I am a very lucky mom. I have a caring, loving, thoughtful little girl who makes my heart melt all the time. She also manages to make me roll my eyes just as often. She is six, but sometimes the things that come out of her mouth belong to someone much older.
It had stormed pretty intensely the night before. As we were driving to her elementary school, you can see downed limbs and trees, and storm debris littering roads and sidewalks alike. We passed a low-lying area that normally has no standing water, but today the area was flooded.
I check on my daughter in the rear-view mirror, and I see that she is obviously puzzled about something.
“I know what happened here,” she says from the back seat.
“Oh?” I say, encouraging her to go on.
“It was a hurricane,” she says with a bit of disgust.
With a smile, I explain, “No, this was just a storm. Hurricanes only happen by an ocean.”
She is silent a moment.
“What about by a pond, or a really big lake? I bet they have hurricanes there,” she says.
“No, those are just storms, too.”
“If the lake is almost as big as the ocean, it would be a hurricane,” she says. No more debating this one. Overruled.
So, let me throw out this disclaimer before I get started: I have not called or contacted my health insurance company, or anyone else’s for that matter. Anything involving health insurance is obviously a controversial subject, and I am NOT the most informed person in the U.S., possibly not even the most informed person in my state of residence, county, or city. Also, I will not be going into detail about reproductive organs or anything elicit, but this isn’t something I would want a nine-year-old to read, either.
Growing up, my mother was a stay-at-home mom. My father was blue-collar worker and member of a union. We had health insurance, and money was always tight and I think sometimes non-existent, but we always had everything we needed. If we needed to go to the doctor, we went to the doctor. If we needed to go to the dentist, we went to the dentist. There was never a question of whether we could afford to go or not. I can’t say for sure, because I was a child, but I don’t remember my mother ever paying more than a few dollars for a copay or having to wait until payday to pick up a prescription.
Now, before you close your browser window or app, or move on to something else, let me just say this… This is not going to be about the Affordable Healthcare Act, or as most Americans know it, Obamacare. This is completely, 100%, about my health insurance company and its overwhelmingly illogical logic. And the changes that have occurred in my lifetime. And probably some rabbit trails thrown in because I can never seem to resist straying from the main topic.
As anyone who follows my blog knows, my husband and I have had some infertility issues. Something called secondary infertility, to be exact. And my body, because it secretly hates me, needs replacement hormones to do just about anything these days. It’s been too busy making the wrong hormones for too long and it isn’t cooperating with my efforts to get the right hormones on the factory line, or rather, emanating from my ovaries. I am one of those PCOS girls, as my OBGYN likes to call us. Somehow she makes it sound like we are in an elite club, or like Girl Scouts, or something that doesn’t mean reproductive issues and extra facial hair. That reminds me, where did I put that Nair? Oh well, moving on.
Very, very briefly, PCOS stands for polycystic ovary syndrome. This typically means your ovaries are making eggs but not maturing these eggs and not releasing them and then they turn into cysts. There’s much more to the disorder (like wacky hormone levels and insulin resistance) than that but that’s not what this is about. If anyone wants more information, I will gladly point them in the right direction, just contact me.
If we weren’t trying to have a child, the treatment for PCOS is diet, exercise and birth control pills to help with the wacky hormone levels. Since we are trying to have a child, the treatment is diet and exercise and some extra hormones to try to get the body to cycle naturally.
Think of it like jump-starting a car. Sometimes a light gets left on in the car all night or all day, and you go out to start it and nothing happens. So, hopefully, you get some jumper cables out and hook it to another battery and after a few minutes your car starts right up. Next time you go to start the car, it starts on its own again, and again, etc. I won’t go into disgusting detail, but these hormones are like jumper cables. Some PCOS girls have just left the light on overnight, and others need brand new batteries. So far, it seems that I just left the light on too long.
In an effort to naturally recharge the battery, I have lost thirty pounds and eight inches through a lot of sweat and tears. I have completely changed my diet. I don’t even eat solid food two meals out of three, I juice (no, this doesn’t mean steroids, and no, I won’t be explaining right now for the sake of brevity). I exercise five to six days out of every seven, for an hour minimum. I have made every effort I can possibly make to get my body to function the way it was intended to function. But its not working!
