The New Normal


Change is a part of life. Some changes are harder than others. In the past few years, there have been many changes in my life. 

Yesterday I had an appointment with my ankle surgeon. He had me press hard against his hand in various instances. And pronounced that he was very, very pleased. I have strength in pushing against his hand. He said yesterday was a big improvement. I could see the pleasure on his face.

He smiled. 

I listened through ears that are like speakers that lose their sound from time to time, then crackle back. I sometimes feel that I am underwater and I'm trying to listen to the world where everyone else is above water. 

It has been two weeks and three days since the ear injury. But I still don't understand why both ears are involved. I have an appointment with the ENT doctor I recently saw next week. 

I had no idea, for all you people with hearing issues out there, though hopefully mine is temporary, that it makes you feel so vulnerable. That there is lots of confusion involved because you can't tell where sound is coming from. 

This ENT doctor is out of my network, because no one else could be found the day before a holiday, and I was in a lot of pain. 

So yesterday I called BCBS of Oklahoma and said I needed help trying to find someone in my network. For some reason these days, there never seems to be a cut and dried answer. 

I can call a doctor's office and read from my insurance card and ask if they take my insurance, and they don't know. Call BCBS, they tell me. Who in turn tell me to call doctors' offices.



I called BCBS yesterday, and tell them that in the options for specialists, there is no Ear, Nose & Throat doctor in the list. I ask them what to do? I tell them I think perhaps it falls under Otolaryngologists

They put me on hold. They come back and tell me that what I need to look under is Opthalmologists. 

I tell them, no, that isn't right. 

Yes, they tell me, it is. They checked. 

I am losing patience. I promise you, I tell them, that that is incorrect. They put me on hold. They come back and tell me that no, I need to look under Opthalmologists. 

I sit and ponder what to say next. This is an insurance company. I am speaking to a representative of said insurance company. And they don't know what an opthalmologist is. They think they are doctors that treat the ear, nose and throat.

I am frustrated. I call various ENTs I find online and ask if they take my coverage. Once again, they don't know. They tell me to call my insurance company, who is going to tell me to call opthalmologists. 

I wonder how many people they send to an opthalmologist who in fact has ear problems?

I feel like I've been on a roller coaster, and once I step off, I am a bit dizzy. The world seems to be off balance. 

I can't take anymore, so I give up for now. I can only handle so much frustration, which is coupled with the fact that my hearing, for now, is impaired. I am tired. 



My brace for my ankle came in yesterday. I was exhausted from driving in the boot, so had come home and sunk into a bathtub of warm water, trying to relax. 

I hear the phone ring, and the man who sculpted my leg for an exact replica to have my brace made, told me he would bring it to me to make sure it fit. I am ever so thankful. It is after hours and the traffic would be brutal

This is what he brings in...



This is my new normal. 

This is what the surgeon has been working toward. It is a very hard brace from the ankle around to the other ankle. You lace it up over a sock, and then put a sneaker over it. 

He had me get a shoe. It will not fit. He tells me to order one in a size larger so it will accommodate the brace. And I get online and do so once he's gone. 

I have been waiting weeks for this brace to be made for me. My $1300 brace that is, my surgeon assures me, an improvement over a boot. And I should not get in trouble, should I get stopped, for being in what is considered an incapacitating driving situation with a boot that goes up to knees.



I am thankful for an option. Sometimes, if you don't count your blessings, you will go crazy. But I grieved a bit. The brace is hard as rock. I wonder if I can ever grow accustomed to something that hard that fits solidly against my foot. And wear it every single day.

For $1300, I certainly hope so. 

I think of my closet with the plastic boxes full of shoes I once wore. I think what it was like to simply reach up and grab a pair of shoes and slip them on. A cushy leather loafer. A pretty little sandal. 

Not my normal anymore. They sit on the shelf with dust collected on the lids. I keep them because I hold out hope, I suppose.

Suddenly I want to cry. Out of frustration, and loss and that everything I used to do, seems so much more difficult now. That today, after driving around town yesterday, means I have a lot of pain in my ankle and it is hard to walk at all. 

Then I catch myself and am reminded that so many people are much worse off. And that I shouldn't fall into the doldrums and feel sorry for myself. 

There is always someone worse off. 

Always. 

So I must now accept my new normal. And move on.

105 comments

  1. Oh. My. Gosh. You are handling a lot. Lots and lots. That new boot is terrible. I let one "HA" when I saw it. The ears and the boot. If I were you I'd be drinking, and I am a Mormon. You are in my prayers.
    Tana

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    1. Looks like something women wore in the 1800s, huh? Every time I go into the kitchen, where I have it placed on the table in the dining space, I just stand and look at it. Hoping one day I will call that thing friend.

