Bad, But Not Bad Bad

Well, “Doctor Visit #1” is out of the way. Going in, I definitely didn’t know what to expect. I know what I feelΒ (and hear) inside my neck, but I wasn’t sure if the MRI was going to accurately reflect that. πŸ˜• And… it did but it didn’t. πŸ€” Comparing it to an MRI from years ago, he could see more damage directly above the fusion area – but not so much that it requires more surgery. So I guess I got my wish… not that I want to hurt, but that I wanted it to show why I hurt, because I do. (Oh, and I actually have C5, C6, and C7 fused. I thought, for some reason, that it was only C5 and C6.)

It gets tricky now though, because my WC claim only allows for very specific parts of my body to be included. And even though any doctor that you’d ask would know that fused areas often end up with increased damage either above or below the fusion point, because that area isn’t specifically allowed by my claimΒ it may be a fight to get anything done in that regard. 😠 So, even though there’s a suggested course of action, if WC won’t concede that the damage is related to an area within my claim, there’s probably gonna be a delay. πŸ™„ Again.

First of all, he said there doesn’t appear to be much stenosis… a word that I’ve learned to fear from my mom’s own experience with it. 😳 But after spending a little more time than usual trying to describe the where/when/why/how of my current pain, he suggested that we try a steroid injection directly into my spinal cord area. 😯 I guess he’d inject some contrast dye first, and then while under some sort of scan – he would carefully puncture the right areas and inject the steroid, while being careful not to puncture the wrong areas. πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ’‰ A bit unnerving, yes, but I have to do something.

Like I told him… I can’t even explain how much this injury and surgery have stolen from me over the past decade. πŸ˜” Who I am now is not who I was back then, and I don’t hesitate to put a lot of the blame on this disability. But to have my life changed so greatly, yet still be experiencing this kind of pain on a daily basis… frustration doesn’t begin to explain it. πŸ˜‘ But anyway, he’s doing what he can, and he doesn’t like the fight against WC any more than I do, but it’s just how things have to be done. So we’ll see over the next week if it’s allowed or if I’ll have to figure it out some other way.

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Catching Up (More Later?)

Okay, I’ll put some effort into this entry. Things have been rough lately. Cassi and her family moved to a new apartment, and I was asked to help out where I could – and that’s all I could do, help out where I could. But basically what you had was a rag tag crew of broken people, trying to move an entire apartment’s worth of stuff as quickly as possible. 😬 I didn’t do much more than move boxes from the basement, up the stairs, and into the kitchen (what feels like 100 times) and then I did help Cassi with the actual packing of her room and taking those boxes downstairs too. πŸ˜₯ So even though what I was doing was mostly lifting dead weight, which doesn’t kill my neck and shoulder when done in moderation – of course I’m still dying today just due to the scale of what we were trying to do. (I wasn’t there for unloading day, handled by Cassi, Athena, and Athena’s new d00d.)

But anyway, I’ve done enough bitching on Twitter. We did have some other help for the bigger items, so everything that needed to get done got done. Of course we all wish we didn’t have to kill ourselves like we did, but it had to be done. One good thing though is that I’m pretty sure I’m still going to feel horrible by the time I get my MRI done tomorrow. Yes, thankfully it seems the scan has been approved – although now I’m remembering that I have a voice mail on my phone from the risk management company associated with my claim, so I can’t guarantee anything until I check that later. 😠 But the extra pain that I’ve been having, the random seizing that my neck is doing, the “different” noises it makes – I’m just really concerned that something is going bad in there. And I’m torn, because I want them to tell me that yes, it’s worse, and that it’s not just a coincidence… but of course I don’t want it to be something so bad that they start talking about another surgery. 😳

Oh, and in order to not stress Z out while they were getting ready to move, I decided to be cat-sitter again. 😺 I had her for several days, which was long enough this time for her to really start taking to me. No more hiding when I’d go down to the basement to see her – which was probably due in part to the liberal sharing of catnip and the regular “paper wad flipping” sessions. 😊 It’s nice to see that she hasn’t lost her excitement for that game.

So with all of that out of the way, after I get done with my MRI on Wednesday and hopefully get over to Aunt Sharon’s sometime today to help with her computer – then my life can maybe start going back to its normal boring-ness for a few days, and I can put my new vacuum together to see how she works… and do my laundry… and dishes… and bills… and continue packing away “get rid of” stuff… etc… 😏 I’m sure I’ll still pop up to Cassi’s a couple times in the near future to help her unpack things here and there, but thank God all of the ass-busting work has been done.

