|Alex in 2006|
I think we had the plan for about 6 months when my daughter started complaining about her ear. We took her to an ENT and eventually they scheduled exploratory surgery because there was something blocking her ear canal. While in post-op, we found out a) she actually had a small pebble in her ear (apparently from the preschool playground) and beyond that they believed she had something called "cholesteatoma". This was a scary sounding thing to us because it involved a "benign" tumor.
|Here was the pebble found in her ear. On the left, was her ear tube taken out as well.|
I put a dime in the photo to guage the size.
I realized much too late how critical it is to have good health insurance. A dream job means nothing if you have no health care coverage these days.
We applied to buy into the state health insurance plan for children in Tennessee. We made more than the income limit for free coverage. But TN had a great plan to allow for people like us to buy into the plan and they couldn't deny pre-existing conditions. The irony was they won't allow you to do this if you have existing coverage. You have to be without coverage for 3 entire months before applying. Because Alex had coverage from that crappy company, we had to wait 3 months.
|I took a photo of all the paperwork we had to deal with during my fight with the insurance company.|
I learned to keep copies of everything from that experience.
Fortunately, Alex's ear tumor was caught very early before it even reached a stage of needing removal by surgical means. We learned she had terrible allergies (all trees/weeds/grasss) and that created inverted pressure in her ears that caused pockets to form. The pockets were not full of hardened materials that form the tumor. So we had to address her allergies and use a variety of methods to reverse the pockets by reversing the pressure in her ears. She started getting allergy shots and we did everything we were told and she was free of the mess within about 6 months. And, we had state insurance for the kids for about $500 a month.
A few months after Alex was diagnosed with the ear problems, Memphis was besieged by a series of tornadoes. I remember taking cover in the closet in our house wondering why we were crazy enough to move from Arizona to this stormy place.
|Crazy tornado night - 2/08|
|Destruction of the company - notice the overturned semi-truck - one of several!|
|Adding insult to injury...|
We came home to Arizona in September 2010 and Joe found a job here with health insurance. I'm grateful for it. But I have also learned that a 70/30 plan can be crushing even still when your child is in the hospital for 6 days, and 2 of those days are in the PICU. The, factor in doctor visits every week with $50 copays, prescriptions with $40 copays, and lab fees and so on and so on. In fact I just got yet another bill for $950 to cover the doctor visits during the hospital stay. That's separate from the hospital stay itself which I won't even type the amount here.
The stress of diabetes itself is crushing. The stress of facing hospital and other medical bills is like hitting someone when they are down and out. We'll get it worked out but what hurts more is it will be at the cost of buckling down pretty hard for a while on any expenses that aren't necessary.
The worst part so far for me has been talking to my son this week and letting him know he needed to take a break from figure skating. We simply can't afford the hundreds of dollars in lessons, ice time, classes, etc. while taking on this medical debt. He has been ignored so much more than normal in the past 8 weeks while we have worked to get Alex well. And now, I have to take away ice skating, something he does 5 days a week and I am sure helps him get his mind off the stress at home.