Ever since my mom was admitted to hospice, I've been fighting a battle with my insurance company about FMLA days. Since a large majority of my time is spent at my parent's house with caregiving duties, working a 40 hour work week has been pretty darn impossible. Luckily the law has coverage for those of us who find themselves in this kind of a bind; FMLA - Family Medical Leave Act. A person can take up two 12 weeks off in a rolling year, keep their benefits, and face no negative effects from their employer.
After mom went into hospice, I filled out the paperwork, got the hospice doctor and social worker to sign off on it, and sent it in. (Meanwhile accruing FMLA days because, hello, only 24 hours in a day, and I can't spend 8 of them at work while my mom's bedridden.) Insurance company kicked it back for clarification. Filled out clarification, got it signed and sent in, ins company kicked it back again. My mom's social worker (the EVER so awesome woman she is) wrote a letter of clarification and faxed it in herself. Finally got approved for leave.
Now, here's the catch. While approved OVERALL for FMLA, Insurance company had yet to put their stamp of approval on each of my missed days from work. Which meant that, to my employer, I had a whole CHUNK of sick days (and since we're only allowed 6 a year, you can GUESS how well that was going over.)
This morning, I finally, FINALLY, got ahold of the actual agent who is handling my claim. Not someone in the call center, not an answering service, THE actual agent. And boy, am I sure glad that I did. I explained everything to him, told him what was happening, told him why the back-and-forth was so problematic...and actually got a sympathetic ear. You don't want to hear all the details, I promise, but let's just say that he's had a family member in hospice before, knows the drill, and he and I worked EVERYTHING out.
I feel like a HUGE weight has been lifted off my shoulders! With everything ELSE that I have to stress about in my life, dealing with insurance paperwork was just one thing that was pushing me over the edge. I've been stressing about possibly losing my job, on top of everything else. Now, that's one worry that's gone.
I have to say, though, this whole thing has been one giant exercise in perspective. Too often, we fill our lives with things that, let's be honest, simply don't matter. Focusing on silly fights, gossip, he-said/she-said, who's wearing this, who said that...it's all just petty stuff. My family and my friends are what REALLY matter. I can lose my job, sure, but that's not nearly as terrifying as losing my mom, so was I willing to continue racking up unapproved FMLA days so that I could be with her? You're damn straight, I was.
I keep getting asked over and over; "how on earth can you DEAL with all of this?" The answer is, you just DO it. Because what other option is there? It involves a lot of sleepless nights, strong drinks, big tears, boxes of kleenex, and the best friends and family a girl could ever have, and I DO it.
And, I'll be honest. I think that I scare people. No one wants to imagine themselves watching someone they love deteriorate in front of their eyes, and being powerless to stop it. I've had friends pull away from be because it's just too real to deal with, and that's okay. Believe me, I understand the inclination.
But then on the other hand, this has brought me even closer to the other friends and family in my life. Their love and strength keep me going, and I don't know where I'd be without them.