February 12, 2019
The Story So Far. In Minnesota, they have a saying... "there's only three good uses for ice: fishing, hockey, and whiskey." They know better than to go out in a ice storm, which we had a few days ago, or when it's -35 at noon, which we had a few days ago, or the other ice storm, which I came home early to avoid driving during "rush hour."
And then as a personal "Screw You Wonderduck", I got to work the next day... and it began raining. DELUGE-level raining. Well, that's unfortunate, but nothing to worry about. After all, the temps aren't supposed to begin falling until after midnight or so. Lo and behold, the weather nabobs had gotten it wrong again. I left work wearing just the zippered fleece sweatshirt... and it had probably gone down 20 degrees in a couple of hours, AND the wind was gusting around 30 - 40 mph. I make it to my car despite the little frozen waves on the parking lot surface. I unlocked the car, pulled on the door handle, and...
....nothing. Frozen dead shut. I tried another one, frozen shut and the door handle came off in my hand. A few of my coworkers stopped to help, ended up losing two more door handles in the process. I called a taxi. That's why I didn't get home until well after 11pm, it took quite a while for the taxi to arrive... as you can imagine. Took a taxi in the next morning, when it was like 5 degrees above zero, and the driver actually helped me get into the SUV. Because canes and ice don't mix, boys and girls. At work, my car was sitting in the parking lot, absorbing whatever radiant heat was coming from Our Pal The Sun ("There is only one God, He is the Sun God. Ra! Ra! Ra!") and hopefully melting whatever ice was holding the doors shut. Around 3pm, I checked, and it opened right up! Yay.
Finished up my work around 9pm or so, gathered up my stuff, trudged in the "How fscking cold is it" temperature, unlocked me car, and the door was frozen shut. I trudged back to the office, sat down in the break room, got another taxi from that place I used earlier in the day, they showed up around 11pm. And then, once we make it to Pond Central, the driver gets out of the van and helps me out (big ice patch). "Do you want help the rest of the way sir?" "Sure. Or you can get back inside the van where it's warm and watch me... that way, I won't die alone." He laughed, and got me through the Khumbu Icefall. Yeah, these guys are getting my business from now on.
I chat with Ph.Duck, he'll come out and pick me up for a run to get the unlocked car Saturday morning... at which time I wake up and discover that I am feverish, headachy, very very tired, etc. So he got it taken care of for me, while I stayed sick Sunday and Monday... and, really, today too. I didn't get in until 1130am, fever is gone, but now there's signs of a cough building.
It's been one thing after another after another after another for weeks now, and I'm quite stressed. I'm still functioning, which impresses the hell out of me, because I think I should be hiding under my bed. Tomorrow is another day.
February 11, 2019
Alive. Nominally Functional. Details will follow if I can get them written in my free time. Because there's quite nothing like getting home from work around 11pm for a few days straight.
February 02, 2019
Of Work And Weather And Wonderduck Too Even for the way 2019 has been going thus far, the past week deserves special notice. To start with, it began to snow Sunday afternoon. And it didn't stop until mid-morning on Monday. The weather nabobs suggested we got five or more inches... and I'd agree, if you go with the "or more" part.
Amusingly, Pond Central's parking lot was in horrible condition... there was some evidence that a plowtruck had come through, but may not have had its blade down... but the Duckmobile was almost totally clear of snow. No question about going to work, probably could have made it... or maybe not. Weather nabobs were later saying that Duckford's squadron of snow removal equipment had been badly surprised by the intensity of the snowfall and even major roads had yet to be attended to. Soon enough, I came to the decision to not risk it and just call in. Apparently, many people did the same and the office was kinda empty.
Tuesday was chilly, with the forecast calling for record low temps overnight through Thursday. We'll see. Got in the Duckmobile, started it up, got my stuff in place (two canes make walking easier, but they're clumsy as hell to put away), and the RPMs slowly died to zero. Hm. To be fair, it had been cold-soaking for three days... or maybe it needed oil. Either way, it started on the second try and kept running. Sounded a little rough, but when it's cold it always does. By the time I made it to work, everything seemed fine. Crossed fingers. The day at work was... it left something to be desired. The claims weren't great, but worst of all was my chair. It was causing me quite a bit of pain... pain that had nothing to do with my leg injury.
See, once it became obvious that I couldn't sleep in my bed, I took up sleepytime residence in a once-comfy wing chair in the living room. For just a few days short of a month, my days would be spent sitting at work, then coming home and sitting in front of my computer, then sleeping in a chair, then repeat. I don't know that I've got saddlesores on the back of my legs right where they meet my duckbutt, but there's something back there that'll do until the real thing comes along. Indeed, that's part of the reason I haven't been blogging much... it's hard to sit at my desk without those hurtin' bad. The good news is now that I've returned to sleeping lying down, they're starting to not hurt as much. Anyway....