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  2. I think the ears would be the worst of it. The boot is what it is and hopefully in time, you will come to love it. But your hearing is more important than wearing sandals. But that is my opionion. No, the worst was the insurance company. OMG. Do they have high school students working there? Oh, Brenda...try to keep your spirits up. I know it is better said than done. Hugs to you.

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    1. I called BCBS of OK this morning because in the mail yesterday, I was notified that my insurance had gone up yet again. And it had already doubled effective January 1. My deductible went from $500 to $2500. I keep telling myself, please just let the ear heal. Because I cannot afford anything else. I can't bear to ask them again about the ENT doctors yet. I think I will go through the roof if I get the answer I did yesterday.

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  3. What SHE Said ! :)

    Seriously I'd try to call back another day since the same idiot that can't tell the difference between an eye doctor and ear / nose/ throat one might not answer the phone this time.

    And Brenda...are you using the speaker on your phone now and not putting it up to your ear, which I'd never do again!

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    1. No, I hadn't even thought of that. I don't even know if my phone has it. I will look immediately. I will call back another day. But I need to wait a little bit because my patience is thin with them and I fear I will scream at someone.

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    2. Seems my phone does not have a speaker feature...

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  4. My heart aches for you. I've been belly-aching about the aches in my feet, especially the one that was once broken and now will not allow me to wear heels. But I can still wear shoes; I can still walk short distances; I am better off than you are in that regard. And now the hearing. Oh dear! I cry for you. I'll be praying that things will improve quickly for you. Take care, my friend.

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    1. And then I must look at those who are in a wheel chair or have had legs amputated, and I must feel grateful. And so it goes...

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  5. Brenda-Hoping the new normal isn't so bad and will get better. I don't blame you for being at your wits end with the Insurance co. Sending good mojo your way!

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    1. Poor Judy. I called her after the debacle conversation with the insurance company yesterday. She listened to me go on and on as she was putting oily peanut butter through her three year old great-granddaughter's hair, because she had found a pack of gum and it was stuck throughout. I imagine she wanted to hang the phone up on me, as she was at her wit's end as well!

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  6. So sorry for all you are going through Brenda. Insurance companies are full of idiots. The whole medical organization is a mess. I can't even get a blood pressure medication from my doctor that doesn't call extreme side effects. Frustrating. My husband has hearing problems in his left ear along with diminished vision in his left eye resulting from cancer surgery. My heart goes out to him, everything is different for him now. Praying that things will one day improve for you and you'll be able to wear those sandals again.

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    1. I think of your husband, and must be grateful that this is an ankle and not cancer. Always have to look forward and then backward and realize everyone has troubles.

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  7. this was beautiful in so many ways, but for the most part because its brutal honesty. i've always been a "look on the sunny side of the street" kind of person, but over the years, and i've shared this with my daughters, and grand girls, that the sunny side is still the best side of the street, but when you are going through changes, encountering hardships, feeling pain (mental or physical), you have to honor that pain, describe that pain, give it a voice, call it some names, flesh it all the way out, in, under and through and really own it, and then you move on to the sunny side of the street, or you watch the sunny side of the street from your still dark side of the street, and know that some day you will get there. there are the "new normals" in life, and none of it is ever easy, but to consciously note what you are going through as you move through it and past it is a rare gift to a person's well being. you've done that here, named your pains in the butt (this time, your ear and foot), called out their not so pleasant characteristics, honored them, owned them, etc. it's very empowering and all who are reading are really, really blessed by your ability to do this. i've just spent a day running errands with my mom (she's 74, newly widows and doing all the driving because my hands/recently having had surgery) are not up to that task yet. we shopped, did this or that "to do" on our lists, and i did the best i could with the nearly normal right hand and the still struggling left hand, then came home "hand exhausted" and thought, "ok, you've got this, rally," because there are still hours left in this day. and then i read this, and oh how it helped, because this is exactly the way in which i like to process things, calling them out up front, naming them, honoring them, owning them and putting them away in order to continue healing, in order to constantly embrace the "new normals," in order to truly be thankful. i wish you all the more healing and centering in as you work through all of this, and as i said, you really must know in how many ways your blog is the sunny side of the street incarnate! take good care of you.

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    1. I emailed you. I read this twice and then I cried. So grateful am I that people like you understand and don't make me feel ashamed for groaning over it. I too have to groan a bit over it, cry, grieve, and then straighten my shoulders and plunder on.

