Monday, July 22, 2013

Pause; Mute

Here's a photo of Sam. This is not about him, but having a photo here makes all of you Facebook folks more likely to clicky on the linky.

Ohhhhhh yawwwwwnnnnnnn

So not only have I been quiet for the past few weeks, but I've also left my stories from the NZ trip horribly in the lurch. Usually, a quiet blog is a byproduct of being super busy at work, but that's not -entirely- the case this time.

I got scared silent.

I'm going to state something outright that is probably painfully obvious to most of my seven faithful readers, but may need elucidation for those who aren't regulars:

This blog is my greatest opportunity to project a positive outlook on the world I navigate. What I write is the truth, but it is not the whole truth. And, save a handful of editorial exaggerations or downplays in the name of humor or foreshadowing, it's nothing but the truth.

Back to the "whole truth" part: I see no point in sharing (or oversharing) everything about my life. Not only is there no compulsion to do so, but I believe that doing so would be counterproductive, as there's enough bitching, whining, and general carrying-on on the internet to cover the state of Texas three feet deep in bullshit, and the last thing we need is more of that.

I have stress and uncertainty and unhappiness and doubt and anger (and on and on) in my repertoire, but those have no place here. I rather enjoy having the choice and the freedom to write about things I like, things that make me happy, and things that make the world a better place. Go ahead, next time you're REALLY bored, and read back through 6 years and 300+ posts, where you'll see only the tiniest snippets of unpleasantness.

This is no accident. This is by design.

Now that I've explicitly stated that, I get to break form. Betcha didn't see that coming!

Some 50 weeks ago, I got hit by a car on my bike, and by and large, I came through it OK. By "by and large" and "OK," I mean somewhere between "unscathed" and "totally hosed," and I normally leave it up to the reader to interpret that as he or she may choose. In reality, it was firmly between the two. I wasn't hurt badly enough that it made sense to cancel our trip to Europe a week later, even though there was zero chance that I'd get to race.

Mentally, there were some interesting things I spent a few months working through, but we're not here to discuss that today. Physically, I spent about 7 months recuperating between self-care, physical therapy, and manual therapy. During those 7 months, I had a couple relapses that took me back to square one. I carried continual, daily pain through that time, albeit to varying degrees ranging from "annoying" to "grinding." I slept poorly, I worked diligently to recover, and my first big milestone was being able to regain some level of physical activity.

Aside: after reaching that milestone, I discovered that continuing recovery and regaining fitness were oddly decoupled: running was (hilariously) far easier on my back than swimming or biking, and running seemed to neither help nor hinder my recovery. From this realization was spawned the goal of running "fast" in Boston.

Back on track: unfortunately, there are medical bills associated with this whole process, and I'd rather not get into the ins and outs of why getting them paid for has been such a frustrating ordeal. What I will say is that my ~3 hours in the emergency room allowed me to amass well north of $30k in bills. If I were to get left with those bills, I'd be on my way to medical bankruptcy several times over. As theoretically-responsible-parties excused themselves, one after the other, from paying these bills, my frustration rose and rose. OK, so just for fun, that list includes:
1) My health insurance
2) The auto insurance of the guy who hit me
3) The guy himself
4) His employer (this happened while he was on the clock)

Fortunately, the saving grace in all this is that MY auto insurance policy includes uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage in my policy is what's kept me whole, and I cannot begrudge them that. A minor wrinkle is that the process of paying out everything that's owed couldn't even begin until I got a clean bill of health (in March), so to say that this has dragged along is a mild understatement.

Now here's where it gets curiouser and curiouser. As the insurance adjuster gets around to processing the claim in May or June or whenever, it might seem that a reasonable thing to do is to Google the policyholder (me) and see what he's been up to. She does this, and lo and behold, the first or second hit is this little corner of teh interwebz. Jackpot! And on this blog, I talk about happy things (see above). I wrote about the handful of hikes we went on in Europe (~4 days of our monthlong trip), not bothering to mention the rrrrrrippppping back pain associated with them, opting instead to talk about how awesome it is to be in such beautiful settings. I wrote about running in New Zealand in January, not bothering to mention how I was starting to resign myself to a lifetime of back problems, opting instead to share photos and stories of adventure and challenge. And when I had my big (and utterly debilitating) relapse in February, I didn't make any mention of it at all, as there was frankly no positive spin to put on it whatsoever.

So you see the pattern emerging. From the perspective of an uneducated blog visitor (and I mean that in the nicest possible way, guys and gals), it's reasonable to assume that I lead a charmed life full of unicorns and rainbows and shit. However, we've already established that this perspective is a projection that I've chosen, so to extrapolate too much from the photos, stories, and information I present is as patently invalid a process as I could possibly imagine.

The kicker was when I got word that my own insurance was considering using my chosen projection from this blog when making their judgement about my medical bills etc. INSTEAD of using the provided reams of documentation from medical professionals, my own private first-hand account of the accident, police reports, and so on and so forth. This implication was so stunning to me that I could do little more than shrug my shoulders and act like I wasn't surprised.

And I guess, in reality, I'm not.

In the interest of being Fair and Balanced, I should add that the (pick one) {threat; consideration; suggestion} was defused before it happened after I provided my insurance company with a manifesto not too unlike this one. So in the end, no blood no foul, and I suppose that they get both a tip of the hat and a wag of the finger for dropping the standoff after creating it.

Through all this, I have no reservation in saying that my opinions of the healthcare and insurance industries are at an all-time low. They're run as businesses, and part of business is Staying in Business, not necessarily providing the right care. I know full-well that a grand majority of doctors, nurses, PAs, EMTs, paramedics, etc. care DEEPLY about what they do, and it's a crying shame that the industry that supports them can leave such a bitter impression upon those who receive care. I'm writing this now because it's all done, finally, and I'm thrilled to have the whole ordeal behind me. It's been a year far too mired in the machinations of the seedy underbelly of How to Pay for Medical Expenses When Nobody Wants To.

So if you're reading this, Miss Adjuster, realize that this isn't a personal attack on you. You're just doing what you do. And so am I.

Onwards and upwards! I will now return you to your regularly-scheduled programming.



Alison said...

Looks like you actually have 14 readers! And I'm one of them and I like what you have to say...and even though I don't like cute cat pictures, I clicked on it because I'm a photographer, too, and you captured a great moment. Your a survivor and inspiration and a hell of an athlete. Keep up the good work despite the system!

Ali Denney said...

Looks like you actually have 14 readers, not 7, and I'm one of them, and I love what you have to say...and even though I don't like cute cat pictures, I clicked on it because I'm a photographer, too, and you captured a great moment. You're a survivor and inspiration and one hell of an athlete. Keep up the good work despite the system!

Anonymous said...

Dude, have you considered starting a negatively-biased alter-blog to pair up with this one? Put really shitty pictures on it and post about the drudgery of painful meaninglessness of human existence? HATE on NZ! Disparage sports and achievement of all kinds.. You know, pull a Colbert to 1L1T's Stewart? :)

Anonymous said...

Man!! I totally agree with how corrupt the health insurance business is. Sad that you were the victim and had to spend the last year making a case for yourself so that you weren't stuck with the medical bills, only to have the insurance agent Google your name and find your inspirational blog. I know you personally and I know that you are such a positive person! Of course you wouldn't want to add to the ever-growing negative sob-stories of human existence. I applaud you for choosing to go that way with your blog. Glad to hear that this is finally behind you. :) Carry on!

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