Archive for December, 2010

Revision surgery date has arrived

Two days ago, my ENT’s office called with some very good news. Not only had my surgery been approved a few days ago by DARS, but my doc’s office called to set the date for the actual procedure.

Let me pause to do my happy dance.

Wait.

I can’t dance.

So enter the bad news. The only surgery date they had available for this year, was December 23rd. Scratch that. They really didn’t have a surgery date available at all, but my doc was going to go in on the 23rd, during one of his days off for Christmas vacation, specifically to do my surgery.

My first reaction was pure, unadulterated joy. I could actually do this before Christmas and be able to hear by February. How great is that?! My mom had texted me, because the office had actually called her to see if that date was ok, and I replied an immediate yes. Let’s do it!

But after the rush of excitement settled, I realized that the date was two days before Christmas. It’s also the day of my church’s Christmas service, and in case I’ve yet to say so, my husband is a pastor. That certainly wasn’t a deciding factor. I mean, I’ve done this surgery before, so it’s not like my husband even has to be the one there during surgery. He could probably make it to the surgery, if he wanted to, and still do the Christmas service, with or without me. The many friends and family that make up our congregation have been with us through the whole process and would certainly be very understanding if I wasn’t present.

But.

The kids.

Our kids.

My three year old little girl and my four year old little boy.

Could I honestly choose to have my surgery two days before Christmas on the first year that they’ll both finally be old enough to enjoy Christmas? Let me tell ya, that decision was one of the hardest I’ve made in a very long time. This surgery is not just for me, it’s for all of us, and while I’m nearly beside myself with the anticipation of finally, finally having this revision surgery done, I just couldn’t do it so close to Christmas.

My surgery date has been irrevocably set for January 14, 2011. Cue angelic music.

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Much ado about nothing. Or that’s what I thought yesterday.

It’s funny.

It’s pretty stinkin’ hilarious.

It’s just craaaaazy to think that I still don’t have a second surgery date yet. Isn’t it?

Ok fine, that’s a joke in itself, but never fear because the end is near.

The last few weeks have just flown for me. I realize I’ve been incredibly absent here, but frankly, I just didn’t have the heart to write. I’ve been placing all of my energy in not thinking about the fact that I can’t hear during this otherwise lovely season. Christmas. My favorite time of year. I know so many people who pride themselves in shopping exclusively online for Christmas, but I used to just love walking into the grocery or department store and listening to the familiar sounds of the newest version of an age-old Christmas carol. It always just put a skip in my step and happy little smirk on my face that I just didn’t get any other time of the year. It’s just always been such a happy season for me.

Granted, I’ve not heard Christmas carols for some time now, but this year it’s so much more work to not miss hearing them. I don’t ask myself why, because I know why. The hearing world was just dangling within reach a few short months ago, only to be yanked away rather too quickly.

It reminds me of dieting. I love sugar. Dessert. All things sweet. So you can imagine that I very rarely keep sugar in my house that tempts me. If I don’t keep it here at the house, then I don’t have to worry about satisfying those cravings too often. Makes sense, right? But this thing with my implant not working is so hard to deal with. I’m walking around with a sixty thousand dollar implant in my head that’s supposed to fix my hearing, a big fat piece of chocolate cake sitting in front of me, but I have no fork! Frustrating for sure. I can’t figure how the analogy of digging into the cake with my hands would relate, so we just won’t go there. Besides, I don’t like getting my hands dirty anyway.

So many many moons ago, I found that my case never went to Austin. I also now realize that the fill-in caseworker (Caseworker Jane) never actually stated that my case went to Austin. I’ve spent the past few days digging through all my emails, printing everything printable, and it looks as though Caseworker Jane only sent my case to a local medical examiner. However, my actual caseworker, Caseworker Jezabel (who is back in the office), has an assistant. Ms. Assistant lady did assure my mom that the file had gone to Austin. So somewhere someone is lyin’ or just uninformed. Or confused. I know I am.

Up until yesterday, I still had no idea if the case was, in fact, ever in Austin. The day Caseworker Jezabel returned, she told my mom that it was weird that Caseworker Jane even requested the CT scan, or even sent my file to a medical examiner, because it should have just gone straight to Austin for approval. Caseworker Jezabel also informed my mom that she sent off the paperwork to Austin on November 17th. Fourteen days ago as of yesterday. And all I wanted to know was that Austin has it this time around. Was that too much to ask? I really don’t think so.

