Your Call Will Be Answered In The Order In Which It Was Received

Bureacracy and Me: Not a Good Fit

Being On Hold Does Not a Nice Lola Make

Did you know that Glaucoma is the third leading cause of blindness in the U.S.? Did you know that exercising in cold weather has its hazards, like icy patches in the road if you are running? Do you know why I know these little tidbits? Because I stayed on hold an inordinate amount of time today trying to get through to the prescription center with whom my insurance is affiliated. It was wonderful. Every few minutes, a nice woman would come on and tell me that I needed to “please continue to hold as [they] were experience heavy call volume and someone would be with [me] soon.”

operatorI thought that that was terribly nice of her, to speak to each and every person on hold, who, if they were anything like me, were approaching the 20 minute wait time. But I really needed to speak to these people. I needed a new card, and I needed to find out how much longer it was going to take for the processing of the prescriptions that my doctor had called in on December 22. Boy was I in for a surprise, and it wasn’t a good one.

Live human being comes on the line, very nice human, only to tell me that there are no prescriptions in process for me. The last thing she has for me was in September. I patiently explain to her that I was standing next to my doctor when he was telling his assistant who was on the phone with my prescription provider at the time as to what to call in, and that was on December 22, the day of my appointment. Sorry, nice human being, apologizes, but we have nothing for you, and as a matter of fact, you account closed on December 31, so we cannot send you a new card or process any more prescriptions . . .

Long pause on my end . . . I’m sorry . . . what did you say?

Your account closed on December 31.

No, that’s not possible.

Still nice human: I understand, but perhaps you need to check with your provider. You can have them call back, and we can expedite your order.

Fine, through clenched teeth, trying to remember that nice human is only doing her job and has in no way caused this situation. I’ll have someone call you back. I hang up the phone and call my health insurance provider. On hold for about 20 seconds. Live human being, also nice asks for my ID number.

I reply, well that’s going to be hard since my wallet was stolen and my card was in it, and I need a new ID.

neon-fuschia-on-hanging-on-the-telephone
Hanging on the Telephone with Neon Fuschia

Oh, how terrible, says Live human, and asks for my birth date, address, all of the info to confirm I am who I say I am and not some nut job wanting an ID from a health insurance company who happens to know all of my bona fides. Oh, happy birthday early, she chimes.

For a moment I don’t know what she is talking about, and then I remember. Oh crap, another birthday, mine, this month. Shit. Great. Moving along.

She tells me I’ll get the card in about 8 to 10 days. I stump her with my next question: So I do have active coverage then?

Um, yes you do.

So I tell her my plight and ask if she’ll call my prescription provider and verify that I have coverage because I’m out of my migraine medicine, and things are getting critical. She tells me that she would if she could, but she can’t as she can only verify that I have health insurance, and I need to have someone else verify prescription insurance. At this point, I am totally lost because I thought that my prescription coverage was part of my health insurance. Obviously, I am mistaken.

So This Much is True

However, since it was a little past 5 and no one at GW main campus stays a second after 5, so my big plans for taking care of all of this unfinished business are screwed. I hate dealing with this stuff, that’s why I’ve put it off for so many days. I did manage to get Brett’s appointment straightened out, call his doctor’s office to get the letter faxed to his school about his absences, reschedule the orthodontist appointments, and find out that I don’t need an appointment for my stretchy/bendy test at the radiologist’s at the hospital. I know that it’s not called a stretchy/bendy test, that there’s some other name for it, but I figure that’s better than calling it a Gumby test. The point is that I have to stretch and bend and they take x-rays.

So tomorrow, I get to deal with GW Human Resources. I can hardly wait. I can’t hardly wait. Which is it? Which one is worse? If you can hardly wait, does that mean that you can wait forever? If you can’t hardly wait does it mean that you cannot wait at all? I’m confusing myself. The point is that a telephone call to GW Human Resources is akin to “Once more into the breach,” and I’m sorry dear Henry, but I just don’t have the stamina to go into the breach with you and on to St. Crispin’s Day.

But Wait, There is Good News After All

concretecherub013But there is some good news: It turns out that my picture of Caitlin, the one that I’ve carried around for 20 years, was not in the wallet that was lost/stolen. It was in my smaller card wallet. I don’t remember putting it there, so I never bothered to look. Imagine what a wonderful surprise it was for me to find it there when I was looking through my card case to see if I had perhaps lost my Social Security card as well (I had not). 

Finding that picture means more to me than I can possible put into words. It’s just a simple snapshot of me holding Caitlin; she is wearing a pink dress, and everything looks absolutely normal. That’s what is so wonderful about it. It’s before we knew that she was sick, before the operations, before the PICU, before all of the tubes, the intubation, the vials and vials of blood, the respiratory therapists, the neurosurgeons, the oncologists, the nights spent on vinyl furniture. Before life turned to hell. Life was still normal, and Caitlin was just my baby girl.

But that snapshot is one-of-a-kind. I don’t have the negative. I don’t have a copy. So whoever took my wallet, a belated Merry Christmas to you. I hope you really needed the money. We needed it, but maybe you needed it more. I got back the one thing that I truly missed, the thing that I thought was gone forever. Everything else can be replaced, even if it means staying on the phone forever listening to recordings and fighting with bureaucracies. You cannot take away the one thing that would mean nothing to anyone else.

And with that, I’ll close for now. More later. Peace.

6 thoughts on “Your Call Will Be Answered In The Order In Which It Was Received

  1. Hi Lita
    Sorry about your battle with the insurance companies and your stolen wallet. Thrilled that you have your picture back. I understand how precious that is, I have a few of those of my husband before he battled cancer and lost. The proof that life was gloriously normal once.

    Take care.
    Jeannette

    1. Thank you so much for writing. Once I realized that I still had my picture of my baby girl, then nothing else really mattered. It’s time-consuming, but so what. If they found a good use for the money or they were able to buy something for their kids for Christmas, then I’m happy for them.

  2. Hi Lita,
    The one saving grace of your bastard of a day was discovering that the photo of Catlin you had presumed lost was indeed, safe.
    Bureaucracy goes hand in hand with insurance companies, especially work related claims. Just when you think it can’t get any worse it does but I agree, the person on the other end of the phone is only doing their job. Best of luck when you make that next call tomorrow, remember long, deep, breathes LOL
    Best wishes
    Maureen

    1. Maureen,
      The really odd thing is that I have absolutely no memory of ever moving that picture from my big wallet to my small wallet. There was no reason for me to do that. I kept a little pocket of pictures in my big wallet, but this picture was separate. I don’t know how or when the picture came to be in my small wallet wth my license and my bank card, but I’m so glad that it did.

      By the way, I called GW Human Resources, and I got the one nice person in the department who was reallly great and took care of the problem right away. The telephone gods were with me today.

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