Monday, October 27, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes

Last week I experienced examples of both the best and the worst of this country’s efficiency and can-do spirit.

Last Thursday, Loverman and I joined about 300 volunteers to build a playground for our kids’ school. It was amazing---- it’s like extreme makeover for playgrounds. We actually built a brand new playground from the ground-up in less than 7 hours. You can check out the slideshow of photos from the day’s activities on the right side of this blog.

I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that the school was awarded a grant to build a playground from Kaboom. This is a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C. and their mission is to ensure that all kids have a great place to play within walking distance of their home. They partner with local corporations to subsidize the creation of these playgrounds. For our playground, IBM and SAP stepped to the plate to make our playground dream a reality and in addition to funding the project, they elicit the support of their workforce to volunteer their time and sweat equity to actually build the playground.

So, after six weeks of mobilization and preparation by various committees, including logistics, public relations, and construction, we all came together and with a lot of muscle and elbow grease, transformed a dilapidated and neglected space into a playground. In addition to the swings, monkey bars, monorail, sliding board, and rock wall, we also painted a mural and transportable chess and checker boards, built 6 planters, and planted flowers and trees.

I cannot remember the last time I was so physically tired. My feet and legs hurt like hell by the end of the day, but I also cannot remember the last time I felt so sated and full of goodwill for my fellow man. I didn’t know half the folks I was working along side, but that made no difference. We were all there for one common purpose and we worked together like a well-oiled machine.

Then after my productive Thursday, came Friday when I had to deal with a issue that had presented itself a week earlier at my annual OB/GYN appointment. Usually, I breeze in, hop up into those stirrups, relax my legs, let the midwife check things out, grab my prescription for my annual mammogram and then I’m outta there. Well… not this year. The midwife found an enlarged thyroid and a dense lump in my right breast. She ordered a diagnostic mammogram ASAP.

You’d think I’d be freaked out, and maybe I was, but didn’t know it. I just moved forward, had my blood drawn to check out the thyroid, and made an appointment for the mammogram. Once I slowed down long enough to process the possibilities, I was more concerned about getting drawn into this country's screwed up medical system, than the possibility of having breast cancer.

When I went in for the mammogram, I was immediately sucked into the inefficient vortex known as a managed health care. The well-versed receptionist explained that the industry standard for a digital diagnostic mammogram includes an ultrasound, but I would need a referral from my primary provider for this ultrasound. She offered to call my primary to get a referral faxed over, but I knew this would be easier said than done. First of all, my primary didn’t even know I was having this mammogram and secondly, it was late Friday afternoon and I knew the folks in my primary’s office get their hat and hit the road extra early on Fridays and the office was more than likely closed. I also wondered that if an ultrasound is “industry standard,” then why didn’t the prescription include the ultrasound or why hadn’t this been mentioned prior to my visit, so I could have gotten the referral for the ultrasound before heading into the office to get the mammogram.

Once I gave the receptionist approval to bill my insurance for the ultrasound, I moved onto the technician who would do the mammogram. This lovely young lady reviewed my file and noticed that my last mammogram was in November 2007 and despite the fact that I was prescribed this diagnostic mammogram ASAP, she was only allowed to look at the breast in question--- the right breast, and I would have to secure another prescription from my OB/GYN for a mammogram of the left breast for next month.

What the hell? Can you believe this? What kind of convoluted sense does this make? By this point, I didn’t even care and didn’t have the energy to make a stink about this (remember I had just built a playground the day before), I just wanted to get this boob checked out and go on with my day.

Fortunately, all’s good, I just have lumpy, dense boobies, but the whole experience was very draining. I’m consistently stunned by the inefficiency of our medical system. I know most of us are looking forward to some of the health care changes Barack has proposed, but I bet if we simply chucked all the bean counters who have created this dark hole and reviewed and refined the system to work in a more intuitive and effectual manner we’d be worlds better.

See, just the day before I learned firsthand what can be accomplished if folks are committed and of the same mind and not simply a bunch of boobs sitting around trying to devise a complicated scheme to bilk folks for all their worth.


Barb said...

Yeah, man. It's not the cancer that kills ya'...

Mango Mama said...

I know you know what I'm talking about!