Monday, March 12, 2012

The Bills, The Cost

The bills are rolling in, made even more confusing by the fact that a heavy yellow fog covers most of the time involved.   Also, I would argue a few fine points, like -- how dare they charge me for life-saving procedures and medications when we all know that I actually spent that time in ICU in the presence of four militant angels, who caressed me with song, and planned to shoot me in the head?

I ought to make a public apology to President Obama for single-handedly bankrupting one of the best provisions of his Affordable Care Act, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, administered by GEHA.  I hope he will settle for my thanks and a growing determination to stay out of the hospital.

Except for having to go back to get this spacer out and to get a new prosthesis, that is.  What could happen?

I'm having difficulty composing -- writing -- as well as with the physical act of making finger pad meet key.

So let me entertain you with the contents of a few of these bills!  I won't have to think, my hands get a bit of occupational therapy, and you get to laugh in helpless hysteria at the cost of health care.

Hospital bill -- 17 days -- $116,658.30.  The largest charges, in descending order:
pharmacy $58,650.30
room and board  $15,040.00
lab $14,815.00
operating room $7,282.00

The rest, as Maude might say, is "incidental, not integral."  Some things do anger me, however.  I had one visit from Occupational Therapy, and it was my distinct impression that she was a student, because she introduced her "preceptor."  She wanted to reinvent the wheel, I was resistant to that, and her visit lasted, oh, all of 4 minutes.  This was the day before I was transferred to the LTAC, so it wasn't like the hospital was going to suddenly institute an OT therapy program. $1737.00 for *that*?  C'mon.

And God bless the good physical therapists.  And a curse upon the bad ones.  The best I've ever met happened to work with me there at the end of my stay.  She must have read up on how hostile I was to one of her colleagues, who insisted on showering me with sensory input at a time when CRPS spasms were at full strength.  I think the gist of our pre-session conversation was

PTherapist:  Would you like to get out of bed and into the wheelchair?
Me:  Yes, I would.
PTherapist:  Okay.

And so... I did.  She quietly gathered together the stray tubing, the many wires, and I wormed my way to the foot of the bed, sat on the side, and pulled myself up by the orthopedic bed frame.  I cursed, turned, and sat in my wheelchair, sighed, and smiled.  She laughed.  "Wanna sit up for a while?"

The guy I did not like wanted to mess with my head more than help me gain strength.  He seriously enjoyed tearing me down, having mistaken his hospital job for his normal work as a drill sergeant.  When I said "no" to his suggestion of dumping a pitcher of water down my back as I sat in the wheelchair trying to wash at the sink, he scoffed.  I protested that the wheelchair was new, that I'd rather not douse it in water... He said, "Yeah, you would have the model made with fine leather, wouldn't you?"

The next day, the setting almost exactly the same, I was frustrated by the five people whirling around me, especially the three who were simultaneously giving instructions and asking questions.  Do you know how helpful it is to stand up, and then hear, "Don't you think it would be smarter if you got up on the other side of the bed?" followed by "Do you have safety bars in your bathroom... Now I don't mean towel rods, I mean safety bars?" A few minutes of three to five people saying helpful crap like that, and you might cry in frustration, too.

"Do you know what kind of surgery you had, darling?"
"Put your left foot here.  No, here!"
"Is this your blanket?  It's pretty."
"Don't pull on that... You don't have that at home, do you?  Do it like you were at home."
"Where are your slippers?"

I was having a meltdown, I guess, and the dear PTherapist decided that was the ideal moment to croon, dripping irony all over my clean hospital gown: "That's right... You're a delicate red rose bud."  If he could have spit on me, I think he would have.

I rallied while they were all there.  I told him to shut up.  That is an incredibly rude thing, to tell someone to shut up.

It would've been best to apologize for disturbing the positive flow and energy of our therapy session.  I might have said:  "I'm sorry, did I break your concentration? I didn't mean to do that. Please, continue, you were saying something about best intentions. What's the matter? Oh, you were finished! Well, allow me to retort..."

That's right, I should have unleashed some Jules Winnfield on his arse.

$3,762.00 seems about right, then, for a Physical Therapy charge.

I have no recollection of going to the Peripheral Vascular Lab, but they're getting a chunk o'change, too.  

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