Wednesday, January 12, 2011

You Know Things Are Gonna Be Awesome When They Whip Out The Speculum

As we all know, my favorite pastime is going to the doctor. I just love taking a bus and then a subway and then waiting in a room where I get no cell service for heaven knows how long until they decide to call me back. Once I am in, it just gets so much better. I get to go to a bathroom, "empty my bladder" (why don't they just say pee? I mean, come on) and then get naked from the waste down. I get to carry all my clothes while simultaneously holding a sheet that barely goes around me, back to the table. I have stopped even thinking about trying to wash my hands. I eventually get my titanic weight up onto the table where I have to lay still on my back for however long they need. We have already discussed how incredibly comfortable and relaxing it is to lay on my back and feel the pressure of a thousand bricks crushing my pathetic lungs. Under the usual circumstances this is a tremendously fun experience. Well, just after Christmas it got even funner. When the tech did the ultrasound of my cervix it decided to betray me and show that it had shortened somewhat significantly that week. Ugh, they went forward with the rest of the ultrasound and the lovely gal who did it couldn't get most of the measurements she was supposed to so she called the doctor in. When the doctor came in she finished getting the measurements on the babies while the tech left and stood outside gossiping with her friends. Seems professional if you ask me. Then the doc said, "Okay, that's it, the babies look good." I was a little confused so I asked, "What about my shortened cervix?" The doctor got this taken aback look and said, "Oh, she didn't tell me about that. Let me take a look." Well, after looking she told me I had to go over to L&D (labor and delivery). Apparently the cervix thing was worth mentioning ultrasound tech lady. Pay attention. I called Eric and told him the sitch and he was on his way. Once I got there they monitored me for contractions for a while and then did some super super fun and incredibly comfortable checks of my cervix. Eric had the pleasure of having me crush his fingers. You know things are gonna be awesome when they whip out the speculum. Happily everything was cool so they sent me home. Phew.

Insurance Sucks. No Insurance Probably Sucks More.

I have never had to pay too much attention to what insurance we had and the details of our policies. Before this weird pregnancy that is treated like a rare and dangerous disease, I could count on one hand the number of doctor appointments I had been to in the last several years. Most of those were for ringworm that my dirty but delicious students continually gave me no matter how much I avoided them when they were infected. Anyway, now I get to bask and bathe in the details of not only our medical insurance but also short-term disability. Firstly, insurance for a family is like insanely expensive each month. Even after your employer pitches in. So that's cool. Back in December when we switched insurance companies I called to find out just how much these aliens inside me were gonna cost. First she told me that all my prenatal appointments would be free of co-pays. Then after we talked more she realized I was seeing a specialist because of my "high risk" pregnancy, and changed her tune to me paying 40 bucks every time I go. Okay, I go to the doctor AT LEAST once a week. Are you kidding me? She kept saying how if it were a regular pregnancy it would all be free. Thanks. Yeah. You should keep rubbing that in. This makes no sense to me. I certainly didn't opt for having a high risk pregnancy. They make it seem like I had 2 choices and went for the more deluxe option. Good grief. Supposedly, our in-patient hospital yearly max is 1200 but I feel like they lie. Often. So, I guess we'll see.

