It's Easier Buying a Gun & Coke than it is in Getting a Prescription Filled....

Yesterday, I went for another round of tests with my audiologist. As I wrote countless times in my blog, I've SSNHL in one ear resulting in tinnitus and inability to understand human language and all that accompanies it. My ability to focus, concentrate, sleep and hear has been eradicated because of unfiltered sounds blasting through my brain, deafening me in the 'good' ear. Just as I thought I was able to deal with that, having effectively insulated myself in my home, rarely going anywhere, something shifted the recent few months. It took form as hypersensitivity to all sound, dizziness, losing my equilibrium and, lastly, intermittent tinnitus in the good ear. Sadly, it's at a different frequency than the other one. And the two don't harmonize at all.

"Your tests results are pretty much the same except for the hyperacusis," the audiologist informed me.

"What the hell is that?"

"All the symptoms you described." Having watched me lose balance when I got up to greet her in the reception area, she suggested, "There's a rehab program in NYC where you can learn to deal with all this. Except balance. You may have to do physical therapy."

"Is there any cure for this?"

She gave me a wistful smile.

I burst out in tears and cried uncontrollably. "I can't deal with this. My life is ruined. I can't work to support myself because the minimum of activities is daunting. I can't be around people. I can't go out. My writing is a misery, a battle to concentrate. I used to have perfect memory and now I'm absentminded and there're days I can barely remember simple words. I can't believe my life devolved into this."

I ranted more on this topic and she was understandably uncomfortable. "I suggest you seek counseling."

"Are you saying a therapist?" She shot me another wistful smile. "Listen, I don't believe in that crap. Especially with something where there's no cure and no way around it. I've accepted my lot. But I'm unable to function and no therapist can cure that."

When I returned home, I checked out the rehabilitation program. They told me under no uncertain terms that my insurance doesn't cover the program. I phoned the audiologist. "Oh, well, then you won't be eligible in any other program."

Later on, I googled "hyperacusis" and almost puked. These rehab programs give a few tips to sidestep a few problems, but overall, I'm fucked. No way will I ever be able to hold down a job that entails phoning and interacting with people, my former career. Insofar as publishing, I'm holding a prayer that my books will generate tens of thousands of sales monthly. Because any number below that, given the rubles I receive as royalties doesn't cut it. And forget about a normal life. Even conversing with a friend wears me down because listening is now an active role, requiring tons of energy.

That was yesterday. An ignominious way to end the day.

Today, I had to venture 50 miles back to see a dermatologist. Over the past two weeks, I've had a rash that spread from my neck to my face. It's itchy as hell. It also comes and goes. At first, I attributed it to stress. My luck it increased last night and scratching only infected it. The nurse quickly wedged me in when I said, "It looks like the zombie disease. I fear it may enter my eyes."

The good doctor asked what's new. I told her about the hyperacusis. She groaned. I had to explain SSNHL one more time, something I've grown accustomed to doing since 2/17/2011. "In this small examination room, I can deal," I informed her. "You should've seen me, though, in the waiting room."

"What you have is an allergy to something external. Let me give you prednisone and that'll clear it up immediately."

"Oh no, I'm allergic to that. It stops me from doing little things like breathing. I've the ambulance bills to prove it."

"Well, there's another ointment, a topical one, but your insurance may not cover it. Or they may, considering the life-threatening allergy to prednisone. I'll have my nurse phone it in now and when you get to the pharmacy, have them phone us and we'll contact the insurance company to get it approved."

"Is it that easy to do?" I asked dubiously, having been at the receiving end of bad pharmacy karma.

"Yes," she said with authority.

Now, I didn't want to get into the fact for the upteenth time that I suffer from hyperacusis. The trip to see the doctors yesterday and today had my ears shrieking. This was becoming insufferable because it entails an additional trip, this time to the pharmacy. Damn. I ASSUMED that they knew what my life was about. Ha.

I left and within 30 minutes (okay, I'm a speed freak), arrived at the RiteAid pharmacy. "Is my prescription in yet?" I asked the pharmacist.

"Nothing was put into the system."

I phoned the practice and left a message. In a mere 49 minutes they put in the request. During that time, I paced, I toyed with the iPhone and scratched my neck so bad blood welled. Stuffing my anxiety over the fact that my head was near to bursting, I said to the pharmacist, "Did you contact the doctor because now they have to call the insurance company to get coverage."

He nodded and indicated he was on the phone. Minutes later, he said, "Okay. You got insurance coverage. Listen, the covered dosage is 16 oz and we only have 100 oz. We'll phone other pharmacies."

Several minutes later, he informed me, "Shoprite has it in that dosage." In front of me he faxed the prescription. "All you need to do is present your insurance card."

"Is that it?" I asked, dubious.

"That's it!"

I left and got into my car and drove an additional few miles to my nemesis, Shoprite. I can only take that store in limited doses. Anything exceeding a short window of time causes my head to be clogged with noise, pretty much ruining my day. For it takes me hours to return to my version of normalcy.

At the pharmacy in Shoprite, I requested my prescription. The place was packed with summer people. The overhead loudspeakers blasted with sales announcements. All cash register lanes were open and the ringing and buzzing burrowed into my head. The pharmacist informed me they never received it. "I watched them fax it to you!" I uttered in amazement.

"Why should I lie to you? We never received it."

I phoned the pharmacy. "Where's the prescription?" I asked, "they never got it." At this point I shouted in the phone. People glared at me. "I'm deaf, goddamn it!" I yelled. With each passing second, I knew that things were going to get worse. I'm way too familiar in the way my hearing shuts down and dreaded the expected outcome.

The pharmacist started arguing with me on the phone. "Just fax the damn thing," I screamed.

Twenty minutes later, the Shoprite pharmacist informed me they received the fax. "No can do. We're waiting for permission from your insurance company."

"The pharmacist at RiteAid told me he got permission."

I phoned the doctor's office and left a voice mail again to get them to assist in obtaining insurance company approval. I was panic-stricken. I explained that I couldn't spend hours in a noisy environment. Even though, by this stage, I was the noise. Then, I phoned the pharmacist at RiteAid who stated with emphasis, "Yes, I got the approval. Let me call the pharmacist where you are."

Twenty minutes later, the Shoprite pharmacist said, "He only checked dosage amount. He never checked to see if he got approval."

The back of my head blew off. At this point, it was 2 1/2 hours since I left the doctor's office. I phoned the doctor's office again and got a Matthew in Communications. Snidely, he informed me he never got any of my messages. But he'll try to obtain the authority.

"Tell me, should I stay here? I live a mere 15 miles away. The hospital is only 5 miles away and they'll give me an ointment immediately. Tell me now." 

Matthew said, "I have no idea how long it takes." The conversation lasted fifteen minutes. I waited around to top off 3 hours and then, sickened, deafened, I had no other alternative but to leave.

It's been two hours. No one has contacted me to let me know whether I've a prescription or whether one has been approved. I can't use the phone; my rationing of the day, hell, for the month was depleted.

I figure that, at this stage, I'm better off going to the hospital for ointment than waiting for the doctor's office to get around to contacting the insurance company and the insurance company to agree. I just wish they told me it was going to turn into an ordeal. I would've stayed home and waited another day. Besides, it doesn't matter. My face and neck no longer itch, I've scratched off the first five layers of flesh. I've no longer any sensation except for my head booming from being subjected to unwarranted noise.

# # #

This is a work of fiction. Names, character, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

No comments: