Monday, May 3, 2010

Fun times at the hospital

So the fact that I'm writing this means I made it through surgery ok. Whew! It's been a few days but my head is still a bit woozy and my body is still quite sore. Of course, it hasn't helped that this weekend was crazy busy, and I baked my little heart out for our Haiti trip silent auction...Good thing I took Monday off. Otherwise I would have been a wreck today in class!
So, how did it go?...Well, there's a long answer and a short answer...

Short: Fine. I've survived. The pain and nausea really isn't too bad. The doctor found no endometriosis, but did find and remove a polyp in my uterus. Hopefully that will fix things.

Long: Insurance sucks! After trying to do the research and find out how much this procedure would cost, I eventually got the answer of $300. What a deal! I thought...

Well, if anything ever seems too good to be true, it probably is...I discovered that out minutes before my surgery. Apparently all the phone calls I made asked the wrong questions to the wrong people, and in the end, the $300 figure I was given was simply how much I would owe my doctor--it didn't count the hospital fees, anesthesiologist, etc...When I went to check in, the guy at the front desk mentioned that I hadn't paid anything yet, and I said that I hadn't received a bill. I asked him how much I owed, and he asked me how much I owed. I told him that's what I was asking him, and he proceeded to look at me blankly. I told him my doctor quoted me at $300, which he looked incredulous about but proceeded to scan my credit card. I asked him if $300 was indeed what I owed, and he again asked me if $300 is what I owed. Anything I asked him, he simply turned back into a question for me. I'm not sure if that was just the way he was trained or if he just wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but it was quite aggravating. Just as I was starting to get irritated and wonder what was going on, someone called him from the back and he sent me on to the pre-op room.

At that point, they went over all my medical paperwork once again, and then I was instructed to disrobe and get all situated in this super-cool hospital gown that they stick a tube into that blows hot air all around you. So, I'm sitting there talking to Jim and he suggests we ask one of the nurses the money question. I doubt they'll have an answer, but what the heck...The nurse is so nice, but as expected, she doesn't know. So they call in the insurance/billing lady. She brings in my "bill", which gives me no other new information other than my deductible is $6000 . That's all they keep saying is that my deductible is $6000. Well, I already knew that...but finally it sunk in. They keep just telling me my deductible because the surgery is probably going to cost way more than that. Eek! At this point I start to panic.

They keep assuring me that that's really high for a deductible...that it's probably a mistake. I keep assuring them that no, I'm pretty sure that's correct (let's just say Jim's insurance isn't the best). Is the surgery really going to cost that much?! The just keep assuring me that the deductible is high. But no one can tell me how much the surgery actually costs. Apparently hopitals aren't like a restaurant. You can't just buy a "laparoscopy with a side of hysteroscopy" and pay the bill. But why the heck not? How can there not be a standard price range for these things?! And how does not a single person have a clue about it?! The nurses and insurance lady are all on the phone calling people, asking questions...whispering about the crazy patient who wants to know the price of her surgery--as if that's something ridiculous to ask!

By this time, the guy who is supposed to take me back to the operating room has come to get me. I just want to find out how much this stupid surgery is supposed to cost before they slice me open! Jim and I had already decided that we didn't want to pay thousands of dollars for something that wasn't necessary. We were stoked about coming to the end of the adoption process and on our drive to the hospital that morning I had just remarked that I think I would be fine with never being pregnant since we might get a kid so soon. Why spend all this money just to go through pain?

So the guy is waiting there awkwardly, and I'm so overwhelmed I burst out into tears, and there is a flurry of activity as no one knows what to do with this crazy patient who is backing out of her surgery minutes before game time. I'm so embarrassed! (I do my best usually to hold back tears in front of Jim, let alone perfect strangers!) Fortunately, Jim is there, holding my hand and doing all the talking for me. They bring in my doctor, who graciously allows Jim to explain my trepidations (while I blubber away)...She kindly explains that if money is really the issue, we can postpone for another day, or they'll work with us to make payments. Jim explains that it's not the money specifically, it's the concept of spending that much money on a treatment that really isn't necessary. She soothingly explains that if she remembered correctly the procedure wasn't merely searching for a cause for our infertility but moreso was attempting to alleviate mid-cycle bleeding, which may not be immediately dire but would definitely need to be looked into in the future as a symptom of uterine cancer...

What can I say? She did her job well. With that rationalization, Jim and I look at each other and decide to proceed. (Not to mention that the cool little heated gown and slippers I'm "enjoying" probably already set me back a grand or so if I chose to up and leave right then, anyways!)...