...leaving work on Tuesday night was something of a shock. Yes, I know it's going to be cold soon, but I didn't expect there to have been so fast a change in temps. When I got to work, it was rather comfortable. Leaving work? Cold, approaching zero in a hurry. In a surprise manuever however, The Powers That Be at work acknowledged that it was going to be stupidcold the next couple of days, and gave us permission to work from home. Well! Cool. It'll make the morning commute faster, that's for sure.
Wednesday morning my internet connection was dead. On the plus side, it wasn't just me but a large portion of southeast Duckford, as part of the fiber optic backbone had just up and died, probably from hypothermia. While it would come back, it wouldn't be until 8pm or so. So now, instead of working from home, I had to take PTO for the second time that week... and, as it turned out, I didn't have enough to cover both days. I'm literally not getting paid for one of them. Wednesday was cold, with a high of -13F. Thursday was worse. The low for Thursday was -37F, the coldest Duckford had ever been, period. Go outside? Me? Man, screw that noise. I had an internet hookup, I could do work!
Friday morning, it turned out that, indeed, it was still assfugly cold (-9F at 9am). I hobbled my way to the car, got in, cranked it up, and... coughsputtersputter. Tried again... putting it in gear helped not at all. Right. Oil it was, then. I started her up one more time, hit the gas in reverse, and popped out of my snow-covered spot. At which point, she died. Okay, at least I can access the front of the car now. I then proceeded to put a quart of oil (all I had) into the car... with bare hands... when it was nine degrees below zero. By the time I had everything buttoned back up, I couldn't feel my fingers... I later found out that the wind chill was -20 at the time. Started her up one more time, and... presto! Quieter running, no stalling, problem "solved", at least for the time being. And it's supposed to be warmer on Monday, so I can drop some more oil in without my hands turning black.
By the way... unexpected problem has cropped up with my canes: they're metal. Even just driving to work gets them nearly too cold to touch. Which, considering their job and everything, is unfortunate.
So, my conclusion regarding this week?
January 21, 2019
Fighting. Losing? I'm tired, I hurt, I'm panicking, I'm depressed.
And I'm whining. That's all I seem to do around here these days... remember those wacky good times of "Next Week: More Zombies"? Yeah, fun stuff. Now I'm at the point where I have a new 12" memory foam mattress that feels like heaven but that I'm afraid to sleep in. Anybody here ever fast for more than a day or two? Back when I first hurt my leg, such things as "standing up" caused enough pain that it was common for me to say "I'm hungry... but not so hungry that I'm going to inflict that on myself."
Since the day I went to the hospital, so effectively the entire month of January, I have had four or five meals. Now, we're not talking lavish buffets or 10-course dinners served on platinum tableware, no. A bowl of soup. A few forkfuls of macaroni salad. A sandwich. That sort of thing. So, back to my original question: anybody here ever fast for more than a couple of days? Because there's a neat trick the digestive system plays when you do... you get epic bouts of the stuff pepto bismol is designed to slow (or stop).. And it occurs with little to no warning... wacky, huh?!?!
Is it possible to get refunds on life?
January 16, 2019
So What The Hell, Wonderduck? I don't know if that's been thought by any of readers but were the circumstances reversed, I know I would be. I'll be honest: it's painfully embarrassing.
You may remember that I was taken to the hospital on New Year's Eve after not being able to remove myself from my bed for over a day. What you don't know is that a week later, it happened again. I thought my damaged leg was feeling better and decided to actually sleep in a bed. Bad idea. Once again, I called 911, once again the CVFD EMTs came out... except this time they were accompanied by the Fire Chief. He read me the riot act, then said that he'd be contacting the apartment complex and "other agencies." See, they believed my apartment to be a fire hazard... probably because of the piles of amazon boxes blocking the entry hallway, dining room and the front half of the living room.
Yeah. Remember back when I was fired from the Duck U Bookstore? Around about that time I began to lean more and more on Amazon for just about everything but food... Prime Pantry was a thing at the time, but it wasn't much of one. For a while I managed to keep the boxes under control, and then the winter came, your truly became a recluse, and snow and cold conspired to keep me that way. Then came the depression, after which very little of anything got accomplished. And the boxes kept a'comin'. I got a job, and I continued to not take boxes to the dumpster... not laziness, but simply because I physically couldn't.
See, I'm kinda overweight. That TLC show My 600 Pound Life doesn't have me on speed dial or anything, but I'm a lot closer to that than I am to 250 lbs. And the boxes kept coming... more slowly now that I could have many of them sent to my work address, but still they came. And I was either too stupid or too prideful to ask for help.
