Archive for the ‘Health and Fitness’ Category

Even More Unbelievable.

August 22, 2008

I found the “itemization” for the aforementioned hospital bill on the insurance company website.

Unfortunately for my curiosity, the itemization did not include procedure codes or descriptions or even categories of what each item belonged to. Just a list of dollar amounts:


Now here’s the really scary part.

Keep in mind we are dealing with that infamous insurer, that denier-of-rightful-claims and canceler-of-policies that the press loves to hate: Blue F. Cross.

Well, guess what. Good ol’ Blue F. Cross paid the above claim in full, at 100 percent. No deductions whatsoever. And no questioning of any items.

I guess I have a really, really good emergency care benefit.

And I wonder what the $70 was for. The cup of apple juice?


Holy Crap.

August 15, 2008


I just logged onto my health insurance company’s website to check up on the status of my medical claims–and saw a “pending” claim from the hospital, for last Saturday morning’s four-hour extravaganza. Since the claim is pending I cannot view the itemized details, but the total amount billed?


Let’s see… that would include four hours’ rent on the gurney, a bevy of lab tests, one bag of IV fluid, one tablet of sublingual Zofran (anti-nausea), 1 milligram of IV Dilaudid (to make the runs stop), a CT scan, a brief examination by the ER doctor, and a cup of apple juice. The cup of coffee I had in the waiting room on the way out is not included in the bill. Neither, I expect, is the radiologist’s fees for reading the CT scan.

As soon as the itemized version shows up I will post it. But gee… do you think I have finally met my annual deductible??

Not How I Wanted To Spend My Saturday.

August 10, 2008

Paul, if you’re reading this… now you’ll know why I wasn’t home to take your phone call.

It started Friday night around midnight, and got progressively worse as the night went on. I’ll spare you the gory details; just picture someone crawling up and down the hall all night long.

By 7:30 Saturday morning, when I had a long enough moment away from the porcelain fixtures, I was checking WebMD and it said that if I had these symptoms, I should call my doctor.

So I did, and he said go on up to the ER, and he’d meet me there in about 20 minutes. I got myself dressed, grabbed a handy piece of Tupperware (for emergencies) and got into the car. Fortunately, the hospital is less than 2 miles away.

Four hours, a large number of blood tests, a liter of IV fluids and a CT scan later, I had been ruled out for acute appendicitis and diagnosed with acute and severe viral gastroenteritis (that’s the stomach flu, to you flatlanders). Sheer coincidence that the only part of my lower abdomen that actually hurt was the exact location of my appendix.

The ER doctor said appendicitis can sometimes fool you, and it was still possible I had very early appendicitis, so if I got worse instead of better, to come back in.

My own doctor, who is also my boss, concurred, and told me to call him late in the afternoon to let him know how I was doing.

The ER nurse who pulled my IV told me no driving. I didn’t bother telling her I was going to disobey.

By now I was in the throes of a galloping caffeine-withdrawal headache, so on the way out, I drank a cup of the ER waiting room coffee. Might have been a mistake; but I didn’t quite have to resort to the Tupperware on the way home. Once home, I sipped some tea, and went right to sleep. That was about noon. Around 4:30 I woke up long enough to call the boss and tell him I thought I was going to be okay, and the ER doctor had told me to come back and see him again Sunday morning, unless I was doing jumping-jacks. My boss said call me first.

After another long nap and some more tea, I knew I was going to be okay. I watched the Olympics and then went right back to sleep. This morning I feel like I’ve been run over by two trucks–but I don’t feel sick. I called the boss and told him I’m better.

So I guess it wasn’t the appendix after all. Thank heaven. Emergency surgery would have really ruined my weekend.


July 21, 2008

Had a date with the squisher machine this afternoon. I am in pain. I expect there will be bruises.

The ladies in the crowd will understand exactly what I am talking about.

For those who have no idea… be glad. Be very glad.

And for those who consider this too much information?

Bite me. It’s my blog and I’ll whine if I want to.

Yet More Proof…

October 25, 2007

… that ours is a society with, by and large, waaay too much time on its hands.

The latest thing to be studied by “experts?” Gym grunting.

Dennis O’Connell is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and professor and chairman of physical therapy at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. He has led two studies assessing grunting’s ability to maximize exercise output.

During the research, O’Connell had a variety of people lift a heavy dead weight and pull that weight upward until they straightened their bodies into an upright position. Participants were told to either grunt or stay quiet during the lift.

“Very experienced lifters that normally grunted when they lifted did have about a 1 percent improvement with grunting,” O’Connell said.



October 9, 2007

This TV season’s guilty pleasures: The cheerleader reality shows.

I just watched the first episode of CMT’s “I want to look like a high school cheerleader again.” The show’s premise is very much like ABC’s “The Biggest Loser” which I watched a couple of seasons ago, but the contestants are all women and they all used to be cheerleaders. The trainer is Jay Johnson, who also runs the boot camp for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Here’s the scary part. At the first weigh-in, half of these blubbery woman weighed less than I do.

