First, I want to thank everyone who has lifted up prayers and hopes for my meeting with Social Security today. Even though my driving and paper-chasing started at 7 am and I didn’t get home till about 6 (when the REAL work began. Hello, JUSTINE!) I felt so grounded and peaceful, like a little boat flowing through a gently twisting river. Pardon the Hallmark-card prose, it was a long day.
I had to fight the corporate world traffic of Costa Mesa to get to Newport, where Vernon was still asleep, but though it usually takes a while to bring him into the present, he was willing and able to sign some most-important form, looking a little bewildered but clearly moved when I told him I had to leave so soon, but that I was doing it to ‘take care of him.’ Maybe it was the morning light, but for the first time, that didn’t seem lost on him.
Going to the Social Security offices is nothing like going to the Consulate in London or the Embassy in LA, in terms of nerves, queues, or intensity—but it brought back all the times I’ve had to turn in paperwork and interview at those official places before. It seems forms and deadlines will always be at the base of our marriage. Passports, tickets, Visas, Social Security, National Insurance, tests, fees, and ever more legal hoops to jump through. Take heed, all you single guys and gals that get all giddy over a foreign accent and the mysterious je ne se quais that some good-looking stranger brings to your world. If all goes well, you will be standing in long official lines after panicking over which box in the garage holds some important document you haven’t thought about for 10 years but held on to just-in-case.
Just kidding: it’s totally worth it.
Hilariously, somehow a metal fork had remained in my bag after a packed-lunch last week (that rare day I planned ahead.) I should have known my organization that day would bite me back, because I was sent out of the building by the security guard, more than slightly embarrassed that he might have imagined me, even for a second, stabbing someone in the neck under his watch. Well, better safe than sorry!
So I finally met the woman who has been managing Vernon’s case and she was so lovely. It turned out she too had a husband with some kidney issues too. Perhaps that’s why she seemed so compassionate to our story. Whatever the case, she was wonderful, just like she has been on my voice mail all week. I felt that our case was in good hands and that as soon as I got every last detail in, things would go as they should. She gave me no sign that Vernon would not be approved. In fact, it looks like we have the option of collecting insurance for the past several months.
I’m on a major learning curve with insurance and whatever I learn may never help another soul, as each case seems to be so different, but basically, what I have come to understand today is the Medicare (at least the option that Vernon should get) is a sort of Second Insurance. More doors will open to him, but the options still are not unlimited. Each echelon of care allows a different amount of insurance spending. And Medicare gives a big boost.
Next stop after my SS appointment? Mission Hospital, our stomping ground of the summer. I was hoping to track down Vernon’s Nephrologist. Of course he wasn’t there, but the nurses at the desk of the Stroke Unit remembered me— well, they remembered Vernon. It was so sweet how they asked about him. They said its so nice to hear about how their patients are doing, down the line…often they never hear back.
It was strange being at the Hospital again, where I was every single day for over three months. I’ll admit it: it felt like HOME. I felt like I was visiting my alma mater but none of the staff had changed. I visited a new area though: the Rehabilitation wing. Remember when Vernon wasn’t eligible for the Rehab floor at the hospital? Well, just like Rancho Los Amigos, they offer a short but dynamic program. Another option to throw into the mix. Every step of the way, Insurance is an issue, so with the Medicare Card nearly in my pocket, I felt like I could ask another layer of questions that had been silenced by “NO” before.
It made me reflect: perhaps there is a Grand Reason that Vernon’s kidneys were allowed to fail. It had seemed so tragically out-of-the-blue when it happened. In fact that was the day (10 days in) his body function had gone backwards so suddenly that we could have lost him. (We were told later that the doctors were about to advise us to send for his family in England in case they had to say goodbye. ) And what an inconvenience triweekly Dialysis is—don’t even get me started—and this is just the beginning!
But would we have this chance at Medicare without it? Absolutely not. If all goes well, Vernon’s dysfunctional kidneys may be his ticket to better rehab, to eventual home-care, to fuller health. Ouch! How many times has that thing you wanted so badly to go away been your bridge to a better life? More than you can count, most likely
I couldn’t visit the old campus without seeing David, my favorite barista-psychologist. Man, I miss that guy…he makes a 10 minute coffee-break feel like a holiday. Everyone leaves his kiosk feeling a little more special. Just for fun, some trivia about David: his granddaughter is the adorable Zoe Lush of internet fame. Check her out.
I won’t do blow-by-blows of the rest of the day, but I will say it was informative. I learned a little more about how the system works, at least at this point. I think we have some new options. I DID find Dr. Pang in his office (as well-dressed as ever) and he was thrilled to hear Vernon was out of his coma and responsive. Amazing to keep hearing the impact Vernon had on people’s memories, even though he was asleep. What a guy! Dr. Pang remembered me too. “Always smiling,” he said. Funny…
I really hope things work out. I think they will. No, I KNOW they will. I’ve walked (driven) in that knowing all day, and it was great. I feel energized. This is beyond me…so thank you, thank you for your prayers of HOPE!
Please don’t stop.