December 31, 2018
In The Grand Scheme Of Things, It Could Have Been Worse. So I went to bed Sunday morning around about 3am. Woke up around 9am, still tired from the awful week that had just passed, so I just rolled over and went back to sleep. And by "rolled over", I mean carefully positioning every nanometer of my body so as not to trigger the Big Pain Jolt from the leg.
At 2pm I woke up again, stretched, and mentally clicked "run exit program" in my head. Step 1: get legs over the side of the bed. This is not as easy as you might expect: the muscle that hurts the most will scream at any stretching, and the simple act of trying to lower my feet to the floor is enough to make it bad. Step 2: get myself into the correct position... as close to the bedtable as possible. Step 3: try to stand up using my legs while also shoving myself vertical with my hand on the bedtable. If everything works, I'll end up out of bed, standing and ready to start the day.
Step 3 failed. The muscle in my leg refused to give me the "tug" it usually provided. Instead it just screamed and screamed. Okay, that happened on Saturday too. I'll just give it another couple of hours, take a nap, try again then. It failed then, too... and hurt even worse.
And then I became concerned. I've never had THAT happen before... not even when my left leg hurt. I gave it another try a few hours later, no go. Day turned to night, Sunday turned to Monday, and there I was, unable to get out of bed. As the night went on, my mind kept bringing out weird music requests.
I had no idea there was an album version of one of my favorite songs about radio... being trapped in bed has its advantages!
In fact, he wasn't when this song was released.
Yes, really. It was a weird night.
Eventually, the sun came up, 9am came and went, and I called the apartment complex to send someone to Pond Central to unlock the door. I then called 911. I explained the problem, the dispatch operator said "they're on their way", and sure enough 10 minutes later there were two members of the CVFD EMT squad in my bedroom, trying to figure out just what the hell is going on. Eventually, the two EMTs, Thor and Hercules, grabbed my upper arms and pulled. Voila. I'm on my feet. Didn't even hurt.
Put some clothes on, got into the ambulance, and away we went to the nearest hospital... where it turned out they needed to put me in triage. I looked at Thor and said "Amateur hour started early?" He shook his head... since the weekend just before Christmas, it's been serious accident, gunshot victim, car crash. He'd never seen it so bad before, and with a smile said "hell, you're practically a lunch break." Laughter ensued.
Once in the ER, and lemme tell ya, their ambulance was kitted out with some of the neatest gewgaws I'd ever seen... including a motorized lift system for the gurney. All they had to do was put the wheels in lock position, click a bar underneath my head into a track, and press a button. Voila, into the back of the ambulance I went. At the hospital, it was the reverse. SO cool.
Anyway, once in the ER, they took me right to a room instead of staging me in the hallway. On one hand, yay instant service! On the other hand, oh... what happened to the patient that WAS in there that they'd expected to STILL be in there? Happy New Years!
Nurses came in, did nursey things, doctor came in, shook my hand, doctor left. X-rays and Ultrasounds were ordered and given, the results came back negative on both... no fractures in the upper leg, no thrown off blood clot blocking things. And then came the words I was longing to hear: would you like some water?
Hm, lemme see... I was trapped in my bed for 30 hours, I've been here for four more hours, and in all that time, I haven't had ANYTHING to drink. Yes please, some water would be pleasant.
It was lukewarm and in a styrofoam cup. And dear god, it was the most wonderful thing I'd ever tasted. And then it was empty, and I was sad because they didn't offer me a second one... until they came in with a painkiller! More perfect water AND hydrocodone? This day might actually be shaping up to something!
I was discharged, and Ph.Duck and RN.Duck gave me a lift home... and even though their car is bigger than the Duckmobile, getting into and out of it was sheer agony. Because I was in the passenger seat, which is the reverse of what I'm used to, and the door sill is substantially higher in their car than mine. Particularly getting out, when my right foot slipped off the top of the sill and out the door, I actually screamed as the pain hit me. Some profanities as well, which I almost NEVER do in public.
Once I made it inside (going up the stairs is MUCH easier than going down), I began looking at new mattresses online. I clearly need more altitude on the box spring and mattress on the floor that I do now. And before you ask, bedframes stand no chance in hell around me.
So now it's nearly midnight and 2019. Happy New Year, everybody!
...and now I get to figure out if I can sleep in a chair or not.
Edit: since I appear to be a self-centered jerk, please allow me to thank Brickmuppet a few minutes later than I should have. Having such friends as these is luxury beyond measure. And that includes all the Pond Scum as well. Yes, you. You too. Yeah, even you, ya big galoot.