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    2. Really perfectly said. Thank you!

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  8. I am so sorry. You are going through a lot right now. I go through periods where I think that life is unfair...and it is...but I don't know what heartache and burdens someone else is going through.
    I hope that your hearing will improve, and I'm glad that the surgeon is pleased with your progress.

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    1. I felt elated when he said he was so pleased. As though I had gotten a perfect grade in school. If only that would translate into a perfect ankle. But then life is full of trials, and this is but one.

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  9. Brenda, you are in my thoughts and prayers. I come to your blog every day to find out how you and the pups are doing and if things are okay with y'all. I wish you were my neighbor, I'd check in on you every day, run your errands and generally watch after you....on your terms, of course I also think you need a great big hug...so here's a great big hug from me to you.

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    1. Everyone is so busy. I wish you did live close to me. And I am grateful for that hug!

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  10. Look at the bright side, Brenda. You may start a whole new trend in footwear! I'm sorry you're going through a rough patch (on top of having to deal with idiots at your insurance office). But look around the home you've made for yourself and hug the pupsters and think of all the friends you've made through your blog; those are very good things.

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    1. Yes, that's how I get through it. I have so much abundance in my life! Not to mention the pupsters!

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  11. I too wish we were neighbors. I would check on you and help in anyway.
    The crazy insurance companies....I try to do as much looking and checking online as possible. Some practices will list insurance they accept online.

    Hope you find one to help. Good luck and big hugs to you, Janie

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    1. Thank you. I have found any yet that list the insurance carriers they will accept.

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  12. I think of you often during the day, wondering how you are doing. I'm so sorry that you had to go through such an ordeal. It's one thing after another, isn't it? I wish your life would become calm, instead of so crazy. Your patience and strength always impress me. On a brighter note, I'm so happy that your doctor is pleased about your ankle. Thinking of you...

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    1. I hope you have sunny days to keep you smiling soon. Yes, it does test one's patience. I'm beginning to wonder if they hire people who don't even finish high school.

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    2. Thank you for your kind words, Brenda. I truly wish I could help you on a daily basis. So frustrating for me!

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  13. I'm sorry to hear about all you are going through right now. I just had a bout of Eustachian tube dysfunction (yes, I Googled to self-diagnose that), and it about drove me batty. It seems to have passed, thankfully, and I hope yours heals in time as well. I talk to insurance companies every Tuesday afternoon as part of my job, and your experience sounds familiarly frustrating. Most companies have a website where you can log in to your plan and search for providers online. Have you tried that? If that is not an option, I would call back (when you feel strong enough to do so) and spell out the specialty and if you don't get a satisfactory answer, ask to speak to the representative's supervisor. As far as medical terms go, sometimes they can be looking at a word like "otolaryngologist" and saying "ophthalmologist" because they can't pronounce the word and default to something familiar. A longshot, but within the realm of possibility. Wishing you all the best.

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    1. I went to the website first, and even though it would name doctors that were within their network, I'd call them (doctors office) and they'd say it was wrong. Or they just don't know. I ask how can you find out, and they tell me to wait until the nurse is back from lunch. I ask them what a nurse knows about insurance? Don't they have someone dedicated to that?

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  14. Gosh I don't think there's anything wrong with feeling the way you do. When you lose something you've had or it changes then there are adjustments to make and feelings go with that. That booth does look like something worn in way back when. I remember when I lost my daughter, I had people tell me I shouldn't share it with anyone because I made them feel uncomfortable. Now I don't. Were have we come in the world where we can look and find some comfort with others we know. It's part of life, to share and comfort. I know I will never see "clear" again. My floaters are horrible, it's like looking through was paper, never clear, and I miss it so. I also still grieve about the fact from surgery I lost feeling in the right side of my face. I have no feeling in my ear lobe (really hinders putting in ear rings) nor under my ear, or a triangle along my face from eat to neck. I still grieve over this loss, and it's normal. What you are feeling is normal, we can grieve losses, we're not saying our is the worse, gosh why does it have to be a contest. I know you were active in your garden etc., your adaption has been wonderful and your garden lovely. I wish you comfort, and hope the boot works out and your ear is better soon! Love ya!

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    1. I think of you sometimes while dealing with this, and all that you went through. I can't imagine someone telling a person not to speak of their dead child due to possible discomfort on their part. That is just downright mean and thoughtless. You're right, if we can't comfort one another, what are we to do?

