Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stranger Than Fiction

The more I learn about all this the more I can't believe it.

So, it turns out that after some deliberation, MediCal has decided that being married to a Trustee does not, in fact, disqualify you from emergency medical coverage.

You'd think that would have been that, but no. They've decided that my mother would be better taken care of by putting her on the county's low income medical plan.

Keep in mind now that the medical bills are around 1/2 a million dollars. The county is pretty much broke. If the county were to take on my mother's debt, they would most likely have to go to the state for assistance. So the state is saying "we can't help you, but you should talk to that guy, and when he can't help you, he'll come talk to us."

And what would the county's assistance leave us with? Glad you asked. The county would be more than willing to take on the debt, which it will later pawn off on the state, if my family agrees to pay the low, low co-payer price of $1,100 a month.

Based on last years taxes, my parents, who work together as self-employed artists, had an average income of $1,500 a month. Now that mom's hurt they make a whole lot less than that.

So the state is saying "Well, we'd be happy to help you out, if you're willing to give us more money than you're making right now."

Yep. This is the system that we pay taxes to implement. This is our public safeguard. "In case of emergency, give us everything you have. Hey, you won't be dead, right?"

Canada is looking better and better by the day.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Minority Report

In case you missed it, Minority Report was a Tom Cruise movie that was based around the idea of cops going after people who *might* commit crimes in the future.

Sounds pretty far fetched, right? yeah, I thought so too. Turns out it's pretty much spot on, just with more frustration and disbelief and less Tom Cruise.

Here's the story-

My dad is the trustee to my grandmother's estate (the one with Alzheimer's that I posted about a few days ago). She isn't able to do things like go shopping or pay her bills, so he does it all.

Medical has just told my mother that she may not be eligible for emergency medical insurance because she has access to my grandmother's trust through my father. They have specifically told her that her income and assets might be higher than she has reported because my father has access to my grandmother's accounts.

Now, lets keep in mind that if my parents were to use my grandmother's money to pay my mom's medical bills, that's embezzlement and fraud. 

So, in essence, Medical is telling my mother "you are ineligible because you might be a criminal"

This is so completely asinine that I can barely wrap my head around it. It's bad enough that they tried to seize my little sister's savings because my mom was a co-signer on their accounts. It wasn't enough to start sending my mother bills before she was even out of the hospital. Now, they have decided that she shouldn't be helped because she might be the kind of person who would steal from her mother-in-law. 

At current count, my mother's bills are about 1/2 a million dollars. My parents can't even get get a second mortgage to help pay them. The house isn't worth enough. Bankruptcy is the next step if medical continues to give them the run around.

When I asked my mom if bankruptcy would really be that bad, considering they don't have many assets to begin with, my mother said "it wouldn't be too bad for us, but i don't want to stiff the doctors"

That's my mom. She's stuck in a wheel chair in a body and neck brace with a cast on her foot, drugged to the gills, being accused of being a criminal and in danger of losing everything she's spent her life trying to save, and her first thought when asked about what she thinks of her options is for the well being of the doctors

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Yesterday was my dad's birthday. My sisters and I picked him up a copy of Halo: Reach. (well really, I did. I assume they might give me a few bucks at some point, but whatever). I also picked up a giant (like Costco-size giant) bag of mini-candy bars. I figured the whole house could indulge their sweet tooth for a while. Mom likes the 3 Musketeers Midnight ones, but apparently the medication she's on kind of kills her appetite and makes things taste funny. Never thought I'd see the day that my mother would turn down dark chocolate.

I picked myself up a copy of the game too, but I've only had time to play the first level. What I've seen looks great though.

Emily will be in town today to visit and help out, so hopefully Dad will have some time to relax with his birthday present.

Misty Water Colored Memories

This blog has nothing to do with my mother. i just need to get some things that are on my mind out so I can sleep.

My grandmother has Alzheimer's. For a while now my primary source of income has been getting her out of the care home she's living at and taking her around.

