Mayo Clinic Day 3

Please tear my hair out in clumps and put me in a straight jacket. I’ve been talking to my insurance company. For the purpose of this post, the numerous automated screenings and niceties have been left out of the conversations which took about an hour altogether. 

Me: Yes, hello. I’m calling to check on an authorization for a PET scan for my husband Dennis. Where do we stand on this request?

Insurance company: I can check on that for you, just a moment… I don’t see a request for a PET scan in the notes. I see four other authorizations, blah, blah, blah…

Me: Mayo Clinic sent our Dr.’s notes to you yesterday, and they were told the decision was pending. It’s an out of network issue and it’s complicated. Do you have someone who handles these cases that I can talk to? (I give them a case number and the history of the last five days phone calls.)

Insurance company: No, I can’t say that we do and the notes we have don’t mention a PET scan at all.  (She tries to find more information but comes back with the same answer.)

Me: (Calling Mayo Clinic business desk in a panic.) I’ve just called my insurance to check on the authorization, as you suggested, and they don’t know anything about a request for a PET scan. It’s supposed to happen tomorrow. What can I do?

Clinic rep: We called your insurance at 8 am this morning to see if the authorization was given. They did get our fax yesterday about the Dr.’s evaluation and the matter is still pending. We should know something today.

Me: Why are they not able to find this anywhere in his record? They have the other authorizations but nothing for the PET scan. They say they don’t even have case numbers like the one I was told to give them.

Clinic rep: (explains all kinds of stuff about a special review board for out of network authorizations) We gave them the Dr.’s recommendations and I’m sure they will be getting back to us. Don’t worry, we have all day today and most of tomorrow to work this out. It will get resolved.

So I called the insurance company again, got a different rep who said basically the same thing with the added information that she had never heard of a special review board and she would know if there was one (she said). I made sure she knew that this was getting very mysterious and confusing to get two completely conflicting stories about the status of the request. She assured me they did not have a request recorded – but I could get one started. She told me how.

I didn’t want to call the clinic again, but I did. No surprises there – the same report. At least everyone is consistent. I guessed it was up to me. Which story did I want to believe? So, I went with the clinic, and am praying that they were right.  I really did not want to make any more calls. Tomorrow, we will find out if that was a good decision.

A bright spot in the day came when the scheduler called mid-morning and told us we had an appointment  tomorrow, at 7 am, for the neuro-psych evaluation, the one we had been on standby for. We no longer had to keep showing up and waiting for a cancellation. The lumbar puncture was rescheduled for Friday morning and will be followed by an afternoon wrap up with Dr. Jones. We are going home on Friday!

But will probably be coming back in a month or so (sad emoji face). Whatever. Maybe by then we will have new insurance, the kind that’s not so special that no one knows about it. Just sayin’…

Many thanks to my Aunt Evelyn Boone for a calming, pleasant afternoon visit and a wonderful dinner at her residence. Best thing all day!

But you would have none of it…

Sometimes I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing.  I wonder if the reason my life is filled with routine, sometimes mundane activity is because I’m not a good enough tool. Maybe I wasn’t listening when instructions were being given. Maybe I was playing spider solitaire or watching tv? Maybe I was over invested in my to do list for the day, or riding my bike to allay my worries about hypertension. Maybe I just didn’t want to sit and write about something I had learned or felt – something that might have brought hope to someone desperate for a word.
Okay, I’ve come to recognize this train of thought. Left unaddressed, it gathers force and eventually has me sort of despising myself for not being something greater than I am. I could wallow in it, but don’t have time. I could go talk to a counselor, but don’t have that kind of money. I could talk to God…, yeah, I actually do that. Today it went like this.

“Help me. This angst and unrest is insanely uncomfortable.  I know you wanted me to solve the world’s problems, lol, instead I’m not even solving my own.  Should I be able to do something more than this?”

It occurred to me in the middle of this that God is probably able to put me where he wants me. Indications are that he likes it when I give him credit for that. So I started thinking that way, and it felt right, good. Felt true.  I also read from him – it’s something he told someone else, but it’s a principle that shows how he does things.

image

 

It also records the response he got which was not so great.

Whoa! Could I be doing that? I’m told to be quiet and trust and instead I’m having none of it and looking for some action?  I’m going to worry about it and figure out what to do? It’s pretty ridiculous, but it happens when I forget who God is and who I am and how different we are.

