Does insurance cover anger management?

Mixed Up Mommy is just really in a pissed off mood today. All these years I’ve taken crap for being part of the teaching community, and everyone likes to crap on the teachers all the time. (“I pay your salary!” Oh yeah, well I pay taxes too, so I guess that makes me self-employed.)  How about we turn that energy and focus it on the medical community…I’ll exclude nurses there since much of the time they seem to be the only ones doing anything, with the exception of Connor’s time recovering from seizure surgery on the seizure floor. They didn’t impress me much, but otherwise, they seem to be the only ones who get anything done. First of all, I’m sick to death of the administrative people. I hate them the most. They don’t give a damn. I’m sick of waiting for phone calls to be returned. This past summer, just to make an appointment with our surgeon, the scheduler took a week to call me back. Scheduling surgery? Another week. I received a bill that made no sense for $200 from the Emory-Children’s Clinic. I spent a month trying to get the billing department to call me back and explain it. I didn’t get a response until I mailed them a letter and sent a copy to every single member of the board, including the CEO. And it was a mistake. We didn’t owe anything. I’m sick of having to call doctors over and over and over. I’m sick of inordinate amounts of time in waiting rooms. I’m annoyed that we spent so long waiting for our eye appointment this morning that the doctor couldn’t even do the full exam because by then Connor was in one of those deep unarousable baby sleeps, and we had to go off the intial exam done by the tech for part of it.

I’m also pissed that I found out that the results of the ERG that was done on Connor’s eyes at Scottish Rite September 7 were never shared with anyone. His eyes have to be monitored because of a risky medication he’s on. This was just the baseline test to see where his vision started out before starting meds, so I wasn’t concerned, but I did notice they never contacted me with results. It was stupid of me not to follow up, but up until now, the one thing that does seem to go well in baby medical care is the sharing of the information. All Connor’s doctors and specialist do a good job of contacting one another about everything and always have on file what has gone on elsewhere. So I stupidly thought that a test that required sedation and admission through day surgery at Scottish Rite would warrant sharing with SOMEONE. But apparently we went through all that so the results could sit somewhere in lala land not be used for anything. Now I get to track them down and get them sent to the other doctors.

But, hmmm, how does one get another department to return your call when one can’t get a return call from the one she’s been trying to get in touch with since Wednesday? Thank you to the EEG department for closing for the weekend without returning any of my calls. Cuz God knows it ain’t no thing to squeeze in a 3-day EEG during the holidays. So I guess it’s the battle of the EEGs and ERGs.

But hey, it’s not your kid. What the hell do you care?

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Well, I don’t like talking on the phone either, but IT’S YOUR JOB.

You might be wondering if we got Connor’s 3-day EEG scheduled. The answer would be no. Because, you see, anytime you schedule stuff hospital related, it doesn’t work like a doctor’s office where you get transferred to a person who schedules you on the spot. No. You leave voicemails for people who are supposed to call you back and don’t. They never do. And I’m getting really, really sick of it. The neurologist sent the order in yesterday morning, and the hospital is supposed to call me. By the end of business that day, I was quite antsy so I tracked down the department number on their website and got connected to the appropriate person. I got her voicemail (story of my life) which stated she was out of the office that day, but also explicitly stated that all messages left that day would be returned the next. Well, it’s 6 p.m. the “next” day and nothing. So I will be calling again first thing in the morning, at which time I expect to address a voicemail again, then spend the rest of the day seething. It’s no little thing trying to squeeze in three days in the hospital at the holidays! I’m stressing over two things. First, what if they don’t even have any openings for a ludicrous amount of time, like until next year? And then, what if the opening they do have screws up our plans this month? Not to mention it always takes forever to get the results, so the sooner the test is done, the sooner we can start the next phase of waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

To top it off, I realized today that I have hung up on countless phone calls from the pharmacy that provides Connor’s Sabril. I’ve complained here before about my issues with them, so you might wonder why I would be hanging up on them repeatedly. Well, dear reader, this is why. When I call them I use an 800 number. When they call me it’s a 901 area code, Memphis number. But I only recently made this connection because every time I have answered the phone, nobody was there. It begins to ring on their end to connect me to someone, and then hold music begins to play. There is NO identifying information, even a recording, to inform you who is calling. Surprise! Like any normal person, I assumed this was some sort of telemarketing robo call. So I always hung up. Until I didn’t answer. Today I stayed on and was on hold for several minutes before someone came on identifying who it was. Great business model. Really.

