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Selling Stencils and Playing Doctor

The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that Hobby Lobby will no longer be forced to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees due to their religious objections.  Specifically, Hobby Lobby’s case targeted birth control that they considered to be abortifacients that would cause a miscarriage or abortion in an already pregnant woman.  Plan B and Ella, both emergency contraceptives that simply prevent implantation and do NOT cause abortions, are being blocked.  Two IUDs are also being blocked due to the misinformation that they too cause abortions.  The internet has exploded with Hobby Lobby’s supporters and opponents attacking each other with spit and venom.  The decision has been called both a victory for religious freedom and an attack on the freedoms of us all.

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Hobby Lobby’s website, in response to the question “Is Hobby Lobby imposing the religious views of its owners on its employees,” states:

Of course not.  The Greens and their family businesses support the individual liberties of all their employees.  The very notion turns the facts and the law on its head.  In fact, it is the federal mandate that violates the deeply held religious beliefs of the Greens by forcing them to violate the law or violate their belief that life begins at conception – a choice no company should have to make.  And by threatening extensive fines, the mandate would place a substantial burden on the Greens’ practice of their faith under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That’s why a federal appeals court ruled in their favor. Meanwhile, Hobby Lobby offers coverage for 16 of 20 drugs and devices included in the mandate in its health plan, and the four objectionable drugs and devices are widely available and affordable, and employees are free to obtain them.

There is obviously no law that is forcing any business to offer health care coverage that would include abortions.  The four birth control methods in question do not cause abortions to occur and seriously toe the line on when life is actually created.  To the woman using them, the IUDs are no different from any other birth control method.  Plan B and Ella are fantastic options for couples who experience an emergency such as a broken condom, or even a woman who was sexually assaulted and wants to ensure that no child results from the involuntary union.  It’s unfair to say that any woman who has used any of the four methods in question has potentially received a number of abortions.  It’s incorrect to compare the two.  Preventing implantation and removing a fetus are two VERY different things.

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The biggest issue for me here is that the Supreme Court just allowed a company to make a health care decision for their employees.  Hobby Lobby is not directly handing money over to their employees per request for doctor visits and medications, but using United Healthcare (I believe) to provide coverage.  Their religious beliefs should not be allowed to have this long of a reach, and certainly should not be reaching into the health and well being of their employees.  The life begins at conception argument is a fine argument to make, but it’s not right for the religious standing of the people on top to affect the type of care that every single woman on the bottom will receive from their doctor at a reasonable or at no cost.

I’m worried about what this decision will mean for the future.  If a gay couple adopts and requests maternity leave, can that be denied due to religious objections to homosexuality?  Can an employer decide that no medications will be covered due to their religious belief that medicinal healing goes against their God’s will?  Those seem like ridiculous notions, but then again I thought that it was ridiculous for Hobby Lobby to object to those four “evil” forms of birth control.  And here we are.  God trumps law.  God trumps employee rights.  God trumps insurance companies, doctors, and individuals unable to start their own business and play nicely with the people they employ.  Maybe I’m off base here but in my opinion, if I’m not having an abortion on company time and/or on company property, it is none of my employers goddamn business what I choose to do and certainly not their right to control the quality of my health care.

Please weigh in!  Leave your thoughts, knowledge, opinions, and rants in the comments section.

 

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Give Me Meds

When I first moved to Indiana to be with my husband, I worked at Health 1st, a chiropractic and physical therapy clinic.  I went from a simple front desk girl to being a front office manager for all four of our offices.  I quit that job after spending months waiting for my annual review and a raise I deserved for all the extra work I had taken on and for all I had done for the offices.  As much as I loved that job, I couldn’t continue to devalue myself by letting the compensation issue slide while I put my heart and soul into my work.  Unfortunately, in the year after my departure, my office shut down completely and took others with it.  There is currently only one location open out of the previous four.

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In addition to the chiropractors and massage therapists (MTs) we had on staff, we also had a physician and physician’s assistant (PA).  In order to bill for certain services, the physician needed to be present and/or sign off on treatment that the MTs performed and the PA subscribed.  Dr. William Terpstra was our physician during my time at Health 1st.  He would be in my office on Tuesdays or other days when the PA was working at the hospital, and would sign off on patient records for those seen on Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays.  He was a nice guy, as was his daughter who was an MT prior to getting pregnant and married.

