Migraine Patient or Administrative Assistant?

Lately I’ve been feeling better after a good gripe. Today’s gripe has to do with the grave injustice (forgive the hyperbole… it helps) of having to spend hours every week dealing with the administrative aspects of being a patient, and specially the aspects of accessing healthcare that are (ironically?) incredibly migraine unfriendly.

Arranging, cancelling, and rescheduling appointments is certainly not the worst of my administrative annoyances, but gosh, wouldn’t it be nice to just make an appointment and keep it? Without the cancellation fees? And having to call back again and again?

Then there are the file folders of carefully organized receipts, insurance pre-approvals documents, and research about treatments. Those take up more space on my desk most weeks than anything having to do with paid work.

Putting on my biggest grown up voice to get the answers I need from reticent health insurance customer service agents makes up a large chunk of my administrative duties. It seems as if every week there’s a new issue with my coverage, one that is usually fixed through persistent, time consuming phone calls, and caused by unnecessary bureaucratic, policy-laden, common sense-lacking, chronic pain patient targeting, horse dung. You feel me?

At the very top of my pet peeve list is being put on hold. I love all kinds of music. I would be satisfied with most, but why is it that hold music always has such poor sound quality? Listening to a cracking static with no bass and some shrill jazz flute at any volume is migraine brain’s enemy #1 in my books. What ever happened to good ol’ silence??

There. Phew. That’s better. Now -- in the same vein as every cheesy sitcom every written -- for the lesson learned.

Venting our frustrations is a normal part of life, of course, but it doesn’t serve anyone to stay all revved up forever. Who has the energy to carry that baggage around all day, especially when dealing with much bigger issues (you know, like parenting, working, or simply trying to live one's life while managing unruly, disabling symptoms)? So for practical reasons, after a good gripe, it’s important to make like a duck and let this stuff roll off our backs.

I find it helpful to think of migraine as an actual part-time job. It’s unpaid work, or more precisely, wallet draining work, but so are many important jobs in our society. Caring for our elderly, raising our children, keeping our homes tidy and healthy, growing/buying and preparing good food, participating in democratic society (beyond casting a ballot), being kind to others, supporting local artists and athletes, exploring spirituality, etc., are all so important in the building of strong, healthy communities and individuals. We don’t do these things because they make us a buck; we do them because they are important parts of a good life.

Likewise, even though these activities detract from time that could be spent doing paid work, spending time on the phone, organizing receipts, and managing a complicated treatment schedule are necessary parts of living my best life possible.

Would I prefer to not have schedule and re-schedule weekly appointments? Sure.

Would it be nice if insurance companies hired more customer service representatives, trained them more thoroughly, and didn’t create foolish excuses to avoid paying out? Oh, yes.

Would I like to throw my patient paperwork and phone with its hold music in a burning trash can while I roast a marshmallow over the ruins and laugh with reckless abandon? On a regular basis.

Instead I’m going to take a deep breath, make a nice cup of tea, and continue doing what needs to be done.

Does the administrative aspect of being a patient ever make things worse for you instead of better? How do you cope?

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