After expressing frustrations with systems in my role as caregiver for my daughter here, it seems important to share about the abundance of kindness coming our way recently.
Nicole’s new gynecologist was apologetic about the three hours it took her to get back to us. She was disconcerted by a new rule mandating that test results be sent immediately. Dr. McClusky would have preferred getting the results first and have referrals lined up before talking with us. “We doctors are not happy about it.”
We had called earlier in a panic after receiving the results via MyChart. There were terms we didn’t understand but it was clear cancer had been found.
She was reassuring that the tumor was tiny and thought-to-be contained. She named two surgeons she especially likes and would be referring us to one of them.
It was a Friday evening and Dr. McClusky remained on the call until all our questions were answered. She said, “You will think of more. Don’t hesitate to call us. It is no bother for you to call with questions.”
I wrote in my February 1 post about Janice Rice, a woman who works with the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Her kindness resulted in a miracle. Even though Nicole is not eligible for their services, her supervisor approved Nicole receiving her COVID vaccine so that she could be vaccinated before undergoing surgery.
On Monday, Nancy Mannix, the scheduler for the surgeon to whom Nicole had been referred, Roxanne Weighall, called. An appointment for Thursday, February 4 was scheduled. Since then I’ve had numerous conversations with Nancy as appointments and surgery dates were juggled.
What I appreciate most about Nancy is her sensitivity to our needs. With Nicole’s Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy, her sleep schedule is erratic and mornings are hard for her. In addition, we both had COVID vaccine appointments to work around … including time to deal with any reactions we might have. She considered our circumstances and has done her best to schedule around them.
But she won my heart the day I accidentally called her. She actually answered her phone that day and I was so confused, I wasn’t sure if she had called me or I had called her. I apologized for the interruption to her day. She said, “Oh no, that’s okay. We know this is an anxious time for you and we’ll take good care of you. We’ll figure this out.”
One day when I answered the phone, I heard, “Hi, this is Dr. Weighall. How are you?”
I was stunned and befuddled. She sounded like a friend checking in on me. Twice she has called herself always with the same greeting. I am in awe that she cares enough to do this herself.
I said, “Well, we’re trying not to panic.”
“Oh don’t do that,” she said.
She was calling to see how Nicole had managed the MRI the night before. Once again, the results were unnerving. Two other areas of concern were identified for biopsy. An MRI biopsy was recommended and Dr. Weighall put in the order.
When I called to schedule the MRI biopsy, I learned that the machines at Kettering were broken. We would have to wait until the part came in to schedule. It was on back order.
Dr. Weighall agreed to my request to have it done at Miami Valley. Anxious to get this scheduled, I hunted the number at the Valley and called around 5 pm.
I was transferred to a very kind woman named Mary who worked with me to find the soonest date possible. It wasn’t soon enough for me, so she agreed to check another facility if we were willing to drive. She called back the next day, and March 12 was the soonest she could get us in.
She expressed concern about Nicole being able to tolerate laying on her stomach for 1½ hours. I told her that would be difficult.
Then Nancy, Dr. Weighall’s scheduler called to say that Miami Valley was ordering more mammography and the surgery date was moved to March 19.
We didn’t know the reason for these additional tests until Miami Valley called to schedule them. Out of concern for Nicole being able to tolerate the MRI biopsy, they are going to try to do it by ultrasound.
“There’s a 50-50 chance we can get what we need and that way she won’t have to do the MRI biopsy.”
I was blown away that they would give this much concern to our circumstances.
A Most Unexpected Kindness #6:
Early in February, I received the paperwork to renew Nicole’s Medicaid. We usually take it to the Job Center for copying, but with COVID, that wasn’t possible this year. I tried without success to reapply online. So, on February 9 I mailed it to the Ohio Department of Medicaid located in Columbus. A self-addressed envelope was included, so I thought that was where I needed to send it.
Concern that it would arrive by the March 5 deadline niggled at me.
Then on February 26, I received a notification by mail from the local Job Center that they had not received our reapplication and if it wasn’t received by the deadline, she would be denied coverage … coverage she obviously desperately needs with all these medical issues.
Going over the paperwork, it appeared that I should have sent the application locally … to the Job Center. So, on Monday, March 1, I needed to handle that. I had several possible phone numbers to call and I dreaded it because in the past, the phone could ring for an hour before someone answered.
Awake before 6 am and unable to call until 8, I got up and attended to chores. At 8, I began calling. The local number referred me to an 800 number. I called and after pressing numerous numbers including entering social security numbers and birthdates, I was put on hold with a message that the wait time was around 8 minutes and I could leave my number for a call back. With anxiety, I entered my call-back number.
Sure enough, in 8 minutes a kind woman named, Wanda, called back. They had received the application on February 19. She indicated that she could do the interview.
At the end of the interview, Nicole was approved. Wanda gave me some helpful information about renewal limits that led to my revealing Nicole’s medical situation. I said, “This is a very stressful time for us.”
She said, “I can hear it in your voice.”
I told her about trying unsuccessfully to apply online. She said, “Don’t worry about doing it online or sending in the paperwork. Call this number. We can do this by phone.”
I think my body visibly relaxed. I wish I had had this information years ago.
The Flood Gates Open
About noon, after this very early morning for me, my energy waned. I turned on my favorite chant CD, Out of the Ordinary: Chants by Joyce Rupp and lay down on the couch for a nap. However, the flood gates opened. Tears I couldn’t stop turned into sobs of joy. Receiving this much kindness from people in systems that are usually anything but kind … to what could I attribute this?
I have suspicions but no definitive answer. All I know is that I felt flooded with love … love of the Divine pouring out through doctors, schedulers, interviewers … everyone without fail … during these past few anxious weeks.