The approximately eighteen months between the summer of 2010 and the end of 2011 contained so much drama for this family, so many crises, that I couldn't even bring myself to talk about most of it. I mentioned a few things here, but I never like to feel like I'm posting all sorts of negative stuff, so I always try to keep some balance by posting positive things that are happening in my world as well. The trouble was that there were no positive things. A few small ones here and there, maybe, like when my daughter took me on a fun little road trip to Las Vegas. The truth was, though, that even on that trip I just grinned through tightly gritted teeth and tried to tell myself I was having a good time. It was work - actual effort - to keep up the appearance. The truth was that nothing could balance out all of the awful things that were happening, though, and a momentary escape here and there was the best I could hope for.
Actually, now that I look back, I recall that even that trip was mostly ruined by a barrage of phone calls from home as my world continued to crumble while I tried to get a tiny bit of reprieve. Ugh.
Anyway, things are better now. I am still recovering from it all, though, and I am allowing myself to "re-enter" life slowly. I've been through a lot. A LOT! It's all about baby steps, as they say.
I will write about the events of 2010/2011, and I will do it soon. For my own reasons, I have to do it soon. But for today, I will just update y'all on my daughter's car accident (the most recent thing I'd blogged about).
I'd said she wasn't seriously injured, but that turned out not to be true. She had some back pain, but we all thought it was just the standard back pain - you know, some soft tissue injuries and basically whiplash - that one would expect after being hit from behind. She was seeing a chiropractor, but while her neck was starting to feel fine, pain in her lower back was only getting progressively worse. The chiropractor suggested she get an MRI, but she couldn't afford it as she was uninsured. By the way, it did turn out that the at-fault driver had insurance, but they would only cover her expenses on a "reimbursement basis". Meaning, in reality, that she would have to come up with cash to pay for all treatment and they would reimburse her when it was all done. I mean ALL done. So, being a broke college student and with a mom (me) who didn't have a lot of cash, she really couldn't move forward. All she could do was hurt, and be frustrated knowing that there was insurance to take care of her, but she couldn't access it.
By December her situation became dire. She worked retail, so the holiday season was her busiest time, and she was continually sent home from her job because she'd stand at the register and cry. By early January she had to quit her job, a job she'd had for four and a half years, a job they'd held for her when she went away for six months to work at Disneyland, a job she liked and was good at. She was very depressed over this.
By the end of January she could no longer attend classes and had to drop out of college. Her pain was tremendous, but when I'd taken her to the emergency room they only suggested Ibuprofen. An x-ray didn't reveal anything serious, but they suggested (as her chiropractor had) that she get an MRI. We explained that she was uninsured, explained the "reimbursement coverage" situation she was in with the auto insurance company, and pleaded with them to do the MRI there at the hospital during her ER visit. They refused, told her to go get one herself, and insisted that there were places who would do this and third-party bill the responsible auto insurance company. I told them we'd been unable to find any such places, asked again and again that they do it there, but all to no avail. They didn't even want to give her any pain medication and treated her, frankly, like some drug-seeker who was making things up. Only when I had a fit did they give her a few Percocet, grudgingly. We were sent on our way with no idea how to proceed. She was in tears. Honestly, by this period of time, she was always in tears. She'd just cry constantly from the pain. No one seemed to care.
By early February pain that had been steadily creeping downward into her hips and legs made it nearly impossible for her to walk or even to sleep. Finally having scraped together enough cash for the new-patient fees at a doctor's office, I took her in and we asked them to give us the referral paperwork for an MRI (apparently you can't just get an MRI unless a doctor orders one, so we had to pay for that first). This doctor - sadly and disappointingly my doctor - also didn't appear to take her seriously. She did order the MRI, but refused to prescribe any pain medication at all. My daughter, who is intelligent and driven and works hard, was angry and offended at being treated like some kind of drug-seeker. She'd lost everything - her job, her college education, her social life, everything - and yet this didn't seem to be enough to convince anyone she was in severe pain.
We scraped together more money and took her to another doctor, one recommended by someone on Craigslist, actually! This doctor took her more seriously, and also ordered an MRI from a place that was somewhat less expensive than the one my doctor had ordered. It took another week and tons of begging to get contributions from family members, but we finally got that MRI. It changed everyone's attitudes and facially expressions remarkably.
On the same day as the MRI was done, we ran back to the doctor's office with the films. Suddenly everyone was compassionate, everyone was sorry, everyone was placing their hands on her shoulder and calling her "sweetheart". They tripled the dosage of pain medication they'd prescribed a week earlier and they referred her to a spinal surgeon, whom they wanted her to see immediately.
More begging, more family members chipping in money. We got to the surgeon's office in less than a week. I don't remember all the terminology, but suffice it to say that her lower spine was torn up. Four discs were problematic, one was "just gone, there is no disc" (using the surgeon's exact words) and was herniated so badly that - again using his own words - they were "surprised you aren't peeing all over yourself". He ordered surgery within 36 hours, and the biggest scramble for cash was on. We turned to everyone, even cousins I hadn't seen since high school, and within those 36 hours we came up with nearly $11,000 to pay for the surgeon, the hospital and the anesthesiologist. She had the surgery and felt relief immediately. The surgeon, outside of my daughter's earshot, said that this thing he'd removed was one of the largest he'd ever seen and that he'd showed it (ewww) to everyone there in the OR that day.
It's been two and a half weeks now and she is recovering beautifully. She still has physical therapy coming up that we still can't pay for, and our entire extended family is flat broke, so we'll have to find ways to deal with that. Her total out-of-pocket expenses now exceed $20,000 and the insurance company still won't talk to her until she's "all done".
The important thing, though, is that she's better. So much better. She's almost giddy with joy at the relief she's finally feeling. And that, folks, is a mood-lifter for all of us around here!
I guess it's time for me to crawl the rest of the way out of my hole and re-open my shop, though. Gotta sell!