I suppose I should bring something lighter in to close. I’ve figured out Connor’s favorite food finally. Of all things, it’s a combination of prunes and apples. PRUNES and apples. And you know what. It actually smells and tastes pretty good. Who knew? That might become his only solid if he keeps swinging his head back and forth to avoid the spoon like he does with some of the other pantry items.

With what these hospitals charge, there should be a swim up bar.

Arrrrgh! NONONONONONONO! So we requested an ambulatory (take home) 24-hour EEG from our neurologist so we could figure out what these eye rolling incidents are since they don’t seem to want to stop and they manage to dodge those office hours EEGs, but he feels given Connor’s age, that a 3-day video EEG would be better. So back to Scottish Rite we go. Ahhhhhh. Shoot me. Shoot me. Shoot me. An EEG at home by the light of the Christmas tree doesn’t seem so bad. Three days in a hospital? No. More. Hospital. I’m taking liquor and I dare the nurses to try and stop me. Please, please, don’t let them call and tell me they only have dates during the time we are supposed to be in Florida, or I’m going down there anyway and feeding myself to the 8-foot alligator that likes to sun itself outside my in-laws’ lanai.

In keeping with the theme of the day, my morning went like this. Pack up 800 pound 22 pound baby and head out for 8:30 doctor’s appointment. Mom and baby are right on time, ten minutes early actually, as we triumphantly stride up to the desk, only to be told I’m not on the schedule. Oh that’s right. The dermatologist is at 2:10. I should be checking in for my physical at my general practitioner right now. Somehow, depsite the fact that I’m starving due to “no food after midnight” I still managed to confuse the appointments. Fortunately, my doctors are only 5 minutes apart on the same road. Well, fortunate if you’re not me, frazzled and with directional dyslexia. Nonetheless, I made it but a few minutes late so I could have needles jabbed in my arm. Baby guilt once again made me get the flu shot, the second of my lifetime. I got one last year so I wouldn’t break the fetus. I got one this year so I wouldn’t break the baby. Hey, Hubby, she says you have to get one, too! Haha! I should start snotting and feeling like crap shortly. The best part is that I get to go back this afternoon to face the ladies that saw me make an ass of myself this morning.

My husband and I recently got hooked on Scrabble by my parents. We played at the previously blogged about cabin with no cable where family bonding and quality time was forced upon us. Chris purchased Scrabble at Target and we also downloaded a Scrabble app on the iPad that let’s you play an opponent or the computer. On Sunday, Chris traveled to Pittsburgh for business where he spent some time honing his skills against the computer because it’s not enough that I can’t do math. He must also destroy me in Scrabble when words are all I have. Would you believe the computer played the word “tuber”? No, really. Freakin’ “tuber”. What are the odds of that? Perhaps the same as having TSC?

Deep breath. Okay. Positive thinking. The hospital will call shortly. They will have lots of availability. They will get us in quickly. It will not interfere with our trip like the last EEG, when we had to reschedule our vacation. I believe in Santa. I should probably get to eating now…I just tried to bite the cat.

What are all these baby torture devices?

Connor has been on my case about not blogging for several days. He put me to work today.