And then last thurday I get an e-mail from the complex manager: she and "other agencies" would be entering my apartment on Friday. I asked her to keep me informed, and left it at that... I had a job to do. The appointed time came and went, and around 3pm I took my lunchbreak and checked e-mail.
The very first one was from the County Health Department, informing me that my apartment was condemned as being unfit for human life in the condition it was currently in. The second was from the Apartment Complex manager, asking me to contact her ASAP. She had tried to prevent my place from being condemned, but failed... government workers don't exactly have a lot of leeway in their rules, after all. To be allowed to live in my own place again, all of the boxes had to be gone. She then gave me the number of one of her employees at the complex, someone who'd be able to help. I quickly called him, we agreed to meet at 11am Saturday, and we'd get to work. Along the way, I also touched base with the people from the County, then had a talk with my supervisor. "Take as much time as you need, Wonderduck." So then I left and ran back to Pond Central to grab some clothes and find a hotel.
Saturday rolled around, and the guy I hired showed up. We'll call him Beast, because what I expected to take four or five hours and maybe two days... took 2.5 hours. He had the easy job, though... I had to clean the kitchen sink. I'm pretty sure I killed off an emerging intelligent lifeform.
Monday rolled around. The powers that be congregated in my apartment, were pleased with the results, and took down the sign saying "CONDEMNED. THE PERSON WHO LIVES HERE IS A SLOB." And then said that I'm really just on probation... there will be irregular (but scheduled) visits to make sure progress is progressing.
There's a few other things I'm leaving out, but suffice to say that when you combine them all... well, I can't imagine being more humiliated than I am. Oh, and depressed. Whee.
So that's it, that's the story. Cool, huh?
January 15, 2019
Hold Tight Explanation post coming soon.
January 11, 2019
Quick Update On Going's On I'm alive, but I need a hotel room for a few days.
More as circumstances allow.
January 08, 2019
All Right. You Win. There. You Happy Now? I'm sleeping in the no-longer-comfy chair. When I wake up in the morning, my feet hurt from swelling, and I've got what must be something like a bedsore on the back of my left leg... right where it sits on the end of the seat.
Getting out of the chair requires effort and pain... but at least I can do it. Shower, get ready for work...
...and then I have to face the NINE STAIRS OF DOOM. I have to go one-by-one, basically dragging my right foot off the front of the step until it falls to the step below. I then follow up with a normal stride with my left foot. Rinse, repeat. The best I've done was when I was surrounded by EMTs. This morning, it took about 10 minutes.
Get into the car, drive to work (not as easy as you might think... foot doesn't move without causing the muscle to twinge), get out of the car. Keep cursing to a minimum.
Walk the kilometer from the far end of the parking lot to the door. At least I have two canes now, that makes it a little more stable. Realize that your lunch break is seven minutes getting up and walking to the break room, 15 minutes hating life, then another seven minutes going back.
Finish up work. Trek to the car. Drag self into car, don't care about amount of swearing. Turn the key in the ignition. "Grunt. Grunt. Grunt. Grunt. Vrooom." The battery seems to be unhappy... and all the presets are gone on my radio. FSCK.
Drive home, apply brakes to turn into apartment complex, feel shoe fall off right foot, because why not? Take forever parking nose-out in case of battery failure. Walk up the stairs (much easier), get into Pond Central, and begin unwrapping my new memoryfoam mattress.
Realize new memory foam mattress is toying with me, refusing to unwrap from the first level wrap without tearing the second level and, I assume, exploding like a comfy jack-in-the-box. Give up for the night, come to the computer, realize there are only two cans of soda left in the house... and I can't exactly go shopping.
Any wonder why for a quarter I'd break down and sob for the rest of the night?
January 06, 2019
Update Things are not well over here. Health is okay, so I've got that going for me. I just don't like much of anything else. Details when I can bring myself to enter them.
Good wishes would be appreciated.
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.
November 30, 2018
So There I Was...
Man, you hear somebody say "So there I was..." and you know a good story is inbound. So there I was, early Wednesday morning, all ready to go back to work. And by ready, I actually mean "resigned to my fate", but what do you expect after four days away? Yes, four, I did have to go in for five hours on Black Friday. Still, four days plus some, means yeah, I really didn't want to go back to work. But like any good adult, I gathered myself together and began to make my way to the Duckmobile. As I did, I looked upon the fresh fields of snow covering the parking lot and an overwhelming urge took hold of me! An urge... to snow angel the *hell* out of the lot!
Not quite the "snow angel" I meant.