Enter stage right: clomid.
Clomid is a medication that is supposed to, hopefully, result in stimulating ovulation (making my damned, over-possessive ovaries finally let go of a mature egg!). I have to take it for a few days on a very specific schedule, wait a specified amount of time, attempt to reproduce (wink, wink), get my blood drawn, blah blah blah. You get the picture. It isn’t fool-proof, it isn’t ideal, but it is the best chance I have at achieving my hopes and dreams. Yes, I realize just how corny that sounds. No, I do not care.
It isn’t that expensive in the realm of things expensive. It’s something we can easily pay for without it being detrimental to our lives. We won’t have to push the pause button on our efforts to have a child, or jump the car battery or whatever (I’m getting lost in my own metaphor, enough I say!) and save up money to pay for the five days of medication needed. I can just purchase it and move on with life. When I went to pick it up, the insurance gave resounding statement of NOT COVERED, but it is affordable. So, not that big of a deal. It isn’t like I’m one of those women whose hopes and dreams hang on the promise of IVF (in-vitro fertilization) which costs $10,000 minimum each try and isn’t covered by any insurance company in the U.S. to my knowledge. So in the grand scheme of things, this is a minor complaint. Just a little blip on the giant map of complaints.
So what’s my problem? My insurance company will not pay for birth control pills, either. Not that I want them, it is a principle kind of thing.
When the pharmacist had informed me that the clomid I was trying to pick up wasn’t covered by my insurance, I was taken aback for a moment. I stuttered for a moment before I finally asked how much the prescription was going to cost me. This is when she inserted that I should be aware they also won’t cover my birth control pills if I were ever to decide to go back on them (not that there is any point, I can’t conceive a child, obviously). I stuttered a bit more and she supplied the price in my moment of intelligent sounds (like “der, der, der, uh, uh, um…”). I sighed in relief after she told me the price of my prescription and I realized it was most definitely affordable.
So, again, what is my problem? Well, it makes me angry. I know this is a first-world problem, but seriously?
Let me get this straight, health insurance company, you won’t pay for the pills needed for me to NOT get pregnant, and you won’t pay for the pills needed for me to GET pregnant. So you don’t want to pay for a pregnancy, I can see that as logical, but you also don’t want to pay to prevent a pregnancy? I’m scratching my head right now, in complete, undisguised confusion. I don’t get the logic unless it’s simply a mentality of let’s not pay for as many things as possible.
Now that should be the end of my rant. Time to move on with life…right? Of course not! My brain does not work that way. I do not just “let go” of things that defy logic. I need an answer. I need a rationale. I begin to think about the problem in depth. Not that I will come up with any epiphanies, but I still try.
It is moments like this that remind me that health insurance has changed. The world is revolving around the bottom line and praying to whatever or whoever they believe in that the bottom line is written in black ink and not red. Wait, I’m not even sure that is the prayer anymore, to stay in the black. The prayer seems to resemble that the numbers in black are huge, multi-comma requiring amounts. It isn’t about a logical course of care, or even ensuring people are provided with the best standard of care. It’s all about the money. Boy, has THAT phrase been overused. But it is so accurate, why wouldn’t it be overused?
Growing up we had a reasonable expectation of care. My family and I have never been the type of people that expect to live 100 percent perfect, pain free, healthy at all times. The body doesn’t work like that. There are ebbs and flows with the body just like with everything else. It’s not going to perform at a perfect ideal for every minute of your life, especially if it’s not operating under ideal conditions, like obesity, poor diet, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, you never see the light of day because you’re always stuck inside in front of a screen, in a cubicle, behind a desk, etc. For the immune system to work right sometimes you have to get sick. That’s just the way things work. But within our reasonable expectations we also fully expected the insurance to cover a portion of our reasonable needs.
Now we pay the insurance company boatloads of money, for what? I pay them approximately $5,000 a year to cover two people. What is it that they’re covering?
Is it more about who are they covering? Are they so busy taking my money to pay for Joe Schmoe down the street that thinks that he should be perfect at all times that they can’t bother to pay for birth control or clomid? I know I have heard more than once that so-and-so is going to the doctor not because he/she is sick, but because they want to make sure they are getting what they pay for out of their insurance. Is that part of the problem? Has health insurance become based on logic of the cynical and jaded through misuse of consumers? Why don’t they tell Joe Schmoe that sorry, we can’t cover this or that because you have unrealistic expectations and you are taking advantage of us?