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    2. Cathy, I'm sorry about the loss of your daughter. We lost our son in 2008. I keep in touch with out of state friends and family through facebook. I had a ''friend" tell me that my posts about my son, loss and grief depressed her. I decided I didn't need that kind of "friend" and removed her. I owe it to my son (and to myself) to grieve our loss and to speak his name and share memories. I'm so grateful for the friends who are comfortable talking to me about my son. I hope you are blessed with a lot of friends like that.

      Brenda, I think you are perfectly justified in feeling grief over your situation. In the past few years, I've badly injured both of my knees and I sure do miss those days when I didn't have to think about whether I could get up & down off the ground or how far I could walk. I think we realize how much our lives have changed since our youth!

      As sad as the situation is with your insurance and trying to find an ENT doctor, I had to chuckle over that numb-skulls insistence you see an ophthalmologist. Sheesh! I wish people would just listen and try to do their job!! I hope you do well with your boot and that your ear heals, quickly!!

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  15. Great photo of an Eastern Phoebe (the sweet little brown bird)! I hope you feel better soon and finding a doctor becomes easier. I'm a newcomer to your blog and delighted to be following you and your fans' posts.

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    1. Well, I thank you because I didn't know what the little brown bird was! I wasn't familiar with seeing it before. Thank you for reading. I cherish my readers!

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  16. What a PITA it is to deal with insurance companies! Hopefully when you call them again, you'll get someone who is on the ball.

    I've bought fashion boots very similar to your new boot so I don't think it's bad looking at all. It doesn't scream "Medical Device!* to me.

    Like they say, getting older ain't for sissies.

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  17. Al always tells me, "Ask for a SUPERVISOR!" Please call Monday and do that. What you got was some young clerk who doesn't know and doesn't care. Meanwhile I'll pray you get this resolved.
    Mary

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    1. She wasn't a young clerk. But I'll try someone else next week.

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  18. Brenda, what can I say except, you are a strong woman and you deserve to cry if you feel like it.. Crying is a form of release so we can cleanse our emotions and come back to fight another day..
    I cry at least once a day and have learned its my body doing what it needs to do for reasons I may never know.. Its those ulgy snubby sobs too-- it aint pretty I tell ya:)
    as for those insurance company reps- they are taught to make it as difficult as possible in hopes you'll just quit asking which you must not do.. as the others have said- ask for a Supervisor and keep asking You paid your premiums and deserve to be answered and treated correctly.
    ps-- as for gum in hair-- mayonnaise is much better to remove it- just work the mayo in and let it work for about 30 mins.. then use paper tows to get it and the gum off,, shampoo in LUKE warm water as hot would set the mayo in and they dont want that,
    love ya bunches

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  19. Eu sei como está se sentindo,estou com uma perda severa de audição,o médico otorrino me disse que daqui a 10 anos terei que usar aparelho no ouvido.e difícil mas terei que me adaptar e aceitar isso,apesar de que vai me impedir de fazer um curso de francês e inglês que queria tanto.

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  20. Thank you for sharing. I found your post encouraging. As for the boot I think that for a medical device it is actually very cute. Think Victorian style.....

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    1. I'll remember that. Might look a bit different with a sneaker over it...

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  21. I'm so sorry to hear of all the health problems you're dealing with now! I am frustrated for you just reading about your ordeal! I hate dealing with insurance companies and specialists! I hope you can get this situation resolved soon. It's good to try to be positive but I understand your pessimism about your situation. That's only normal.

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    1. I alternate between being angry and laughing over the whole thing! Makes for a good laugh.

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  22. I'm sorry to hear what you are going through, too, Brenda...and even though, as you say, there are people who have it worse, you have every right to feel frustrated and down. You ARE going through some hard stuff. And dealing with uninformed people who handle your insurance is not what you need right now. I've had a broken drum before, and it does take quite a while to heal...hopefully you can find an ENT doctor SOON. You need to get a cute boot cuff for that boot.

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    2. Well, I was commenting and it published before I was finished. A cuff would be cute. But don't you think the addition of a sneaker over the black boot/brace would take away from the fashion of the boot cuff? Maybe it will not look so bad. Hey, I've been wearing a huge boot for two and a half years. Couldn't be worse, I suppose!

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  23. Cry those tears, my dear, they will make it easier to live with the frustrations of all the problems you are having. I bet the boot will be a blessing. I have been wearing lace up Ropers that look a lot like that, they are kind of cowboy boot. Ropers just aren't that stiff. They support the ankle and make walking a pleasure. I am a person that can fall off of flip flops, but I never twist my ankle with the lace ups. It may take some getting used to. I can imagine you walking freely, striding really, going about all the things you love to do.

