Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Health Report Update

I haven't really talked about this in a long time, because it was so damn depressing.

I can't even remember if I talked about this, but back in November, the state claimed that I didn't get my re-determination paperwork in on time for my medical benefits. Now, because I'm paranoid about official documents and all that, I actually sent my paperwork to them registered mail, so I had the exact date that my paperwork arrived. It was three days before the deadline... so, it was close, but it was on time.

We called our DHS office, and since they couldn't deny when they received the paperwork, but they couldn't find it (yeah, right), they said we could fill the paperwork out again so our benefits would continue. I talked to my case manager at Community Support and she told me that our DHS just doesn't open its mail. "I took a day of training there so I'd know how it works in order to do this job, and those people joke about how they don't open the mail. So never mail them anything, ever. Come to me, and I will fax it for you."

So, we faxed it this time. And waited. And waited, And waited some more.

For six months.

Six months of therapy services. Six months of doctor visits. Six months of medication prescriptions. Waiting to get a sleep study done so I could finally get a new CPAP machine. Six months that included my ambulance-driven trip to the hospital and head staples when I got so frustrated and angry that I hit myself in the head with a Maglite. Six months of feeling like I was going crazier and crazier.

And we'd call them. We called them a lot, only to be told to call back in 12-15 business days. And then, when we'd complain that we kept calling, we'd be told that they had no record of us making more than one call, which is total bullshit. All to withhold the medical benefits I am legally entitled to and which I need to live. It takes them months to get their shit together, but miss a single day on a deadline and they will just cut you off. They delayed us for at least two months simply because they couldn't figure out how to read one of my wife's paychecks and never told us. Anything to deny, I guess.

That whole time, we were told our paperwork was under review. They offered to put a priority on it, which they never did. They offered it so often that the offer became totally meaningless.

Finally, Becca couldn't take it anymore and demanded to speak to someone who could help her. She told them about my health, about how I was sleeping less and less, about how I was hurting myself because I was more and more on edge without sleep, about how I take seven prescription medications, and finally--finally--she was put through to some kind of supervisor. She talked to him, he immediately looked at the paperwork, he said we more than qualified for public assistance, and he said he'd approve us and we'd be back on Medicaid in two days.

And the most unbelievable part is, we were.

So it's just been since May that we've had our Medicaid again. It's paying a lot of those retroactive costs, too, including the hospital and the ambulance. I have some peace of mind again. Thanks for the head games.

Anyway, I did my sleep study in May.

I'd had one back in 2008 or 2009, and I've been using the same CPAP machine since, but I gained 200 pounds after two years on Lexapro, depressed and immobile, so I was pretty sure my CPAP needed to be reset. The company that gave me the machine never followed up with me, even though I tried to get them to, and then I had problems with my insurance after Becca got laid off and couldn't see my doctor regularly for years. So while the machine was helping, it wasn't helping much anymore. I've been wanting to just start over again with a new company (a local company that is very conscientious about following up, and which I knew took Medicaid) and a new machine for some time.

So back in May, I did the sleep study. It was pretty hellish. Hard to sleep with all of those wires hooked up to me, and in an unfamiliar setting. I managed to get through it, but it sucked. Then it took until the very last day of June for Medicaid to approve the CPAP machine itself. I knew I was right about the setting. My old machine was on 7. This one was on 13. I needed almost twice the amount of air I was getting.

Yesterday, I went to my sleep doctor for the first time, having used the machine for just over two weeks. She says it's been working just fine, and I feel like it has. Certainly I sleep better now, and have more energy and focus during the day. Having those things makes it much easier to exercise consistently, which is something I very much need to do. It's helping with my anxiety, and I generally feel a bit more mellow these last couple of weeks.

I worried about it for a long time because my uncle had sleep apnea but didn't have a CPAP machine. He died in his sleep when he was in his mid-forties. I didn't want to die the same way.

My sleep doctor told me yesterday that, using the data stored on my machine, I was having far fewer incidences where I stopped breathing. About 0.8 times, she said. "During your sleep study, you stopped breathing for 10 seconds or more almost 90 times."

"90 times?" I asked, horrified.

"89.6," she clarified.

I thought about how hard it had been for me to relax and sleep in that room. "In one night?" I asked.

"Every hour," she corrected me. "An average of 89.6 times an hour, you stopped breathing."

Jesus.

So... yeah, glad to be back on Medicaid.

I have more focus, more energy, and I'm probably not going to die in my sleep. Plus, I've lost 10 pounds since May. So I'm feeling kind of alright today. I have back pain, but my back pain is actually from losing even that small amount of weight. Always with the damn back pain when I lose weight.

Still, better than a lot of the alternatives...

Still survivin'.

6 comments:

Dr. Monkey Hussein Monkerstein said...

You're lucky to live in a state that still offers Medicaid to adults, Here in TN it's only available to children and expecting mothers.

SamuraiFrog said...

Governors who reject Medicaid expansion should be handled with the same consideration French nobility was in 1789...

Roger Owen Green said...

Man, that was one of the worst bureaucratic bullshit I've ever read about.

waffleronin said...

Geeze, not that it helps much now, but you can adjust most -PAPs your self. It's not recommended for newbies, but my tech made sure I knew it was possible just in case I couldn't get back to see them (money issues at time). A manual should of come with it that explains how, and the interwebs always knows. My average was around 150 per/hr when I had my first study. Second worst case my doctor had ever seen. First place went to a marathon runner - over 200 per/hr. He had never been overweight, his throat was just built that bad.
Support and assistance workers are the best. Our benefits office is so understaffed that they simply can't answer phone calls. It can take over an hour just to talk to someone if you can get there and find parking. Fortunately, when I screwed up my paper work an assistance worker at my doctors office was able to call some she knew about at medicaid specific to her type of work and get stuff done relativity quickly.

Immodium said...

Long time; had to chime in on this one.
Glad you're still with us and doing what you can. That sounds like a nightmare but I think I speak for all the readers when I say :"Good luck and stay strong... We've been caring about you for years, hang in there."

Immodium said...

Long time; had to chime in on this one.
Glad you're still with us and doing what you can. That sounds like a nightmare but I think I speak for all the readers when I say :"Good luck and stay strong... We've been caring about you for years, hang in there."