I’ve never tried pilates, yet Connor possesses two pilates balls. In fact, if you inspect the portion of the house that contains his things (and by that, I mean every square inch of the house) you will see many strange looking items. This us because of his physical therapy that he receives via the state of Georgia’s Babies Can’t Wait program. Babies born with certain medical conditions that have the possibility of delaying their development automatically qualify for this program, regardless of the family income level. It means that a physical therapist comes to your home to make sure your child meets their development goals, and if they are behind, try to catch them up. Connor automatically qualified at birth due to having epilepsy caused by his TSC. Although he does have some slight motor delays from the pre-surgery seizures and five weeks in a NICU bed, she has no doubt he will do everything. Basically she comes in with new techniques to help him achieve each milestone more quickly than if left to his own devices, shows us what to do, and we continue the method on the days she doesn’t come. This has led to the proliferation of some weird things littering our living room, something my OCD husband has handled very well thus far. Some are on loan. Some we purchased. Others involved trips to Home Depot and some sweat equity.

An older shot of Connor and his therapist working on him keeping his head up for extended periods of time. This took him some time to master because of the seizures. Within a week of his surgery, he was killing this skill.

It’s a really good thing he mastered this head control thing because it meant tummy time went from this:

To this (with nose skin intact):

The therapist suggested having a mirror by him because it would motivate him and make him more aware. He absolutely lights up at the sight of himself. No self-esteem issues here.

Sherri, the therapist, has also helped us modify some of his toys so he could use them before he was quite ready. He couldn’t touch the floor in his jumperoo so we brought the floor to him, and because he was still building core strength, we rolled a blanket to place behind him to keep him steady.

We eventually had to create a more stable platform with phonebooks.

He no longer needs the modifications and now he looks like this, although he would like to point out that if I would remove his slippery socks he could do much better. Of course, it was pretty cute when he first started and looked like this.

We’re currently working on mastering sitting independently. He can for short periods of time, but needs to work on sitting a little more erectly. But he needs less and less support as time goes on.

First time in the Bumbo chair before surgery.

Sitting in his corner chair (on loan from therapist) because it requires him to do more work than the Bumbo.

The Boppy pillow also provides him support that will allow him to maintain a sitting position longer.

He finally started using a regular high chair on Thanksgiving.

This is one of our Home Depot projects. It’s a bolster we use to help him with crawling trechniques, and transitioning from crawling to sitting. Thanks to fancy, overpriced duct tape I was able to give it a race car theme.

And finally, here he is doing “pilates.” We’ve used two different sized balls to help him with head lifting, sitting, and leg reflexes. I also tried using it as a chair while watching Judge Judy. I have not pursued pilates beyond that.

There is still one corner in the house reserved for Mommy’s therapy:

We hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Magic Mike, wi fi, iPhones and other such things we can’t live without…

People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive edition arrived the other day. Channing Tatum. Thoughts, ladies? I have to say I wasn’t really a fan until Magic Mike. That is embarrassing for me to admit because Magic Mike is one of the dumbest movies of 2012. Plus, and I hesitate to say this as a mom, but it wasn’t gratuitous enough. I mean it’s a movie about strippers clearly targeted at women wanting a girl’s night out, the majority of which, I assume, consumed alcohol beforehand. That’s what everyone did right? We did. And we went to a matinee. Yet, I think we can all agree that too many chances were lost with the other strippers. Joe Manganiello and the dude from White Collar were wasted opportunites. Just saying. I haven’t read the article yet. I don’t want him to ruin it by talking.

Chris, Connor and I spent the weekend with my parents at a cabin in Fort Mountain State Park in North Georgia. My parents do the whole cabin thing a little differently than Chris and I do when we go to the mountains with friends. Our cabins typically come equipped with pool tables or air hockey, a jacuzzi, satellite TV and more bear themed paraphernalia than you can stuff in an 18-wheeler. You know, just enough away from civilization without being too Deliverance about it. My parents like to roll rustic. No air hockey, a few basic channels and GASP no wifi or even much of a cell network period. I suppose I can’t deny it anymore. I’m a hardcore addict to my phone. I’m not like those freaks on MTV that sleep with their phone or anything (that’s ridiculous, clearly the bedside table is close enough) but take away my wi fi and 3G (yup I said 3G, lame Verizon) and you’ll find me desperately pressed against a cold window trying to simultaneously update my Facebook and Instagram feeds. We went into the town of Blue Ridge for the afternoon and I was like a crack fiend in a police evidence storage unit except instead of drugs I was getting high off access to technology. I’ve always been a fan of instant gratification, but the smart phone has ruined me. If I take a picture that I want to post, it’s not sufficient to post it tomorrow….I have to post it NOW! Some of you might be thinking, “Well that’s strange. She NEVER answers her phone when I CALL.” Yes, that’s right. I’m part of the new school of anti-talking phone addicts. I don’t want to TALK to you. But if you wanna text or Facebook me, I’m down. I’ve never been a phone person, even as a teenager. I remember how badly I wanted my own phone as a kid. I loved that phone, too. I was 11, and it was one of those phones with the giant buttons. I used it to call the theater for movie times. I wasn’t planning to go to the movies, I just wanted to dial the big buttons without actually talking to anyone. I’m pretty sure once people read this they won’t be trying to call me anymore anyway.