Then, there's the short-term disability a-holes. My hatred for them is on a Shakespearean level. A triplet pregnancy is incredibly risky. Let me guess, you probably put that together. I'm going to tell you anyway because all I want to do is rant and piss and moan. This bit won't be funny so you should probably skip it and then just tell me that you read it, even though you didn't. So, 91% of triplet pregnancies have at least one antenatal complication, 80% go into pre-term labor, the average gestational age at delivery is 32 weeks (So only half even make it there), and the prenatal mortality rate is 10x higher than with a normal pregnancy. Given these "challenges" one of the precautions that pretty much all doctors take and anyone can read about in various medical journals, is to modify maternal activity. Considering the entire medical establishment seems to think this is the way to go, you'd think that when my doctor told me it was time to stop working and go on low-activity leave that the insurance company would understand and pay my short-term disability. I mean, they have to follow established treatments or at least know how to read, right? You would be wrong. You would be so so wrong. I know how you feel. I was also so so wrong. I got a call from the company and the lady says they had to deny my claim because the information from the doctor said I had no restrictions or complications. She said she even called the doctor's office to get more information but that they had said there was no reason for me to be out of work. Huh, my doc had said something completely different. Weird. Well, its clearly just a misunderstanding. I'm no communication expert but I'll get it cleared up. I was extremely confused so, of course, I call the doctor's office to find out what's going on. Predictably, the insurance company called the day before Christmas Eve so the doctor wouldn't be back until the 29th. I think they did that just to be funny. Those rascals. When I can finally call on the 28th the doctor's office tells me that is not at all what they said. They had told the insurance company that I was on low activity restriction because of the inherent risks of having three hungry fetuses taking over my body. They said they had reiterated this to the insurance company many times. I call the insurance company back and, of course, they won't let me speak to the agent who actually knows about my claim. They just keep reading me parts of this very non-specific letter they sent about why I was denied. Every time I ask a specific question about what the doctor told them they say "Oh, well, I wasn't the one who spoke to them." Then I say, "Ok, great, can I speak to that person?" and they get a little quiet and then just start reading the letter again. There must be some sort of regulation that the call center workers have to panic easily and not make any sense at any time.

 The next day I went to my regular doctor appointment and my cervix had shortened significantly so I had my first trip to labor and delivery. Luckily, they just monitored me for a couple of hours and sent me on my merry way (we'll discuss this whole thing in the next post, promise, pinkie swear). The next day I asked the doctor to send in the information about my cervix to the insurance company so they could re-consider me. They did and I called after 4 days (the company has 5 days to review new documentation). The lady made a note for my claim agent to call me when they had reached a decision. I thought fine, they'll call today or tomorrow. Well, of course no one called so I called two days later and the person who answered said that her notes showed that what the doctor had sent in wasn't sufficient and blah blah blah. I asked to PLEASE speak to the claim agent. Of course, she was unavailable and would call me back. A miracle occurred and she actually called me back before the end of the day. Okay, remember how she had said all the problems with the claim were because the doctor hadn't given any restrictions or reasons to be out of work? I remember that. I remembered it so well that I stayed awake at nights thinking about what else I could have sent to them to make them understand, including researching medical journal articles about standard management of triplet pregnancies. Oh, well, her tune is completely changed now. Apparently, the doctor DID say all of that. So, I wasted countless hours mulling over this situation and now you tell me that what you said was just completely untrue. No, that makes sense to me. No worries. We're cool. Apparently, the doctor's reason just wasn't a good enough reason for them. They need a complication to actually occur before they feel you should be out of work and since no complication had actually occurred yet, that is why I was denied. Fine. Forget you, but fine. However, the paper that the doctor's office sent over, despite what the notes I was read said, was sufficient and though they couldn't approve me for the December 1-28 period, they could approve me starting the 29th when my cervix actually shortened. Now, why the other lady had told me something completely different five minutes ago about the info not being sufficient is beyond me. Probably goes back to that regulation of only hiring people who make no sense. Fine. Great. Goodbye. I hope to never have to speak to any of you again. Ever.

Epilogue: Just the other day I saw a commercial for a lawyer, specifically citing that if you had been denied short term disability by this exact company you should call this lawyer because they are being repeatedly sued for wrongfully denying claims. I am obviously not the kind of person that would do that but it seriously put a smile deep, deep in my soul just to hear that.

