Thursday, November 24, 2016

Minding the Gap

Another article for The Mighty. This one detailing the struggle of affording health insurance in Idaho.

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for many things. My family. My living situation. My job, so that I may have just enough to cover my health insurance premiums.

Have a lovely holiday everyone!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lord, Hear Our Prayer

We don't talk politics.

I try to put on a brave face and not let everyone know how terrified I am at this moment. I fail miserably. Because a man who has threatened to dismantle the Affordable Care Act is our current president-elect. I know there is an alternate health care plan in the works by this man: I am well aware of it. But coordinating without a gap in medication seems impossible considering how hard it was to get medication for just the next month.

We don't talk politics. 

Even though one of us copes with several forms of mental illness. She doesn't know me when I'm off my meds: simply put, I am not the same person. I am hollow. I am consumed with irrational guilt. In certain instances, I've been delusional. I've needed hospitalization and suicide watch. I am terrified that I will need it again at some point in the near future.

We don't talk politics.

She believes that if I just give him a chance I would see: our children would be safer. I fail to see how the my daughter will be safer or more secure with a mother too mired in her own worries to function. Each break you have is harder to come back from. Sometimes you don't come back at all depending on the severity of the absence of reality.

We don't talk politics.

She believes firmly in her second amendment rights. She's not being unreasonable. I believe firmly in the protections granted by the first amendment. I'm not unreasonable either. But it shakes me that as a mentally ill person that it will be cheaper for me to buy and maintain a gun and all the associated accessories than it will be for a month's worth of medication without insurance.

We don't talk politics.

There are many different ways to support your brothers and sisters at this time. Encouraging them in their activism is one of them. On the one hand, she sincerely says my voice matters. On the other, she voted for policies that aim to silence it. I love her dearly but I need more than pity or pretty words right now: as scary as this is, I need some kind of immediate action. We both want America to remain peaceful, but change is often tumultuous. And as the hate caused by this election is unprecedented, the equal and opposite reaction to it must also be.

We don't talk politics. 

We argue over what America wants. This country elected a new President through traditional means, though one candidate seems to have a slight edge regarding the popular vote. So essentially half of Americans who voted said they wanted one candidate and half wanted the other. We are told that we should unite, but divides like this will take time to heal. In fact, they might not even take at all. We are left with protests and uncertainly. Both of us have starkly different views of what it takes to be a patriot after such controversy.

We don't talk politics.

We both want America to have a better future, we just seem to have different definitions of what that future looks like. We see one another as somehow leading the country backwards. I'm not discounting either view at this point. But I admit that as a chronically ill person I am more than slightly biased and frightened by the changes so many seem to want.

We don't talk politics.

We don't talk about them because we want to remain friends. I love her, and she loves me. We want desperately to be united, though we are clearly divided. By distance. And oh, what an interminable distance it seems at this moment. 

We don't talk politics. 

But clearly, we do. Because it is important to discuss our differences. To embrace them takes time and effort, but I have to believe that nothing is impossible. This agnostic does occasionally pray for special people and special occasions. And I'm praying with all the strength I have left right now. As one of my favorite people often says, you have a blessed day. And may God or whatever deity you pray to come to your aid at this difficult time for our nation.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Good, the Bad, and the Scrubbie

So did I tell you about that time I scrubbed toilets with my bare hands for a week?

At first cleaning houses didn’t seem that bad. I commented as I was hand mopping my first bathroom that I felt like Cinderella. I thought it would be good for me: an employment opportunity where I could use my awesome cleaning skills. Sanitation and sanity have the same opening letters, so I thought, heck to the yes! This job was right up my alley.

Oh, how wrong I often am, and was. No one used gloves; we cleaned an entire house out of a bucket full of a little Lysol and water. An entire house. Out of one bucket. So we were, in my highly deranged opinion, not really sanitizing anything. And we were getting filthy in the process.

I must have somehow forgotten that I am terrified of toilets and public restrooms: I watched in disbelief as my trainer stuck her bare hands in the toilet to clean the bowl with a green scrubbie. Then I was told to do the same. My incredulity increased as she then used the same scrubbie to clean out the bathroom sink. Oh, the horrors I have seen. I silently mouthed a prayer: Clorox Toilet Wand, appear.  Be my savior and my guide.

