And the Beat Goes On, with a New Drummer

So a couple weeks ago my son Nicholas (the 17-year-old) started feeling a pain in his lower abdomen.  He ate a little, then felt woozy and went to lie down.  This was the same day City First decided to relieve me of my duties as the PR Director, in a move that surprised me and practically everyone at the company, and thereby left me without steady income and with nothing in the mortgage pipeline, having used up my last four months doing things for City First corporate instead of my clients.  So that night we had a few things going on, and just like when we had that last medical disaster, we were a bit distracted.

This time, though, we were smart enough that we left our charity meeting early, so we could get home and check on Nicholas, whom I was mortally certain was having an appendicitis, because sometimes you get in a groove (or in this case, a rut) and you know what’s coming, no matter how unlikely that particular event is.

Note: The other time in my life I felt like that was when I was a senior in high school in the lower deck of the Rome airport.  I heard a crash and a bang from the deck above me, and I turned to my father and said “that’s a terrorist attack”.  And it was.

When we got home, Nick was in a good deal more pain, and Jeanette called the InstaCare to ask a couple of questions.  The answers made her think I was probably right, and took him over.  They spent about ninety seconds with him and said “get over to the emergency room”.  Having had a fairly mixed experience with American Fork, we went instead to Timpanogos, the next hospital south.

And it was appendicitis.  It hadn’t burst yet, but it was in the neighborhood, so they doped him up on morphine and scheduled the surgery.  Another surgery.  We went 20 years without a single one of any kind for any thing, and then we have two of them in three months.

So they did the laparoscopic procedure, and Nick has a couple of cute scars.  It took a week for him to get even part of the way back, but he rallied thereafter and is doing fine now.  I can’t thank his friends enough.  There were a steady stream of them for days, and that meant a great deal to Nick, to know that they cared about him.

Not life-threatening, then.  But expensive.  Oh, this one is REALLY expensive.  We thought the Gabriel thing was bad.  This one makes that one look like a couple of bucks at the local lemonade stand.  We do not have the entire bill yet, and it’s already twice what Gabriel’s was.

Couple that with the loss of about $4000 a month of steady income, and things could be fairly dire.  But ‘cept, as my sisters used to say, Jeanette and I felt strongly last month that even though we had not paid off all the debt from Gabriel’s broken femur, we needed to get some defense in place in case something else happened.  We really couldn’t afford any sort of insurance, and believe me, we looked.  We still adamantly refuse to accept any federal or state assistance.  But there was one other option, brought to our attention by our good friends the Harmons, called Christian Healthcare Ministries.

Tomorrow, or possibly Wednesday, I’ll  discourse a bit on what insurance is and is not, but this group provides what I would call actual insurance, at a reasonable cost.  There are quite a few of these kinds of groups out there, but most of them will not take Mormons.  Really.  They’re born-again, evangelical groups that think Mormons are essentially worshipping a different God, and therefore exclude us from their cost-sharing program.  CHM thinks differently, Heaven bless them.

The way it works, we negotiate as hard as we can – and at this point, we are getting pretty good at it – and that discount becomes part of our “initial contribution” (for most people, that’s a “deductible”, but this isn’t “insurance”, so it’s called something else).  Then CHM pays the rest, up to a maximum per event per person of $250,000.  Nick is expensive, but not that expensive.  We’ve so far negotiated about $20k of cost reductions (it’s a BIG bill, people), which is way over our $5000 “contribution”, so if this works the way it’s supposed to, we’ll pay…nothing.  Really.

Our monthly cost for the program is $185.

Potentially, then, catastrophe averted.  It will still be hard, because that lost income isn’t coming back any time soon, but we lived pretty well on commissions from mortgages before, and we can do it again, I think, no matter what the market is like.  Thank goodness we didn’t close the Lehi office.

So many of you have written or called or posted to Facebook or what have you, and I’m grateful beyond words.  Thank you.  You make it a lot easier to keep my head up.

Further updates as events warrant.

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And because we get asked this about three times a day, let me say that Gabriel is doing really well.  He still refuses to use the potty, but in all other respects he’s just as he was before the accident.  He clearly – based on some of his acrobatics recently – has no memory of the event whatsoever.  That’s a great blessing and we are thankful.

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