Update: When my short-term disability was turned over to their long-term disability department the agent reviewing my claim called and told my that I absolutely should have been approved from the very beginning and when I got my check for long-term, the money I missed out on during the period for which I was denied was included.  I love that claim agent for having a brain.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Choices, Choices, Choices

This was the choice I was faced with when going for a fetal echo at the Babies Hospital. I should never be faced with this kind of choice, ever. Sadists, all of them. It's just creepy. After that, I got to sit in a waiting room filled with snot-filled children and video games. Two young chaps, around 7 or 8 were loudly playing some sort of video game. One of the boys' favorite words was, "shit." Every time he died (on the video game, not in real life) it was, "shit." Every time he almost died, "shit." Every time he had to move quickly, "shit." This little kid just kept screaming "shit." It was SO awkward! All the other parents in the room clearly were not okay with him saying this over and over in front of their kids but potty-mouth boy's parents were totally oblivious. After we heard them talk for 5 seconds it became pretty clear where he picked up that little habit. Listen, I really don't care how your kid talks at home. I always told my students they could say whatever they wanted at home but that they needed to learn some social mores and watch their language at school. Being socially inept as I am, my natural reaction to this prolonged awkwardness shared by an entire room, is uncontrollable laughter. Eventually, every time the kid said it I had to hide my head in my coat and shake with laughter. I am pretty sure this didn't smooth things over. Now, all the parents are annoyed with the potty mouth and a little freaked out by the crazy woman in the corner who didn't even bring a child to the Babies Hospital.

On the upside, this time I was there on the correct day.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Jenn and Eric +40...Pounds That Is

Well, I continue to really outdo myself in the tub-of-lard department. Around December 17th I had officially gained 40 pounds. Now, it's more like 44 but I am pretty sure the scale is deceiving me because it feels like it has to be at least 400 pounds. In a completely non-offensive way I have a newfound sympathy for people who are overweight in real life. It totally blows. It's probably harder gaining that 40 pounds in 4 months, with one decision, than gaining it over a few years, but no matter what, it blows.

Large SeaCow scenario 1
I have not taken a bath since I was like 12. I love a good hot tub/sauna situation but sitting in a tub, washing the filth from my body and then laying around in it just gives me the creeps. Not to mention the fact that you can see every speck of dirt, mildew, etc that you missed when you were scrubbing the tub. You are also now laying around basking in those. Anyhoo, despite this most natural aversion, I got the idea in my head that I wanted a hot bath. My back and legs hurt and I was cold and clearly this pregnancy has made me delusional because I thought a bath would feel nice. First of all, the acrobatic moves required to lower myself into the tub could only be matched by the lithe midget performers of Cirque Du Soleil. Once the feat had been managed, I turned on the hot water and let it flow. It did warm me up. If we had like a sexy jacuzzi tub or something this would have been better. Trying to lie against a fake porcelain surface at about a 93 degree angle is not actually comfortable. Your back and neck are, once again, pushed into incredibly awkward positions reminiscent of a patient with some type of palsy. (Sidenote, one of the contestants on My OWN show, Oprah's search for the next TV star, said cerebral palsy is the sexiest of all the palsies and I must say I agree). After lying there for about 4 mins and realizing that from my vantage point (standing and only seeing what is not hidden by the belly) and from Eric's vantage point (being male) we had not seen this disgusting four inch, thin line of mold/mildew growing under the faucet. Officially creeped out, I started draining the tub and preparing to shower all tub filth from my body. I vowed to never again be seduced by the false promises of heat and relaxation that the tub so smoothly sells.

Large Seacow Scenario Scene 2
After my horrifying bathing experience which scarred me for life, I again got into a dangerous dance with the tub, my old arch-nemesis. It needed to be scrubbed in a heavy duty way. Now, under normal circumstances, such as a weight that is in compliance with the fire code, this is a boring but uncomplicated task. If, however, you can't bend down in pretty much any way and the energy you are able to expend without collapsing is equal to that necessary to watch Dr Phil and resist throwing stuff at the television, then this gets complicated.

