Yesterday morning EJ had an appointment with his doctor to discuss the results of the MRI. We were both hoping and dreading learning the results.
The good news is that EJ does NOT have anything like a Hydrocephalus or a brain tumor. Instead, he has had some mini-strokes which has caused some little dead zones in his brain. The dead zones are causing some of EJ’s memory loss. It’s like some of the “files” in his brain have been corrupted and can no longer be assessed. The doctor further explained that it’s sort of like an electrical circuit. If EJ wants to move his hand, the brain sends signals through the neurons A, B, C, to D. Only neuron C is damaged so that the signal is either not getting through or is only weakly getting through so his hand trembles instead of moving strongly. The doctor said, “I’m trying to explain this in a simple way, but I’m not an electrician.” That reminded me of Dr. McCoy’s favorite statements in Star Trek, and I couldn’t resist, the chance to use this quote might never again come my way, so I quipped, “She’s a doctor, not an electrician.” The doctor said, “Exactly.” She is obviously not a Star Trek fan or she would have gotten the reference and laughed. EJ and I are always quoting TV and movies and he immediately understood my comment. He quoted, “Dammit, Jim, she’s a doctor not an electrician.”
Although serious, the doctor said that EJ’s results are probably the least serious that he could have had. It can be managed. She told EJ to take an aspirin every day and to take a high blood pressure pill. He also has to lose weight. She said that there are tests she can do that will try to determine the cause of the mini-strokes, although sometimes the cause is never discovered. She said that she is going to wait on the additional tests until we have our insurance figured out. She doesn’t want to cause us financial hardship by ordering them now.
The doctor told her office staff not to charge us for this visit. When EJ tried to sign in when we first arrived–there are little computers in the waiting area for patients to sign in and update their medication/insurance, etc.–it showed that his health insurance had been canceled. This was distressing because we had thought we had COBRA, which is why EJ went ahead with the surgery and MRI. COBRA is an insurance that people can buy to bridge the gap between when they leave one job and before they get another.
After EJ’s appointment with his primary care physician, we had a followup appointment with the surgeon who had operated on his hand. We didn’t know if we should keep or cancel the appointment, but at the least we could talk to them about the insurance snafu. When we arrived, the receptionist told us that the insurance company had denied payment and they would need $800 for the surgery. My anxiety soared. EJ explained the situation and said that he was going to call the Human Resource Department at his (now former) company to clear things up. We asked what we should do about the appointment and the receptionist said the cost of this appointment was included in the cost of the surgery so go ahead with it. The surgeon said that his hand is healing nicely. He took the rest of the stitches out, and told EJ to get some ointment to put on his hand.
We went back to the reception area where EJ called the HR person at his company. She said that as soon as the COBRA paperwork was filled out (we just got the paperwork in the mail) and sent in, every expense would be covered with no problem. She said that she was on her way to a meeting, but she would call the surgeon’s office later that afternoon and explain the situation to them. That seemed to reassure the receptionists, at least mostly.
It was all very stressful because if insurance didn’t pay then we’d be buried in medical bills–not only the surgeon’s expenses, but also the hospital and anesthesiologists. Also, I felt very embarrassed because we have never been in this situation before. I know businesses, including hospitals, encounter people who don’t (or can’t) pay their bills and they sometimes look down on them. The surgeon’s office wouldn’t know that we have always, always paid our bills, even if we had to sacrifice. To be seen as people who don’t pay their bills was distressing to us.
But everything ended well: EJ’s medical issue is not terrible, EJ’s primary care physician was kind, we will have our medical expenses covered. Whew. EJ’s doctor had also said that there’s no reason that EJ can’t get a job, but he shouldn’t get a one that requires quick decisions and reflexes. EJ just has to figure out what to do next, what sort of job he can pursue.
Stress can make EJ’s symptoms worse so we are going to do what we can to diminish the stress in our lives. This includes zero tolerance for people who cause chaos in our lives because they have caused us the most stress.
I felt as if God had taken care of us today. All day I kept thinking of Psalms 66:10-12, hanging on to them:
For you, God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.