December 29, 2018
Psychology Of Pain There are times that I envy the majority of humanity. Creativity, inventiveness, the ability to fabulate, these are all part of the Human race as a whole, but most people can't really do them. I have some small ability at tale-telling, and an active (some might say OVER-active) imagination. Which is why I'm writing this at some short time after 10pm on Saturday.
I have just gotten out of bed.
It all started last night... er... this morning. I shut my computer down at about 230am... and then spent the next two and a half hours convincing myself that standing up wasn't going to hurt much. See, my leg injury is pretty rotten... right in the groin muscle on the right side. ANY movement of the leg tends to hurt. Standing up, though... that muscle does a lot of the work. So I sat here in front of my computer, raging at myself for not standing up. Pain 1, Wonderduck 0. Eventually I did get to my feet and went to bed... which hurt. That whole "muscle" thing, y'know?
Around about 2pm today, I woke up. I gently maneuvered myself into position to exit my bed... took a half-hour, since I was trying to limit the pain... and spent the next two hours raging at myself for not being able to get out of bed. I could FEEL that muscle twinging every time I rocked forward. Pain 2, Wonderduck 0. Defeated, I went back to sleep, hoping to succeed next time. I'd better, I was getting awfully thirsty.
Around about 9pm, I woke up again, threw myself into the standing up position, screw the pain, and hurled myself to my feet. Pain 2, Wonderduck 1.
Shower felt good, brushing my tooth felt fantastic, and I just decapitated a 2l bottle of Mountain Dew. Tastes good, man.
Hope tomorrow is better.
December 28, 2018
I Heart Midwest Weather! Last night around 10pm, it was 50°F. Think about that for a moment. Northern Illinois, two days after Christmas, and it was so warm I had to take off my fleece pullover. It was practically balmy.
And I'm not just saying that to post a picture of cute girls in swimsuits, heavens no. I would never in a million years do that. Now, those of you who have visited The Pond in the past undoubtedly know where this is heading. Those of you who haven't visited The Pond in the past probably have a good idea too.
Under normal circumstances, the light dusting of snow we had gotten whilst I was at work (for 11.3 hours!) would have been quite pleasant. It looked a lot like what you imagine a light dusting of snow would look like... but it concealed a danger worse than any faced by man or duck.
Long-time anime fans understand the reference. Particularly fortunate short-time anime fans will too. Everybody else will see a cute girl... and that's a-okay! Anyway. Ice. There was a thin layer of ice on everything. Including the parking lot. And the Duckmobile. Now, one of the reasons I haven't written anything since Christmas is that I'm dealing with a screwed up leg again. During Christmas dinner it suddenly felt like something tore in my right (not the left!) leg maybe... and it still hurts now. Makes getting out of bed a real challenge... my right leg is the one that does a lot of the heavy lifting, and now it doesn't want to without screaming. I tell ya, being old sucks. Right, back to ice. I carefully made my way to my car, cane in hand, tentatively and gingerly. I only came close to losing it once... while I was scraping ice off the windshield.
Oh, and now it's only lower 20s. I love weather in the midwest.
December 22, 2018
Could I Fail Any Harder? You know all that stuff I mentioned yesterday? Pfft. I woke up feeling like I had a hangover, which I didn't, probably because I only slept for four hours. I figured I'd get everything done at work, then come home early, nap, then voila, back on schedule!
In fact, I felt so miserable that I only just managed to be a lump of suet all day. I did take a nap... another four hours... and at least my headache is gone now, but it's 10pm-ish and the whole day is shot to hell. I choked harder than Darth Vader choked Admiral Ozzel.
I'm now well and truly screwed as far as overtime goes next week. Go me!
December 14, 2018
"Fleet" Of Fog
No, not that sort of "Fleet of Fog". I mean the type you get when clouds decide they're tired of the sky and go slumming here on the ground. But why "Fleet"? Because I'm doing stupid wordplay again. Let me explain.
I left work tonight around 930pm. Not the last to leave, but not a whole buncha cars in the lot, y'know what I mean? I walked out the security door into the hallway that leads to the Door To The World when I stopped dead in my tracks. All I could see beyond the Door To The World was... white. Or gray. Grayish-white. I knew it wasn't snow, it's been around 40 all day. Oh crap... that means its gotta be fog. Once I stepped into The World, I actually swore rather viciously. THICK fog. I could see the Duckmobile, about halfway down the lot, but not all that great, Well, nothing I can do about it, and the longer I stood there the longer it'd be until I got home. Then I could start the weekend off right with some tea... maybe a little Darjeeling?
I am so very sorry...