The world has changed. It is all of us, not just the health insurance companies, that are to blame. Now please, don’t inundate my inbox with letters telling me how much of a moron I am for putting the blame on consumers instead of providers or health insurance companies. That is not the point I’m trying to make. We are all responsible in our own way for the health care system, its failings, and its triumphs. Most of us walk around in our own world. It is the way we are built. We don’t usually pay attention to a problem until it becomes OUR problem. Once something is affecting us, or our mom, or our crazy aunt, or grandpa, we get angry. We get upset. But then, what do we do about it?
What would you do about it?
I’m not saying I’m perfect, that I am an activist for all causes all over the world. All I’m saying is this, when I do finally have a moment where one of those nation-wide problems suddenly becomes personal, I need to do something about it. I need to tell the people that are in the position to affect change that there is a problem.
That person in the position to affect change is just like me. He or she isn’t evil. He or she is just human. The problem X amount of people are facing won’t mean much in the abstract. That’s if he or she is even aware of an abstract problem. If there is a personal angle there for that person, they will work harder to fix the problem. If I can’t accomplish anything else, maybe, just maybe I can put a story, face, voice, or personal angle on the problem that will help get the right person to take an interest. Maybe.
Maybe is still better than nothing.
Maybe is all the hope I seem to have with a lot of things these days. But I’ll take a maybe any day over a no, not happening.
At this point, my issue isn’t over just one prescription. My issue is with a pervasive change in American culture that just doesn’t make sense to my brain. We have these opposing ideas we are trying to juxtapose, but instead we are getting an all-out train wreck that isn’t even in the same category as two opposing ideas coming together to form a contrast. We are teaching our children that everyone else is responsible for the greater good, but that the greater good should be for MY benefit or it isn’t good enough.
Although, it might be possible that I need some chocolate and a Midol, instead of a blog.
What do you think?
I would like to take a poll and ask everyone to please answer. This poll expires in one week, so don’t wait to answer!
Infertility rates are higher in the last ten years than they have been since we started tracking such data. In 2006, the infertility rate was at 46% according to the National Health Statistics Report (see http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr067.pdf). I can think of five women in my circle of maybe twenty that are having fertility issues. Those are the women that are actively trying to have a child.
Wait, people are purposely trying to conceive one of these slimy, screaming things?
This extremely high rate of infertility amazed me. If you look at the National Health Statistics Report, it looks like infertility is an overwhelming problem. Surely we would hear about it on the news if this rate was correct. This would be national news until a solution and improvement was found. Right? Almost half of child-bearing aged women are unable to conceive? That has to be resulting in a future population crisis. How is this not news? I don’t live in a bubble….do I?
So I Google’d. There is a lot of contradicting statistics being reported. One site offered a statistic of 12%, another listed 10.7% of all women 15-44 are infertile. That seems to be much more believable, especially since we have things like in-vitro fertilization, and MTV’s show 16 and Pregnant. Plus, how many 15 year-old girls are actively, purposely, TRYING to get pregnant? That number must be almost non-existent.
Then I searched some more. The Centers for Disease Control had this to say:
Number of women ages 15-44 with impaired fecundity (impaired ability to get pregnant or carry a baby to term): 6.7 million
Percent of women ages 15-44 with impaired fecundity: 10.9%
Number of married women ages 15-44 that are infertile (unable to get pregnant after at least 12 consecutive months of unprotected sex with husband): 1.5 million
Percent of married women ages 15-44 that are infertile: 6.0%
Number of women ages 15-44 who have ever used infertility services: 7.4 million
That is a direct copy and paste from this link: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/fertile.htm
Ok. So I see that obviously they do not think impaired fecundity and infertility are the same thing. I see the definitions in parentheses. But that still does not explain that incredibly high statistic of 46%. So I kept looking.
