about the difficult challenge but the desire to move forward, get better, compete, and win if you can. I remember Hesiod saying that our lot from Zeus is to work and produce and strive to be the best or at least try to be. My copy of Hesiod (I have had it since 1982) is always next to me these days. Funny that this wisdom is buried in the lists of gods and practices, but it is in there. This gets me back.

I know it should be some reassuring phrase from Jesus or a Psalm that gets your back, but in my case, a long-dead pagan work for me. And since the poem that reminds me of this striving is “Works and Days,” it seems to fit.

I read my new book in my bedroom with my light and Alexa playing the Portland radio station Kink.FM for me. I have tea and snacks, including English Toffee I found at Elephant’s Delli. After that, I read too late, fell asleep at some time, and am calm.

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