Maverick in Blue Ridge. Goose already bailed.

Something else I noticed at the cabin was that even though Connor is about to be 8 months old, I still can’t get used to my parents being Grandma and Grandpa. I still catch myself referring to them as Mom and Dad on Connor’s behalf, as if he’s my brother and not my son. “Oh, look what Da- I mean, Grandpa is doing!” I figure I’ll be able to comprehend that my parents are  grandparents just as soon as I start comprehending that I’m responsible for the well-being of a small human.

Connor’s eye rolling incidents continue. We’re pretty sick of them at this point, especially since we don’t have confirmation of what they are. I’m thinking about calling the neurologist this week and requesting a take home 24 hour EEG, something that the EEG tech mentioned was a possibility last time since Connor declines to have these episodes when electrodes are on his head. Even though he is doing well in spite of them, I’m tired of wondering and obsessing. I look at the clock every so often and think things like, “It’s 2:16. Can we make it to the end of the day without any?” Then I get over eager to get him to sleep at bedtime so I can officially end the count of episodes for the day. Since these started he was having 0-2 a day. Very rarely did he have 0, sometimes 2, and usually 1. Just the last couple weeks we started seeing more 0 days, which is good, but the 2 days increased and suddenly he had three random days with three. WTF? Yet, many of the events are shorter, so I guess it’s sort of a tradeoff? It’s so irritating.

Anyway, I want to share some links to some other TSC blogs I follow. I encourage you to check them out as long as reading mine remains your priority. 🙂 haha. Every individual’s experience with TSC is different, so you can read and share your experiences with others in the TSC community and have stories that are nothing alike. I interact with adults who have it and are doing very well, living normal lives (not to diminish the medical issues they do have to contend with. It’s a disease you must always remain watchful of), but there are those that need a lot of care because they are so severely afflicted. And it’s always in the back of my mind that though we assume Connor is a spontaneous mutation, as are 2/3 of TSC cases, without genetic testing, I cannot say with certainty that I don’t have it myself.

My friend Wendi just started her blog. She was the first person in the TSC community we met and talked to. When we found out about Connor’s TSC and that he was facing brain surgery, we came across her son Hudson’s experience on a couple websites and immediately contacted her with questions. Check it out here.

Another one is my friend Tina. I’ve actually never met Tina. She lives in California and we met online through our wordpress blogs, then FB. Check her out here.

One last blog for now. I do not know this family, but they appear in some of the TSC literature, so Facebook stalker that I am, I located Laurisa’s blog. Find it here.

And if you’re not sick of clicking links yet, please check out this video that discusses some of the reasons that TSC research can benefit everyone, not just those with TSC. Click here.

This white powder ain’t for skiing.

I’m going to out myself. The other day I received a package from UPS. There was a powder inside. White powder. I have a problem.

