Thursday, August 15, 2013

I'd Gladly Pay You Tuesday For A Hamburger Today

Thursday, August 15, 2013 9:30 AM
Gorgeous Blue Sky Day

We had dinner last night with a couple of friends whom we haven't seen much of this summer.  They wanted to know what we had been up to.   Ross looked at me and I looked at him and neither one of us could come up with an answer to that question.   That is why I should be more diligent about writing every day.

On this past Sunday, we received sad and tragic news about a beautiful young woman who was killed in a car accident last Thursday.    We never met her, but we have gotten a sense of who she was through her mother.   She was a special young lady with the promise of a wonderful life ahead of her.

I understand the pain that this nice family is experiencing.

The last time I blogged, the subject was my quest to find a counselor to help support me through my grief.   The first session with my potential new counselor ended with her assuming something about my spiritual inclinations and since her assumptions were incorrect,  I was offended by her approach.  But, I wanted to give her a chance to explain so I made an appointment for a second visit.

The day of my next appointment, I rehearsed how I would address her comments and also explain how and why I felt they were inappropriate.

I anticipated that the session would be an emotional one.  I was anxious about having to talk about the loss of my son Joe.  I was also nervous about having to confront her.

In addition to my racing mind, I found myself racing to get out of the house to make my appointment on time.

I walked into the office, went up to the receptionist/office manager’s window and began to rummage around in my purse, looking for my wallet.  You know I have one of those organizer purses with a million zippers and pockets.  But I can never remember what I put into which pocket.

As I stared at the “Payment Must Be Made BEFORE Services Are Rendered” sign,  I realized that I did not have my wallet.
In an apologetic manner, I explained to the office manager, Patty, my tale of woe.
“I must have left my wallet at home and I don’t have the $20 co-pay, “ I said.
She told me in a “no uncertain terms” tone of voice that I would not be able to see the counselor if I could not pay this $20.
Since my emotions were already raw and screaming for help, I seemingly found the perfect outlet.
In a “you’ve got to be kidding” tone of voice, I expressed my outrage.  
She told me that there was an ATM machine at the bank next to the office.  In a “clenched teeth” tone of voice, I again told her that since I didn’t have my wallet, I also didn’t have my bank card. 
As I stared at the “24 Hour Appointment Cancellation Policy Sign” which stated, “If you miss your appointment, cancel or change your appointment with less than 24 hours notice, you will be charged a fee.”, she was telling me that she could give me another appointment for the following day.
In an “all I could do was sputter” tone of voice I said “Really?”
She was clearly exasperated at this point.  She finally wavered and said “Fine!”  “I’ll let it go this time.”

Obviously, by the time I got on the “couch” I was on fire.

I spent the first 10 minutes venting, ranting and raving about Patty’s lack of customer service finesse.
After calming down from that, my counselor and I were able to come to an agreement regarding our “spiritual” differences.

I have had another session since then.  For various reasons, I’m still not sure whether or not I can continue to see this counselor.  I have an appointment, but I will make sure to give 24 hours notice if I decide to change or cancel.

On this past Monday evening, a viewing was held at the funeral home in our town for that precious young woman who was killed last Thursday in a senseless car crash.
I was not at all surprised by the throngs of visitors, waiting in long lines, to pay their respects to her parents, sister and two brothers.
On Tuesday morning, the day of the funeral, the skies were threateningly dark.
At precisely the time that the procession from the funeral home to the church was to begin, a mini tornado crashed through a small area of town at the exact location of the funeral home.

According to the local news, 
“The tornado, which was ranked an EF-0, lasted from 10:05 a.m. to 10:09 a.m. and touched down near the intersection of Route 9 and Oak Avenue, before it lifted near the intersection of Hilliard Boulevard and Beach Avenue, according to Joe Miketta, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.
The maximum speed of the tornado was 75 to 85 miles per hour and had a path of 50 to 100 yards in width and two miles in length, Miketta said.

On Tuesday morning, after the storm passed, I happened to be driving in that area and I witnessed the destruction of downed trees and debris on the road.

In a reflective “wonderment” tone of voice, I had thoughts of  “Whoa, perhaps I should rethink this whole spirituality business. "

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Are You Code 300.02 or Are You Code 296.3? And Are You Angry At God?

August 7, 2013
10:30 am
Cloudy Day

During Joe’s illness and after his death I was given a set of materials to read regarding the grieving “process”.

