It’s been a little bit since my last update, but that’s because I’ve been trying to iron a few things out. As soon as I feel like I get caught up with everything, something else happens that needs my attention it seems. But I do have some news.
On November 29th, I’ll be getting my new boobs! I am ecstatic! I’m beyond ready to get rid of these expanders and have a need to wear a bra again! (I haven’t worn one since my surgery and its been kind of glorious.) I’m certainly ready to feel “normal” again. Whatever that looks like.
I decided to go with Dr. Robinson who will do the DIEP flap procedure. Turns out I’ve got more than enough belly fat to turn into boobs. Imagine that!
If you’ve been keeping up, you already know that this surgery takes fat and blood vessels from below the belly button and transfers it to the chest where they reattach the blood vessels to keep the tissue alive. This is called a microsurgery because the sutures they use to reattach the blood vessels are the width of a human hair and it requires a microscope to be able to work with them. It will also involve a 2-3 day hospital stay to make sure the sutures “take”.
It requires an extensive recovery time (4-6 weeks), so I’ll also be taking the month of December off work. I’m sure my mom is also ecstatic to be moving back in with me and waiting on me hand and foot (literally). Dr. R said most people take 4 weeks off work but some are able to return after two. I’m going to take 4 and see what I can do. Either way, December is the perfect month work-wise because it’s a short one. It’s also somewhat slow and I won’t be leaving my boss buried in work.
My surgery will take place at CMC Main. Currently, my next step is to get a CT Scan at the hospital who will call me to schedule it. This is to make sure my blood vessels are healthy enough for the surgery.
Other than this, life is moving along well enough. Now that things have “slowed” a bit, I am taking care of smaller issues that needed to be taken care of a while ago but that I just did not have the energy to do. This mostly involves fighting with my insurance about denied claims and the REACH center sending me bills for things that were supposed to be covered in my upfront treatment cost.
For now, let’s go back to that nightmare MRI I had months ago, featured here. The claim was denied by my insurance. Twice. Apparently, it was coded wrong (??). So despite my getting pre-approved for the procedure, it was still denied—but the EOB said the patient still did not owe anything for the procedure (I’d reached my out of pocket max by then). And this would not normally have been a huge deal, but the hospital had demanded payment for my “portion” of the procedure up front. Which was $1500. And, like a fool, I paid it instead of telling her to send me a bill (which I have since learned I can do).
Once I got the letter from BlueCross at the end of May saying it had been denied, I started making phone calls, but every time I did I got the run-around. The hospital billing department told me I needed to talk to my insurance about it. Insurance told me I needed to talk to the hospital billing department. And so on and so forth. When I finally got fed up with it, I waited a month or so to try again. This time, the hospital billing department told me the insurance was still pending. This was at least a different answer than the one I’d gotten before, but I told them that was not possible because I was holding the EOB in my hands dated May 15. I was calling them in July. But still, they told me there was “nothing they could do” until insurance came through.
So, I waited another month, and in August I called Blue Cross again (probably the 7th time total on this claim alone). But this time, the gods of the universe smiled. They rained kittens and spice and everything nice down upon me in the form of a woman named Deprecia. This woman is a saint. She told me that even if this claim was denied, the hospital still owed me my money back because I’d reached my out of pocket max at this point. And then. THEN. She offered to call them for me to tell them that!!
Now, I haven’t mentioned yet that every time I called, I was put on hold (because “all customer service representatives are busy at this time”) and every few minutes a robotic voice would come on the line to tell me what number I was in line. I have never called them when I wasn’t at LEAST #15 in line. But I would wait. It usually took about 20 minutes to get someone on the phone. I relayed all this back to Deprecia, but she seemed okay with it. So, she put me on hold while she called this hospital and SHE then sat on hold for 20 minutes. She came back to my line once to tell me where she was in line and that she was still there and hadn’t forgotten about me.
When she finally came back on the line for good, it was to tell me the hospital was cutting me a check and that it should arrive in 7-10 business days. She also told me that if it didn’t show up to call her back and she’d take care of it.
WHO IS THIS GODLY WOMAN AND WHERE DID SHE COME FROM?!
I was so relieved. And exactly 11 days after that phone call, I got a check back for about $1240. I was so happy it was taken care of and I got to check it off my long list of things to do that I didn’t even care that it wasn’t the full amount.
I got about two days of respite before I got another bill in the mail for egg cryopreservation. The REACH center initially told me the fee I paid up front for my treatment included the first year of preservation, but here I was getting a bill for it. So, I called the center and left a message about it. No one called me back, so I thought maybe they’d taken care of it and just not called back. But, in September I got another bill for that month’s fee plus “late charges” for the month of August.
I’ve made quite a few phone calls and sent a couple of emails trying to get answers on this but have yet to hear back. I figure when they want their money badly enough, they’ll call me. Hopefully before they remove my babies from boarding school.
Anyway, this is just a taste of what life is looking like for me at the moment: On the other side of cancer, but still having to pick up the pieces of everything lost along the way. Lots of time spent on hold, making and waiting for phone calls to companies that are only open during the hours that I am at work, and not a whole lot of sleep because all these things keep me up at night.
However, I am learning to be super grateful when nothing (besides basic adulting) seems to be going on in my life. And despite them denying a few things, including both visits to my oncologist (???) (still sorting these out), I am grateful for BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina. They have been pretty great so far, all things considered. And I am looking forward to getting my Oncotype results back later this week so that I can have some closure on the whole chemo issue.
Until next time. Much love.