Do I really look THAT fat in shorts and a sports bra???

Naw. They’ve all got to be about four foot nine inches tall. Yeah. That’s got to be it.


August 17, 2007

Was talking the other day with an acquaintance who has a daughter in her early 20s.

The youngster recently started a new job, so she has no health insurance. But she does have some ongoing medical problems, and was complaining that she’d had to go off her medication, presumably because she doesn’t have insurance.

I said why on earth doesn’t she get a doctor to write her a new prescription and just go buy the stuff. Seems she doesn’t really have a regular doctor. I said for cryin’ out loud go to an Urgent Care or some such and GET a doctor, and get a prescription! She’s working double shifts some days so she certainly should be able to pay for it.

But somehow the thought of just going out and getting what she needs, without waiting for an employer to insure her, never even crossed her radar screen. Medical care, you see, is something somebody else is supposed to pay for. Right? (Did I mention the kid is a Democrat?)

Or maybe that new $300 pair of jeans (the 27 pairs already in her closet not being enough) was more important than stable health. I don’t know. Oh, and let’s not forget the new $400 cell phone. Or the drawer full of underwear that cost over $20 apiece but each one has less fabric in it than the average shoelace. What’s up with that??

Kids. Sigh. I am so glad I never had ’em.

Don’t Eat There…

March 7, 2007

… unless you enjoy throwing up for two days.

“There” is a certain fast-food chain restaurant that specializes in chicken and sides, and it starts with “B.” The second word of the restaurant name starts with “M.” I don’t want to get sued by spelling out their name. You do the math. (If you can’t figure it out, you shouldn’t be allowed out of the house without supervision.)

This restaurant catered a recent luncheon. Five attendees became violently ill.

The health inspector’s office was called, made an inspection–and insisted that said restaurant was in compliance with all proper procedures. Five people having gotten so violently ill (one was so weak she could not even reach her telephone to call for help) did not constitute an “incident” in the inspector’s mind. When reminded that the people who were ill had noticed some of the meat was still pink, it was rather snottily suggested that pink chicken is not known to pose a health hazard.

Uh huh.

Our tax dollars hard at work.

Again I say… don’t eat there. In fact… with all the news about contaminated poultry, perhaps it’s best not to eat chicken at all unless you cooked it yourself, and thus can be quite certain it is cooked all the way through.

(No, I was not one of the sick ones. Thank heaven.)

Prayers, Please

January 25, 2007

One of my oldest and dearest friends has just been diagnosed with a very early stage cancer.

All of the ramifications and treatment options are not yet clear; there are further medical appointments coming up soon, and decisions will have to be made.

I am having lunch with this friend today, and we’ll talk more, I’m sure, in the vein of getting older and coming face to face with our own mortality. As my friend said… the warranty must have run out on the ol’ bod.

Big Changes In The World

September 22, 2006

A co-worker and I were shooting the breeze and got to discussing, when did all this health insurance stuff start, anyway?

I mentioned that all those many years ago when I started in this racket, a patient would see the doctor, the doctor’s office sent a claim to the patient’s insurance company, and the insurance company paid the bill. Easy as anything.

As medical science has advanced over the years, with more and more new (expensive) technologies being devised all the time (MRI, CT, PET scanning to name just a few), insurance companies have gotten more and more picky, requiring prior authorization for procedures and treatments, and then once the procedure is done, demanding justification, medical records, documentation of medical necessity, and so forth.

I called my 85 year old mother whose father was a doctor, and asked her what medical practice was like back in those days.

Between high school and college, in 1939, she worked as his receptionist. Office hours were from 1 to 5 p.m. Presumably in the mornings he was making hospital rounds and the like. She was paid $1 a day, and earned enough money to buy herself a wristwatch.

There was no such thing as insurance. Office visits were $2, and a house call was $3. Occasionally a patient could not afford to pay for the visit, so he would see them for free. Or the patient would bring him a chicken or two.

When making house calls, he had to be very careful in his conversation, because if he admired a painting or a knick-knack or anything, very often the patient would try to make a present of it to him on the spot.

(I asked my mother whether if he admired the 18-year-old daughter, would they have offered HER as a gift. She didn’t think so.)

My mother also mentioned that she had found an old hospital bill from the late 1940’s, when her mother had a hysterectomy. The bill does not indicate how long she stayed in the hospital; but the total bill was something over $200. They gave her a substantial discount because she was a doctor’s wife, and she paid something like $192.16 for the entire hospital stay. There was no surgeon’s bill to go with the hospital bill, but my mother speculated that the surgeon probably operated at no charge, again at the doctor discount.

I reminded my mother that when she went to work for a large medical clinic in town in the mid 1960’s, one of the employee benefits was free medical care for the employees and their entire families. Later, sometime before she left that job about 1973, this was converted to a group health insurance policy that covered the employees and their families.

So the answer to the original question, when did all this insurance nonsense start, is sometime in the last 35 to 40 years.

And that and 50 cents will get us tomorrow’s newspaper.