Not so long ago, I reached what I would call my breaking point. It was scary, devastating, and well in retrospect embarrassing. I will tell you all about the day that I lost my mind, but first I want to tell you about how we got here first.
It all started with a much needed day to the store for some groceries, the fish store for a new beta, then to dairy queen for a blizzard, (of course) and then to the hardware store for a part that we had to get on the way home. So the kiddo and I get out to go to the hardware store. Then BAM! I am in an ambulance to the ER after falling over careless security cables.
Now my husband and I served most of our lives in the military and decided that we would stick to TRICARE, what most of the civilians would now call Obama care, primarily underfunded social medicine (strictly my opinion). We went through all of the workups, MRI’s X-rays, exams, PT, OT, medication only to learn that my shoulder and hip were getting worse.
Finally, I was ready to get my shoulder fixed finally. Thank goodness, because my hair was looking pretty bad. My hip will have to wait to prevent further damage to my shoulder. My surgeon would fix my shoulder. It turns out the MRI didn’t show the damage that was caused by the fall. It was much much worse. The doctor had to do a bunch of work to get it back to its original state. I recovered after many months of hard work. While I am working on healing my shoulder, I am still a mom, wife of a retiring Airman, and starting to grow my private practice. I am regularly told to continue to work on my PT and was prescribed different meds, most of which I cannot take while I am serving my patients. I also suffer from Lupus SLE, so this means I take low doses of various medications, some of which I can only take at night and still causes me to feel fatigued throughout the day. So not only am I strengthening my physical presence, but I am also working on keeping my brain from going into a dark place and trying to prevent depression from sneaking up on me. I would speak with my therapist on a regular basis and because I believe in meditation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and hypnosis I would spend time each day practicing what I preach. I just kept moving. I have found that not giving the physical pain a name I would not have to deal with it until I finally got to go to bed. I was refusing the pain to win.
Finally! Finally, my shoulder is healed enough to please my surgeon, and he says let’s get that hip fixed. Thank God I think! I can’t wait. Well, he can only do so many surgeries so often so six more weeks. During this time we are fast approaching my one year anniversary of my fall. My daughter has been patiently waiting to get her mommy back, and my business needs my full attention and my husband well let’s face it, he deserves some of that attention too. I am now just counting down the days to my surgery.
I am so ready for this surgery. I will be able to lose some of this weight I have gained and then perhaps get myself feeling normal again. I bought the outfits that won’t irritate my hip, got the food ordered, recruited helpers for the kiddo, closed my practice and so on. Then guess what, Tricare says it’s not approved due to lack of evidence. This is where you would hear the window break in the movies. My heart is broken. I feel like I have zero control. Tricare was just contracted to Humana, and guess what; they don’t have access to any of my records. They decide that a renowned orthopedic surgeon is not capable of determining what is medically necessary. Hip surgery in their eyes is not medically necessary.
This is where my mind lost control of its thoughts and became unhinged.
It all started innocently enough. Tell the doctor to call Tricare and tell them they should approve it. Then I begin to yell at the scheduler thinking they waited too long to start the process because anyone who has worked with Tricare knows a few days is not long enough. Then I tell my husband, look we will use our savings and work it out later with insurance. Well, that is not an option because the hospital refuses that as they need to have an appeal submitted, then that to be denied. Well now it is a battle between two systems that disagree, and they both don’t seem to mind to make me wait to be pain-free. Oh lord is this frustrating. By the end of day three of yelling, crying, and just plain feeling like I have no control. I am now in more pain than before. The reason is straightforward; it’s because I was on the road to recovery and then they took that away from me. I felt like the hospital and Tricare didn’t know what they took from me. I had shut down my practice in anticipation of the surgery; people depend on me to be there for them. My husband took time from work, we had to incorporate others to help with our daughter, and finally, they took away more of my time from my family. I began to understand Judge Schriber and his nervous illness from a first-hand point of view. I went straight into a dark place and wanted to crawl into bed to never return to reality.
Then I realized I don’t have Carl Jung or Dr. Freud as my therapists. I don’t have the luxury of retreating to a state of the art mental health hospital. I have a practice; I have a daughter, I have a husband that all need me to be present in my every being. With the opioid epidemic, I am not going to receive pain management because I follow the rules and don’t seek medications, besides I wouldn’t take them anyway, I like to think, prepare, write, and let’s face it have fun. So I sat in my dark space for a few days and then I started to attack things reasonably.
This does not mean that Tricare or the hospital is right. I am not saying that I agree with their practices, and I will be taking this up with our congress (they are the ones who approve who has the contracts with Tricare). I will still appeal and work until I get the surgery. I will work hard to get what I need to be done.
I wanted you to know that I understand how easy it is to go to your dark spot. I also know how easy it is to want to stay in that dark spot. I also want you to know that even your therapist, religious leaders, teachers, doctors, police people, EVERYONE has a dark place that is easily accessible. I also think it’s important to know that you can come back out of that dark spot, it just takes a lot of energy and determination.
By the way, as of the writing of this, I am still waiting for Tricare to decide if my pain is worthy of a medically necessary hip repair. Fingers crossed they figure it out soon. Or the hospital allows me to self-pay. Here’s to hoping a system figures out how to help me.
I hope this finds you well and please feel free to comment on the post.
Shannon Shadman, LPC, MSMHC, NCC, M.Ed.