On the same CDC site referenced above, they credit the source of their information to be the National Survey of Family growth. If you follow that link you will find even more confusing and contradicting statistics. Below is a direct quote of what I found:
NOTE: The difference between impaired fecundity and infertility: In the report cited below, “infertility” is presented only for married couples and refers only to problems getting pregnant. “Impaired fecundity” is presented for all women, regardless of marital status, and includes problems getting pregnant and problems carrying a baby to term.
Percent of all married women 15-44 years of age who are infertile (i.e., who are not surgically sterile, and have had at least 12 consecutive months of unprotected sexual intercourse without becoming pregnant)
Percent of currently married, childless women 15-44 years of age who are infertile by current age:
I realize that is a lot of information to dissect. Let’s first look at the infertility rate listed at the beginning. They have listed in the first table 7.4%, then 6%. Now, if you look at the next table, it is immediately clear that women of every age bracket listed have a higher rate of infertility than what was just stated immediately previous to this table of information.
Who is tabulating these things and how are they reaching these numbers? Whoever it is had better not be part of the IRS. Or a public accountant. Or in charge of helping a first grader with math. Ever.
I did a little more looking at the National Survey of Family Growth. I continued to look at all the fine print in hopes of finding a simple solution, such as there is a different criteria they are using on one chart and not the other, or some such governmental-type oops that is only evident if you read the fine print.
You will never guess what I found. Go ahead, try to guess. I dare you! The National Survey of Family Growth attributes its source of information for the 2006-2010 statistics as the National Health Statistics Report–yes, the same one I read that states the infertility rate is 46%–on not just one of the tables above, but both!
The bottom line is there is no bottom line. I am no closer to understanding what infertility rates are right now than when I started my fact-finding mission three hours ago. All I have gained is a headache, blurred vision, and a serious case of what I like to call gluteus maximus numbus…
If anyone out there has any tips on finding correct, current statistics that do not spiral out into a circle of death, please post a comment below!
Time consuming doesn’t sound so bad. Life is time-consuming. Perhaps I have stated things a bit more dramatically than I should have. Perhaps an example would clear things up.
While writing this blog, I have erased and rewritten the entire thing, albeit short as you now see it, exactly seven times. The first version just sounded like I was whining (funny, that’s how this paragraph is starting to sound, too), relentlessly bemoaning my normal human life that includes things like errands and cleaning and cooking and clutter. The second version led me to a photo search to illustrate my point, which then led me to follow the found photo to its original source. While at the original source, I scoured through the site to ensure I was going to attribute the photo to the correct individual. However, the site was so cluttered and unclear that I couldn’t be sure and had to immediately abandon its usage. This also led me on a side venture of looking for a new place to find photos for use.
And now, RIGHT NOW, I have written something like 225 words trying to describe to you accurately why I have erased and rewritten this asinine post seven times…
Moving on, then.
2. It eats my creativity for its breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Every well-written sentence I type out, every emotion or experience I can translate in to written form, gives me great satisfaction and a fulfilled contentment…for about 3 seconds. Then I decide to read it again and check for errors. Everyone is human and no one is invulnerable to a typo here or there, I tell myself. As I read through what was moments ago and very satisfying product of my mind, I begin to change and edit and restate and clarify. This should be a good thing, reassuring to know that I can find and correct my own mistakes before I publicly humiliate myself. Instead, I take something that was heartfelt, raw, sometimes beautiful and I punctuate and edit until it bleeds and cries for mercy. Take that, creativity.
“Sad” by Jon C is licensed under CC BY SA 2.0
3. It makes mountains out of mouse turds.
4. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.
Remember hearing that growing up? Well, I have been silent a lot in my twenty-nine years. Not because I’m a mean person that likes to pick on people and call them terrible names. That would be too obvious, of course, and maybe somehow fixable with enough therapy. No, I am silent because I have a hard time faking it.
Before your mind wanders too far into the gutter, let me explain myself. Have you ever been in the situation where your friend calls you up and you can hear the thousand watt smile through the phone because of the extreme level of enthusiasm emanating from the other end? These are exciting moments. It’s friendship building to be able to share your friend’s excitement over good news. So, what’s the problem? As soon as your friend yells through the phone that she is engaged, you are supposed to squeal in delight right along with her. That’s pretty difficult to do when you immediately think of all the little details, like she met him in a bar and then had to take him home (to his mother’s trailer) because he didn’t have a car or friends or money for a cab and he thinks “going pro” as a UFC fighter is the right career path for him despite being thirty-five and overweight (gotta keep the dream alive) and, I think you get the point.
