That Time of Year Again

The blog today will be very short and to the point. Every year, the local sports channel NESN does a telecast to raise money for The Jimmy Fund. The Jimmy Fund is an organization that helps raise money for The Dana-Farber Institute, a place where children and adults fight cancer. They help support cancer patients, survivors, and their families providing excellent care and researches to hopefully find a cure someday. Hopefully with enough money, this cause will be seen through. Until then, every little bit help. I dare you to watch or listen to some of the telethon and not feel a little something for these people.

As a parent, I can’t help but to look at my own children and be grateful that I haven’t had to go through what some of these parents go through or watch my child go through what the children go through. It amazes me that every person, whether it be a cancer patient or survivor, feels lucky to have been through this experience. It humbles me. It makes me sit back and think that my worst day is still a good day to them. They are graceful and kind and absolutely perfect. As a person who has seen cancer take family from my life, I can’t help but to be angry at the disease and want to pay whatever I could to cure it. The Jimmy Fund gives us that chance.

Reports say that funding for cancer research is at an all-time low, when it really should be at an all-time high in my opinion. Change that. Visit http://www.jimmyfund.org/ to help a very worthwhile cause. Every little bit always helps.

Don’t Celebrate Too Soon

After I had given birth, I awaited with dread over the hospital bill. I knew I was close to our $4000 deductible, but I wasn’t certain as to “how close” I was. When the $12000 bill came back, I stared at that number in fear what the final “amount owed” would come to. I was elated when I saw that the bill was only actually $300. I looked at the itemized bill, and came to a conclusion I know will shock you: we are being royally screwed. I was glad I didn’t have an epidural, because I would’ve cried to see that number come back. Among the itemized list, I’ll share a gem or two with you. $60 for one Ambien. One. I was charged separately for a labor room, a delivery room, and a recovery room. Why is that so shocking you ask? Because I was in a LDR room, a joyful convenience of all the rooms in one tiny little package. Add in $20 per 1 pill dosage of Advil, and I couldn’t believe it. Seriously, I almost wish I had a c-section so I could see the total that would come up with, plus the added bonus of sticking it to my insurance company that I only had to pay $300 for something that would probably have cost upwards to $25000-$30000.

So when my son had his surgery, I waited and waited anxiously for the bill. I was expecting a full amount on my deductible, shelling out $4000 for the procedure. Nothing came. Finally upon return from vacation, I noticed a bill from the hospital. After a rough trip back, that included being rear “bumped” by at least a nice person who was just an idiot and leaving my pump at the vacation place, I just knew that I was going to want to cry and curl up into the fetal position in sadness over this. My heart raced, and my head was pounding. I opened the bill, and exclaimed profanities. My husband, who had his eyes closed the entire time opened them with fear. The bill said “$330”. Done and done. We celebrated over our dodged bullet. It wasn’t an itemized bill, but I couldn’t imagine what else that would’ve been for.

In retrospect, that was probably a bill for either his catheter removal, or a removal of his dressings in an emergency, as babies plus medicines equal “blow outs” that end up in dressing and catheters. (The week after the surgery was a very rough one.) I say “in retrospect” because on Friday, I received another letter from the hospital. This one was a tad bit more than $300. This one was $1700. Still, we came in under my anticipated $4000 but it’s still a very large amount that seems impossible to pay. I’ll call and beg for a payment plan, and hope a miracle happens where I either sell $2000 worth of books or win that much in the lottery. Or just sign my life away and chalk it up to bad luck. Isn’t that all life is anyways? A series of unfortunate events and bad luck?

So for people who argue that there’s nothing wrong with healthcare, there is. When you pay $60 for one pill or have to pay separately for each letter in an abbreviation, you know there’s something wrong. I happy accept that my husband pays $600 a month for dental and health insurance so in the end, I can still shell out a total of $4000 a year. Is the problem with the insurance companies or is the problem that hospitals and doctor’s offices are run like business and not something that exists to help people? I’m not sure. The problem is bigger than us, and it’s bigger than whatever healthcare law they put into effect to help us. Or rather “help us”. Whether it be Romneycare or Obamacare or Socialistcare or whatever else it’s called, I want to know who is actually being helped by these programs. Because it certainly isn’t the average middle class person.