I’mma Ramble For A Min

I don’t know if I’m going to have to deal with that nonsense every thirty days, but at least yesterday I was finally able to get the situation resolved. πŸ˜’ Everything ended up getting approved and paid for (after I got a refund for what I paid the day before) by the workers comp insurance. Everyone that I spoke to on the phone was super nice and helpful, which was almost disappointing – since I was really needing to shout at some people by that point. 😐 But yeah, it’s all settled for this month…

Now I’m sitting here in the house, living room floor covered with cat hair, wondering when my new vacuum cleaner is finally going to ship from Amazon. 🀨 I got it as part of a Black Friday / Cyber Monday/Week sale, but it wasn’t in stock at the moment and was advertised that it would ship in about a week. (It’s been about a week.) Meh… at least I don’t have any company coming over to see my furry carpet. πŸ™„

Outside, nothing has changed. It’s cold now, so stuff has stopped growing, but I never did get around to hiring someone to trim back all the hedges and other shit around the yard. πŸ™ It doesn’t look that bad, but it stays in the back of my mind that it needs tended to. πŸ˜’ That’ll probably be a “spring thing” to deal with before the lawn even requires mowing for the first time.

This house. I really don’t know what I want to do about it. It’s way too much house for one person, but it’s never been lived in by anyone other than a Batina. Grandparents, Dad, Aunt C, and now me. 😳 Lots of memories here, both good and bad… and it will/would be hard to not feel a little bit guilty about selling it and moving somewhere else. 😟 It shouldn’t be that way, but you know me – and how much memories / history / nostalgia / etc plays into my life. Plus, it’s the last thing that acts as “established Batina history/presence” and man would it feel weird to not have it around anymore to keep me feeling connected to my past. Hard to explain… but anyway…

Thankfully, now that I have all of my required meds in my system I’m feeling pretty good. Neck is still feeling more funky than it has in a long time, but I’m trying not to complain. I’m still waiting to see if the MRI is approved… and I’m hoping that if it’s not, that maybe I can use my Medicare insurance to cover most of it. Because I’m not doing it just to do it… something feels different, not good, and it’s making me a bit anxious. 😬 It’s been a decade since my cervical fusion surgery, so I don’t think it’s that far fetched to think that things may have changed in there since then.

Wait, How Much?

The other day I did some investigating in regards to the monthly cost of the various medications that I’m prescribed, for the injury/disability that is currently covered by my workers comp claim. It’s been quite a while since I’ve given it much thought, but man… now that I see the numbers… damn. 😧 These are the prices that I would pay if I had no insurance, and was paying for my prescriptions with cash.

  • Medication #1” – Brand Name: $284.99 / Generic: $73.59
  • Medication #2” – Brand Name: $1314.99 / Generic: $535.99
  • Medication #3” – Brand Name: $996.99 / Generic: (N/A)

So with those figures… add in the monthly office appointments, the potential tests or procedures that I might need to have in the future… and you can see how I’d be a bigger financial burden to my WC insurer than one might originally think. (And it sure makes these settlement negotiations feel a whole lot more significant to my future.)

“Wake Up, Case 1485729-4”

Fell asleep around dawn and then was awoken by a phone call from one of my attorneys a few hours later. πŸ˜’ We’ve got quite a bit of outstanding issues right now, and after the long weekend I could almost feel this call coming… so much so that I didn’t turn my ringer off, since I did need to talk to him.

This entry might as well be titled “What Else Is Wrong?” since, in part, it’s essentially going to be a sequel to my most recent post. As you may or may not know, I try to keep my online presence as free as possible from a) bitching about my pain/disability, and b) talking about specifics of my workers comp case. Partially out of pride, partially because nobody really wants to hear about it anyway.

I’m not sure I even remember what I used to be like before all of this dominated my life. I know it’s not pleasant now, to put it extremely mildly, and I know it’s a constant pain in the ass… so even though it’s hard to remember, I do miss the time when my life was my own and I wasn’t being led by the nose through by doctor visits, IC hearings, physical disability, medication requirements, mental stress, pharmacy policies, insurance companies, and now actual an actual court case. 😞

I’m just frustrated because we’re less than two months away from the court stuff starting and so far the settlement stuff is going nowhere. πŸ˜• Their side will submit their brief to the court, my side will have a few weeks to reply, and then it starts getting serious. The court will likely want to depose any doctors that have seen or treated me, on both sides, which means I’d have to hope that I could essentially “rent” my doctor for half a day to give testimony – which would be ridiculously expensive. 😣 (Not to mention ridiculously annoying since he’s already submitted report, after report, after report, in writing.)

So my attorney is going to find out how much they’ve paid each year, on average, for my treatment and medication – and then tomorrow or the next day, when I go to the pharmacy to pick up this month’s meds, I’m going to have them print out what the “out of pocket” cost would be for each medication if I was paying for them with no insurance at all. πŸ€“ With those figures we’ll again try to come up with what we believe is a fair settlement, and then they’ll have to decide if the continuing costs of fighting me are worth it – rather than just settling this and making me go away.