There was a big difference between Dr. Terpstra and our PA.  One day without question, he prescribed me vicodin for stomach pain when I was hurting so badly that I felt I had no other option but an exam.  Our PA on the other hand would always ask numerous questions and attempt to find a solution that did not involve pain killers and/or muscle relaxers.  Dr. Terpstra would prescribe pain pills to a patient on their very first office visit, while our PA would only do so after checking their prescription history and ensuring there was truly no other option available.  Since aches and pains are easy things to fake, Dr. Terpstra made himself a perfect doctor for a junkie or a dealer; he never seemed reluctant to prescribe a narcotic.

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This morning, I heard a news report that immediately caught my attention by dropping Dr. Terpstra’s name.  Right now, the good doctor is in jail and facing 24 felony counts over prescribing narcotics and other controlled substances in excessive amounts to patients who were at risk of becoming dependent or already dependent.  He is among eight others from the Kokomo practice that are facing charges; three other doctors, three PAs, a nurse and an office manager are all in hot water due to the growing number of deaths by overdose that are a direct result of their careless prescribing habits.

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According to reports, this practice was the place to go if you wanted narcotics; patients would pay their bill prior to getting their prescription rather than seeing the doctor and paying after services were rendered.  One patient stated that the physicians were aware that she was not taking the drugs she was prescribed (which is a clear sign she was selling them or giving them away to addicts) but they continued for seven weeks to prescribe her Lortab and Adderall for a fee of slightly over $300.  One of the twenty-seven deceased victims, an 81 year old man, was prescribed 420 Oxycontin pills all at once.  Reports state the physicians would sign blank prescription forms and allow the PAs or other office staff to fill in the information for the narcotic to be prescribed, something which is obviously against federal law.  All this, not from a pain management clinic, but from a family practice.

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The 24 felony counts that Dr. Terpstra faces “include eight counts of dealing in a narcotic drug, all Class B felonies, six counts of dealing in a schedule 3 controlled substance, Class B felonies, seven counts of Class C felony dealing in a schedule 4 controlled substance and three counts of conspiracy to commit dealing in a narcotic drug and controlled substances.”  He received more charges than anyone else in the case.  He has already signed an agreement to cease distributing narcotic prescriptions and today, he will find out if his medical license will be suspended along with fellow doctors Don and Marilyn Wagoner.  He is being held with a bond of $1,000,000, cash only.  Knowing his daughter, I can imagine what a horrible wreck she is right now to know her father is in jail and has probably ruined his chances of ever practicing medicine again.  27 people are dead, and Dr. Terpstra had a hand in taking some of those lives.

This story hits me in a strange way because I worked with Dr. Terpstra for nearly two and a half years.  He’s a gentle, quiet man who loves his family and was ecstatic about being a grandpa.  He worked hard and was always available when we needed assistance, for patient emergencies, or if we had a silly question that we knew he could answer.  He was never rude, never raised his voice and never offended anyone.  He was quick and efficient, working well with the staff to get patients in and out of exams in a timely manner.  I had always assumed his relaxed attitude toward prescriptions came from experience and the ability to distinguish addicts from genuine pain patients.

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Thinking back, it’s obvious that his arrest should not be a surprise to me.  The relaxed demeanor was actually carelessness.  His dedicated patients were actually addicts.  I don’t think Dr. Terpstra meant to hurt anyone; it’s hard for me to think that the person I worked with could be that cold hearted.  With 27 people dead, the motive does not matter and I don’t see good things in the doctor’s future.  He will likely lose his license today and be found guilty on most of the felony counts raised against him.  His life is ruined, much like the lives of the patients he served.

My heart goes out to his family, especially his daughter who was always a joy to work with and his grand kids who simply adored their grandpa to pieces.  I’m a tad grateful that none of this happened while he was working for my former office, as I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be caught up in that mess and to have patients needlessly die under my watch.  And while I don’t think I should, I do find myself feeling a bit bad for the doctor himself.  I don’t know what went wrong in his life and career to make him stop caring and stop paying attention, but I feel bad that it happened and that this is the result.  At least now, he’s in a place where he cannot cause anymore harm.

Cough Cough

The reporters on the morning news earlier this week were discussing how the flu season this year is worse than expected.  It was also the first time I’ve heard a report of doctors admitting that the flu vaccination “may not protect against the virus.”  My husband and I have been fighting off one thing or another since December and relief is nowhere in sight.  It seems that as soon as one of us begins to show signs of improvement, one or both of us is exposed to more nastiness and we find ourselves feverish and miserable all over again.  The time I had off from work over the holidays had me feeling wonderful, but after coming back to this building on January 2nd to an office half filled with sick and sweaty people, the both of us are as miserable as ever.

