In April, 2010, when Andrew was 2 1/2, a tumor was discovered behind his eye. The tumor was removed, but it was found to be an aggressive cancer. He endured seven months of chemo and six weeks radiation. In December of 2010, the day after his last treatment, he was rushed to the ER with an almost fatal bacterial infection. He survived.

He is now seven-years-old!! I don't visit here much, because during the ordeal, this is where I dumped everything--my rage, my fear, my sadness, my ugly, my hope, my everything. But I want all of you who supported and prayed for us to hear his updates. You helped me survive, and I am deeply thankful. Every once in awhile, I will check in to let you know how he's doing. Please continue to pray that cancer will never return to his body. Thank you.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tattle Tale

Well, I finally did it.

Monday is why.

On Monday, I went to the clinic.  SO relieved that the chemo would be outpatient.  I think there may actually have been a skip in my step.

I show up.  The Nurse Practitioner peeks her head in the door.  "I'm so sorry about the bad news."  Thump thump thump my heart almost jumps out of my chest.  "Bad news?" I said.

"Yes, that you won't be able to do this outpatient..."

"WHAT????" I screamed (yes, I actually screamed).

Nurse: "Your health insurance didn't approve it.  You would have to pay 100% of the cost."

Me: "WHAT??  they would rather pay thousands of dollars for hospital care instead of allow me to do the work outpatient??"

Nurse: " Our home healthcare provider is not contracted with your insurance."

Me: "WHAT??" My body is literally, visibly trembling as I fumble through my purse, trying to call my health insurance.  The nurses quickly back away as they can see that something very bad is about to go down, or around, or possibly near their face.

After several minutes of fumbling and trying to get phone numbers, and calling my husband almost crying, I finally get through to a claims agent.  They wonder why I am so upset, because they do cover it.  If it is out of network, it is covered at 70%, if in network 100%.  This provider happened to be in network and it would be covered 100%.


The home healthcare provider made an assumption about my insurance, assuming it was another one? another one that does not pay their bills.  And without calling my insurance, decided that they would not accept me as a patient. 

Then, my nurse, (remember "Ursula"), not checking for herself, but taking the home healthcare provider at their word, called and left me a message (while I was on vacation).  I did not check my messages.  No one called my cell phone.

No one made any attempt to call my insurance to verify until I did. Until my shaky hand finally managed to get though to a real live person and ask one question.  "Am I covered?"  "Yes."

That was it.  Easy as pie.  But first I had to be tortured by incompetence.

So today I finally complained.  I spoke with the social worker advocate and told her my concerns and requested a new nurse. She said that may not be possible, and that she would try to work things out with my current one.  I'm not so sure how that will work. 

Tomorrow I speak to the nurse supervisor.  I will press for a new nurse altogether.  I'm sure my complaints will not improve our current relationship.

What are these people thinking?  I think before becoming a nurse or a doctor you should have to spend a month straight in a  hospital, with a noisy roommate, and be woken up at 4 am every morning for blood draws.  It would definitely give them more empathy (even without the traumatic diagnosis to go with their stay).  I bet every single one of them would turn into a belligerent loon.  Maybe they'd at least get their butts moving when it came time to release patients.  Maybe they would advocate for me, and actually call my insurance, rather than jump to someone else's conclusions.

I was trembling all day.  Even after they told me it had all been worked out.


  1. Well THAT's certainly a stress you could do without. I hope you get a new nurse.

  2. They told YOU it had been worked out? Weren't you the one that worked it out? It makes me shake with anger that we have to watch after our health care providers. Isn't that their job?
    So sorry things were stressful, but so glad they worked out in the end:-)

  3. Argh!! That's insanely frustrating! I'm so glad that you were able to get it figured out rather quickly. I hope that getting a new nurse will also work out fairly easily. (They must have another nurse there that can take you on.) Keep complaining until you get what you need.

  4. I would have been livid, I'm glad you said something. I hope you get a new nurse, pronto.

  5. Good for you. Sometimes it helps to complain. And I hear social workers are good people. ;)

  6. That is so terrible that you had to deal with a complete lack of professionalism. Good for you for speaking up for your rights. Some hospitals also have a Patient Rep or Ombudsman if the supervisor isn't helpful. Good luck.

  7. Good for you for standing up for yourself and your family! It makes me nuts to think that you have to deal with this nonsense on top of everything else. I hope the social worker is able to be an advocate for you. Sending all the best wishes to all of you!

  8. Julie, my husband and I have said the exact same thing about people in healthcare professions needing to spend time as a patient first.

    I love that phrase "tortured by incompetence"...

    I hope that things improve... This was such an unnecessary roller coaster of emotions for you. I'm so sorry... I hope that the situation improves one way or the other (new nurse or new attitude from the old one).


  9. oh what heartache... my prayers are definitely with you, sweet julie. xo

  10. Why do they do this? I love your idea of making them endure what we do for one month before they are allowed to join their field but I think in order to maintain their profession they have also do it one week every year in a different state where they aren't known as Dr. Soandso. You are brilliant! Don't accept anything less!

  11. This is appalling. In the midst of everything, you have to wade through red tape ... because of incompetence and callousness in a field that is supposed to train professionals to be competent and empathic. Good for you for finding the strength to fight this fight!

  12. I don't understand why it's so difficult for you to get a different nurse. Is she the ONLY one at this place administering chemo?? That would be the ONLY reason that makes any sense to me AT ALL. I worked in an ICU before making the switch to oncology and patients & families were allowed to switch nurses all the time if they didn't like what the service they were receiving. And rightfully so! I wish I could come take care of your little Andrew for you. :-(


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