And Tomorrow is Another Day

My post was missing on Friday due to being at a pre-op appointment for my baby son. Likewise, my posts for the next week might also disappear as I’ll be busy tending to the needs of my poor innocent child. I thank all that have wished us luck, hopefully we won’t need it. As far as surgeries go, this one is pretty routine and as far as medical staff we’re seeing among the best. It’s assuring that people have given us kind words to help us be a little bit stronger because no matter how routine the surgery is supposed to be, in life anything can happen. It’s those kind words that will carry us into tomorrow with that much more of a positive attitude. It’s that positive attitude that will make it a little easier to stomach seeing your 9-month-old baby attached to machines and IV’s. You don’t want to see your child in pain at any age, it’s just a bit more rough seeing a baby like that.

I will keep my readers posted both here and on my Hubpage. I hope someone was able to read my story that needed it, because I learned that this condition isn’t very discussed on forums for support. (My Hubpage link is on the sidebar, where I explain the condition.) Maybe it’s embarrassing, or just not as common as I’m told it is. But maybe I reached a few people who needed the support. At least I can bring that to the table now and after this situation.

I hope you all have a good week and a Happy Fourth. People fought for our country’s freedom so we could set of explosives while getting drunk and going to the hospital as a result of the mix. Don’t be stupid kids. I’ll see you when he’s all healed and happy. Thank you again for all the kindness.

Things I’ve Learned: Pediatric Surgeons, Surgery and the Like.

These are my favorite of the “themed” posts I write. It never amazes me the things I learn when I’m out and how it annoys me or makes me laugh. I understand, I might be the only one who laughs. But if you can’t laugh at yourself, what can you laugh at? There’s really no real introduction I can write about this, so I’ll just dive right in.

1) Residents are young and possibly lack any sense. In waiting for our son’s surgeon, a resident and a high school student interested in medicine appears telling us he was a resident and our surgeon would be right with us but he wanted to come in and check our son. He seemed very new to this, and I wouldn’t have cared so much if he didn’t enter the room saying what he said. As he appeared, smug smirk and all he greets us by saying “So is this George? Is he still peeing downwards?”. I looked at my husband, non-verbally asking permission to make a snide comment back or to actually punch him. Note to doctors: it’s generally not a great idea to mock a 7-month-old baby about his birth defect in front of parents who are nervous about the whole thing. Humor is appreciated; unintended mockery is generally neither appreciated or acceptable in any situation. I have a great sense of humor, I enjoy a good joke. That wasn’t funny; it was mildly insulting. It wasn’t just the comment, obviously we wouldn’t be there if the problem magically fixed itself. Don’t be an idiot resident, and I think you’ll go far. Also, developing a personality and better bedside manner would probably help further your career.

2) Compound Centers. I live in Massachusetts, home of the New England Compounding Center. In case you don’t watch the news, that’s the pharmacy that dispensed Meningitis to almost thousands of people becoming sick and several of them dying. Our baby needed a prescription and I nodded and waited for the paper to head to my pharmacy to fill it. No, you can’t do that. It needed to be filled at a compounding facility, which thankfully was right next to my husband’s work. However, the minute that I heard the words “Compound Facility”, I looked at the nurse as if she was trying to kill my child. Though I’m not entirely sure the difference between a regular pharmacy and a compounding one, aside from the meningitis and obscene cost of prescriptions without being covered by insurance.

3) My maturity level is shaky. I learned a hard lesson yesterday, that my brain sometimes has not left high school. Maybe it’s a result of my love of Penny Arcade, and finding their “doodle” contest very hilarious. Phallic jokes are hilarious, and I laugh every time. I also apparently laugh when there are pictures drawn of them in a hilarious manner. Maybe it was the nerves, I’m definitely a person who laughs at things instead of the proper emotion as a result of a defense mechanism. So when the doctor proceeded to draw diagrams of the surgery, something inside my head reminded me not to laugh, though I can’t promise I didn’t snicker a little. It’s not funny, but I probably could have done without the diagrams.

The most important lesson I learned yesterday was that I can do this. I have it in me to find the positives and ignore the negatives and I know I’ll need help, but I have an awesome husband to go through this with me and we have an amazing family that will stand by us and support us. People are social beings, and we need people to stand by us during our difficult times.