I endured snarky little side glances and hushed comments reflecting the obvious: I was the new girl, with no experience. Other comments berating my intelligence ensued, including one pointed suggestion about not mopping yourself into a corner because “some people just have no common sense.” Apparently it’s also “useful to be 10 percent smarter than the object you’re working with.” The lovely woman making that remark tried to make the insult sound self-deprecating. I replied wryly that in that case, I was doomed.

With many more snarky remarks caught in whispers or under breath, I could see why my employers were so insistent that there be no workplace violence in their brief orientation. I am not a violent person but by the end of my first day throat-punching was definitely on my mind.

Continual comments from one chick were particularly but unintentionally hurtful: she kept telling me how “OCD” she was. I straighten the rugs, she explained, because I’m OCD. I center the knickknacks because I’m OCD. I could have explained the difference between Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder and forms of OCD I suffer from, but I have a feeling that the significance would have been lost on her. Part of me wanted to open my eyes wide and enumerate all of the medication I take daily to keep the beasts at bay. But, no. Not worth it. Also, I wasn’t up for facing further ridicule.

The lady and gentleman I had the pleasure of working with the next three days were exceptionally pleasant. But one suggested that I stand on the lip of the bathtub in order to rinse the top of the shower tiles: the other told me horror stories about residents at one local apartment complex that use the floor as a toilet.

I couldn’t hack it.

But at least I couldn’t say I didn’t give it my all. The fruits of my labor were obvious: my entire right leg was bruised up and down. My elbow was also inexplicably bruised. My knees cried in protest every time I leaned over, presumably from cleaning baseboards for hours. My back hurt so badly the third day that I had difficulty leaning over.

What I learned: stainless steel can be polished up with baby oil. Always make sure you have the right apartment unit before dragging a vacuum and a cleaning kit up three flights of stairs. Though you be a cleaner, that does not mean that the inside of your personal vehicle does not resemble a scene from the movie Saw. Cleaners sometimes experience incontinence because in order to maintain an air of professionalism, we cannot use the client's bathroom. One human body contains about a million pubes. Coffee filters are a great way to get a streak-free shine on windows and mirrors.

I also gained great respect for these men and women who clean houses on a regular basis, full of haughtiness or not. My OCD was in overdrive the whole time, especially since it was not possible to wash your hands in most settings. The amount of elbow grease expended by my co-workers was truly astounding.  These folks work their asses off, and it is definitely difficult, honest work.

But when you get home and that grey hair you see on your head is actually someone else' start to reconsider your professional choices.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Help! Part Deux

How well I remember the trials of trying to procure psychiatric medication through Tricare. Like it was yesterday, when it was in fact just over a year ago. 

This was my morning yesterday:

Called my health insurance broker, I have had two meetings with him and he wants to schedule a third. But he is swamped with open enrollment applicants. I took the liberty of checking for my medications under a certain plan but was having difficulty locating providers.

Could not determine if my regular doctor was covered under a new plan as the Select Health website was confusing. Called Your Health Idaho to see if my doctor was covered under a potential plan. A representative also searched website and found her but it did not look like she was covered. He then referred me to my doctor's office, and asserted that the billing department there could confirm coverage.

Called the doctor's office to see what kind of coverage they accept but they don't know until the claim has been processed. Too many plans to keep track of, they explained.

Called Select Health to see if my doctor was or was not on the list because she did appear in a more specific search. She is not in the appropriate network.

Called my old doc to see if refills could be arranged without a doctor's visit. They could not.

Called the first doc on the list Select Health supplied and they are booking people into February. I need my medications for the month of December, otherwise what is the point of having a special enrollment period?


Called second facility on the list. They have to refer me to in-house behavioral health so I have to see a primary doctor first. I have an appointment December 1st. In the meantime I am going to have to reduce my anti anxiety medication by 2/3 and eventually go off of it. I've already been forced to reduce my OCD med by 25mg and my mood stabilizer by 2.5 mg. Which means intrusive thoughts and very little sleep.


I finally bought my insurance plan today. Pray that I am actually covered, people, as no one seems to know what exactly they're doing. My coverage doesn't start for another month. And of course, open enrollment for next year's insurance fiasco ends next month. I'm going to be looking at paying at least $400 a month for medical and dental next year unless a miracle happens.

And did I manage to find out if any shrinks are covered? Nope. If I wasn't cuckoo before I'm certainly going to be now.