Well folks, I ended up in the psych hospital once again. Le sigh. I wish I could say I didn’t see this coming, but I kind of knew it was inevitable around mid-March. On the upside, I checked myself in before I got to the point of trying to hurt myself. But on the downside, this could have all been prevented if insurance companies weren’t riddled with incompetent people and bogged down with nonsensical red tape that prevents folks from getting the treatment they need. So let me start this post off with the circumstances that lead up to my inpatient stay.
Back at the very end of November 2015, I finally landed another job, after being unemployed for exactly one year. Yay for me! This job, being full time, came with the whole kit & caboodle of benefits. Now I’m accustomed to having to wait a probationary period of 3months before any benefits kicked in, and I was prepared to do so. Even though I would be losing my disability payments I’d been receiving for years, I am still covered under Medicare for a few more years to come, even if I have employer provided insurance. All well and good, right? Wrong.
I had been having severe pain in my right shoulder, lower back, hips, and thighs and I wasn’t satisfied with the diagnosis and treatment options I had received from my primary care physician, so I looked around to find an orthopedic/ sports medicine doctor in the area, with good reviews and accepted my insurance. I found a great doctor in December who finally figured out where my pain was stemming from after ordering two sets of MRIs done in January. He figured out that the pain in my legs stemmed from a herniated disc in my lower back and the pain in my right arm was from tendonitis, and ordered a round of physical therapy before doing anything invasive.
So I set up my first physical therapy appointment which was just an evaluation, then made my next series of appointments. Not even a week later, driving home from work, to get ready for my second physical therapy appointment, I get rear-ended by some kid that doesn’t know how brakes and stop signs work. I called the physical therapy office, explained that I had been in a car accident and cancelled that nights appointment. As many of you know the pain from a car accident that you deem minor often doesn’t pop up until the next day, and oh how it popped up. I ended up calling out of work and going to the hospital because my back and neck hurt so much. Being in NJ, something like the heroin capitol of the US, I knew they wouldn’t give me anything more than an anti-inflammatory if I still had all my limbs attached, but it was more of a precaution to make sure nothing was out of place and so I would have documentation for my car insurance company that I was seeking treatment. So I took off two more days of work and did my best to rest up.
Being that I was in a car accident I couldn’t start physical therapy again until I got reevaluated by my orthopedic doctor, who informed me that I had whiplash, and wrote me a new prescription for physical therapy, that I continued.
Now while all this played out, my mom and I were battling with my insurance companies, because I started receiving phone calls while I was at work, stating that it was found that I have an alternate insurance, so the MRIs I had would not be processed through the insurance I provided and I would have to pay the full amount of the service. This totaled well over $3,000 that me and my $35k/ yr salary were in no way equipped to handle. And to even try and straighten this out with the insurance company is a full-time job in itself, which I couldn’t take on while working at the same time. So my mom took the reigns on this for me, since she is retired, and told me not to worry. Which of course I did anyway. Why? Because these people almost sent her to the hospital. Everyone kept giving her different answers, passing her on to someone else, and were as unhelpful as possible.
Now you may be thinking that the $3,000+ MRI bills and rcovering from my accident were my biggest concerns at the time, but they were actually the least of my worries. With all of this insurance confusion, I was no longer able to get TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) treatments for my depression. Due to the way my body metabolizes medications, I can’t go the traditional route of antidepressants or mood stabilizers, I’ll elaborate on this in another post one day. So I go for a relatively new, pretty expensive treatment bi-weekly. It has been the only treatment to be able to lift me out of depression for a substantial period of time with no side effects. I made it through the fall and winter with just some fleeting depression, that was alleviated due to another unconventional, not yet FDA approved treatment, that is also hella expensive and difficult to acquire because of the shortage of doctors that will prescribe it. That would be ketamine. Yes “special k”, but I’ll also go into more detail with that in another post.
At first the issue was that Medicare needed to reauthorize the medical necessity of the treatment. Which took entirely too long to begin with. As soon it got authorized, they turned around and said that Medicare was no longer my primary insurance. So I had to go through the authorization for treatment from my employer provided insurance, and just as it was about to get authorized, guess what? They finally decided to ask pertinent questions and realized since the company I work for has under 100 employees Medicare is actually, and has been this whole time, my primary insurance.
Through out all of this I’ve been having some troubling physical issues that were compounding my depression and anxiety, but I was too afraid to go to the doctor because of the possibility of receiving another outrageous bill and finding out my insurance was all wrong again. I was, and still am, in a tremendous amount of pain stemming from the accident. And work. Well, I don’t know if it’s gotten more stressful or it just seemed that way because of not getting the TMS treatment and being under all of the other outside stress.
So I over the past few months I began isolating myself more. I lost motivation to do just about everything from eating to watching bad tv to exercising. I was getting no more than 4-5 hours of sleep each night and was running on fumes everyday at work. My anxiety became worse and going into daily meetings at work was torturous. I was trying to hide how awful I felt from everyone. I didn’t want anyone at work to notice and start questioning me or the quality of my work. I didn’t tell my friends because 1: I didn’t want to be that friend that just can’t seem to get it together and 2: I didn’t have the energy to try and articulate it to them. I didn’t tell my family because they are under so much stress as it is and I was tired of always being the cause of added pressure. I didn’t tell my boyfriend because we get such little time together that I don’t want to ruin it with my terrible mood. So although I have a support system, I didn’t feel like I should use them.
I typically would have turned to my therapist, but I couldn’t because of the insurance debacle. So essentially I was alone. I got up each morning, got ready for work, even put on makeup some days to try and cheer myself up, went to work, came home, maybe ate, and went to bed ( two days out of the week I went to physical therapy.) My life wasn’t really worth living and I was a walking- talking doll. I still always had a smile on my face, but I was empty inside. I wanted nothing more than to go to sleep and not wake up.
Through all of this I still went to work. Working, as frustrating as it is somedays, made me feel good about myself and that I wasn’t a complete failure. However, one day I just couldn’t keep it up anymore and walked out of work without telling anyone. I went to my parent’s house and told them I needed to go to the hospital. Unfortunately, there is only one hospital in NJ that is worth a damn and that I trust to not make me worse when admitted. It took about 2 days for a bed to open up and for me to be admitted. But I got in. I basically stopped speaking unless absolutely necessary, because I was terribly exhausted. I spent most of my time there sleeping and the depression turned to numbness.
The doctors and social workers understood the circumstances that brought me in and made sure I was able to restart my TMS treatment and see my therapist before they discharged me. So as of right now, things are kind of looking up. I’m still numb, but it’s a big improvement from where I was. I’m not quite sure what I will do about my job, because I’m still nowhere near okay enough to go back, but whatever happens will just have to happen. So that’s how I got to here now. *wipes brow*