5. No one likes you.
I’m not referring back to #4. Most people make more friends at work than, let’s say, the grocery store, or (oh please God, no) in public bathrooms. You, by you I mean me, share so much with your coworkers, like goals and setbacks and experiences that it is only natural to develop bonds. It can make for a good friendship outside of work, too, sometimes. What could possibly go wrong in this scenario?
The boss has noticed my “amazing attention to detail”, which at the time this is brought to my attention, I smile and puff up a bit internally and think that this is a positive turn of events. Maybe now I’ll finally start getting the recognition I deserve for all the hard work I continuously do.
The reality of this situation means that all those nice coworkers and potential friends are now going to hate me. The boss has decided the best use of my time is essentially quality control. Now, instead of sharing experiences such as drinking a cocktail after work while my coworker implies the boss is perpetually menstruating or something to that effect, I am now the object of their adolescent-level attempts to relieve stress, the butt of every joke.
“Own work” by GRPH3B18 licensed under CC BY SA 3.0
I spend eight hours daily going through everyone’s work to make sure that it was done correctly, and, of course, I discover over and over and over during my eight-hour days that most assuredly, the work was not done correctly. Now I must point it out to the person who made the error and oversee their efforts to correct this egregious error.
This doesn’t exactly put me on the short list for parties.
6. Is that the forest? Or the trees?
Sometimes the details are so obvious that it is difficult to step back and see the big picture. It’s like looking at a trillion brush strokes instead of appreciating overall effect, which is a work of art.
Après la pluie. After the rain. Dessin d’enfant (ma fille Émilie ) a 7 ans licensed under public domain
Wait, that wasn’t the right file…
“Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh licensed under Public Domain
The point I’m trying to make is sometimes I get lost in the little things. Take my recent dive into healthy living as an example. I have lost twenty-eight pounds, eight inches from around my waist, and I still despair when I weigh myself and the scale hasn’t budged. EIGHT inches, gone. And I’m upset about a pound?
Some days I repeat to myself, like I’m some Tibetan monk meditating on my mantra that will bring me to a new plane of existence and enlightenment, “There is no forest without the trees”.
And trees are nice. Maybe my life isn’t so bad after all.
Ugh. I see a typo…
By myself – Bilboq (own work (crop from own photo)) [Public domain]
So many people, so little authenticity. I watched silently as one side argued against another. Each attorney made things sound much different than the actual circumstance. Or, maybe I should say my side argued against his side. I did not feel connected to this process though. I glanced down at the table I was sitting at before the judge and realized that there were confidential documents spread out before me. None of which were mine or my lawyer’s or pertaining to my divorce. There had been a lady sitting here that was a lawyer for a kid that did not want to live with his father, I think. I knew I should not look, but I couldn’t help but notice that there were detailed documents outlining the dates and amounts child support received, dates and times that the child has been picked up, and many, many more documents that looked like they covered everything from doctor visits to notes from teachers.
I sat there barely listening, wondering more about this child and his case. Did his father hit him? Or was he just never around? Maybe his father had beat the child’s mother and not the child. Certainly there could not be any evidence, otherwise, how would the man be sitting in the courtroom arguing over custody and not in prison? My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by my attorney calling me up to the stand to be sworn in and testify in my own divorce and custody hearing.
I stood up, my attorney touched my arm and said, “You look nice. You’ll be fine, just answer each question truthfully and look at me the whole time if it would make you feel more comfortable.”
While this was all very nice of him, I did not need any of this. I am always a rock when it is important. Great under pressure. I had no plans to faint, or cry, or cause a scene. I was the picture of calm, as usual. I wanted everything to be over, and I wanted it all completed as quietly as could be possible.
After being sworn in, I was asked the basic questions. State my name, date of birth, address, and so on, for the record. I had originally thought that this moment would be my chance to finally tell my story, to explain to someone in authority how unfair and outrageous this situation was. I had an epiphany of sorts, while waiting for a year and a half after filing for divorce, waiting for it to be my turn to end my marriage. Well, officially end it anyway. My epiphany was simple and somehow painfully freeing. No one cared how unfair or outrageous my life had become. No one even wanted to hear about it. If looking around with any indication, I should instead be rejoicing to the heavens that my very soon to be ex-husband had not beat me or my child or done other horrible things.
