Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Lay of the Land and the Sea

This week has been full of adventure. I received a communique from DMBA indicating that the $107.20 charge for my monthly phlebotomy was unacceptable, notwithstanding my extraordinarily detailed analysis of the Utah Regional Medical Center's extraordinarily high overhead for taking my blood and then having to throw it away ("clank"). Medicare Advantage was perfectly willing to pay $72.09, which they coughed up almost immediately (they coughed twice, because UVRMC had dragged their feet a bit after the first phlebotomy in August, and then sent a single bill for August and September). DMBA then suggested that the remaining $35.11 (also twiced)was mine to pay. I was somewhat astonished at the decision. How could this be? Was this my punishment for consuming more than $85.00 in Barq's Root Beer and Lorna Doones? I decided that it was time to call the boys in Salt Lake.

After going through another mind-boggling assortment of answering machine options, I finally made it through to "Gernrnnantily"; apparently DMBA has a similar policy about answering with clearly enunciated given names as does the University of Utah. I finally mustered up my courage and said, "Well, Gernrnnantily, I have a perceived problem with my bill; and may I say that when I suggest that I have a problem with my bill, I mean to say that you are going to have the same problem momentarily after I shrug it off my shoulders on to yours."

"Oh! Isn't that nice!" said the Big G.

I then began my rant about the purpose of the phlebotomies, that they were therapeutic, designed to save DMBA and Medicare the riches of King Midas. Without the phlebotomies, I was looking at a number of debilitating diseases involving my liver, pancreas, heart, and brain, all of which organs were extraordinarily valuable to me. Additionally I was certain that if "Doc Holliday" had to treat any one of the debilitated organs, he and his wife would be spending a great deal of time seeing the rest of the world that they could not afford on the meager hemochromatosis ticket.

"Hmmmm," said G. "Can you hold?"

I responded with my best prostate answer, "If it is not more than an hour or so, I think I can manage." After a few minutes, G came back on line.

"As inconceivable as it may seem, there appears to be a mistake on the way your insurance information was entered into the computer."

"And, how much do I owe? Is there a standard co-pay every time I go to the Infusion Center?"

"I'm not certain," said G. "It could be anything from $.11 to $15.00 depending on which two of digits on your balance the management is willing to deduct from your bill. If they take out the first two, then it will be $.11. If they decide to take out the first and the last digits and reverse the order of the middle two digits and eliminate the decimal point, you would owe $15.00."

"How are these decisions made?" I asked.

"Well, it sort of depends on whether they use a pointy golden needle with a silver syringe attached or if they use a 14-gauge platinum shotgun with diamond pellets on the target that has the "$35.11" written on it. In any event, we will have the results back from the executives in a day or two and we will you know. I am really sorry about all of this. There was just a topographical error." He said goodbye without explaining to me what the topographical error was.

I have made lots of topographical errors in my life, particularly while hiking about in the mountains of California, but I have never been lost nor have I ever been billed $35.11 for taking the wrong trail. I will be waiting with baited breath to find out what really transpires.

In the meantime, I returned to the Infusion Center to have another pint drawn. This was on Wednesday about noon. "Nurse Chappell" was there with bells on ready to put me under the needle once again. She said that she had read my blog, looking for her nurse friend and herself in the various entries. I asked her if she had read every word or if she had merely scanned the verbiage hoping for a lucky hit.

She replied, "You know how I give you that little shot of lanocane just before I put your arm under the drill press?" I nodded in the affirmative. "Well, I don't have any analgesics anywhere near my computer monitor. If you think I am going to make myself comatose reading every word you write without a pain-killer, then you are crazier than you look." (I had forgotten to comb my hair before making my appointment.)

On the way home, Trillium offered to take me to lunch at Carl's Jr. Believe it or not, I said that I would rather not. My experience at Burger King a week or so was still causing me gastronomical nightmares. I said, "But we could stop at Macy's where I could get myself a maple bar."

"Solid iron," Trillium said and we drove home.

The next morning I had an appointment with Louis' Bone Emporium for my weekly adjustment. My internal clock was focused on Friday at 9:00 instead of Thursday morning at 8:15. The receptionist gave me a call at 8:30 asking me where I was. I said, "I am having temporal anomalies in the time-space continuum this morning." She said I could come in as soon as I was able. Louis has been having some difficulty getting my left hip to stay where it is supposed to be. Thursday morning he stretched me out on "The Rack" and began singing "This Nine-pound Hammer", a ditty written in the 1960s about John Henry, the Steel Drivin' Man. I walked out a few minutes later with my hip completely resolved never to topographically stray again.

After I got home, I called up Barnacle Raff, my neighbor, and told him that I was ready to go on our weekly bike ride (weekly planned, but it has taken us two months to take two trips). We rode from the Riverwoods Mall up the Provo Riverwalk all the way to Vivian Park. "You're doing better today, Zaphod. You made it all the way up and back with only one stop." I told him that I have been resolving all of my topographical problems of late and I find that I am in better condition to deal with the change in altitude.

Finally, Trillium and I are leaving topography behind for a week. Monday we fly to Los Angeles (there is no engagement with the topography at 30,000 feet), to board the Carnival Paradise (ensconced in a cabin so close to the waterline as to invite no suggestion of topography), and to spend five days on a perfectly flat Pacific Ocean (there is a reason why it is called the "Pacific Ocean"). During that time I will be able to consume as much Duty-free Iron as I want. The only downside to the trip is the fact that Carnival charges $35.11 if you get lost between Lido Deck and Deck 6B.


shydandelion said...

Wow...You are such an intellectual snob. :) It's okay, you have created 7 others to keep you company. Perhaps your customer service representitive had a "Utah" typographical and topographical sound the same, but he is spelling it different in his mind...?
snmct: the sound dad makes when he is right.

Trillium said...

smjrrg: the sound he makes when I GENTLY and HELPFULLY point out any "typos" or "temporal anomalies" in his essays . . . e.g.:
1. what is a "prostate answer" . . . do I really want to know? :D (I hope it isn't embarrassing)
2. what is "lanocane"? sounds like some kind of ointment. I think you meant lidocaine (C14H22N2O--if YOU really want to know) :D
3. "a week or so at Burger King" IS ANYONE's nightmare! LOL!
4. "WE WILL YOU KNOW!"--some kind of threat from DMBA? :D

BTW: there ARE NO MAPLE BARS LEFT at Macey's at 1:30 in the afternoon. They are ALWAYS sold out before noon.

"smjrrg--smjrrg--smjrrg--smjrrg!!!!" :D

Zaphod said...


At last I gave Trillium something to right about.

DebbieLou said...

Wow, I'm not match for all of THAT! LOL :)

Intellectual jabs aside, a cruise sounds nice. Are you going with anyone else you know? It always makes things a lot more fun.