Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The news of the day

Ron is definitely better today. He's about back to his normal self. But, the day didn't start out too greatly.

In fact, it started out too early for me - at 6:00 AM. My cell phone rang with Ron's special ringer (Alert! Alert! Your husband is calling...) and jerked me awake. He was frantic, thought they were trying to kill him. He said, "You've got to come down here. They're trying to kill me in this place! They haven't exercised my leg at all, they're not feeding me, I haven't had any insulin, they're giving me too much pain medication, and they didn't take me to therapy yesterday. I'm going to die in here!"

I assured him that he had indeed had his leg put on the exercise machine at least twice (I had been there and helped even one of those times). He had been given stuff to eat; the nurse's aid had fed him once and I had fed him once. He'd been given insulin because I watched an injection. He hadn't had any dilaudid for hours because the pump was empty and disconnected last night. He had been taken to therapy (he told me so himself earlier yesterday) but they had been unable to do anything because of his lethargy.

"Besides," I said, "you wouldn't die if they tried to kill you because there are too many people around the world praying for you." But, I told him I'd be down as soon as I could get ready for work and get there.

He was quite surprised to discover how much he had missed during the previous two days. He was very shocked to discover that I had actually been there for part of the times he was sure nothing had been done for him. Next, he told me that he was overdue to have his patches changed. I'd already checked them (last night) and they were dated 10/24, so they're not actually due to be changed until tomorrow morning. That was another surprise. So far, he's batting 1,000 in being incorrect.

I finally convinced him that he had just lost that time and the reason he was in such bad shape was completely due to blood loss and his red blood count. His hemoglobin count should have been from 14-18 but instead it had dropped to 7, which is dangerously low. He is prone to low red blood count due to kidney disease and the surgery just made it worse.

Dr. A came in while I was there and we discussed the blisters and everything else that was going on. They're keeping a close eye on the blisters to make sure they don't get infected. Then, Dr. K's assistant came in and changed the dressing on Ron's knee. It looks really good. I was impressed. She removed the drain and re-dressed it.

This afternoon, the therapist tried to get Ron up to walk but he'd been so long without his shrinker on his right leg that his prosthesis wouldn't go on. I had to come home after work and get one to take back down to them. If it stays on all night, he should be able to get the socket on tomorrow. The therapist did do several sets of exercises with him, so that is good. She also changed the settings on the range of motion machine to make the range broader. Ron rated his pain at 0 today, which is wonderful. If his patches don't get changed tonight or in the morning, that will probably change. But, he did say that his knee joint did not hurt at all. Big improvement!

The dark spot in today is a piece of mail we received. Because he is on Social Security disability, he is also on Medicare Part A (that's the free in-patient coverage). His private insurance from being a Boeing retiree has been picking up the tab all this time for his care over the years. They notified us today that as of December 31, he would no longer have Boeing retiree as primary and he would have to take Medicare Part A and Part B. I don't consider myself a stupid person, but all these things are very confusing. Part B costs more per month just for him than we currently pay for BOTH of us. Add to that the cost of Part D (which is the prescription drug plan) per month, the associated deductibles, co-insurances, what I'll have to pay for insurance through my employer, my prescriptions, etc. and we have a recipe for disaster. Serious disaster.

Ron's prescriptions run approximately $39,000 (retail) per year. Plan D doesn't even come close to paying this much out. The best I could figure out (online) was the monthly premium would be about $110 but the deductible would be about $7,000, and then the monthly co-pay would be around $300 (some months up to $1,100 in the "doughnut hole" period where the plan covers nothing). It would be sad to think that he's come all this way just to have Medicare kill him because he can't get his prescriptions. If we were considered "low income" he could get outside assistance (Medicaid or something) to help pay for the prescriptions (this doesn't even count the $100 per month for diabetes test strips). But, we're not truly low income.  I thought if we got divorced maybe then he'd qualify for assistance but then that would make things worse for me.

I wouldn't be able to live here if we were divorced (even if he was still in Independent Living). If he did go into assisted living, they'd take everything, even the portion of his retirement pay that as a survivor I'm entitled to.

I called my mom to ask her about how she's covered under Medicare. She retired from Southwestern Bell and was a member of the union. As such, her retiree insurance is secondary and her prescription drug coverage picks up where Medicare doesn't. This makes me feel a whole lot better to think that Boeing might be secondary for Ron and cover his drugs. Based on what I read in the mailing it doesn't sound like they will pick up that tab, but I need to talk with one of their representatives to find out for sure.

Either way, this could be really, really ugly.


colenic said...

Hugs to you...the whole health care field is really messed up right now and it is sad to think that someone and their loved ones can't concentrate on getting well but needs to worry about how they are going to pay for the care they need.
I am glad that Ron is doing better and that the drs are keeping an eye on him. Sending out lots of love and hugs to are a strong woman who I am privileged to call a friend. hang in's gotta get better...

Jo-Anne Rambling said...

See our prayers are

I am glad to hear he is improving but that is a bloody lot of money for the medication I hope you can work something out. I think you are an awesome woman I do not know how you do it.........

I remember when my pop was in hospital he was convinced that they didn't feed him for days on end and that he was a prisioner and not allowed to see anyone or to talk to anyone it was sad when we heard him talk like that.

Lois said...

Oh wow, that's grim. And complicated. I was reading back a few posts yesterday and your experience with Ron the day after his surgery was horrific! So hoping his recover continues in the best path, thank you for stopping my my little blog. Lois

orchid said...

Hi, Dear Teresa!
I can see you are struggling with Medicare situation. Too complicated for me, though.
And I just pray that you DON'T pile up the weariness yourself,
Take Care and always sending you two prayers,
Blessings and Much Love, my friend, Orchid*

Thisisme. said...

Hi Teresa. Crumbs, as soon as you get over one hurdle, something else comes along for you to worry about. I honestly don't know how you're coping with this whole scenario. You must be super woman, or, at least, that's how it seems to me my friend. Glad that all our prayers seem to be working for Ron. Do hope you can get that insurance thing sorted out. Hugs to you and Ron.

JeannetteLS said...

Look into the Medigap coverage. Also, your insurance said it would not be the PRIMARY care, but does that mean they will not cover what Medicare does not cover? It will save them some thousands of dollars, but the way you worded that, it made me think that your original insurance may pick up what A,B and D do not.

And the doughnut hole is a few thousand dollars--which stinks, I know too well--but then covers almost all of the medications.

If you will not be covered by the old policy after Medicare has covered its limit, then I would look into a Medigap policy.

Mind wound up costing $75/month, and once I reach $4200 out of pocket expenses for meds, then I wind up paying only a couple of bucks per prescription.

My friend, when she went on disability, after a certain period was told that her regular insurance company would not be the "primary" provider. However, it picks up where her medicare leaves off.

I am so glad Ron is better... but I just know how much he has gone through, you are going through.I wish you only good things. You are so right. People are praying all over the place for you both!

Debi said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you Teresa. You might talk with your lawyer and see if you might be able to do something called "division of assets". It allows the ill spouse to actually qualify for medicaid. And allows the healthy spouse to keep enough money to live on... Don't know if this would work for you guys but you might check. Tell Ron, Maisey misses him and is her little ornery self.