Suite 220

I get the phone call for the appointment for tomorrow, reminding me the baby has an appointment with the surgeon. This pain in the muscles around my neck seems to have tightened more. I didn’t think it was possible, but still 2 weeks later it’s now worse. Teething and lack of sleep started it, the looming surgery hanging over my head probably helped keep this pain. I know logically, this isn’t anything serious. I know that I can choose not to, but I’m not willing to say no because the downside is much worse than the surgery itself. I keep telling myself that anyways.

I’m not normally a” worry-er”, I usually leave that to my husband since he’s much better at it than I am. I over-think situations but I rarely actually worry. I go in with the worst case scenario in mind, always. Because I know that if I’m prepared for the worst, I’ll have accepted it as a possibility. Ignoring the worst blindsides you, and I hate being blindsided. I like to know exactly every scenario that would possibly happen so I can have a proper and calm reaction no matter what. It works, but usually the middle of the road or best scenario happens and that makes it a little easier.

Still, I keep researching every chance I get. I know my options. (Really, the only options are do the surgery or be responsible for my son feeling awkward or embarrassed the rest of his life.) I still don’t know if I can see him off into the OR, with all those wires and tubing attached to him while he cries because he’s terrified. I’m a strong person, but I’m not entirely sure I’m that strong. We’ll see; I tend to excel when tossed into a situation and end up being a fierce version of myself. That’s what I’m counting on anyways, because I need to be for my family and mostly for my baby.

No sense overreacting about it now. Tomorrow we’ll probably get a surgery date that I’ll circle on my calendar and look at every day obsessively. I’ll try to forget, but I won’t be able to not look and remind myself. I know I need to mentally prepare and I know I’m good at that. I’m good at shutting down to prevent any sort of negative emotion and it keeps me unhealthily strong and sane. I’ll pretend the pain in my neck and head are just a result of working out too much, though I’ve been too tired for exercise. Most importantly, I’ll remember to hug my boys a little bit tighter every day because you never really know what can happen because anything can.

I’ll Buy You A Corvette, Whatever You Want

A note before this post: Every year I plug the Jimmy Fund Telethon, a great local cause. Today, I am mentioning another cause that is soon going to personally affect me. Baystate Children’s Hospital is the place where my son will be having his surgery and the people I’ve met there are fantastic and make me a little less nervous about his surgery. No matter how routine a surgery, you know in the back of your mind that anything can happen. Check out this page: https://foundation.baystatehealth.org/netcommunity/sslpage.aspx?pid=533 for information on donating.

My little one drives me crazy. My oldest son is a master at this as well. Not all the time, but no mom can say honestly “I’m always 100% on the ball and sane”. We’re not, we do go a little crazy and we do spend an extra 5 minutes on the toilet wanting to cry but really just enjoying the peace. This doesn’t make us bad people, and this is definitely more common in stay at home moms than working moms. Though I remember some days staying in the shower an extra 5 minutes before work just because I could. We’re moms though, a resilient sort of person that is under appreciated and underestimated.

My baby might be popping his second set of teeth, which timing wise makes sense since he was supposed to pop his first set out around 6 months and he was 2 months ahead of that mark. It’s tiring, nothing turns a baby crankier than teething. My baby used to sleep through the night, now I’m lucky if he even sleeps. I say to him, “I’ll buy you a Corvette, a pony, whatever, just don’t cry”. I don’t know why I try to bribe me since a) he doesn’t know what a corvette or pony is and b) he doesn’t know what a bribe is. He eventually does stop crying, mostly to laugh at pulling my hair out for me. He’s not crying all the time, just when he gets on a “Mom, fix my teeth” fit, it lasts a while.

When he’s not crying, he’s learned that he can pull himself up and walk along furniture. He whizzes by and mastered falling on his butt, not his head. I told my husband, “eventually he’ll get tired of falling and learn” and unfortunately he has. Now he’s brave and let’s go like he can walk and lands right on his heavily padded bottom. His laugh is as infectious as his cry, and he smiles at you baring his 2 little bottom teeth that have almost finished growing completely in.

He’s growing too fast, and as he races out of the room or follows me around like my little duckling I realize that every cry is just precious. Life is too short to stress about not sleeping or all the fussy fits babies can have. It might not seem it at 4 a.m. on your third day of no sleep, but it’s a miracle and something we should be grateful for. Many people can’t have kids, many lose theirs too  young. I can’t get mad because when I open my eyes tiredly and I see him standing in the crib looking up over at me with a smile on his face, I smile back. Remember to always smile back, no matter how tired and stressed you are. You’ll feel better.