So, I do my best to stifle my tears...Everybody does everything they can to make me smile...(Again--so embarrassing! I am NOT a high-maintenance kind of gal!)...The anesthesiologist sticks me with the IV...and before I know it, I'm in the post op. room feeling like I just got run over by a truck. did it go? Fine, I guess. Jim and friends and relatives keep reassuring me that I made the right choice. But I have to wonder...When I get the bill in the mail--however much it ends up being--will it be worth it? Maybe removing that little tumor-like polyp will solve my bleeding issues. Maybe it will keep me from getting cancer in later years. Maybe I'll even get pregnant. I guess only time will tell. But it kills me that I spent so much money on these "what if's". There are children around the world dying because they don't have enough money for daily food and clean drinking water, let alone life-saving medical help for preventable diseases. I'm sure they would have appreciated the medical attention more than I did...

And yet, what kills me the most is that no one could give me a straight answer about the cost. How is our medical system so screwed up?! Urgggh!!! It frustrates me so much! How can a consumer make the right decision when no one can tell her the real details?!

HOWEVER...I am encouraged that I made the right decisions for the rest of the weekend (albeit, perhaps detrimental to my recovery process):

*On Friday night, we had dinner with some key people to discuss the feasibility of filming our second movie, one that will attempt to empower teenagers to take thousands of orphans off the streets around the world. Definitely worth a little discomfort!
*All day Saturday, I baked cookies and cakes for our silent auction for our Haiti trip this summer, where we will work with an orphanage and other post-earthquake community service projects.

*All day Sunday, I worked at the auction, and it looks like we raised around $4000 for our trip.

So, all-in-all, it was a successful weekend...Now I just have to wait to see how God unfolds all the details...


  1. Oh Rachel!! Your poor tummy =( I hope that Jim pampers you in your time of healing. I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that nonsense with the money thing. I'm just reading with my jaw dropped at the guy who won't answer your questions. I know that God would not have put you through unexplained infertility for nothing. This could have very well saved you a lot of strife later on and now your doctors have extra info about you. I know what you mean about others being more in need. I'm convicted of that all the time. You both do so much. If you're not well, you won't be able to help at the capacity that you do. So excited about all that's to come! Here's to quick healing. I've heard that eating pineapple does wonders after a trauma like that.

  2. Rachel friend,
    You are a trooper! I pray for quick healing and that the auction reaps many benefits. You will continue to be blessed - of that I am sure. Whether it's with a biological child or adopted... God has you in the palm of His hand and His plans are HUGE! :)
    Love and Joy,

  3. Hey Rachel,
    I have been dealing with the spending money thing lately, as we've been settling into a home in a country with so many people in poverty all around us. One thing God keeps reminding me is that He is in charge of all money everywhere. That being true, He directs His money where He wants, which sometimes means that He'll do extravagant things for us. So I praise Him that He kept your eyes blinded to the cost of your surgery until it was too late, so that He could help you have the medical attention you needed. (Although I know it is incredibly frustrating dealing with the ignorant insurance/billing people! This past year, with all the moving and health issues I had, I dealt with a lot of those people!) Anyway, still praying for you. Love from the other side of the world, ~amy

  4. wow, rachel. that is QUITE a story. i cannot even believe the insurance fiasco. well, i mean, i CAN, but man...
    quick question--have you ever had your progesterone levels checked? i'm assuming yes, but figured i'd ask. i had mid-cycle bleeding for years, and when we tried to get pregnant, it just wouldn't happen (as you know). my *wonderful* ob/gyn (who i got after trying to get pregnant for a year) decided to test me, and ended up putting me on progesterone suppositories (yippee!). i got pregnant the first month. i take an herb called "vitex" now that has virtually eliminated my mid-cycle bleeding. it's amazing.
    anyhoo, just figured i'd throw it out there!
    i hope you get answers!

  5. Hi Rachel, you and Jim continue to be the inspiration that the Lord intended for you to be. He will bestow his blessings of a child upon you in His own timing. We all know you will make wonderful parents when the time comes. I'm really glad you didn't know how much the procedure was going to cost, because it seems God wanted the surgery to happen no matter what the cost. He knows what was needed to help His precious child, Rachel. You and Jim are in my prayers always. Heal quickly and well, my sister in Christ. - Teresa

  6. I can't believe you cooked all those great looking treats after your surgery! You rock!! Now you should have a bake sale to help raise funds for your doctor bills! Help Rachel Fund! :) We'll keep you guys in our prayers! :)