At first it was neat. I like spending time with my grandma, and I understand a lot more about memory disorders than most people. It was just a matter of being patient and repeating the answers to her questions as often as she needed until it sunk in.

She always wants to do the exact same thing every time we go out. Her favorite restaurant is Porter Street Barbecue and I think she'd eat their sandwiches for every single meal if she could. She also loves ice cream, so we go to Bon Bonnier. She loves movies so we go and see one about once a week. When it's warm we go to the beach.

This sort of predictability has sort of been like a controlled environment for observing an experiment. We do the same thing over and over and over again, and eventually I start noticing patterns. She always has to get her purse, then go to the bathroom before we leave, so she sets down her purse. Then when she comes out she has to find it, and as soon as she picks it up she decides she has to use the bathroom. Something about picking up her purse and starting to leave triggers a habit of using the bathroom first.

When we're going to Bon Bonnier she sees the art gallery and has to go in every time. When inside she says that this one particular painting reminds her of her sister. On days that she goes to the gallery and sees that painting she gets Bing Cherry ice cream because her sister liked cherry ice cream. Other days she gets mint chocolate chip or green tea, because she likes green.

When we get done and I have to take her back she starts to recognize the streets we turn on and gets antsy, though she doesn't know why. When we pull up in front of the care home she thinks we're visiting someone that she doesn't like and asks if we have to stop there, and why. When we go inside she discovers her room and looks for her cat. If the people at the care home have let the cat out, she gets nervous and frantic and thinks he's never coming back. Those are the days that it's easiest to leave. She wants to find him and that's all she's thinking about. If the cat is there, then she collects him up and starts to try to leave saying that she's glad we came to get him before we went home.

That's when things start to get rough. She really, really doesn't not like it there. It doesn't come out to badly most of the time, but when I try to leave she starts asking me why she can't go home. She gets both angry at the people she lives with and very sad. I tell her that this is where she lives now, and she flat out doesn't believe me, even though she can't remember where her old house is, what it looks like, or anything at all about it. She simply *knows* that the care home isn't home. When I try to leave she tries to come with me, thinking that I've just gotten there and that I'm about to take her out to a movie. Generally I tell her I have to go to work and that I'll be back to see her in a few days.

It's heartbreaking. It used to be a bit more spread around between the family, but now with my mom hurt and my dad taking care of her, I see my grandmother more than anyone. She's definitely worse than she was, and very unhappy where she is. She knows something is wrong, but doesn't know what, and it's no use explaining it to her because she will forget within a few minutes. So about three times a week I get to take my grandmother away from the place that she hates, let her believe I'm taking her home, and then drop her back off again. It's hard not to be angry. I try to remember that it's a minor thing compared to all the other crap that's been happening lately, but it's like a grind stone and it's slowly wearing through.

I wonder what I would do if I were ever faced with a condition as horrible as this. I'd like to think I'd have the guts to drink a nice tall Kevorkian Special, but the truth is I probably wouldn't be able to. I'd be convinced I could come up with a system to allow me to function. I've dealt with memory issues my whole life, and there are tricks. Maybe I could.

Maybe I've watched Memento one to many times.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The survey

Anyone else out there been through situations involving excessive medical expenses? Any tips? How did you deal with it? What did you learn?

Going out on a limb

On the 4th of July my mother was in the back yard limbing a tree with my father before our family barbecue. Something went wrong and the limb caught the scaffolding she was standing on. It brought the whole thing toppling down throwing my mother 30 feet to the ground.

She was rushed to the hospital, flown to Redding Mercy for her surgeries and spent the next month there. All told the bills came to more that 300,000 dollars. My parents have signed up for emergency medical, but the process is long and the bills are beginning to pile up. Collectors are already calling. The state is going into my parents finances and determining what resources they will seize to help pay the costs of my mother's injuries.

This blog is to chronicle what happens, vent my own frustrations with our medical system, and post any information i find that may help others in similar circumstances.