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We are sick for the typical reasons that people get sick; contamination from the air and surfaces has invaded our bodies and taken hold.  It’s hard to avoid, as we can’t exactly lock ourselves and our son away from the germy world in an attempt to stay healthy.  We do what we can when out in public by washing our hands, using hand sanitizer, cleaning shopping carts, avoiding cashiers who wipe their nose or cough into their hands, among other avoidance and sanitation techniques.  We take vitamins and begin cold remedies at the first sign of danger, along with getting extra sleep and ensuring we’re nicely bundled at night.  Unfortunately, all the preventative measures in the world don’t do much good when you’re stuck in the office with a person whose nose won’t stop running as they hack and cough all day long.

On January 2nd, person A came into the office with a cough that wouldn’t quit and a nose that was literally running down their face.  Person B sounded as though they were about to spit out pieces of their lungs onto their keyboard.  Person C had cold sweats and would alternate between being ice cold to being as hot as the sun every half hour or so.  Person D was sneezing uncontrollably.  The list goes on, and when you have symptomatic people in a confined office space, the germs are bound to spread far and wide.  The simplest and easiest solution seems to be that those who aren’t well should stay home and rest until the storm passes and they are fit to be around their coworkers.

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I’m lucky enough to earn both paid sick leave and vacation leave that accrues every minute I am present for duty.  That leave allows me to stay home when needed so I can rest up, get well, and not infect my fellow coworkers.  I understand that not everyone is that lucky, which results in having to tough it out and head to work against your better judgment in order to avoid a reduction in pay or possible termination for missing too many days.  In cases like this where missing a day to nurse a fever can result in serious financial damage, I find it hard to fault a sick person for going to work while ill and running the risk of getting fellow coworkers or customers sick as well.

When you have the resources I have and are able to stay home when sick, you need to take advantage and go get some rest.  Trying to save up your sick leave for a future four day weekend is both an improper use of the system and a disservice to your coworkers.  The whole point of giving employees sick leave is so they can use it for days when they are under the weather or need to see a doctor.  I know jobs are important and certain tasks can’t wait, but it’s not worth spreading your illness around the entire office simply because you don’t want to burn through leave time or because you wanted some extra time on a project.  When it can be used, it should be used.

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By coming to work sick, you are not only jeopardizing your own well-being, you’re exposing unwilling individuals to an illness they no doubt want to avoid at all costs.  It’s the reason a particular illness will be present in the workplace for so long; it is passed along from person to person, creating a never ending cycle because not enough people will bite the bullet and take a day off to recover.  It’s unfair to those of us who are considerate enough to keep our distance when sick and properly utilize the sick leave program that is in place for this very purpose.  When you work in a place like I do, there is no “I can’t” when it comes to taking sick leave.  There is only “I don’t want to” or “I don’t think I need to.”

With certain illnesses such as pink eye or strep throat, it’s a given that the infected person must remain home and away from others as to not spread the illness around.  Why should it be any different when the illness in question happens to be a nasty stomach bug or a hacking cough?  It’s great that you want to tough it out and drag yourself to work, but is it worth doing if you’re going to end up getting a handful of people sick by doing so?  Are you going to be pleased when those newly sick people pass the illness right back to you once you’ve recovered?

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If you CAN stay away, please stay away!  Most employers will be more than understanding, as well as appreciative that you chose to keep your germs to yourself rather than share them with the entire workplace.  If you can’t afford to stay home for an entire day, at least go see a doctor or hit a walk-in clinic to get some medicine to get yourself in suitable form for work.  But if you have the option and the means to take that personal day, please do so.  Put the good of the entire workplace first for a moment and keep your distance.  If you’re important enough for your absence to be crippling, you likely have the ability to telework in some fashion and should take advantage.  The person who is home on Tuesday and falls slightly behind on their duties will always win over the person who got their entire team sick just so they could submit their report right on time.

Snipped, Stuffed, Tucked, And Sucked

Sometimes I read something in the news that just makes me sad for the state of today’s society.  Sometimes it’s unspeakable acts of violence, sometimes it’s tragedy, and sometimes it’s just ridiculous, moronic garbage like chinplants.  Yes, chinplants, the new plastic surgery craze sweeping the nation!  For those of you who have had to suffer the embarrassment of seeing photos of yourself on Facebook with a dreaded double chin, there is finally a solution!  No more weak-jawed moments and no more lost confidence because chinplants will save your life!

I’ll be honest, it frightens me how easy it is to get virtually any surgery you desire in order to alter your appearance in a wide variety of different ways.  A woman unhappy with her breast size can receive a reduction and ease her back pain or receive implants, as large as she desires, so she can finally have the cleavage she always wanted and the attention she so desperately craves.  If you have not been blessed with a voluptuous rear end, a doctor can repair it for you and give you an ass to rival Jennifer Lopez.  They can change your entire face, can implant silicone into your abdomen to give you a 6-pack or into your legs to give you stunning calves, and suck the fat out of all your problem areas.  All that stands between you and perfection is the proper surgeon.