In auto racing, there's a term used to describe a track surface when it's just little bit wet, not bad enough to put on Inters, but damp enough that your slicks are going to be a tiny bit squirrely. That condition is called "greasy." I understood the concept, but I never expected to experience it with my shoes. See, over this past summer The Powers That Be resurfaced our parking lot. It was pretty impressive... it wasn't Vantablack-levels of black, but it was awfully black. So much so that there was a noticeable difference in temperature when you walked onto it. It was also very very rain resistant. Even a small amount of rain would cause streams and ponds to appear... seems nobody gave much thought to drainage.
It was onto this I walked as I headed to my car. As I got about 20 yards away, I noticed the windows were more opaque than normal. Frost. Swell. And then it felt like I had stepped onto an ice rink. Like slick tires on a greasy track, I suddenly felt like I was right on the edge of adhesion and just about to understeer into a wall. Metaphorically. Thankfully my cane helped, but the rest of the walk was done with those little mincing penguin steps you instinctively use on ice. Scraping the frost off the windshield wasn't fun... the fog must have settled around my car, because the lot was pretty darn slippery right there. Got in, turned on the defroster full blast so as to allow some visibility, and began to drive home...
...and realized I had a problem. I don't think I could see more than a a few car-lengths in front of me. I was forced to navigate via painted lines. Thankfully, I took the non-rural route home, so there were some street lights, and that helped a little bit. It also helped that I've lived in this part of town for 18 years or so and knew the road.
Not that that helped me when I dipped into a small valley. Battleships are more transparent than the fog was at that moment. I've experienced worse fog in my life, like the time the woman I was dating fell ill and asked me to drive to her apartment in a Chicago suburb and make sure she didn't get REALLY ill. The Duckmobile was new then, and such a trip was nothing... 45 minutes to an hour tops. Except I-90 was fogged... and it was cold... and every leading edge of my car was iced over in just a couple of miles. By the time I reached the Belvidere toll booth, I knew I had two choices: turn back and live, or go forward and die. I turned back. Unfortunately, she did get very ill, wound up in the hospital for nearly two weeks... and was pissed that I didn't make it. The relationship ended a month or two later with her resenting that I didn't put in a bigger effort to get to her. Visibility was friggin' zero, the ice on the car was getting thicker by the moment, and I still had 50 miles to go. Hell, when I got home and turned off the car's radio, the antenna automatically retracted. Or it tried to. The ice on the front of it was so thick it prevented it from going into its little hole... and the motor broke. The antenna has been up ever since.
Anyway. I did eventually get to Pond Central tonight, but I was more than a little stressed. Hopefully THAT won't happen again for a while... not fun stuff. Unfun. The drive home was very much NOT fleet of fog.
I said it was stupid wordplay.
December 08, 2018
Pay. Bed. Continued. It was a better day, but to explain exactly why it was better, you need to know why yesterday sucked the chrome off a trailer hitch. So here we go.
The life-cycle of a claim is convoluted even before it reaches my computer screen. It's like this: you go to the doctor to have that... thing... on your shin looked at ("Is it supposed to have a face, doc?" ICD-10 S89.80XA). After he finishes flame-sterilizing his examination room (ICD-10 T31.99), his office manager bills your insurance company (ICD-10 G93.9x)... which just happens to be the company I process claims for. Whatta coinkidink!
Assuming the claim is sent electronically, the system attempts to process it automatically. If that attempt fails (and there's a good chance it will), it gets shuffled into the Big Bucket o' Claims that gets dumped into the Intartubez where it sits until I or one of my cow-orkers has it land in our laps (ICD-10 S38.01XA). We attempt to process it.. and remember, these are the ones that couldn't be done by the Master Control Program... and either we can or we can't. If we can't, we have to detail what the problem is and send it to specialists at the insurance company's TM Department. There, they fix what's wrong and send it back. At which point we should be able to complete the claim and get the doctor paid.
That's the way it's supposed to work. Now let me tell you what's actually been happening.
Somewhere after the Big Bucket o' Claims but before it got to us, there was a glitch. For whatever reason, about two-thirds of all claims were sent to the TM Department whether they needed to be or not. Now, the TM Department is not what you would call tolerant of mistakes... you do NOT want to send a contract problem to enrollment, for example... so when they came in on Monday morning they reacted as one might expect. All of these claims got a message put in the notes field stating, in effect, that they were sent in error and need to be processed according to the usual rules, then they were dropped back into the Bucket.
And that's when the fun began. See, we tried to process the claims according to rules, but just like any claims there were occasional problems... a new physician has joined a clinic and hasn't been "associated" with it in our system, can you fix that please?... which we duly sent back to the TM Department.
