The Other Half Needs an Ass-Kicking

I have to vent or I’ll not be responsible for bludgeoning my husband with this laptop…

If you have a child with ADHD, you know that sleep is an anomaly. They DON’T sleep well, especially when on any kind of drug regimen. While Doodicus heads to bed at 9:00 p.m., it’s not unusual to find him still awake by 10:00 p.m. And then he’ll be awake by 5:00 a.m. It’s not all the time, I’m just saying it’s not unusual. AND I GET THAT. It’s just how his brain functions.

Tonight, after Sparring Partner tucked Dood in, SP sat down next to me and told me he was talking to Dood and the Olympians getting up at 3 – 4:00 in the morning, every morning, just to train. Dood told him that sometimes he wakes up then, too. SP then said, “You need to tell your body to go back to sleep!”

I listened to this slack-jawed. “That just tells me you haven’t got a clue how his ADHD affects him. You aren’t listening to me. You aren’t listening to him. You don’t read the articles I send you about ADHD. You. Don’t. Get. It!

…so I’m sitting here steaming, watching the Olympics.

He then asks, “What do you think the temperature of the pool water is?”

I shrugged, disinterested.

He immediately flips open the iPad to google it.

He doesn’t want to use the resources available to him to understand how ADHD affects not just Doodicus, but our whole family dynamic, but he’ll look up the fucking temperature of the fucking pool water!

Don’t be surprised by tomorrow’s headlines, “Ritual Killing? Man Found in Quiet Nebraska Rural Community Strangled by USB Cable: iPad Duct-Taped to Genitals”.

P.S. By the time I finished writing this, I’m not as furious. Just fuming.

The Wind Caves of South Dakota

Doodicus would probably tell you that touring the Wind Caves was his favorite part of the trip. It didn’t involve sitting in a car and watching the landscape whiz by his car window hour after hour.

When you pull up, there’s really not much to see. A simple, single-level, brick building surrounded by native brush and rather innocuous bluffs. Inside the building, you can either visit the retail store, which if you or someone you love is into books on geology, that’s the place to be; check the tour schedule or purchase tickets. Downstairs they have a modest display highlighting how the caves were found, by whom, and some examples of what would be found below.

The tours are scheduled throughout the day so make sure to check the schedules and the availability before heading out, especially if you are not going to go out until later. We got lucky as I hadn’t taken this into account and had arrived about 40 minutes prior to their most popular tour plus there were openings. They can only take a certain number of people with them on each time.

With Aitch’s fear of dark, unknown spaces and her age, Sparring Partner volunteered to stay on the surface with her while I went with Dood underground. I had thought enough to bring my Merrills and a light jacket, but Dood didn’t have anything but his t-shirt to keep him warm. A quick trip to the tourist area and he then had a long-sleeved t-shirt to layer. For him, I figured that’d be enough to keep him comfortable in the 53 F temperatures.

I was very proud of Doodicus. Sometimes I’m never sure if he’s paying attention, but prior to our tour, the ranger gave us a briefing on what we’ll see and the rules of the caves, including not touching anything but handrails; no leaning on outcroppings and no walking or standing on anything but the pathways. Guess who was the first to lean on a ledge during one of our stops? Me. Not once did I have to remind him not to touch even when I wanted to. After exiting the tour, he excitedly explained the rules to Sparring Partner and what he saw along the way.

Keep these tips in mind:

1) Check the descriptions and times for tours. Make reservations. “Moderately Strenuous” was easy enough for me, and I’m lazy.

2) I wouldn’t recommend for smaller children. For our tour, I think three was the youngest they’d allow, but realistically, I wouldn’t take one under the age of five. If they get scared, or tired, or bored and want to be carried, you can’t.

3) Make sure to have something to eat and entertainment for anyone left at the surface. Neither is an accommodation by the park and tours can last two hours.

