July highs and lows…in brief

Low: There is quite a lengthy, complicated story behind this, but over the course of July 2014, I had no health insurance, for the first time in my life. This was disastrous on so many levels.

High: I created an app that shows all the most recent vines of my dog on one page. There’s probably a page on Vine’s site that does exactly the same thing, but this one was built with Backbone, which I kinda know how to use.

The Call: The lingering mess

I figured I would write at some point about what went on behind-the-scenes with Duke and CIGNA last Wednesday. However, after five exhausting days of aggravation and fact-finding, I can’t write a definite narrative of what happened. Writing a detailing accounting would not be helpful to me, and it might actually be harmful to someone who goes through something similar, because I doubt my specific circumstances come up a whole lot.

No one did anything that warrants litigation. Above all else, what would have prevented this situation would have been a robust single-payer healthcare system. I don’t live in a country that wants that. Failing that, I could have used a winning lottery ticket that would’ve enabled me to dump of cash into Duke Health’s coffers.

The system just sucks.

Now, all I have the energy for is putting one foot in front of the other so that I can do a passable job at work, make it through dialysis treatments each week, and complete the steps that both Duke and Carolinas Medical Centers are requiring of me to be activated on their respective transplant lists. For a few very frustrating reasons, I’m not active on any list at the moment. So, right now, there is zero chance of getting a call.

But once you get reactivated at Duke, you should be really close, right? No. It’s not a simple serial list. A kidney came up that was a good match for me, and I was still the third alternate. If anyone can present me with evidence (not an anecdote) that my “average” wait at Duke is no longer 3-4 years but “soon”, or that it will be far shorter than 2 more years at Charlotte, I’d like to know.

I expect that most readers will not understand how I can be so dismissive of having an optimistic attitude. I remain hopeful, but hope is not the same as optimism.

So that’s it, for now. Back to being aggravated because I’m at dialysis. I could list a dozen things that I’m hating about right now. I won’t. But I don’t know how I can do this two more times this week, and indefinitely after that. Of course, if I ever make it a habit of skipping the dialysis, the transplant centers will knock me off their lists.

CIGNAture Service

Oh, CIGNA. More crap from you. “Welcome to the CIGNA HealthCare Transplant Case Management program. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me about your health care needs. As we discussed in your call…”

We didn’t discuss jack, because I didn’t return your call…

“As your Transplant Case Manager, I will work with you, your doctor, and other health care providers to offer support assistance. I can also help you access information about treatment options, provide resources on your condition/treatment…” Like what? Not getting a transplant? “I’m also planning to mail you educational materials about treatment options that may be available to you…” I’ve got a *&#&$* file cabinet full of “educational materials”. Please don’t kill any trees by sending me anymore kidney disease or dialysis or transplant pamphlets.

He actually needs me to sign a release (“the Case Management Consent form we talked about” that we didn’t talk about). Not signing it.

After a year-and-a-half, I’m still trying to become active on the transplant list at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Most recently, the delay has been that CIGNA has asked for further tests before they’ll agree to cover a transplant.

CIGNA is getting in the way of me getting a transplant.

“I can…support your individual choices for health care”.

I choose to get a transplant. Now leave me the *&#$ alone.

(I basically bitched about the same thing just a few months ago, when I had BCBS of NC).

To be clear, I am really fortunate to have an awesome health care plan, but that’s due to the generosity of my employer and has nothing to do with the company that administers the plan. I trust CIGNA about as much as I trust car salesmen.