I’m not against plastic surgery in general by any means.  If I could get breast implants and increase one cup size and be guaranteed that I’d never have to replace them, would have little to no problems with them, and wouldn’t have scarring, I’d probably get it done.  I would love to have something done to get rid of the stretch marks I was gifted with after the birth of my son.  At one point in my life, I hated my nose and wanted to change the shape of it to better suit my face.  I also can’t stand the bags under my eyes.  That being said, I spent a lot of time growing up and even many of my adult years becoming confident in my appearance and being happy with myself.  My flaws are part of who I am and some of my complaints about my appearance throughout the year were trivial, were about things I’ve grown to love about myself, or were things I eventually grew out of.

There have definitely been times in my life where I see someone and think to myself, “I wish I had their _____.”  The problem arises when people go to a surgeon and think it’s like playing with a Mr. Potato Head; add these lips and this nose, put this chin here and add these breasts, reduce this down and plump this up.  We’re taking features of other people because we enjoy how they look on that person and assuming it will make us look amazing as well.  While it would be nice to announce that you desire Ms. Jolie’s lips and have them look perfect on you, the reality is that you’re going to end up looking like a fish in  the end, not Brad Pitt’s next wife as you had wished.

Plastic surgery creates plastic people.  There are the fortunate ones out there who end up with fantastic natural looking results, but there are also quite a few who get a bad surgeon, get an infection, or go overboard and get a few too many procedures.  Surgery is a serious thing and it’s being treated like a game because people are too lazy to work out or too insecure and childlike to be comfortable with the body and features they were born with.  It would be a challenge to find a single person out there who is honestly and truly 100% happy with their entire appearance.  There is always going to be some flaw, some imperfection, and it’s wrong to run to a surgeon every time you look in the mirror and aren’t perfectly happy with your reflection.

Obviously if you have some sort of deformity, plastic surgery is justified in order for you to live a happy life and not be ridiculed.  And sure, it’s not that big of a deal to increase your bust size a bit, especially if having children shrank your girls a bit.  But when you get into lip injections, chin and calf implants, lowering the ears, and liposuction, you’re gone too far.  If I want to lose weight, I’m going to have to eat right and exercise, not get the fat vacuumed out of me because I’m too lazy to do the work myself.  If I’m insecure because I think my lips are too thin or too fat, that’s just an internal battle I’ll have to overcome, not something to get a consult about and get repaired.  Plastic surgery is fine in small doses or in large for those who truly need it.  But for those of you who feel all sad and mopey about your “weak” chin?  Get the hell over it already.

Mortal(ity) Combat

On November 30th, I had the pleasure of taking a morning drive to the medical campus next to the hospital to pay my doctor a visit. Nothing serious, just a routine exam that I’ve gone through every year for the past who knows how many years. I was the first appointment of the day and ended up getting there before the staff even had a chance to flip on the lights and set out the sign in sheet. Everything was pretty mundane and routine until the doctor came into the room where I waited in my horrible flimsy gown. As she was reviewing my chart, she said something to me that no doctor has ever said to me: your blood pressure is a little high.

By “high” she meant it was 120 over 90, which are both within the safe zone with my diastolic number right on the border of Okayville and Hypertensionland. I’m sure most of you are making a face at me and thinking that this is not a big deal. But for me, someone who has always had consistent readings of systolic pressure between 115 and 125 and diastolic between 75 and 80, it was definitely a shock and a concern. While my doctor went on to discuss horrible things like the mammograms I’ll need in 10 years, I sat on the paper covered table silently facing my mortality. My unusual rise in blood pressure may have been from the fact that I was nervous about the appointment (my nerves act up no matter how routine and simple a doctor appointment happens to be) or possibly from the half gallon of caffeinated green tea I chugged 20 minutes prior to my pressure being checked (in preparation for my job of peeing into a Dixie cup) and wasn’t even something my doctor was concerned about.

She advised that we would check it again next YEAR to ensure I was okay and assured me that there was nothing for me to worry about. I have tons of reasons not to worry about this, but the little voice in the back of my head keeps whispering to me “you DO need to worry because you are getting OLD….”

I don’t consider 30 to be old but I also know a 30 year old body and a 20 year old body have a lot of differences between them. The metabolism of my youth is no more, random aches and pains are now part of my routine rather than a cause for concern, I can’t pull all nighters like I did in college, I have about 5 gray hairs that drive me absolutely insane, and I very noticeably feel the gap between myself and people just entering legal adulthood.

My mother developed hypertension along with a host of other medical problems, and while I seriously doubt I’m in danger, the fact that she developed hypertension is reason enough for me to be a bit on edge about my blood pressure reading. Ever since my doctor visit, I’ve been questioning the things I do on a daily basis and how they impact my body. What short and long term effects I’m causing with my behavior are beginning to seem very important and I’m beginning to wonder if I’m doing what needs to be done in order to ensure I live long enough to resemble a wrinkly piece of jerky.

Overall I don’t feel as if I’ve transitioned from a strong young person into a frail old lady. I do feel that I should begin to be careful and more mindful of my behavior. I’m not old yet but my body is aging by the second and I can’t sit around playing Xbox and taking shots, pretending that just because my mind is young, my body follows suit. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I can accept getting older and make the necessary adjustments without losing a hold on my youth. The saying “you’re only as old as you feel” is true to an extent, but I need to pay attention to the moments where I feel my actual age and make sure I’m keeping one eye focused on taking care of myself the way I should. I wish myself luck….

Jobs We Should All Do Once

Waiting Tables / Serving / Bartending

The fiction:  People tend to think this job is easy.  Come to my table, take my order, bring me food and keep my drink full.  Sure, there’s a lot of running around but overall it’s not a challenge as long as you have stamina and an energy drink handy.  The server is as fault for the restaurant temperature being too cold or hot, their steak being overcooked, or even the loud table they got stuck next to.  If I don’t like mushrooms and I failed to read that in the item description, it’s the server’s fault and they had better replace my meal fast.  It’s also the server’s responsibility to ensure my bar drinks and food get to me as quick as possible.

The fact:  Your waiter has to learn the entire menu and memorize ingredients, as people have special requests or dietary restrictions.  They deal with extremely difficult guests and messy children.  They have to have great timing, especially if they get two tables sitting down at once; it takes time to properly greet a table and get their drink order written and delivered.  They are often called away from their current task (you) to run food out to a table that isn’t theirs.  They are in charge of preparing some of your food, generally salads and soups, but also have expediting duties at certain hours.  They are at the mercy of the cook; how fast your food is prepared is not under their control and them yelling at the chef only results in your food being delayed even longer.  It’s the same with the bartender, who has their own customers along with making drinks for the entire restaurant.  They also work long shifts with little to no breaks until their section is closed.  Working this job makes you appreciate a great waiter or waitress even more and shows you little things you can do to make your server’s life a bit easier, such as asking for all condiments at one time or not letting your kid tear open all the sugars.

Retail / Dressing Room

The fiction:  This is a job generally reserved for retirees and high school students.  It’s a laid back job that allows you a bit of downtime when customers are scarce.  The downside is the cleaning and straightening, but it’s a little like organizing your closet, just on a larger scale.  The employees always tend to either be a little too helpful or nowhere to be seen.  They must think everyone is a thief the way they watch customers.  The sales associate is at fault if my item rings up incorrectly.  I don’t understand why some businesses won’t let me keep the hangers, I think I’m entitled to get them with my purchase.  I also better get a discount if there’s a makeup smudge or deodorant stain on the shirt I’m purchasing.

The fact:  Retail is a job with a lot of work and stress for a little bit of pay.  The dressing room can become a pigsty in minutes and often it’s on the shoulders of one person to police it and keep it clean, as well as organize all the leave-behinds for restocking.  Many stores have a speech that associates must recite to a new customer entering the store and many are told to just stay visible without being bothersome.  Loss prevention is also important and thieves come in many shapes and colors.  Some businesses require that the associate memorize the sales because they are not set to automatically ring up at the sale price.  Hangers cost money and store policy doesn’t always allow for them to be given away.  The associate must straighten every hanger to ensure all are parallel and must organize shelves; you can imagine how long this lasts when customers are browsing and children are exploring.  Many stores have also suspended discounts for “damaged” goods because there are awful people who will damage or stain an item themselves in order to get some money off.  Working this job allows you to see the challenge that goes into making a store shoppable and pleasant for you, resulting in you hopefully becoming a more considerate customer.

Door-To-Door Sales

The fiction:  This is the most annoying type of person out there!  They bother me at dinnertime, they’re pushy as all hell, and they don’t understand the word NO!  If I wanted whatever they’re trying to sell me, wouldn’t I have gone to them?  They have no respect for my privacy.  They shouldn’t be allowed to go knocking on doors, bothering people.