4) Stairs are numerous and some areas are super narrow. Seriously, there are a lot of steps, nearly all of them going down, which makes it a rather easy tour, but if your knees are wonky, I wouldn’t recommend. Another reason you can’t carry your kid. Not to mention some places so narrow, I wonder how our guide, a park ranger, made it through without removing his hat.

5) It’s cool down there. A sweatshirt or jacket or you’ll be miserably cold. I wore shorts, but with my jacket, it was perfect. Doodicus is warm blooded, so his layered shirts worked great.

6) No flip flops, sandals or heels. You’re a danger to yourself and everyone else on the tour.

7) Flash photography is still allowed but they could change that policy at any time. Nothing more dangerous than taking 300 steps down into a cave and some asshole blinds you with his camera flash and you miss a step.

8) Go last. I was that asshole with a camera but somewhere along the line, I read a tip from someone else when visiting the caves. With Doodicus and I last in line, we didn’t have the pressure from people behind us. The ranger stressed the importance of staying with the group, but it was nice to have a couple extra seconds to take a picture without someone breathing down my neck. I think this tip made the difference between Doodicus really enjoying the tour to just finding it “meh”.

The exterior of The Wind Cave Visitor’s Center
The natural entrance to The Wind Caves. That’s it…just a hole not much wider than my 10 year old’s shoulders.
The first gate installed to the Wind Caves, but there’s an external door that’s actually an air-lock. Once in, these are locked. The only way out is at the other end of the tour.
Details not caught unless using flash: reinforcements to the ceiling.
A sampling of what makes these caves so special: rare boxwork. It’s impossible to describe how beautiful it is.
This is a shot looking UP towards the stairwell we’d come from. A handful of steps among the over 300 on this tour. See? The advantage to being last of the tour group!
One of the few steps we had to go UP. An elevator actually takes everyone back to the surface.

 

Why Coventry Healthcare of Nebraska Insurance Sucks

For the past 13 years I have dealt in some form or fashion with medical insurance companies on what I would loosely term, a "professional" basis. My work depends on knowing the systems they have in place to capture maximum reimbursement and maintain compliance.

Exciting shit, right there.

It makes dealing with insurance companies, like Coventry Healthcare of Nebraska, on a personal level that much more frustrating when I know I’m getting the shaft and there just seems to be no where to turn.

In April, we saw Dr. Hairy, the psychiatrist, who then prescribed the Vyvanse for Doodicus. With Coventry Healthcare of Nebraska, they required Dr Hairy to submit a pre-authorization before they would pay for the prescription, and at $230 out-of-pocket, I was thankful that the doctor informed me that he would take care of the auth.

That appointment was on a Thursday. I dropped off the script on Friday. On Monday, the pharmacy called me to let me know they hadn’t received the paperwork THEY needed, so they refaxed it to Dr. Hairy. By Wednesday, we were still without a prescription for Doodicus so I bucked it up and paid for it with the knowledge that once the pharmacy and the doctor and the insurance company, Coventry Healthcare of Nebraska, got their shit together, I would get a refund.

Days and days and days passed. On May 1st, we were covered by a new plan through our employer, who switched because they found out that the rumors about Coventry Healthcare of Nebraska were true: Coventry Healthcare of Nebraska sucks.

But still, I didn’t worry. The script was written prior to the termination. It was logged by the pharmacy prior to the termination. And it was initially received and subsequently denied prior to the termination of Coventry Healthcare of Nebraska. We were all just waiting for them to reprocess based on the auth Dr. Hairy, whose office I had communicated with several times in regards to the issue, had completed and faxed to Coventry Healthcare of Nebraska. But then word came from Dr. Hairy’s office that the auth hadn’t reached Coventry Healthcare of Nebraska until AFTER the termination date so they denied it.

I was furious. I made several phone calls, each one to Coventry Healthcare of Nebraska more frustrating and helpless than the last. I was told several times over that it didn’t matter when my doctor wrote the prescription, their benefits would be determined by when THEY received it. I asked what would happen if a patient was given a prescription on a Friday afternoon and the earliest office hours the doctor had was Monday and that the policy was terminated sometime on the weekend. They said they wouldn’t cover it.