But let us go back in time, to when the problem began. I was a relatively healthy kid, no stick, but not fat by any means. In high school, I officially spent some time as “skinny.” As in skinny enough to get some attention for being “skinny.” It’s like a drug. The attention makes you high. And I got that way because two of my friends threw themselves equally into exercising obsessively along with me. In retrospect, I think I may have qualified as an exercise bulimic because every time I ate something I felt the compulsion to jump, dance, or run around to burn it off immediately. It was a pretty impressive weight loss considering one of the girls in the trio was something of a compulsive liar, and apparently a saboteur as I discovered sometime later in a shop on Buford Highway. My beloved, and as she claimed, low fat, low cal Indian cookies she always had on hand for me at her house were quite the opposite. But how was I to know? It’s not like I could read the label.

But eventually I got bored, hungry and spent more time with other friends, so the exercising waned, I put on a little weight, but not too much and all was fine for my senior year. Then I went to college. Forget the image of the starving student surviving on ramen. I had the meal plan! All you can eat, all day long. And here I was, with more freedom, booze and food than I knew what to do with. (disclaimer: The University of Georgia did not provide booze in the dining halls. Mean students who peer pressured me into drinking 😛 did) I love the pictures we snapped of ourselves that first semester at 11:00 at night as we got ready to hit downtown Athens, mostly because those are the only ones I look good in. Because then I gained the freshman 15. Three times.

After graduation, I used my journalism degree to obtain a high ranking position at Barnes & Noble (see cashier, bookseller). The inability to find a full time job left me with lots of time to exercise again and so I began shedding my college souvenir weight. After about a year of being shocked at how stupid customers in a book store could be (I stupidly assumed we’d get a better clientele than Wal-Mart), I decided I was tired of hearing people whine about how we charged tax on newspapers and that this latte surely wasn’t decaf, so I took a teaching job in Daegu, Korea. I worked out here:

No, seriously. I walked into that building and paid them money with no expectation of being murdered. The movie Hostel hadn’t been released yet. I was innocent to the ways of the world. So despite a lifestyle of being surrounded by countless peers in their 20s who had expendable income to burn on food and drink. And drink. And drink. I did manage to keep from porking up.

I left Korea to face reality…oh, wait. No I didn’t. I went to Spain for two months and took Spanish immersion classes, as I had many Korean won to spend.  This is where I started to mildly derail again. Fortunately, being in Europe entails lots of walking, which helped me somewhat fight the effects of Spanish hot chocolate. If you aren’t familiar, hot chocolate there has a consistency of cake batter. It’s thick and amazing. I want to get all Augustus Gloop around it and shove myself into the mug. I’m pretty sure I started to put a couple pounds on again.

The real trouble started when I went home. I started my master’s degree in education and also worked at Starbucks. We’ve already established that higher education makes me fat. Now I also had (unofficial) access to all the mochas I could ever want. I swear I had put on 20 pounds within three months of starting work there. And for those of you who order sugar-free syrup and fat-free milk but keep the whipped cream, well we laugh at you. Starbucks isn’t using Reddi-whip. The whipped cream alone will have Jerry Springer knocking your wall down before you know it. FYI: It’s made with heavy cream.

And so, by the time I began my student teaching I had once again gained a significant amount of weight. As I started my career, I once again began to hit the gym regularly and shed pounds. And I did great. I maintained. I ate well. I discovered that truly the best way to take weight off and keep it off is to make it about eating well and nutrition, not just weight loss. It was the best I ever felt as far as my weight goes. But then I met my now husband, and we ladies know how that often goes. Why go to the gym when you can go out to dinner. And so weight crept on again. This time I decided to reign it in before it got to hideously out of control, and began to lose weight. After some time I decided what better way to lose weight than getting pregnant? Sigh. I love my baby, but not this tummy. And that bring us to the present. I’m nearly 8 months from having Connor and I’ve been at a plateau with the leftover baby weight for about five of those months. I can squeeze into one pair of jeans, and I own about eight. I’m sick of wearing the same flowy shirts over and over. Even though I don’t believe in it, even though I’ve said there is no point in losing weight in a manner you can’t maintain, even though we bought an elliptical and stationary bike, I’m so flipping frustrated that I’ve decided to try the white powder.

Meal replacement shakes. Be afraid. Be very afraid. I like the art of chewing. This could get ugly.