Saturday Screed

Yes, it’s Saturday and on this beautiful Spring day, we should be on Fire Island, but I have been told to take it a bit easy and hold off for this weekend at least. So we will stay in the city.

I have been getting some encouraging emails from some people to continue to write and to possibly, one of these days, rework these daily messages into a short book or essay that shares the entire experience. Fire Island project for the summer? Here are a few thoughts about the dailies:

Hoda in Beirut: “Do keep the updates coming as long as you feel like it …. I will miss them once you go to Fire Island and all this is behind you. Inshalla.”

Sam in LA: “Your updates are such a pleasure to read… Your thorough descriptions re: the GQ MD staff, etc. – You also inspire our laugh while taking in your impeccable sense of humor re: ‘how to have a brain surgery guide’. It is wonderful how you are reaching out to us all and essentially spending time with everyone through your updates…”

Arnie from Tokyo: “Sorry I did not share my experiences after (an) operation 3 years ago, but everything you said is right on spot on with what I had to deal with. You are doing very well my friend I know you’re going to pull through this…”

Susan in Boston: “I can barely imagine how scary and overwhelming all of his experience in this news and surgery must have been, but… Alan does well under pressure. Yuh! Some pressure!”

Lee in LA: “Ned and I read this together and we are very happy for your progress and so-far-so-great attitude.”

Pape in North Carolina: “We are all blessed to have such an inspiring individual…Thanks for so quickly getting back to us with such positive news! Alhamdulilay!”

Now some news from yesterday.

You know already that I am overall a “glass half full” kind of guy. But yesterday was more half-empty for me – mostly my own fault for overdoing it. I decided in the morning to try to deal with the insurance issues that are multifaceted in my case. The complexity is around a few issues: I am very well covered by both Medicare as well as post-UN retirement insurance (Aetna). The challenge has been negotiating 3 systems. While my insurance is actually from the World Health Organization (as a UNAIDS retiree, we are covered by WHO), but in the USA, WHO via the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), has subcontracted with Aetna to administer everything. Overall, that is a good thing: we get Aetna preferred rates with participating doctors and medical professionals and they have a dedicated team to deal just with PAHO staff. For example, one of my bills was for $2,271.00 but the Aetna rate is $401.47 and I am only responsible in the end for $80.40 of that!

While I was under the impression that all my bills in Madrid had been directly covered by WHO insurance in Geneva, that turns out not to be the case and I need to submit everything to Aetna here in the USA. On top of that, I only have Medicare Part A – meaning full coverage for inpatient hospital care, but Aetna covers the outpatient stuff at 80%. So I started to get a series of bills that I didn’t know how to approach. For example, the Thursday before going into NYU Hospital, I spent a full day with tests and doctors appointments in preparation for admittance for the surgery. You would think that would be considered “inpatient” since it is related to the surgery, but Medicare does not consider those to be inpatient since the formal admittance was only Monday morning. And I also got bills from doctors who stopped by to see me while in the hospital that should have gone directly to Medicare, but were sent to Aetna.

I wrote to Ruber in Madrid to get a full bill from them, but so far no response.

Speaking to Aetna, plus PAHO plus the doctors’ offices and NYU billing took over 3 hours and it just exhausted me! And I still have really not done most of the work that needs to be done to get it all straightened out. Lucky for me, Nancy R has volunteered to help me with this next week. I can’t stand the thought of more time on the phone, on email, online to scan and submit the bills, etc. So it will get done, but it won’t be me except for what I really need to do that cannot be done by Nancy.

Susan Letteney came for lunch – that was a lovely visit. She brought Chinese food and orchids. While she stayed only about an hour, I was tired and should have just stayed home, but instead I pushed myself and walked to H&M to get a few hats, since I need to cover my head while this scar heals. I wound up with 3 hats – pictures attached. Antonio thinks they make me look like a Brooklyn hipster. I’m not convinced.

Hat #2 -April 16



When I finally got home, I was ready for a siesta and put on some chanting music and dozed for about 2 hours. Antonio had gone to Brooklyn for some work appointments and got home after 5 with a beautiful gift: a shirt that adds to my hipster look.

My siesta was briefly interrupted by a delivery of orchids from Ty and Brian from Boston (see pic). What a beautiful energy they add to the apartment!

Orchid from Ty and Brian - David Schofield drawing behind -April 16

Later, back on email, I got a message from Citibank that my request for them to reimburse part of my ticket (Paris-NY) that I was unable to use because of this medical emergency was denied because the trip ended AFTER the date of the original ticket. DUH! I have to eventually deal with that as well – the reason it was after the trip was obvious with all of the information they got. Bureaucracy is worse than brain surgery!

Antonio went back to CVS to pick up my last prescription and when he came home, we had a simple dinner and then watched a Netflix documentary called “My Beautiful Broken Brain” about a British woman in her 30s who had a stroke and her year of trying to move forward. While very different from my experience, it touched a lot of what I have felt like during these past weeks of discovery, investigation and treatment. If you have Netflix, I recommend it.

Just before bed, Antonio used some of the magical massage oil from Beth on my legs and that was perfect to be able to drift off into a deep sleep, much needed after the drained energy from the day.

Love to all.

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