I thought about this, off and on today, and my conclusion is that I want all the quietness and rest God wants to give me. Bring it on.  I want to be alert and ready, but content, storing up that strength I’ll probably need later.  This is one of many answers to personal cries for help, from God’s word to my intellect, resulting in a kind of peace.

What does this mean in a world that doesn’t believe in a personal, relational spiritual Creator who works with people for their betterment?  God could easily say to this culture “but you would have none of it”. We fit the picture, just sayin’…

The Value of a Hard Day

Every hard day I go through becomes a part of me.  I think back on the recent hours of physical pain and ask myself what is different about me now?

I am much more aware of my mortality. Reminded of how little control I have over the complexities of this body. How little it takes to bring on a crisis.  I sat and wondered how much pain it takes to make a person pass out, not able to take any more. I thought of others who endure more pain over longer periods of time, in prison perhaps with no care at all to help them. But I thought more about my own pain and what I might possibly do to lessen it, make it go away.  I mean, how could there not be anything?

I made some promises to my body.  I realize pain is a message of sorts that my body gives me to tell me valuable things. I need to listen better. I need to keep times of pain in mind when I choose activities, work, play, eating.  I haven’t been totally negligent all these years but I do wish that the awareness I have now in my 60’s had been with me in my 20’s and 30’s. I could have been listening back then too.

I have reviewed what I know about God’s view of my life and my pain. I know by now that I can’t expect the laws of the universe to be superceded to produce miracles for me. I believe that happens but I don’t understand  why sometimes and not others. I know Jesus’ heart in the matter because he healed everyone who came to him. I think he has that same compassion for me. Sometimes my prayers for relief are answered quickly, other times not so quickly.  When the answer has been “no” I can usually see that there is benefit for me.  I know that my spiritual healing is the most important thing to God and the answer to that has never been “no”.

I have friends.  When they know that I have a need, love is poured out so generously.  I feel God is in that.  It’s part of that body metaphor where other parts feel the pain when one part hurts. I was encouraged and blessed and I’m told lots of good brain chemicals are released in that.  What a wonderful built-in response to love.

I learned that the husband can make really good sandwiches, and he is attentive and caring.  I knew that before but it’s kind of rare that I need this kind of attention so I forget. He gave up most of his day carting me around to medical care and waiting, waiting…. going for my prescriptions, making me comfortable.

I learned once again how wonderful it is when pain stops.  What relief.  What rest.  A new and joyful appreciation of pain free moments is mine.  I’m flooded with gratitude – more good brain chemicals.

One more part of my body taking on a troublesome behavior could cause a bit of dread, fear, uncertainty.  But today I was reminded in Proverbs 1:33 that listening to the Lord’s wisdom promises me that I will live in safety, be at ease and not have to dread disaster.  Disaster might come, but I don’t have to dread it.  My days are numbered by the Lord, not by circumstances of accident or disease. And thinking back, I wasn’t afraid.  But gosh, the pain was awful.

And so it becomes part of my past and part of me. I’ve seen pain make some people more beautiful.  Isn’t that kind of an exciting concept – that you can do something with pain and use it?  That I might become more beautiful, even stronger, in character is growth. I love that kind of growth!

I don’t wish hard days on anyone but I’m just sayin’, if you have one, it can be valuable.

No Question Marks Allowed

Was just looking over my last few post titles and seeing a run of question marks that I didn’t realize was happening.  There are going to be none in this post.  This is going to be difficult since there are no subjects that I don’t have questions about.  For such a decisive person, I am perfectly comfortable with many uncertainties. In addition I am very skeptical of people who think they’ve got it all figured out, not only for themselves but for everyone else too.  That is not to say that there aren’t things that I have proven to myself to be true and certain.  There are some. 

Today I went to visit Jack.  He is one of my “older than me” friends who has had several months of acute illness followed by surgery, followed by infections, setbacks, weight loss, more setbacks, and endless rehab.  I don’t know how he remains as positive as he does.  

A home assessment visit was supposed to take place today and I was invited along since I may be helping him when he finally gets released.  It was cancelled.  He has a fever and didn’t feel well enough. Today I could feel the gloom and he had very little to say.  I think he is living in the kind of decline that most of us fear is going to happen to us someday, if we live long enough without a quick accident of some kind.  And for Jack it is even more of a dilemma since for the last few years he has been watching his wife Carol, go through an even slower, more agonizing decline with Alzheimers.  He is concerned for her and for himself. They are in the same rehab hospital so he at least can see her frequently.  