My Face Was Red With Anger and Awe…

… while I wrote out the check.

Several years ago, my son seemed to have a cold that just wasn’t going away. After what seemed like the 3rd week of a bad cold, I took him to the doctors. It turned out that my son just from lack of contact with many kids prior, just didn’t quite have the immunities so every cold he came into contact with, he got. While there, the doctor noticed my kindergartener had a tissue stuck up his nose. At the time, I had awful insurance with a $600 premium and a $4000 deductible because for some ungodly reason I didn’t qualify for cheaper insurance. (Thanks Romneycare.) The politics isn’t the point, the point happens here.

The doctor was our new doctor, so it was only our 3rd visit with him. This doctor took a pair of tweezers and pulled the tissue out of his nose. Easy and done, right? I thought so until when I got the bill for the visit, I had to pay $700: $100 for the visit and $600 for “object removal”. I called my insurance company, and since we were so healthy we didn’t need our deductible I had to pay for object removal. When I told her the object that was removed, she laughed with a “tough poop” attitude. (I don’t miss you Blue Cross, but I do love you Tufts.) I immediately decided to call the doctor’s office billing center to reason with this. She laughed when I told her my story, and when I thought I was going to get sympathy I get that “so would you like a payment plan?” No, I’d like you not to charge me $600 to pull a tissue out of my kid’s nose.

I forgot that story for a while. Then I got a bill from a Pathology department shortly after my return from the hospital for the items that come out after your birth. (Seriously, I thought they threw that out, not send it out for testing that costs $200.) It came back to me how much in awe I am for some things we end up getting charged with and for how much. This became even more apparent when I received a bill in the mail over the weekend from the doctor’s office. My newborn son had one rare condition that will hopefully be easily fixed in a few months by surgery. He had another rare-ish condition called “umbilical granuloma”, which is a fancy way of saying “part of the umbilical cord is still there and needs to be removed”. The doctor said all we needed was some nitrate and it’d heal right up. He took a q-tip looking thing and put it on my son’s belly button. It did exactly what he said and all was mostly fine. Then, I get my son’s first bill of all neonatal services done and I just quickly looked saying “$144 isn’t bad.” It wasn’t until I read the bill to write out the check when I noticed all the hospital services were free. That $144 was for a q-tip. I looked up in anger and said to my husband “that doctor has expensive supplies. A $600 set of tweezers and a $144 q-tip!”

This made me wonder if the real issue with healthcare wasn’t the cost of the insurance itself. Maybe the problem is really with the doctors and hospitals and the ridiculous prices on necessary services. I cringe to think of the monetary issues with the surgery as well as the “holy crap, my baby needs surgery”. I think the problem is the medical offices are allowed to charge whatever they want on things and there’s nothing as a patient or a consumer that you can do about it, which I guess is a problem with the insurance too. They choose what they cover and what they don’t, and don’t see a problem with these costs because everybody wins. Right? By everyone, I obviously mean the heads of these hospitals and insurance companies, because the everyday person that needs these services are definitely not the winners here.

The Breast Thing To Do?

Admittedly, I giggled writing the title. Some days I think I’ve never matured from high school. Back to the topic at hand: breasts, well in this case breast-feeding. With my first son I didn’t breast feed. The idea of having someone attached to my nipple several times a day actually disturbed me, plus I worked way to many hours to even consider breast-feeding as an option. This time around I’ve decided to give it a try, despite the idea of it still disturbing me. Before I get an applause from those fanatics of lactation, the sole reason for this decision comes down to the fact that I’m cheap and this is the cheapest way to feed a child. It just so happens it’s incredibly healthy for them.

I have problems with breast-feeding more than just the idea of it making me cringe. The idea that my husband can’t be hands on in the most bonding experience of a newborn upsets me. It doesn’t upset me enough to want to become a cow that solely attaches to a machine to make milk, but enough that I consider it. There was two of us that created a child, why shouldn’t both of us be able to adequately bond with it. Plus, that means I’m the only one crawling out of bed every two hours to make sure he’s fed. I like the shared duty idea.. because I’ve grown fond of sleep lately and would like to be able to enjoy at least four hours of it.

