It wasn't going to be a big deal.
We'd checked with all the doctors. All but one were in the network. And the doc who didn't par with the the plan assured us getting approval to leave the green was merely a formality.
After all, he was the only white coat for miles who specialized and The Champ had been his patient since Day One.
But when I called the pediatrician's office the day before the scheduled appointment -- thinking quite naively that this sacred document known as an Out-Of-Network Referral was as easily obtainable as a prescription for antibiotics in the '80s – I learned the wheels of bureaucracy travel from Point A to Point B in roughly four business days.
Patience is a virtue.
That wasn't the worst part, though.
The rescheduling of appointments I could handle. The contradiction was another ballgame entirely.
As one doctor giveth … an office manager taketh away: According to her experience, it was not only possible but “PROBABLE” that my insurance would deny the request and make an in-network referral of their own.
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
Three offices, five people and seven self-induced heart attacks later I was still holding my breath and my hand firmly on my ...
Eventually it was all sorted out with a few dozen extra steps … Gone was the convenient in-office tests. Replaced with a fun-filled trip to the imaging center of the big hospital, followed by a nearly two-hour layover for the doctor's appointment. Peanuts, however, would be available for a nominal fee at the vending machine.
It would be ok. It really wasn't a big deal. It was just like hopping a connecting flight.
Except I was dreading it.
The instructions were daunting. “Follow the walkway to the main building. Check in at the check-in then go to registration. You will need all of your documents and a picture ID. He needs to be here, with a full bladder, a half hour before the test. … If you have to bring siblings, you will need a second adult to watch them while you accompany your son. If you are late your appointment may need to be rescheduled.”
This is your mission … You have no choice but to accept it.
Truth is, what I really dreaded was spending even a minute in a room marked RADIOLOGY/ONCOLOGY with my boy. I dreaded looking into the faces of mothers whose children weren't there for something routine.
I have to admit, up until that moment, I cursed the insurance company for making me feel as if I were wearing a red foam nose and oversized shoes to jump through their flaming hoops.
But there was my son, dressed in his best worn-out pajamas and bat-winged jacket, selecting a Santa from the coloring sheets and reaching for the crayons one at a time. “He will be a Rainbow Cwaus,” he whispered. “I'll give him to the nice lady at the desk when I'm froo.”
He entertained himself like this from one waiting area to another ... and another ... and another for the better part of hours.
Climbing onto the exam tables. Climbing down. Crawling under chairs. Back up to the exam table. Opening and closing doors. Curtains. Blinds. Fogging the mirrors. Break dancing. Until he realized: The. Rolling. Stool-thing-a-ma-seat!!!!! was out of its garage and ready for a test spin.
He'd just be the valet. He'd drive it on over to the doc once he knock-knocked on the door.
The Champ is one patient who IS truly patient.
Even with the limited space and plentiful requests to stop, sit, shhhh, let go, don't pull on that and leave that thing-I-can't-pronounce alone … he was mostly all smiles … until he had to pee:
“I have to pee.”
“That's good. They're probably going to want a sample.”
“What do they want with my pee?”
“They're going to test it to see if there's anything in it that shouldn't be.”
“Are they going to give it back?”
“Do you want it back?”
And then he was all laughs.
“Only if there's LEGOs in it.”