At home today, while I was thinking about Jack’s situation, the TV was non-stop talking about the latest journalist beheading.  It was another instance of imminent death which I’m sure the victim saw coming.  I wonder what it was like to anticipate that – and then immediately I don’t want to think about it anymore, don’t want to visualize it or feel the details.  It seems like the world is unusually full of death, be it quick or slow.  Maybe it has always been this way to those who were aware of the suffering, but it is pretty hard not to be aware of it in this present age.

All troubling thoughts about death and suffering eventually connect me to what I believe about myself and about God.  To all people I would not be hesitant to say I am certain we all will die. To some people I would say I am certain God exists, knows and loves us and wants to bring us through this life to a better one in the future.. I am certain he can be known and loved by us once we really understand him.  But to others I would not say this because of the questions they need answered, and which I cannot answer.  I think I understand these people because of all my own uncertainties.

Here’s the good thing.  As I wrestle with my thoughts on death, meaning of life, what I’m certain of and what I’m not, I feel no condemnation from God for having questions.  Unlike this post where no questions are allowed, they seem to be allowed and welcomed, certainly in the past but now as well.  I think it’s very possible that God uses questions, uses uncertainty, and is able to demonstrate his answers better because of them.  

I’m not going to anticipate decline in my old age and I’m going to encourage Jack not to be afraid.  I’m not going to fear terrorism and imagine all kinds of atrocities happening to me (well, maybe a little, well yes, I’m afraid of some of it).  What I do feel is a great curiosity and a hopeful anticipation of having my questions answered,  And it will be good when that happens. Of that, I am certain. 

 

It’s Not A Crime

 

This is not a post from a sweet,  gray haired, “got it all figured out” Christian lady . I am just a person who sometimes lies awake at night wondering about life and who I am and why I’m here.

This is a week where a family member has died. It’s a week when a child has asked me “do you think it would be okay to have fun and not be sad?” I have come to a conclusion. It is not a crime to be happy. The world is full of terrible things, even so, it is more of a crime to be sad than to be happy. We were made to be happy. That is good news.

All the terrible things in the world didn’t come about by chance. They were not put here for us by an uncaring God either. We chose those things ourselves, most of them, and others came because we chose to hang out with a bad gang bent on destruction. Those terrible things, all of them, came when we didn’t believe what we were told about how to be happy.

It is somewhere deep in our being to think, and then say “NO, I do it myself!” Why is it so hard for us to believe that we are not the smartest, most reasonable, most capable, most invincible beings ever? Why is that so hard? Why do we act like a two year old child when we are told what will be best for us? Why does it take us fifty, sixty, seventy, ninety years to realize that we are not in control and that our days are going to run out. Those days go by faster and faster, begging us to look the issue straight on, to decide whether we will let ourselves acknowledge our parent who knows more than we do, our creator, and call him God.

I am not a preacher or a missionary. Sometimes I wish I were a missionary and could go to some land where life is very difficult, much more basic and simple. People there do not need to be convinced that there is a God. Most of the time they just need to be told and they recognize it as what they’ve been longing to hear and know. I live in a land where people think too much about some things and too little about other more important things – but there is a lot of thinking going on. Thinking like that young child, which is pretty much “what do I want now?”

This whole question of what’s going on with life can be learned by studying that parent – child relationship. It’s all there. I’ve had kids. I know. I’m not talking about all the bad variations of it that we have managed to come up with. A true parent longs for the child from the moment it is conceived in the mind, becomes more in love with it as it develops, protects it, delights in seeing it progress, grow and assume unique qualities. A true parent is concerned with the lifelong happiness of the child and has a better picture of how that is to be achieved than does the child. The toddler sincerely thinks he is capable, because he knows what he wants now. He does not know what he will want later – he has to be told that and don’t expect him to understand. Really, you can’t even tell him.

Don’t try.

Can you see how we are kind of like toddlers all our lives? We try one thing that we want after another, trying to feel big and important and smart and we will do it ourselves. We are not able to understand. We will test. We will insist. A good parent knows this will happen and plans for it. A good parent would die to keep their child safe and bring them through those tests. I am not a perfect parent but I feel that way about my kids. I think God feels that way about me.

I live in a world that is crazy with design and beauty, full of things meant to be good, meant to produce growth. I’m like that baby that grows up in the home provided by the parents – it’s child-proofed and I’m surrounded by toys to amuse and educate me. I’m watched over, cared for. Could I possibly think I put all that in place myself ? More and more, I know that I did not do it myself.

I lie awake at night thinking about this. Why does this even make sense to me? Why doesn’t it make sense to everyone – that’s what I wonder. Am I missing something?

A to Z Challenge: U for Untitled

Untitled for Now

I have a dream where something is lost

I do not know where it is, because I’m not sure

I’m not sure what it is. But it’s gone.

I only have that empty feeling as a clue to where it was

 

It was a precious thing and I planned never

Never to lose it. I think I hid it somewhere for safety

Little did I know it would be so safe

So safe I would not find it in all my searching

 

I look for it regularly because there is hope

Hope of some sort. I think it will be recovered

When I accidentally remember what it is,

And where it is. I hope I didn’t imagine it, that precious thing.

 

A to Z Challenge: G for Gone

the clock is still ticking...
the clock is still ticking…

G is for Gone

“Gone Without a Trace” is the name of a TV show of course, but I have my own list of people who have disappeared from my life (without my permission). They were important people and I really didn’t expect to never see or hear from them again, nor do I believe they did this purposely. It’s possible they are still around but I cannot find a trace of them anywhere. On the outside chance that any of the missing ever reads this, please know that I’m just wanting to know that you are still alive and I don’t mean to be a bother.

First among the missing is my one and only maid of honor at my wedding! I spent a year and a half with Karel Schmitt in nursing school. We were roommates and partners in escapades of all kinds. A couple years later, she was the only close friend who could make it to my Wisconsin wedding in January (nice timing huh?) Karel was a cute, peppy blond with an infectious smile and a wonderful sense of adventure. Maybe that’s why, shortly after, she also got married and according to the last letter I had from her, moved to some southeast Asia country where her husband’s family was starting a chicken farm. It seemed a little strange to me at the time. And the letters stopped. She was from St. Cloud, MN and had a twin whose name was Karen, I think. Granted, this is a pretty cold trail, but I have looked for her several times over the 40 years I’ve been married. She’s pretty much gone.

The second mystery is the disappearance of a beloved youth pastor and his wife. They were a young, intelligent couple who cared deeply for the people in our church and served the young people, including my own two girls, with a passion. That’s why when the church went through a very tumultuous time of change, they had to leave to preserve their emotional and spiritual health. We helped them load their furniture and clean their apartment before they moved. They gifted us with their grandfather clock. It still keeps good time and has a beautiful chime. (Okay, they said they had never liked it because it was so noisy – just not their style. But we like it.) It has to be wound every week so I think of them often. He was/is a handsome, part Asian man named Sui Shia and his wife was Christine. She was a budding journalist and writer. They both wanted to move someplace to further their education and Sui probably changed profession. He had many interests.

I am not a professional people hunter but I have the internet. That’s where most of my searching has been. Will I find them? Do they want to be found? Good questions.

 

Has anyone out there seen my people?

I Have Wondered Why It Happened…

We were a fairly young family with two daughters, ages 8 and 5. This was our first big move, leaving friends, family and a comfortable home in the north for unknown circumstances in a state as far south as one could go. Almost everything was unfamiliar. All our belongings were packed into two trailers for the trip. My parents helped us move by towing one trailer and we pulled the other one behind our van.  I remember the end of that long trip – I was driving in the early morning on the interstate and hit an armadillo. It was our introduction to Florida.

After our first day of resting in a motel, our Realtor helped us to a temporary furnished apartment near the famous Siesta Beach with it’s wide, white sand beaches.  We found a storage facility and unloaded pretty nearly all our earthly possessions into two rented rooms to await the new house I was sure we would find within a short time.  We weren’t wealthy but we were blessed with enough. Our “things” were dear to us, having either been received as wedding gifts or handed down as heirlooms from both sides of our families.  We had only some clothing and personal items with us in the apartment.

A week and a few days later we went back to the storage facility to get something we needed.  I walked down the second story corridor to the rooms at the end and tried to figure out why the door on one of our rooms was standing open. I looked in the empty room and tried to tell myself there had been a mistake. Was I somehow in the wrong building? the wrong corridor? What could this mean? I was in a state of repressed panic. I tried to remember all the things we had put in that room but it was impossible – there was too much.  My grandmother’s china cupboard, our best (only) dishes and flatware, our few pieces of art, clothing, my precious knitting machine I had worked so hard to buy… where was it all?

As the next hour unfolded we learned the truth about what had happened that was stranger than anything I could have made up.  It took a while to figure out because, at first, the owners of the storage facility were clueless and defensive.  Gradually putting it all together, this is how it came about.  Previous to our arrival, the now empty storage room had been rented to a customer who was delinquent in paying.  The manager had put an overlock on the room and notified the person that they had X number of days to pay or the contents of their room would belong to the storage facility.  Sometime before that deadline, the customer managed to get in the facility, remove the overlock and get all their belongings out without the manager knowing about it.

I entered the story.  Having been sent up to inspect the building where I was told there were two empty rooms, I saw two rooms, adjacent to each other, empty with the doors standing open.  They looked the right size and we paid for them and filled them up.  I don’t remember even looking at the numbers on the doors.  There were actually three empty rooms off that corridor, one  that I didn’t know about. It’s door was closed and I didn’t even notice it. Unfortunately that was one of the two rooms the manager thought we had rented. The third room, now full of our things, was the one that had belonged to the deliquent customer. And now the deadline had come.

The customary action when the account for a storage room is delinquent is to offer the contents for auction, hoping to recover the delinquent payments (think Storage Wars on reality TV). Our belongings were bought, sight unseen, by a business that accumulated goods from estate sales and storage units and then held a weekly auction on a Friday night.  We learned this on the Saturday after our things had been auctioned.  We were allowed to go through their warehouse and look for anything we recognized that hadn’t been sold.   We bought back the wooden highchair that had been mine as a child.   We found our family picture albums in their trash. There was nothing else. We were devastated.  Although they knew names and addresses of those they had sold to, they would not release any of that information to us.

We felt it was a shared mistake, and attempted to collect damages from the storage company.  Because we had no receipts for the missing items and no appraisals of the furniture and antiques, we were told that legal precedent would be against us.  We would be better off to accept a small settlement rather than take the matter to court and get nothing.  Our lawyer felt so sorry for us he did not charge us for his services.  That was the only overt blessing that I’ve ever been able to recognize concerning this event.

Did life go on? Yes, of course.  But there are differences since then.  I wish I could say that I learned never to make a quick decision, always to check every transaction thoroughly – but that hasn’t always been the case.  What did change was that I hold loosely to “things”, in order that they might not get a grip on my heart.  I’ve bought very little furniture, invested very little in things that might fit into a packing box, spent more time in Goodwill, second hand shops and garage sales for the things I do need.  I’m not sure I understand why God allowed this to happen at a time when so many other difficult things were also taking place, but He did.  I think I will understand it better some time in the future.  And I’ve never given up hope that some day, in some backwoods antique shop, I might see Grandma’s china cupboard again.  I’m just sayin’ it would be kind of like God to do that…

Again, I Wonder

Life is wonder full, full of things to wonder about that is, and today I am wondering about the judicial system.  I have just spent three days serving on a jury, which for the most part was an interesting and pleasant time. I’ve never before had the experience of coming into a room where everyone stood until I sat down (felt very unusual) and I got to eat a restaurant lunch downtown three days in a row (also felt unusual).

This trial ended after two and a half days of laborious testimony with the judge coming down today, after our lunch break, and dismissing us.  Evidently both parties had decided to back up to a previous point where the judge alone could make a decision and he did just that and settled the matter.  It was not the decision I would have made, but of course I do not know much about the intricacies of legal proceedings.  I cannot figure out why both parties agreed to settle the matter this way and there is a lingering sense of injustice that I just can’t shake.

This is the fourth time I have been closely connected to a matter settled in a courtroom or through legal representation. I’ve felt this sense of injustice every time even though I am grateful for our judicial system – grateful we aren’t out settling our differences at gunpoint in an alley somewhere.  These experiences leave me with a disturbing distrust. Ever felt that? Have we created a system that has become so complicated that a clever (or powerful, or influential, or rich) person can find a way to do things that shouldn’t be done and make them seem absolutely legal?

I’m thinking maybe, yes.

I don’t know.

Troubling.

I think I will actively try to avoid depending upon a lawyer, suing anyone, or being in a courtroom for any reason, anytime in the future.  I’m just saying that a lingering sense of injustice can really lower a person’s expectations. Hopefully I won’t get sued for saying all this….

Does anyone have a different story that can cheer me up? I would love to hear it.