Ignoring the stares of the neighbor or two nearby, I promptly began angeling like a little kid. After a minute or two I realized something interesting... I was actually comfortable! Like lying on a really soft bed, lying on the snow in Pond Central's parking lot was... well, it was a little cold, but yeah, I was comfy! Reveling in this strange and wonderous feeling, I just continued to lie there. I could almost doze off, I was so comfy... or hypothermia was setting in, one of the two. Anyway, it was really nice until the snowplow came.
How could I have anticipated that showing up? There aren't any rails in the parking lot!
I immediately found myself thrown high into the air, landing in a snowdrift and rapidly covered with more snow from the plow. Some time later, I managed to half-dig, half-drag myself to the surface where I discovered I'd been surrounded by a bunch of Greenpeace-like people, all yelling about protecting the rare and endangered Snow Manatee. A loud cheer was raised when they spied me struggling to gain my feet, and then they began to pelt me with more snow.
When I asked them to stop doing that, they replied that the rare and endangered Snow Manatee needed to be kept covered with snow, lest they dry up and shrivel away. I pointed out to them that I'm not a Snow Manatee, I'm just a guy trying to get to work, they laughed and pointed out that the rare and endangered Snow Manatee was known to have a great sense of humor. "What a kidder, Snow Manatees don't have jobs!"
And that's why I was late to work.
November 26, 2018
Snowmageddon Came Early This Year
On Thanksgiving, I noticed that the forecast for Saturday night called for a little bit of snow, maybe as much as three inches. By Friday, the snow had moved to Sunday afternoon/evening until Monday morning, and maybe six inches in the worst case. "Cool," I said. "I've got Monday and Tuesday off anyway!"
What we expected. We were fools.
By late Friday night/Saturday morning, winter weather advisories had changed to winter storm warnings, and then to blizzard warnings. Four to eight inches were likely in Duckford, but heavier to the south. The very worst of it was going to be in a narrow band that'd surely miss us. Indeed, the storm coming was so narrow that people 20 miles north of the city were not expecting any snow at all, or a dusting. They were right, that's all they got. That's all they got.
What actually happened. All of these idols are now dead, buried by snowfall.
By 4pm Sunday afternoon, there was already a couple of inches on the Duckmobile, but it looked like it was only flurrying anymore. Piece of cake! Then the sun went down and I was unable to see what happened next... Duckford experienced snowfall rates of up to two inches/hour for a while overnight, and it never actually stopped snowing until about 6am Monday. The official snowfall amount at Duckford International Airport was 11.7"... and that measurement was taken only a couple of miles to the west of Pond Central. I assume the narrow bands sorta moved a bit to the north. Oopsie!
I am fortunate. One of my neighbors decided to take it upon himself to shovel the sidewalks clean and start removing snow from cars. He had my car pretty much cleared off before I even woke up today. Unfortunately, there was nothing he could do about the parking lot, which hadn't been visited by the Snowplow Fairy yet, and wouldn't be until about 2pm.
All this caught Duckford by surprise. It was much heavier than expected by anyone. Anyone, that is, except for the National Weather Service, at least two different TV stations in town, and the newspaper. I'm still not exactly sure the tertiary... quadiary?... road Pond Central is on has been plowed yet... or even if it will be at all. But then, what do you expect when this was the heaviest snowfall ever recorded for the month of November in Duckford? And not just by a little bit: the record was just over six inches on a day in 1996. We nearly doubled that.
All the schools in the area were closed today. Many businesses never opened... it looked like almost everybody who lives in Pond Central's building did not go to work today... and I have no idea if the mail was delivered or not. And now it's snot-freezingly cold and windy outside.
And I'm still on vacation. Hee hee hee.
November 20, 2018
Of Turkey And Overtime Remember that six-day weekend I mentioned a while ago? Well, throw a half-day of work in there on Friday. See, the Powers That Be, in all their wisdom and glory, decided that we needed to work eight hours of OT this week. "Well hey," I hear you say, and that's impressive because I'm listening to some electroswing at very high volumes at the moment, "that's less than the usual 10, that's great!" Sure, if we were doing it in the normal five days. This week we're technically only open three: "...but you're welcome to work on Thursday or Friday if you'd like."
However, instead of doing 32 hours in three days and killing myself in the process, I've decided that I'm going to work a half-day on Friday and curse my employers the whole time. Who needs holidays? There's claims to push! I'm not the only one somewhat discomfited by this, it needs be said.
Who knew PSB could do "angry"? Anyway, in the grand scheme of things, this is nothing. A hurricane hasn't blown my house away, a forest fire hasn't burned down a quarter of my city, this is just griping about having a job. Yes, I know how whiny that all sounds. Tough. I want my holiday time, dagnabbit.
Big plans, anybody?
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