Even though the patient, the policy holder, the premium payer, could no more control the situation than he could control the phases of the moon, he was the one getting fucked over. Fucked over by Coventry Healthcare of Nebraska and their unjust and unreasonable policy.

Maybe Dr. Hairy didn’t send it in until after my termination date, but it shouldn’t matter one iota. The script was written under policy coverage, therefore Coventry Healthcare of Nebraska should by all accounts covered those orders. The appeals process has dried up because while Dr. Hairy has proof that he faxed the auth prior to the termination date, Coventry Healthcare of Nebraska states that according to their documents, they did not record the receipt of the fax until after the term date.

What else can I say, but to conclude, You Suck Acne-Poxed & Hemorrhoid-Infused Ass, Coventry Healthcare of Nebraska. Our corporation is sooooo much better off without you.

Spiders

While waiting for my daughter’s swim lesson to begin, we were sitting on a bench that has a view of the pool and the classes already in session. During a moment of distraction, I suddenly clapped my hands together, cupping them as if holding something small and delicate. Of course, when Aitch noticed this she was quickly by my side asking breathlessly, "What is it?"

I whispered back, "It’s a spider!"

She let out a frightened squeak, pulled her hands and arms back into herself, and skittered back from me a few steps. "Throw it away!" she commanded.

"Oh, no. Why don’t you come and take a look. He won’t hurt you."

She locked one of her elbows so her hand was straight out in front of her, shielding herself from my still clasped hands. I tried coaxing some more and she only protested more, but each time taking a tiny step closer, sometimes pacing a half-circle perimeter around me, possibly in hopes of catching a safer glimpse of the non-existent spider protected in my grasp.

When she was within arm’s reach I suddenly threw open my hands as if I was throwing a ball to her. She jumped back again and let out an ear-piercing screech that could have peeled wallpaper, which she cut short when she gasped accusingly, "Mama! There’s no spider!" She giggled as I wiggled my fingers like the legs of a spider towards her face.

I told the story to Sparring Partner who simply called me mean as he laughed.

That night – actually well into the small hours of the next day – Aitch woke up crying, "Mom! Moooomm! Mom!!" I found her sitting up in her bed, positioned on her knees. "What’s wrong, hon?" "I had a bad dream about spiders!"

I fluffed her pillow, smoothed the blankets, and patted the mattress gently, "The nightmare is all over. Let’s lie back down, OK?" She shook her head with enough force to send wisps of her long hair back and forth across her face, many sticking to her sweaty brow. I smoothed them away, careful not to tangle them in her eyelashes. "Would you like me to lay down with you?" She answered with a silent nod. I borrowed her ladybug pillow and laid down on the very edge of the bed planning to peel away easily once she was settled, again patting the mattress beside me.

She shook her head, but this time more gently, her eyes drowsily half-way closed. I lifted my arms to her and she curled up on top of me, her head, now cool and dry, resting heavily in the nook of my shoulder, and the length of her body on mine. Her legs and feet resting at an angle to mine and on her bed. I pulled her blanket up over us and wrapped my arms around her, sighing with resolution and exhaustion, taking in the faint smell of chlorine, shampoo and perspiration. Her deep breaths signaling she had already fallen back asleep.

My joke earlier in the day had backfired on me. And yet it hadn’t.

I can’t get no satisfaction.

There were many fantastic parts about our trip to the Black Hills that I loved, but unfortunately our hotel was so disappointing, it pretty much obliterated any warm, fuzzy feelings I should be having about the trip.

When I booked the hotel room, our intent was to get adjoining rooms, which we’ve easily done in the past. This hotel had connecting rooms, but they were already booked, so I went ahead and took two non-adjoining rooms and kept checking for cancellations. When we arrived, I happily discovered that the suite with one living room area and two King beds and two baths was available for all but one of the nights of our stays. I scooped it up, especially when I was told it even be a little cheaper than two separate rooms.