The fact:  This is the most annoying type of person out there!  They bother me at dinnertime, they’re pushy as all hell, and they don’t understand the word NO!  Unfortunately, that’s their job.  This type of work is easy to get into and therefore attractive to people seeking work; it’s often advertised as a “fast track to management.”  Door-to-door salespeople work on commission and your hospitality is their paycheck; if you’re not signing a check, they aren’t getting paid a cent.  Companies like AT&T have turned to door-to-door sales as a cheap way to get a hold of their customers to upgrade their packages, paying the salesperson a few dollars only if the customer upgrades.  Working this kind of job stinks, but it makes you more appreciative of your current job and every other kind of work out there, as well as shows you the benefits of putting a “No Soliciting” sticker on your door.

Call Center / Customer Service

The fiction:  These so-called helpful people are anything but.  They always say the same thing:  “I care about your problem, I’m happy to help, blah blah blah.”  It’s frustrating to wait so long to get through to someone only to get the person who is condescending/unhelpful/foreign/whose system is down/etc.  I’m calling you so you can fix my problem because that’s what you’re paid to do.  Don’t put me on hold and don’t transfer me.  Resolve my issue!  How hard is your job?


The fact:  They probably don’t care too much about you personally because they’ve already talked to dozens upon dozens of people like you, been cussed at and called an idiot, and had their eardrums blown out by loud yellers and hang-ups.  They generally have a script to follow which includes a lot of “I’m happy to help” and other variations of it.  They are the people who deal with the repercussions when a business or another individual screws up.  Sometimes they have to transfer you or rush you off the phone because they are often required to take a certain number of calls during their shift; if they talk to you for an hour, they are putting themselves behind.  Working this job will help you keep your anger in check next time your cable is out and you decide to go off on the poor girl who happened to answer your call rather than be angry at the storm that knocked things loose.

Janitorial

The fiction: Sure, it’s a dirty job, but it’s not challenging.  They clean up, which is something we all do at home (unless we’re a trash bag away from starring on Hoarders).  It’s all right if I make a bit of a mess because it’s their job to clean up, after all, and it’s not like anyone tries to make MY job any easier.  They need to work harder anyway, have you seen the bathroom lately??  Besides, how difficult can it be to empty a few trash cans and sweep up?

The fact:  Do you have any idea how messy and disgusting people are, especially when they know that they don’t have to clean up their own mess?  Have you ever stood ankle-deep in sewer water, trying to unclog a toilet filled with someone else’s mess, then had to mop it all up, all the while listening to angry women complain that they can’t use the stall?  Dealt with the frustration of cleaning a glass door only to have someone walk through the minute you’re finished and put their hand print on the glass?  People also tend to treat janitors worse than the trash they are emptying.  Working this job will make you think twice about dumping your half full coffee cup in the trash can or dumping a wad of paper towels in the toilet.

Nurse / Receptionist / Anyone But The Doctor

The fiction:  They never seem to know where my doctor is or why he’s running behind today.  Every time I ask, I get the same few excuses about an emergency patient or some procedure that ran over.  They tell me to come early, but they never manage to get me on time; such bad organizational skills.  I don’t get why I need to give them my insurance card every single time either, or why they make me fill out my address every visit even after I told them it’s the same.  It’s like they’re on a mission to slow me down and make me miss work.

The fact:  Their job is to provide assistance so the doctor can get through their patients as quickly as possible.  These patients are generally always overbooked; the overbooking compensates for cancellations without the practice losing money on that particular day, so when no one cancels or you have emergency walk-ins, the whole process gets behind.  Sometimes they are forced to lie; “emergency patient” sounds better than “your doctor ate too much Taco Bell and is locked in the bathroom.”  Your information is requested each visit because honestly, you can’t be trusted to remember whether or not your insurance card or bits of personal information have changed since your last visit, especially if it’s been over a year ago.  Working this job will make you realize that the nurse/receptionist has zero control over practice policy, what the doctor does and how fast they move, and definitely deserves a little slack.

Feel free to let me know which ones I’ve missed and why they qualify as a job everyone should work at least once. 

Eye Don’t Like It

My eyes suck.  I’m nearsighted; I can’t see anything further than 6 inches from my nose without my contacts or glasses.  I have year round allergies and almost always deal with itchy and red eyes from the various crap floating around in the air.  My eyes enjoy drying out during random times of the day.  I want to get Lasik, but my eyes are so sensitive that I’m pretty sure I’d run away as soon as they started messing around with my head.  I hate my eyes.