According to Webster, the definition of process is: “a series of actions or steps taken to achieve an end”.
Just as I cannot relate to the so called “stages of grief”  I don’t understand the relationship of grief to process.
I’m not quite sure if I have begun any sort of “process”.  At least I don’t feel as though I have consciously done so.    Particularly since I am not sure what goal I am working towards achieving.
However, one of the “steps” I did take was to see a counselor.
So, once a week, for a little over a year, I had a place to go for that much needed bit of extra support.
I didn’t have to “stay strong” or “hold on”.  I could just be.
In this country, certain birthdays are meaningful.  For instance, when you are 18 you can vote and drive and serve in the military.  When you are 21 you can legally consume alcohol.  I’m sure there are rules about what age one has to be to be able to marry.
A year ago I celebrated what in this country is a significant birthday. I turned sixty-five.  This milestone birthday affected my health insurance, which in turn affected my relationship with my counselor.   Because my counselor did not participate in my new insurance plan, the fee for each session would increase from a $20 co-pay to the full price of $140.  Since I could not afford to do that, we had to part ways.
And by the way, this was not the first time I have had a medical professional drop me, after being under their care for several years, because my insurance changed.
This last incident happened about 6 months after Joe passed away.  If I was making my way down the path of the five stages or if I was in the middle of the “process”  at that point,  I certainly had not progressed very far.
Finding another counselor at that time was, for me, overwhelming.  I could not see how I could possibly start all over again with another person.  Basically, it would mean that I would have to relive Joe’s illness and his death.
A major obstacle was getting a suggestion for a “good” counselor.  Neither my former counselor or my family doctor were willing to make a recommendation.  In all fairness to each one, though, the reason they couldn’t was partly because they did not know who would accept my new insurance plan.
So here I was somewhere in between “stages” and stuck in the middle of a “process”.
Recently I realized that I am still having such a difficult time coping with my grief.  So, during the past couple of months I have started the “process” of finding a new counselor.  That means getting a list of participating counselors from the insurance provider,  closing my eyes, pointing to one and making an appointment.
The first person I chose decided that she no longer wanted to continue to practice, so my appointment was cancelled.
My second experience was quite frustrating.  I arrived about 10 minutes before my appointed time of 10:30.  The receptionist informed me that the person who had to check me in was not available.  She instructed me to take a seat.  I figured, okay, I am a little early after all.
At 11:00, the check in person arrived.  At 11:05 she called me up to the desk to check me in.
“Checking me in" meant copying my insurance cards and filling out insurance type information.
At 11:15 the counselor called me into her office.  I was taken aback by the counselor’s appearance.  She was at least seven months pregnant.
The “office” was a cubby.  There was no sofa or even a comfortable easy chair.  She sat on a metal chair at a metal office desk which was up against the wall.  There was not even enough room for “my” metal chair to be in front of or even next to the desk.  So I sat kind of off to the side.
She started off the session by merely asking why I was there.  As I knew it would be, it was emotional for me and I had difficulty getting through the explanation without breaking down.
After we talked for a while, she told me that she would be going on maternity leave in approximately four weeks and would be unavailable for eight to ten weeks after that.  I walked out of there shaking my head, wondering why, why, why, she would have been taking on any new clients.
Two days later, I was “checking in” with counselor number three.  She took me into her office at the exact appointed time.
Her office was quite large and very comfortable.  I had the choice of the sofa or easy chair.
So far so good.
She spent the next 45 minutes asking me questions from what looked like a stack of standardized forms.
One of the more interesting questions was whether I was affiliated with a religious group and if I believed in God.  When I told her how I felt, she seemed to find my answer puzzling.
At the end of the question and answer period, she picked up a large book and began leafing through it.
She wanted to know if my former counselor had “diagnosed” me with a specific condition.
“You know,” she said, “such as 'Major Depressive Disorder' or General Anxiety Disorder”.
I told her that I didn’t think so, but that I really didn’t know.
She explained that for insurance purposes, she needed to put in a diagnosis code and that it had to be specific.

She said, “We’ll just say depression for now.”
I guess the “grieving process” or the “five stages” don’t have a code.
Well, by now time was up.  She told me to make an appointment for the following week.
“But before you go,” she said, "I want to let you know that we will have to address the God issue.”
Now it was my turn to look puzzled.
“You know,” she said, “I’m sure you are angry at God.”
Since my answer to her previous question about God or religion couldn’t possibly coincide with her edict, I was actually more than merely puzzled.  Outraged would more likely be the “diagnosis”.
I admit I did make another appointment.  In fact I will be seeing her later today.
The first thing I will make clear is that while it’s true I am angry, at this moment my anger is directed at her.
At the end of today's session, depending on how receptive she is to my concerns about her approach, I may once again find myself in the midst of the "process".
While I am grateful that Ross and I do have health insurance coverage, my experience has been that the time, energy and cost of the “process” of bureaucratic insurance and who pays takes precedence over the care and concern of the insured.

Oh, tomorrow I'll be writing about how the session went with my potential new counselor.

That'll be $20 please.