I imagined that the suite would be beautifully appointed, clean, secure. It was anything but. I was happy to be able to leave it every morning for outings.

Since our return home I made a phone call to the hotel, and when that was nonproductive, I filed a formal complaint on-line. When that also was responded to and subsequently rejected, I requested the next up on the chain of command.

While I’m sure you would all be riveted by the details of not only the state of the room and the specifics of the phone call and emails (riveted, I say!), I will wait until this has been resolved, one way or another before exposing more.

What I want to know is have you ever had stayed someplace you were severely disappointed in; and then did you request an adjustment? Did you have any luck resolving the issue in your favor?

And whatever happened to Customer Satisfaction?

When you gotta go, you gotta go.

We went to Black Hills National Park in South Dakota last week and maybe at some point in the near future, I will tell how this trip, via a minivan, was just as shockingly expensive as a trip, by plane, to Disney World.

However, this post is about two things I thought I could avoid exposing my children to…wait, make that one thing. Maybe two. I’m not sure. How about a compromise? Two things that revolve around ONE thing: pee.

There are several places to pull over to take in the amazing views when you take the Interior Loop through Badlands National Park (and you most definitely should at least once in your life) and we did just that. There are very few amenities, which is probably why I liked the Badlands – no tourist traps. At one of the stops we made, there were bathrooms, but they were nothing more than permanent outhouses (no flushing toilets). The kids were both so excited to explore and climb in the area, that we headed straight out. In fact, I hadn’t even noticed the little concrete building when we parked the car.

The kids (and Sparring Partner) gave me mini-strokes as they ran for the rocky edges with sheer drop-offs that were no less than a hundred feet straight down, and usually into another series of pointy edges before dropping off again. There are a few barriers but they are basically token attempts at safety. The rest of the paths probably started as bighorn sheep paths, from what I could gather. I took charge of looking after Aitch who kept pulling me behind her while I had a deathgrip on her hand. We had almost reached the furthest point one could go on foot when she stopped to inform me she had to go potty.

If it had been possible, I would have shuffled her off behind a bush or boulder, but there was nothing. That’s when Sparring Partner told me there’s a bathroom back at the parking lot. I turned to look from where we had come and felt my shoulders slump. We were making a sprint back that way, and Aitch is doing the international sign for “I gotta pee!” (hand between legs), which is slowing us down. So I pick her up and ask her not to pee on me. She said she really, REALLY had to go. We reach the steps. There are only about a thousand to climb (maybe just four or five floors, but still). I put her back down and we make it up the steps in record time and miraculously, to the bathroom without an accident.

This only has one thing to do with exposing my kids to something I really had hoped to avoid, and that one thing is that while Aitch used the bathroom before we got back on the road, Doodicus did not.

We loaded up and headed down the road a little further to take in another scenic view when Dood announced HE had to go to the bathroom. It happened to be in one of the areas there was no where to go. There were no safe places to hike to that would obscure him from public view. He’s about to bust and there’s no way of knowing if there is anything at the next stop so I do something I never imagined: I emptied a gatorade bottle, sat him in the van with the doors closed, and told him to fill it. And to make sure the top was on TIGHT when he’s done.

Rest assured that at the next stop, the bottle was disposed of quickly.

A few days later we were on the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park. FYI: pretty but a little stressful with two children who are bored and tired and dad who won’t let them color or play video games for fear of missing the herd of buffalo. For what it’s worth, one does not simply “miss” one of the largest herds of bison in the world. There are no bathrooms on this route, but there is little traffic, which equals more privacy. So there we were, right in the middle of the 18 mile trek when Aitch announces SHE has to go potty. Our only option? Show her how to “cop a squat”.

I had her take off her shoes – for obvious reasons – and explained the concept to her, assuring her that I would hold her so she wouldn’t fall…and then that was that.

With those two experiences (and now I have the lyrics, “If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do…”), you can rest assured that I am arming them with the skills to survive in the wild.