Life is about having experiences not things. Well those experiences keep coming!
Around the middle of December, Denise started having some problems with her right eye. We ended up going to the Minute Clinic at CVS drug just before Christmas. She had an infection so the Nurse Practitioner prescribed some drops and things started to get better. After Christmas though it was worse again. Back to the clinic on the 28th, a change of drops and an antibiotic. The Nurse said Denise may need to see an Ophthalmologist if there was no improvement in a day or two and she would call Saturday (New Years Eve) to see how she was doing.
The Nurse was great and followed up by phone on Saturday afternoon. Due to the eye discomfort and worsening condition the nurse told her to go to the emergency room early Sunday (Jan 1) in order to see an Ophthalmologist ASAP. We had a brand new insurance plan that started that morning (1/1/17) so I made sure our nearest hospital was on the plan. We headed to a large regional hospital around 7:30AM. Soon after 8AM they bring us back to an ER room. They administered all the basic initial poking and prodding for weight/height, temp, pressure, family history, Roman history, Chung Dynasty history and finally around 8:20am we were told the doctor would be with us shortly.
Outside at 8AM it may have been 74 degrees but these rooms could double as a morgue, brr…. We sat and sat and finally the Doc came in and did more specific poking and prodding. He said Denise has a Corneal Ulcer (infection) and needs to see an Ophthalmologist ASAP. He said ‘it is a holiday so he will need some time to get someone’. It was just past 9:30AM when the Doctor finally came back in and said they needed to ‘transfer’ us to St. Mary’s Hospital down in Palm Beach because he couldn’t find an Ophthalmologist on staff and St. Mary’s had an Ophthalmology department. He said we needed to see an Ophthalmologist ASAP. He was on the phone speaking directly to the lead ER Doctor at St. Mary’s at around 9:45AM and told him we would arrive at their ER in 45 minutes. The place was a 25-30 minute ride. I said I would bring her down but the doctor said I can’t do that. They have to ‘transport’ her. I guess some kind of liability issue??? So we were told to wait a minute. We waited and waited and waited it was now after 11am and we were frozen so we went to go chase the nurse when all the sudden 2 EMTs show up with a big ambulance gurney. Now remember this was her eye, not a hip, a leg, an ankle or even a big toe. They strapped her in and Denise was off for her very first ambulance ride and I was in the chase car. I couldn’t even ride shotgun 😦 .
We arrived at St. Mary’s ER around noon and went through all the basic normal poking and prodding again. I guess they need to verify the previous results. We were told to await in the ER room for the doctor, at least it wasn’t an ice box. Finally the doctor from the phone comes in. He double checks all the other doctor’s poking and prodding and says “you need to see an Ophthalmologist ASAP. No Ophthalmologist is here today so first thing Monday morning (1/2/17) call this Ophthalmologist” and he gave us a referral paper… AHGGGGG!!!!!! By now it is around 2PM so we have now wasted 7:30AM to 2PM on New Years day/morning and massive insurance costs just to find out exactly what the Nurse told us at the Minute Clinic. WE NEED TO SEE AN OPHTHALMOLOGIST ASAP!
We left the ER tired and hungry and laughing so we wouldn’t cry. The ER gave Denise a couple more prescriptions for more & different drops. We have a Walgreen’s close to our home so stopped there only to find out that all the Walgreen’s pharmacies are closed for the Holiday (it is now New Years Day) except one and we would need to go there. Our insurance dictates only Walgreens. We drive all the way there and drop of the script and they said it will take 1.5-2 hours. This was fine as we need to get something to eat. We go back 1.5 hours later and Denise goes in to get the drugs only to be told that they do not carry it in stock. We tried Walmart, CVS, etc…no one carries this drug but it can be ordered with a 2 day wait. We also had called the ‘referred’ Ophthalmologist on Sunday (New Years Day) and left a message in order to get a call back for an appointment as early as possible on Monday morning. Monday came and we waited, but no call back. We called the Ophthalmologist again only to find out that NO ONE is open on Jan 2, Monday, due to the holiday on a weekend and we needed to wait another day.
During this time I tried to call the new insurance company (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) just to make sure we are doing everything right. Well all calls are answered by a call center that is not in the USA (I asked due to the accent). They said we could not go to see the Ophthalmologist without a referral from our primary care doctor (PCP) not the emergency DR.. We have no clue who the PCP is and never saw them since this is day 2 of the policy. They said ‘dems da rules’ and if we went to the specialist without the PCP referral we would have to pay 100%.
On Tuesday morning, Jan 3, we called the number of the ‘referred’ Ophthalmologist and they said they would squeeze her in at 1:15 and asked for our referral number. We said we will call back soon with one. Blue Cross had automatically assigned us a PCP and it was not near where we lived. We called the PCP, told them we had been to ER and needed a referral# to go to an Ophthalmologist that the ER doctor said we needed to see ASAP. They said we could come in at 11AM to get the referral as the doctor needs to see us in order to give one. We called the Ophthalmologist back and said we should be able to make it at 1:15 since we see the PCP at 11AM to get the referral and would bring it with us. The Ophthalmologist nurse asked us to call a number she gave us and they would also give us a number which they need. Our insurance was adamant that we had to get the referral from the PCP or they won’t cover the visit to the specialist. Our PCP office is pretty far south of us so we take off. We get there around 10:45 (early for our appointment). The place was packed with people, we checked in and were told our number would be called shortly. It wasn’t until around noon that we were called back into where the doctor sees people. Guess what, yes, more poking and prodding by the nurse and again we are told to wait for the doctor. Our Ophthalmologist appointment is 1:15. Well at about 12:50 we call the Ophthalmologist to say we are about 15 minutes away but are waiting for our PCP to get a referral and probably will be a little late.
The Ophthalmologist office said they already had the referral from the number they had us call. WHAT!, Shit!, we have been waiting for hours again for???? We get up to walk out of the doctors office when the PCP doctor finally walks in. We explain the story and she said as long as we are there she may as well give us her referral but no we hadn’t needed to wait previously. She did ask us to come back right after the Ophthalmologist so she could process Denise as a patient. We raced out of there at 1:09PM and get to the Ophthalmologist at 1:24 and finally get in. Long story short, okay long story long, The specialist checked her eye, gave her some drugs that now seem to be relieving the discomfort.
So Happy New Year to anyone who read this far. We now have a new ‘new years’ experience to remember. Here also are a few pictures from Christmas.
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Beautiful moon rise over the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse along the waterway with fishing boat. HDR image created using EasyHDR software.