I’m just worried that we won’t be able to get this done before the date of the first hearing. I’m sure it’ll be (us) “Here’s our offer.” followed by (them) “Well, that’s nice, but this is what we’re willing to pay.” followed by (us) “C’mon, get out of here… we need at least (this much)” and then (them) “We’re gonna have to think on this.” with (us) “Well we’re gonna have to think on this too.” Heh… so I don’t know what the odds are of avoiding this court case at this point, but I’d think they are slim.

Zero Hour

This weekend ended up being exactly what I needed it to be. 😌 I also realized that in addition to just enjoying the company that I was with, having a human in my immediate proximity went a long way towards keeping my brain from getting stuck in the “on” position like it almost always does. (Much like how you have to jiggle the toilet handle just the right way to keep the water pump from running for hours and burning itself out. 😏)Β Now my company has gone, the weekend is coming to an end… but there’s still a new Rick and Morty episode tonight along with the season finale of Game of Thrones, so that provides one last little bit of goody before it’s back to normal tomorrow.

The currentΒ “you’ll hear from us” state of both of my attorney-led endeavors has got me feeling a bit restless again, so the first thing I’m going to do tomorrow is give those folks a call. I’m not sure that any prodding from me will make either of those situations move any more quickly, but at least I’ll feel like I’m trying to do something about it.

Another thing that I was reminded of this weekend is how nice it can be when I’m not perpetually absorbing the news of the day. It’s difficult for me to consciously avoid the news. I want to stay informed. I want to stay outraged at the things one should be outraged against. But much like the way I swore off of HLN years ago after shows like Dr Drew and Nancy Grace started to make me a little bit crazy… heh… I should really consider limiting my consumption of political news, even from the shows which present it from a point of view that is often similar to my own. (This topic is honestly worthy of it’s own multi-paragraph entry here. πŸ€” Perhaps soon.)

Other information briefs: Christina handled her first chemo treatment like a champ, but today she cut her hair quite short in anticipation of the eventual hair loss. Jim’s mom is still putting up a fight against her cancer, but the probability of recovery at this point is not good. πŸ˜” And then my friend Rick Kitzmiller… he’s got a lot of support, but complications during chemotherapy are starting to put his recovery at risk as well. 😟 “I’m just treading water.” is the way he most recently described it to friends via a Facebook post.

Obviously, I’ve also got other friends and family who are facing their own flavors of health problems (as am I) so it’s not that I’m not thinking about them and praying for them too… it’s just that cancer has a way of getting a bigger collective gasp, and those afflicted with it tend to stay near the front of your mind whether it’s fair or not. It’s just all incredibly sad, and in those times when I’m not thinking about it or talking about it, I just have to totally push it out of my mind or risk drowning in my thoughts.

 

Adulting

Spent most of the day yesterday dealing with “responsibility” stuff, since the “work” portion of my week got squeezed down to two days… well, one day, if you take into consideration the day that I had to potato due to recovering from the trip. 😏 So yeah, Friday was all about estate stuff, workers comp stuff, calls to those two different attorneys, as well as another quite unproductive call to the IRS. πŸ˜’

It seems the stuff regarding my workers comp claim is coming to a head, where I’ll either be going to common pleas court in Franklin county soon or I’ll be thinking harder about accepting a settlement. Those aren’t the only two options, but those are the ones that could provide some finality one way or the other. It’s amazing though, considering that I haven’t even been a squeaky wheel (other than not giving up on my case), that my former employer is actually taking The Industrial Commission of Ohio to court over my case – claiming that many of the rulings that they’ve made in my favor have actually been done incorrectly and against the IC’s and BWC’s own rules.

And then with my aunt’s estate, the only thing that’s holding us up right now is the IRS… waiting on her 2015/2016 tax returns to be processed. Well, 2016 actually went through without a hitch, but for some reason they flagged 2015 and are requiring an obscene amount of information before they will verify that I’m the person that is supposed to be handling this. 😠 I can tell them anything they want to know about those two years’ returns, but no… they want individual bits of information off of individual earnings forms that were used to calculate her 2014 return. Oy…

I may have had that information at one point, but well over a year after this process started, those papers are long gone. I mean, if I saved every record and form that my aunt had saved I’d lose a room of my house. So yeah, my bad for tossing stuff like that which I never thought I’d need again, but damn… even when I told the lady that I could answer nearly any other question that they’d wanna ask me about anything since her death – she couldn’t/wouldn’t budge, since her job says they require “A, B, and C” to verify my identity, so I have to provide “A, B, and C.” πŸ˜’ So yeah, it’s a bit of a stalemate right now, but I’ve got an idea that I put to my estate lawyer in a message left on his phone.

So, another call to the IRS, another couple of calls to the estate lawyer, another call and conversation about court cases and settlement possibilities with one of my workers comp attorneys… for someone who experiences phone calls akin to the feeling that one gets while licking a 9v battery… yeah, it was a shit day. 😏 And I didn’t even get to call the oral surgeon to discuss my two remaining wisdom teeth that need to be removed. Yeah, I’m whining a bit… heh… whatever.