My well-laid plan was to get naked and sit in the tub while I washed the bottom of it, then, turn on the shower and stand up to clean the high-up parts of the shower. Seemed pretty straight forward. Seemed like a great idea. Shockingly, it all went very, very wrong. I started by sitting in the tub and scrubbing the bath mat. I will never do this again. They should make terrorists do this to get them to talk. The bottom of the mat is covered in dozens of little suction cups, which need to be individually scrubbed to get the buildup off. So, the mat is on my lap and I'm pouring comet on one row at a time and scrubbing under every stupid lip. More quickly than I would have liked, the tub builds up an inch or so of comet and mildew filled water. I, of course, am sitting in this butt naked and trying not to barf. We already discussed my aversion to sitting in my OWN dirty water, this was worse than listening to Brett Favre talk about retiring. (Dear Brett Favre, If I, Jennifer Silverstein, who pays absolutely no attention to football, am annoyed with you, then you know you are a hot mess). Until now, little Fenbaby was relaxing on the bathmat watching the show. About this time, though, he got curious. He decided that certainly what I needed was for him to jump in the tub. He did so and with my less-than-cat-like speed and reflexes couldn't grab him/get up fast enough to get him. He jumped out and at that moment I froze. The bathroom door was open. There was nothing standing between his now infested feet and my soft warm bed. I heard classic western movie stand-off music playing in the background. Our eyes met and the stand-off began. For every centimeter I moved, he also moved. Finally, I reached an empty toilet paper roll, one of his favorite toys, and was sure it would distract him. To my dismay, he is smarter than me and as soon as I tossed it he jetted into the bedroom, running all over the sheets. I then had to drag my massive body, dripping with the infested water, into the bedroom and corral the dog back into the bathroom and promptly shut the door. I finished the bathmat and washed the bottom half of the tub area rather successfully, though with so much grunting and groaning that anyone listening would have wondered what indecent things could possibly be happening in there.

I happily graduated to standing in the shower and washing the top half, followed by a cleansing and refreshing shower. I am almost certain that I even got all the comet out of the fatty crevices created by my babies/monsters inside me. I got out and dried off only to remember that I now had to wash off Fen's feet in the sink and change the bed linens. Aah, pregnant bliss.

Seacow Style:
When I started getting big I separated my clothes and put all the clothes that fit in one drawer. I now notice that drawer dwindling as I grow out of each group of items. First to go was anything that I would not be ashamed to wear in public. Then my coat (thankfully, Eric's mom gave me a bigger one to borrow for the winter). Next came all my bras. After that, I grew out of all my "baggy" t-shirts and now I have grown out of most of my undies and pajama pants. Seriously, did you even know you could grow out of pajama pants? They are made to be roomy and my body has now exceeded being "roomy." Being cheap, I also refuse to buy a bunch of stuff when I know this could be over in 2-10 weeks. So, I am left wearing the ONE pair of sweatpants that will fit over me paired with Eric's most ridiculous t-shirts all day and going pants-less at night (too hot for sweatpants). Thankfully, I do have a couple pair of maternity pants that I can wear to my weekly doctor outings coupled with the type of top I most despise above all other things- a sports jersey. Let's just say I look like one super-classy broad.

Seacows Sleeping
This subtitle is pretty ironic actually. There isn't a lot of sleeping going on at all. Firstly, as you may have gathered, there are three fetuses (feti?) all pushing their cute little heads right onto my bladder. Baby A has also decided that an enjoyable pass time is to push on my bladder in a repeated motion until I simply can't stand it anymore. I can pee and then by the time I am done washing my hands and brushing my teeth, have to pee again. So, going more than a couple hours at night is unheard of. That is annoying as it is but on top of that pulling my body out of the bed is like a mouse trying to flip a semi. They should have the iron man competition include moving my fat butt around the apartment. Ridiculous.

I generally start the night laying on my right side. In about 30 minutes or so my right arm is completely asleep and even my left arm, from wrapping itself at weird angles around my impressive girth, is tingling. My hips and knees feel like they are being twisted into ungodly positions and I am ready to scream. So, I turn on my back to relieve the pressure for a little while. I can only hold this position for about 20 minutes because the colossal weight of my body is then crushing my lungs. Not to mention that the veins in my nose swell up, rendering nasal respiration impossible. It's then onto my left side for another half hour, maybe hour, before all the joy associated with laying on my right side transfers to my left. I then get the pleasure of starting all over again. Listen babies, we haven't really met yet but for whatever reason I seem to be rather fond of you. Know this, however, if you turn out not to be worth it, I am going to be really disappointed.