You should know that I am expensive," said the high-zoot specialist. "I get to charge this much because I get results."

I was too busy being intimidated by the guy in the lab coat — and, perhaps, by his pneumatic assistant — to come back with the proper response, which is "Everybody gets results. Are these results favorable?" There followed a brief harangue about the last item on the Current Medications List, "which, for this particular problem, is literally the worst stuff you could be taking."

I said something almost, but not quite, equivalent to "How about passing that on to my real doctor?"

Various tests were scheduled, and I was subsequently asked for a $300 down payment. I winced — hell, there are places I could buy a car in this town for $300 down — but I wrote out the check anyway.

Two more entities were going to get a piece of the action. The first was a dietitian down in Norman, with whom I did not follow up because (1) she's in Norman, fercrissake and (2) what are the chances I'm going to pay any attention to a dietitian? The second, a cluster of occupational therapists, was at least closer by, and I steeled myself for the first appointment.

Admittedly, I did not know much about "occupational therapy" or its underlying assumptions; I was visited by one several times after I left the hospital in the summer of 2016, and about all I remember is that she brought a couple of pages of recommended exercises, some of which I did, and she seemed to have a pair of legs on par with Taylor Swift's. (So far as I can tell, she was not trying to get my attention, but there are only so many ways one can sit on a barstool, and sessions were held at the breakfast bar because the barstools, at the time, were the only things I could sit on and have a reasonable chance of getting up again.) This particular clinic offered an odd little product called MDSave, which "connects uninsured patients, health savings account holders, and high deductible health insurance patients with medical providers who offer pre-negotiated savings on medical services."

Now my deductible is tolerably high by contemporary standards, intolerably high by the standards of a decade ago, and so I asked for a quote. Forty-nine bucks for a session! CFI Care (not its real initials) would bill me at least $60 for a copay, plus God knows what else. Downside: this would not do a thing to reduce my deductible. I signed up. Shortly thereafter, in the interest of dealing with very visible swelling, they dispatched me to a supplier of compression garments, which have now been backordered. The only question, really, is when they will ship, since this will determine which plan year deductible this $420 sum will fail to satisfy.

Then there was a CT scan, which used to be called a CAT scan until the rise of lolcats. An efficient young woman ran me through the procedure in about ten minutes. About three weeks later, I got a bill from an MD I'd never even seen: apparently the spectre of this Dr Griffin (not his real name) was hovering about the room at the time I was there, and this was somehow billable. CFI Care paid about a third of his $150ish charge. The next day there arrived the $1500 bill for the scan itself: network discounts, whatever they may be, took care of not quite half of it, and my previously-paid $300 down reduced this bill to $400 or so. Since I have two more tests scheduled in January — well, you can see where this is going.

I am, I suppose, fortunate in that I have something resembling health insurance, which is provided as part of my compensation at the workplace. This will end some time next year when I retire, and I'll be shunted off to Medicare. I do not expect this to be as much fun as, say, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez seems to think. And I have a metric crapton of stuff I need to read up on before I sign on the government's dotted line. In the meantime, I wonder what my real doctor is going to say when the condition for which he prescribed such-and-such a drug is back to alarming levels because I quit taking the damn stuff on the advice of some High-Zoot Specialist.

The Vent

  21 December 2018

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