So I sat on that stand and I answered each simple question. The one question I had not been expecting came from the judge, not from either attorney. She leaned toward me and asked, “Is this marriage completely unsalvageable?”
With that single sentence, my calm wavered. I felt the need to hold my breath. My mind immediately flashed to waiting in the hallway for my case to be heard. While sitting there with my best friend, my husband decided to sit with us as well, and I had tried to keep things happy and light. My husband was angry about something, I don’t remember what because it wasn’t even the real reason he was angry to begin with, and his way of coping with this was to sit there and tell me that he could not wait until he could get on the stand and tell the judge that I was nothing but a whore and a bitch and I did not deserve to raise his child. Not that he was seeking full custody or anything of that nature. My mind then flashed back to the day I got a phone call from a stranger telling me my husband was dating her 18 year old daughter, and that my child seemed like a delightful little girl according to her daughter, who had met my child on several occasions.
I looked at my husband sitting there next to his attorney. He looked very nervous, and something else. I started trying to figure out what else that was on his face, other than his ugly new goatee his girlfriend thought was sexy. There was an emotion there I could not identify. I thought a moment more and instead of remembering all the terrible moments, I remembered all the terrible feelings. The absolute gut-wrenching feeling of betrayal. Then the subsequent feelings of stupidity for not seeing it coming, for being in the same category as all the other women out there fooled by a cheater. I’m smart, but it didn’t matter. After those feelings receded just a bit, then came the overwhelming anger. The staggering amount of anger I felt was the most unexpected. I expected anger, but not an all-consuming fiery rage that didn’t seem to let up for months, maybe even now it hadn’t. Maybe I had just learned how to keep it locked away inside that vault of emotions I carry around these days. Now was not the time to analyze it.
I took a deep breath, turned to the judge and answered calmly, “This marriage is unsalvageable.”
My answer was clear. That emotion on his face a moment ago had been the closest thing to an apology I would ever get. As soon as I had said those four little words, confirming that this divorce would happen today, that emotion I had seen on his face was gone. I didn’t puzzle over this. It didn’t matter at this point. Even if he was man enough to cough out a spoken apology to my face, I wasn’t ready to hear it. It wouldn’t heal any of the damage. The attorney had no more questions and I was told I could return to my seat.
I sat down next to my attorney, and I felt a moment of relief. My part was finished. They would ask my husband some questions, maybe he would get to call me a whore publicly and on the record, and then this would be over. After filing for divorce a year and half later, we had finally made it to this culminating moment. Complete. Done. At that moment my emotions quickly shifted. Relief was nowhere to be found suddenly.
I felt like the room was closing in on me. My chest hurt. I thought to myself, I wonder what it would be like to have a heart attack? Is it even possible at age 25? I laughed in my head, my ex would find some way to blame my heart attack on me being a whore I was sure. It was always funny to me that he projected his unfaithfulness on to me. Well, funny was a strangely relative thing these days. Things were funny because I didn’t want to cry anymore. So laughing was much easier. So funny to me, wasn’t really funny to anyone else I had noticed, despite my friends’ best efforts.
They had finished questioning him, and I wasn’t even publicly branded a whore. Everything was in order. The judge made her decree. I mostly got what I had wanted. Child support could have always been higher. But I figured that was the best I was going to get, unless I wanted to wait another year to get divorced. That was out of the question. I felt like I might suffocate on the spot if they told me we had to wait any longer to be divorced. Except that I wouldn’t die, I would just be stuck in this painful cycle of not breathing enough to thrive but breathing just enough to stay alive.
Still feeling like I might be having a severe cardiac event, I made my way out of the courtroom. My best friend who had come for moral support grabbed my arm and said something to me. I have no idea what, I just repeated a couple of times, “Let’s get out of here”. And we did.
This with me. This was almost 4 years ago. A lot of things, negative and positive, have happened in my life since this moment in time. This defining moment in my history has taught me a lot about myself and it continues to hold intense emotion for me every time I think about it again.