Our second day in St Louis started off pretty easy. Robert is a huge fan of continental breakfast, especially when it is free.
After a good feed, we were all set to go see Dr. Marsh for the very first time. We got in the car, plugged the address in my phone, and set off.
And that’s where everything went downhill.
I have the ability to get lost literally anywhere. A hospital is no exception. There are multiple towers in Mercy Hospital and they all have different numbering systems. I spent a good half an hour wandering aimlessly with the kids until we finally got where we needed to go.
And once we got there, well…
I don’t want to say his office manager was bad, but I don’t think we got off on the right foot. She was abrupt with me and seemed kind of rude because we were intending to self-pay for the surgery as a back up since insurance was still fighting us. (I would think self-pay would make them happier? I mean, they don’t have to haggle with a company and wait for payment. They just hold up actual people until they cough up cash. But, that’s another story…) I was kind of still trying to make the self-pay a back up plan. I was hoping we could bill the insurance and see if they would accept any of it, and then be billed the difference.
Well, she told us we weren’t allowed to even try to bill the insurance. We had to have the whole payment in full NOW.
I panicked. We didn’t have $26,000 yet. We had only managed to save and fundraise $16,000. We were ten short. And they were very firm about no full payment, no surgery.
I didn’t know what to do. I was crying, the boys were confused… So, we went down to the financial aid office. It was a non-profit hospital, after all. I talked to a man who told me that based on our finances and the financial burden, we should only owe about $2500!! Wonderful! I was ecstatic! I went back up to the doctor’s office, and Kristin gave me her now patented Sour B*&%$ Face and marched us back down to financial aid. She went and had a private conference with the officer I talked to and when they came out, my bill was back up to $26,000. Pert of me bitterly wonders what exactly she said to them to get them to change their minds. And why couldn’t I have been involved with that meeting? Shady.
Apparently charity isn’t available for “optional” surgeries. You know, because I had three different doctors including two cranial-facial specialists referring the boys because it was not a cosmetic procedure…still optional.
So, we left with no hope. How were we going to get $10,000 in less than 5 hours? They wanted us paid in full before the office closed that day or our surgery would be cancelled and we would have to go home.
I took the boys to their pre-op speech appointment while making calls, sending out pleas for help, and trying not to cry. I can barely remember one thing the therapist told us because I was so pre-occupied with the big, glaring $10,000 hanging over my head. Thank goodness she gave me a folder of information to take with me.
I took the kids back to the hotel after the appointments where they played and I tried to keep myself together.
I mean, at least they deserved to have some fun…
Well, without getting too far in to the gritty details, let’s just say there are a lot of ways to get loans in the US. Some places are pretty liberal with what they will give a person because they have ridiculous interest rates. It’s painful, but it happened.
By the end of the day, the surgery was fully paid for. My bank account was sobbing gently in the corner, but the surgeries were going to happen as scheduled the next day.