And they promptly sent them back with the same message. And by promptly, I mean next day. Better yet, they didn't actually do anything to them. I've taken to sending them back with a painfully detailed explanation of the problem in the memo field: "This doctor, David Smith, needs to be added to the rolls of James Clinic so this claim can be paid" instead of "firing edit 999, please advise" which has worked perfectly fine for the past three-plus years. And at least half the time, THOSE claims came back with the same message.
So all of that is bad enough. But here's where it gets REALLY REALLY FUN! Long Term Care claims (LTC) are a huge part of our daily drops... if we get 4000 claims in a day, 2500 of them will be LTC. And most of those are for Personal Assistance Services... back when I first started at this job, PAS claims were the greatest thing ever! When I was really rolling, I could easily do 45 or 50 of them in an hour. But then about a year or so ago, a new policy was instituted by the client that required any PAS claim with a certain flag set had to be held overnight so the automagic system could... I dunno, check a contract or something. Since the claims aren't actually finished, we don't get paid for them until they ARE done. Okay, whatever... at least we get them completed the next morning. No big deal.
How does this flag get set you may be asking? Well, if we have to actually enter the provider into our system, that's one big way... the electronic form we work from is fine, but for whatever reason OUR ops program didn't get the info carried over. If there's multiple providers under the same name, for example, the system won't carry it over. This happens a lot with some of the bigger LTC companies that might have offices in four or five cities. They should all fall under the banner of "Bob's Bunny Care", and in fact do, but the system has "Bob's Bunny Care - Marengo", "Bob's Bunny Care - Union", "Bob's Bunny Care - Elwood", etc etc etc
Another way that flag will be set is if the claim comes to us via the TM Department. Yeah, you see where this is going. On Thursday, I pulled over 120 LTC claims in four hours or so, and almost all of them I had to hold overnight. Well, so what? At least I'll get them Friday morning, right? Even though I knew those claims were going to be held, absolutely knew it... they still took time to deal with. In fact, it takes very nearly as much time to get one of these claims to the point where you can hold it as it does to actually COMPLETE the claim. And then the next day, even though the claim is almost done, you still have to spend time finishing it up... and the total time between the two days is LONGER than if you could have just done it all in one go.
So those 120 claims that should have been done on Thursday but weren't cost me time that could have been better spent on NEW claims on Friday. Annoying enough, but when I mentioned this fact to one of the supervisors and explained that I had basically made half minimum wage on Thursday because of it, she got very very quiet.
Jump to Friday night. Wonderduck is very literally the only person working the State I was pulling claims from... and they were LTC. But there was a difference... all of the broken claims had been removed and sent back to the TM Department to get them fixed for easy processing. I still had about 60 or 70 claims that wound up being held over for Monday, but the "good" claims were all like the Old Days. So. Better. But why couldn't they have done that on Thursday? I don't know, and I probably won't ever know.
December 06, 2018
Sometimes It Just Doesn't Pay To Get Out Of Bed You hear people say that a lot, in a metaphorical way. I mean it literally.
I was at work for 11 hours today. By my reckoning, I grossed $42 and some change.
That's right. Not only did I not make minimum wage, I didn't even make 1996's minimum wage.
If I had called in sick today, I would have more than doubled my day's income. That ain't right.
I'd try and explain why all this happened, but I'm not sure I could do justice to the exquisite confluence of screwups, stupidity, and something else that starts with "s" that brought me to that point. Let's just say that I am going to have words with my supervisor tomorrow, and it will probably be an unpleasant conversation. That my per-claim rate is low at the moment is my fault, and thankfully that mostly goes away in a week. But the cavalcade of cockups was not my fault, and it should have been prevented. Prevented, hell... it never should have been allowed to get that far in the first place.
December 03, 2018
Just Think What I'd Feel Like WITHOUT The Happy Pills! Hi, everybody. Wonderduck here, and I've gotta tell you, I'm not in the mood for fun and games. Sometime Sunday I began to feel somewhat less than chipper, and by the time I finally went to bed I realized I was fully in the grasp of what Winston Churchill called "the black dog." I slipped further and further during work today, to the point of very nearly screaming at the entire room to shut up, stop talking, nobody cares about what you want to say and for the love of all that's holy STOP SINGING!!!!!
But I didn't. What's the point? The talking will continue no matter what I say or do, no matter how much I complain. So I slowly go deaf, turning my mp3 player up louder and louder. At one point today, I very nearly began sobbing, simply because my claims had gone sour. Frustration, and knowing that it's never-ending.
I know, shut up and blog. Workin' on it.
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