Saturday evening I began to notice a bit of redness in my left eye, which is normal.  I wrote it off as allergy related.  My son was also having the same issue in one of his eyes, so I was certain that was the cause.  On Sunday, it was much worse.  Monday morning I woke up nauseous and dizzy with a slight headache, but the redness wasn’t any worse, so I took a personal day off of work to get a bit of rest.  Tuesday morning, I woke up to this:

Sexy, right?  I send a picture in an email to my boss and let him know that I couldn’t make it to work.  I headed to Walgreens to get some drops to reduce redness and soothe irritation and they seemed to help a bit.  Jimmy Johns for dinner also helped.  I went to bed Tuesday night fairly confident that the problem was taken care of.  I’m also wrong a lot.  I woke up this morning in extreme pain and feeling very nauseous.  At this point, I suspected I had a scratch on my eye.

I called Walmart to get in to see the doctor; I hate Walmart but the eye doctor there is wonderful and she helped me out three years ago when I scratched my eye, coming from home during her off time to see me.  Here’s the conversation I had:

Me:  Hello, I was wondering if I could get in to see Dr. Price today.  I’m pretty sure I scratched my eye.  It’s very red and painful and it’s been like this for a few days now.

Vision Center Guy:  Well, Dr. Price is off today.  How do you know you scratched it?

Me:  I’m not sure that is what I did, but something is definitely wrong.  (described symptoms)

Vision Center Guy:  Hold on one minute (shuffles papers)  Okay, let me see here…. (he proceeds to read through a list of emergency situations that warrant calling Dr. Price on her day off)  I see nothing about a scratch here.  Oh yes, here we go, scratched cornea, redness, moderate to severe irritation.  That sounds like what you have.  But I don’t think she’d want to be bothered because this really doesn’t sound like that bad of an emergency.

Me:  …….. Well it feels like an emergency to me.  She’s seen me before during her off hours for an emergency, can you at least call and see what she says?

Vision Center Idiot:  No, I’m not going to bother her.  You should go to the ER or the Eye Surgeon of Indiana.  I don’t know their address though.  Or phone number.  But you should just do that.

I did take the useless moron’s advice and went to the Eye Surgeon’s office, where the doctor worked through her lunch break to see me.  Turns out I have iritis, an inflammation of the eye that causes eye pain and redness, headaches, motion sickness, and can permanently damage the eye.  She said it was good that I came in today but should have come sooner, as the risk of permanent damage is high.

I know I shouldn’t expect too much from Walmart, but I’m completely outraged at their level of incompetence and lack of care for their customers.  All the idiot had to do was call Dr. Price and get her opinion, since she is the doctor AND because my symptoms were on the checklist of reasons she should be called.  Instead, he decided to be a rude little prick and brush me off.  This is the second problem I’ve had with Walmart recently; their pharmacy screwed up my prescription and the woman told me it was just too bad, nothing she could do to fix it or help me.  I’ve since transferred to Walgreens.  I get that working at Wally World isn’t the most glamorous job on the planet, but when you’re working in the vision center for a doctor, you’re required to at least pretend to care about the people who need assistance.  It wasn’t as if I was calling to get an emergency eye exam because I wanted new contacts or I got an eyelash in my eye and wanted the doctor to help me remove it.  I had a serious problem requiring immediate attention and all I got was a conversation with a lazy prick that refused to do as he is directed and call the damn doctor to get her opinion on a medical emergency.  If anyone is going to tell me that the health of my eye isn’t important enough, let it be the doctor.

The problem with Walmart is that they are in zero danger of going out of business or losing money.  There’s one everywhere you look and they are always packed.  Not having to work for customers results in a decrease in the quality of customer service.  They can be rude to you because chances are, you’ll be back anyway.  If they lose one or two customers, it doesn’t matter because there’s hundred of thousands more out there to throw their hand earned money in their registers.  Leaving their pharmacy didn’t hurt them in the least, they lost a few dollars a month from me but are still gaining insane amounts from people content with dealing with their sometimes bad attitudes and occasional incompetence.  It’s a shit way to treat the people who keep you in business, but Walmart can afford to do it.  This is one of those unfortunate cases where one person can’t make a difference; nothing I do or say will change anything about how they operate.  Maybe one day things will change and their policies will demand that employees at least pretend to give a damn and take pride in their jobs.  I won’t be holding my breath for that one.

It Pays To Be A Doctor

My son and I parked our car outside the doctor’s office bright and early this morning.  We walked into the waiting room at 6:58am to hand in our paperwork and made it back to the exam room 10 minutes later.  3 minutes with the nurse, about 7 with the doctor, then 5 more with our nurse and we were done.  The rest of the time was spent with me trying to keep my son entertained while waiting for the next person to pop into the room and trying to stop his tears after the nurse gave him a shot in each leg.  After almost ten minutes of waiting at the patient check-out window I was presented with my bill.  $481.00.