So here’s why I’ve been AWOL. My city has a Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. They do lots of stuff like support groups, seminars, technology info, and just all sorts of information for anything related to being Deaf of Hard of Hearing. When I first pursued an interest in the Cochlear Implant, I met with the woman, Karen, who is over the Center. Super nice lady. Mature, probably in her sixties, and a very no-nonsense type person, but has a very big heart for people looking into CI, simply because she’s also had the surgery and has been very happy with it. My mom and I made another appointment to talk with her again a week ago, and she was very helpful. She showed a genuine interest in the difficulties that we’ve had. She went so far as to tell me that on Friday a lady from Austin, who deals with the approval that I need, would be at the Center for a training seminar. Karen told me to print off any and all emails, correspondence, and typed up phone conversations and to make a report with all of this information. Handed to her, Karen would personally give the report to the woman coming from Austin. Sounds fab, right?

I spent a great many hours over the past week getting all this information together and lo and behold… I found out on Wednesday that the lady from Austin was no longer coming to town. No, I will not have a major meltdown. Won’t happen!

It was certainly not Karen’s fault. She was being so gracious to offer, and she did still say that if I give her the information, she’d gladly send it to Austin personally. But my mom and I decided to go a different direction. Granted, I did still take the full finalized report to Karen today, but my mom and I decided that we just didn’t want to wait another day, another week, or another month for the paperwork to change hands to the right person. I’m so grateful for people as kind as Karen, but I just couldn’t be patient any longer.

So yesterday my mom and I found a DARS information line. My mom called it and was referred to a lady in management at Caseworker Jezabel’s office. We’ll call this lady Ms. Boss. I’d never seen nor heard of Ms. Boss. We’re not sure what her position is in the office, but we did know that she was somewhere in the hierarchy above both Caseworker Jezabel and Jane, which was deserving enough for us to call. When my mom explained to Ms. Boss what was going on with my case, how we didn’t know where it was, what the status was, and that couldn’t get anyone to return our calls or emails, Ms. Boss told my mom that she would have to review the file and assured my mom that she would have someone from the office call on the following day to update us. Huh.

My mom is a miracle worker. I’ve said that once, right? Well my mom didn’t really feel like beating around the bush with Ms. Boss lady, so she got right to the point and asked Ms. Boss who would be returning the call. Ms. Boss said that either the assistant to my caseworker or Caseworker Jane would be returning the call.

Gee-golly I think we’ve come full circle now, haven’t we?

And my mom knew it and didn’t skip a beat. She told Ms. Boss that she had already spoken with Caseworker Jane’s and the assistant caseworker’s voicemails, and that either of them returning the call just wasn’t going to work for us. My mom informed Ms. Boss of the extensive report that I have created and told her that we are working on sending it to our local congressman, our local new stations, and local newspapers if we didn’t hear something about my case very soon. Fact is, we’re not going to twiddle our thumbs around here anymore.

I don’t know what Ms. Boss said, but within a few hours, Caseworker Jane called my mom and said that she had taken the case back from Caseworker Jezabel and that she would get something done. She wasn’t fibbing this time around, because at 7:30am this morning, Caseworker Jane called my mom to let her know that she had the approval from Austin on the way and that she would personally go out to the Arlington offices, which schedule the surgeries, and she would get everything taken care of today.

Who knew a few threats tossed around could do so much? I can’t say that those threats were empty, because really they weren’t. And aren’t. I really don’t want to see my face on the news, and who knows how long it would take a congressman to get to my pile of mail, but I did make ten copies of my report today, and I plan on mailing every one of those to people who should be informed with what is going down in that office.

And let me say this. I don’t do revenge. It’s not about that at all. I’ve been known to hold a grudge, but my purpose has never been, and never will be to judge someone myself. I’m frustrated with what’s gone on at DARS and every single caseworker, assistant caseworker, or management we’ve spoken to, with the exclusive exception of Karen at the Center, but what remains is that I have no idea what has happened behind the scenes. What if Caseworker Jane thought I was wacky for contacting her about my case status when Caseworker Jezabel is the one supposedly handling it? What if Ms. Boss lady had no idea that any of this had been happening from day one?

I can’t blame any one individual, because I simply don’t know who is the cause. But I do know that something is very wrong with the communication within that office and I want someone to know it. I feel I have a moral obligation, not to myself, but to the hundred other people who may be trying to get the same assistance I am and are just as frustrated as I have been. And what if people have just given up and not stood their ground like we did? How many have slipped through the cracks of the system?

Those are the reasons I sent my report out, advertise to as many as I can, to please, please help the people that walk through the doors of that office. It’s not their fault. They deserve so much more.