One day in late March, I went to the Columbus Clinic to see Ms Taylor, who works with Dr. Verson, et al, in the neurology department. The purpose of the visit was to go over the wheelchair assessment that Lance, from NuMotion, and Paulyne, from Amedisys, had done a few days before. Ms Taylor flipped through the twenty-some pages NuMotion had faxed to the Columbus Clinic and said she was impressed with how complete the assessment was. She would do whatever had to be done to prepare it for Dr. Verson’s signature, return it to NuMotio, who would send it to the insurance people.
A few weeks later, Lou from NuMotion called to tell me the Scrooges at Humana had decided the diagnostic information in the assessment was not sufficient to warrant a wheelchair of the type Paulyne, Lance, Ms Taylor, and Dr. Verson all said I needed. Lou said he would send everything back to the Columbus Clinic along with Humana’s concerns, and he suggested I make an appointment to go over them with Dr. Verson or whomever.
On the afternoon of April 27, Russ and I made our way to the Columbus Clinic. We were led to an examining room, where a nurse took my blood pressure, listened to my heart, and assured us Ms. Taylor would be along directly. When she arrived, Ms Taylor was again going through a sheaf of papers.
“Everything they say they need is already in here,” she said. “Who did you talk to at NuMotion?”
“Well, I’m going to give Lou a call and find out what needs to be done,” she said, and sent us on our way.
A week later, Lou called to say NuMotion hadn’t heard from the Columbus Clinic. These things need to be done within a certain time, he said. and if they didn’t get the assessment back to Humana soon, we’d have to start over. He asked that I give the Clinic a call. I did, and they assured me it would be taken care of.
On Friday, May 13th, ominously enough, Lou called again. NuMotion had called the Columbus Clinic neurology department several times but had not received a call back. “You’ve got to call and be your own advocate,” he told me.
I called the Clinic, and as soon as a human came on the line, replacing the recorded assurances that the Columbus Clinic cared about my call and would answer it as soon as the phone answering person got out of the restroom – or words to that effect – I became the whining, crying, begging me. OK, I might have thrown in a “what the hell is wrong with you people?” or two. But, I spent most of the phone call pleading. Again, I was told that it would be taken care of.
On Tuesday the 17th, the phone rang as I was sitting on the toilet. By the time I fished the phone out of my pants pocket, the call had gone to voicemail. The phone told me it was Lou who had called. The message Lou left was familiar: NuMotion hadn’t received anything from the Columbus Clinic; I needed to make an appointment to see Dr. Verson one day that week. “When you get the appointment, let me know. If it is at all possible, I want to be there."
Tuesday wasn’t my day. I hadn’t slept well Monday night, and I felt like crap. More to the point: I felt like I needed to take a crap, and I spent most of the day sitting on the porcelain throne urging my bowels to move. To pass the time, I found crossword puzzles online, printed them and did them while trying to do the other thing. By 4:30 that afternoon, there were five completed puzzles lying atop the hamper. The last thing I wanted to do was talk to the people at the Columbus Clinic. And I didn’t.
Wednesday morning, after a good night’s sleep and an early morning bowel movement, I was ready to go, and at 8:45 I got started by calling Lance. I wanted to apologize for not calling him back and to get whatever additional information I might need before calling the Columbus Clinic.
“Hello, Lance, this is Tom Harris.”
“Oh, Mr. Harris, we’ve got everything we need. The doctor’s office sent us the stuff. We’re in good shape.”
An hour or so later, Cory, a nurse in the neurology department of the Columbus Clinic, called to apologize for the delay in getting the material to NuMotion. According to him, Ms Taylor had been out of the office for some time, and he was unaware of what was going on with NuMotion, Humana and Me.
That was a week ago. Apparently, Humana didn’t dropped everything else in order to consider my request for a new wheelchair. I wish they would; I’m getting anxious.
* * *
Not all of my dealings with the folks at the Columbus Clinic have been so frustrating. In March, when I saw Dr. Miller, my primary care guy, for the annual checkup, I left some blood and urine for his perusal. The next day, a nurse from his office called. The lab report showed that I might, or might not, have a urinary tract infection. “Do you think you have a UTI?” she asked. I wasn’t sure. At times, I thought I might; other times, I was pretty sure I didn’t.
“Do you want Dr. Miller to give you a prescription?”
“Better safe than sorry, I guess.”
“OK, I’ll tell him that and see what he wants to do.”
As it turned out, he wanted to give me a prescription. I found that out when the call came from a recorded voice. “This is the Publix Pharmacy in the Milgen Plaza,” it said. “A member of your family has a prescription ready for pickup.” When I was one day from taking the last of the seven-day allotment of prescribed pills, the nurse from Dr. Miller’s office called.
“We got a report from the lab. You have a urinary tract infection.”
“I’m going to send in a prescription.”
“I already have a prescription.”
“You can stop taking that. It won’t even touch this.”
Who am I to argue? I didn’t ask any questions about either the infection or the pills. When the friendly recorded voice from the Publix Pharmacy on Milgen Road called, I called Russ, he took me pick up the prescription, and I used them as directed. And they did a wonderful job. My balance is much, much better than it has been for months. It is so nice to wake up in the morning, sit on the side of the bed and bend over to put my socks on without feeling I’m about to have an intimate moment with floor. So many little things are less work now. It’s easier to do a lot of things when I’m not afraid of falling out of the wheelchair.