My first thought was WTF!!!?!?!??! which I politely expressed by saying “wow” to the nurse processing my bill.  Four hundred and eighty one dollars for what?  My personal annual exam plus all lab work runs me $310 and that visit is one that’s actually spent with the doctor for a significant amount of time, usually about 20 minutes after about 15 with various nurses.  Those twenty minutes with the doctor cost $150, while my son’s 7 minutes ran me $140.  Both of these doc’s bill the ICD-9 code for the extended visit, which is fine for my personal visit but I fail to see how 7 minutes the doctor had with my son qualifies as extended, or the 15 minutes total we were with medical staff.

The remainder of the $481 for his visit went towards three vaccinations.  The same ones the health department gives out for free.  If you’re wondering why I didn’t take him to the health department to begin with, it’s because they were booked AND because through experience I’ve learned that kids are treated nicer in an actual doctor’s office rather than a clinic with cranky nurses who stick kids with needles every 15 minutes, all day long.  I assume the health department receives state funding which allows the vaccines to be free of charge, but I also don’t believe they cost $341 as I was charged.  A medical practice is a business like any other and I get that they need to make money, but the amount they marked up these shots is insane.  The actual cost for his DTaP shot is $24.40 on the high end of the spectrum; my cost is $107.  His MMR shot’s cost them $50.16; my cost is $142.  IPV costs them $25.43; my cost is $91.  Again, those costs to them are the high end of the spectrum; depending on how their practice is classified, they could be paying less than half that per dose.

I had to request the cash patient pricing before they took a little over $200 off of my bill, still leaving it at a price I thought was too high and concerning me that those who don’t ask are charged the higher pricing for their services.  Things like this make me totally disgusted with our healthcare system.  I worked in a doctor’s office prior to the job I hold now and once a year, we would go through the system and jack up the prices that we charged to insurance companies.  Durable medical equipment that cost us slightly over a hundred dollars would be billed to Anthem or Cigna at $1400, plus a $60 cost going towards a staff member explaining how to use it.  Doctors screw the insurance companies by overcharging and the insurance companies compensate by screwing US, the patient, by raising prices and refusing services.

If you’re a doctor that performs an unnecessary service such as breast augmentation or liposuction, anything that wouldn’t be deemed medically necessary, then by all means jack your prices as much as you wish.  Insurance isn’t paying it unless it actually IS medically necessary (and usually isn’t) and a boob job isn’t a requirement to start school so the general public doesn’t need to worry about it.  As far as everything else, there needs to be some structure and some accountability.  The main reason I don’t have health insurance is that my husband, son and I rarely ever need to go to the doctor and it doesn’t make financial sense to have it.  No insurance company is going to refund me if I overpay, but you better damn well believe they’ll raise my rates if they feel I’ve gone over what they consider to be reasonable costs.

I’m short one molar because my former insurance company refused to pay for a medically necessary implant and now my teeth have shifted to improper positions.  Their reason for refusal was because I had exhausted my benefits with the surgery to remove the “baby” tooth that had been impacted in that spot.  The money that went to this insurance company was more than I ever used for all my visits total ANYWHERE, but still they refused to pay and kept my money, resulting in me having 1 missing tooth (which thankfully is too far back to be noticed) and a useless screw in my jaw from when the oral surgeon had to stop the implant process due to refusal of payment.  Someone please explain to me how this makes any sense whatsoever.  Health insurance, which is there to help, routinely denies coverage and payment for no other reason than they don’t feel like giving YOUR money to the physician who needs it.

Medical procedures and testing, shots and equipment, all of it should have a set cost.  Stop treating it special and treat it like most other goods/services out there.  It’s nonsense for a gas station to charge $20 a gallon to business travelers paying with corporate cards while charging the self paying credit card using customer $6 and cash customers $3 a gallon.  If any station pulled that garbage, it would start a riot.  Yet no one seems to give enough of a damn about the state of health care and the way doctors charge patients, at least not enough to change anything.  Once my son is 7, I can go to Walgreens and get the same exam he received today for only $35.  If they can do it for $35, why can’t everyone?  The office I used to work for charged $79 for DOT physicals and $29 for the school physical my son received today, and yes it was performed by a medical doctor, not a nurse or physician’s assistant.  Why the price variation?  Why should I have to shop around to find MEDICAL CARE FOR MY CHILD??!?  Something so important and so necessary should be equal across the board with pricing that is appropriate to what is received.

When I was younger, I used to hear kids say they wanted to be a doctor so they could help people.  I wonder when that turned into wanting to be a doctor so they could buy a Mercedes…..

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