I also don’t think that there’s anything wrong with formula feeding your child. My first-born was formula fed and outside of bad genetics, grew up just fine. I don’t think that there’s really much of a difference nutritionally between the two. I understand how breast-feeding provides for immunities and such, but when you get down to the real vitamin and mineral content is there really a difference? Obviously not really, as like I said my first-born grew up just fine and I know more people who formula fed than breast-fed and their kids are perfectly fine too.

In my lovely state of Massachusetts, they have recently banned the formula give-aways you would get in the hospital after giving birth to your child. Sorry, they didn’t legally ban it. It just so happens that all the hospitals mutually agreed to voluntarily stop providing this to patients to force.. sorry, encourage breast-feeding to new mothers. They say these freebies encourage mothers to skip breast-feeding and formula feed their children. I’d hate to break it to the world, but news flash: if a mother doesn’t want to breast feed, she’s not going to do it. In fact, forcing her into something that’s uncomfortable for her is probably worse for them and pushes them more towards formula feeding. We also can’t forget that, and I know that this might be a complete shock, that some women actually can’t physically breast feed. There are some mothers that adopt their kids, use surrogates or just have various other medical complications with breast feeding. So let’s have the great idea of making them feel less like a real mother. Because only real women breast feed right?

I don’t like being pressured into anything. Ever. It doesn’t work for me. I don’t want to fail at breast-feeding and have swarms of lactation crazy women saying “I didn’t try hard enough.” Yeah, that’s going to do wonders for my self-esteem. This idea that a group of people can come together and tell me, “yeah, I know if you work this might be hard for you. And there are places online where you can buy other people’s breast milk if you can’t offer your own.” Thanks guys! I love the idea that my only options are my breast milk or some stranger I don’t even know’s breast milk. This idea actually disgusts the tiny bit of feminist in me. Next all women will be forced out of work because them being home is the best thing for their child. I heard the 50’s were such a great time for women. I like advice on how to raise a healthy child. Advise me to breast feed all you want, but my boobs are my business.

Things I Learned at the ER

The post is late due to a family member being sent to the ER and me waiting there for them. Luckily, inspiration can strike anywhere and there’s always a lesson to be learned when you’re out and about. That made this post a perfect opportunity for a “Things Learned” post. With a bit of luck and good faith, my family member will be better but send out some love to him anyways. And without any further delay…. what I learned today at the ER.

First thing I learned at the ER is there is no such thing as “privacy”. Sure, they put a sheet thin divider that looks just like a simple sheet to shield you from spying eyes… if you’re lucky enough to even be in a room and not sitting in a bed covered up in the hallway. As if it wasn’t enough that the hallways were filled of people in gowns looking completely degraded, I realized very quickly that not only was it possible to see more things than you’d like, you heard everything. It has nothing to do with being nosy, it has everything to do with speaking loud enough that a sheet doesn’t keep the sound in. Yes, I did hear the psych consult, and I fully believe that it was none of my business and I shouldn’t have. At least take them into a private room. They wonder why people dislike hospital, that’s why. I could probably tell you the name and diagnosis and birthday of everyone in that triage area, and I don’t feel comfortable knowing that if it were me, they’d know everything about me too.

There was only one other lesson I learned today, and it’s why I dislike people. This could happen anywhere… and it does: those people that you can’t decide if they are a) illiterate, b) ignorant, or c) just asses. I think this person was all of the above. I was sitting at the bench, eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, minding my business. Then a woman from the ER waiting room wheels herself to right in front of me and the nonsmoking sign and proceeds to smoke in my face. In my pregnant state, my temper is very short, and to put me in a position that is harmful not just to me but my fetus, pisses me off. First of all lady, you were sitting in front of a “No smoking sign”, learn to read or not be an ass on your own time. As if this display of inconsideration wasn’t annoying enough, after smoking in my face, she asks me to wheel her back into the ER. If only looks could kill and be legal. She was helped, and I’m not ashamed to admit it wasn’t by me.

I hope this is a lesson out there to my readers and hopefully a hospital staffer or ten. I know you guys are understaffed and overworked and have an overload of people, but something needs to change. I also hope this is a lesson for asses, someday you will get punched for it and it will be deserved.