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    1. I've been told, way before this happened, by a podiatrist who treated my right big toe for turf toe, to NEVER go bare-footed or wear flip-flops. He said it was an accident just waiting to happen.

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  24. The medical system is so different in the Stares compared to Canada. Here we pay our monthly $70.00 per person (less per person as you pay for a family) to the Government and then all is paid..all doctor visits, all hospital visits, Surgeries, xrays, MRI's etc. There is no maximum $$ on your health care. As well, if your own GP is unavailable you can go to a walk in clinic, and then that walk in sends their notes of your visit to your GP. If you require a specialist (or more than one) your family dr. sets all that up...you can not call a specialist on your own. Chris from British Columbia, Canada.

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    2. Prescriptions are under a different formula separate from the Medical Services Plan that covers drs., hospital, etc in full. With prescriptions, the government has a plan called Pharmacare, which is free, but you must reach your deductible before the plan cuts in. Everyone has a different deductible, based on income. Low income, very low deductible. Higher income, higher deductible. Our deductible is $1500.00. Once you/your family reach that then Pharmacare cuts in and contributes 80 percent to the cost at the till. Anything not covered by Pharmacare can be used as a deduction on your income tax return. Also if you have private insurance thru work, such as Great West Life, Blue Cross, they cover the 80 per cent that was not covered by Pharmacare as you were waiting for your deductible to accumulate.

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  25. I'm sorry for all of the problems you have been going through. The insurance situation was absolutely
    ridiculous. Hopefully when you call again you will get a representative who is more well versed in
    medical terms. I liked it better back in the days when we received a printed handbook from
    our BCBS. It was easier for me to compare information in a booklet than on line. I understand
    what you are talking about when you speak of things changing. I had to use a cane for a couple of days this
    week because my knee was so bad. Some changes just feel like a downhill slide, don't they. I hope you will be
    be able to find an ENT doctor or otolaryngologist when you call the insurance co next week. I will be sending
    healing thoughts your way. Don't let those insurance company representatives get away with any more baloney!
    You are paying too much money to have to deal with that kind of stuff.

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    1. Yes, why not give us the handbook instead of telling us to go online? Half of the time I go online their website is down.

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  26. I'm having problems posting comment. Looks like failed poetry. Don't know why. Sorry!

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    1. Looks fine to me. Anything I can do to help?

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  27. God bless you, Brenda! I hope you can get some help for your ear problem. I hope the adjustment to the new boot goes well. And, I agree, what has gotten me through some difficult times is that, when you look around, you can always find someone who is worse off. Your good attitude is so admirable. Sometimes a little cry gets rid of those bad brain chemicals, hope it made you feel better. Keep hanging in there, we are all pulling for you!

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    1. What would I ever do without all of you???

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  28. I find it hysterically funny (and somewhat annoying, as well as very scary), that people in the medical field in the U.S. do NOT know the scientific word for ENT physicians or eye doctors, i.e., otolaryngologists, and opthalmologists, respectively! Is it because they are Greek words and phonetically frightening, or simply because they have no clue?? How frustrating this must be, especially when you are desperate to get medical attention for the two health challenges in your life right now. Brenda, I sympathize with you, not only regarding your pain, both physical and emotional, but also for, what seems to be, a constant struggle to be treated properly and swiftly for these ailments by supposed professionals!

    Change is part of life, and when they are good changes, we welcome them, but when they are sudden, shocking, unwanted, or unfortunate, of course, we loathe them, making us feel vulnerable, anxious, or self-pitying. Why do so many people feel that the last of these is shameful? Why can't a person who is experiencing pain of some sort, not sympathize with herself, especially when she chooses not to share her pain with others, for whatever reason? Owning one's emotions, whether they are happy or sad, is a healthy thing to do and the first step towards emotional, and perhaps even, physical improvement. Those steps, taken in doses, are what lead to a full recovery, one of the happiest changes in a person's life.

    Hope you get the medical attention you need asap. In the meantime, that UNIQUE black boot, may have put a temporary dent in your pocketbook, but it also provided a beautiful boost to your ankle, and thus, your independence! Wear it with pride when you finally see that Otolaryngologist, for it is one cheerful change that will bring another...ya hear?! ;))

    Happy weekend, my friend!
    Poppy

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    1. I sent you an email. Sadly, Imagine my surprise when I told her I'd spell it for her and she could look it up, but she refused?

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  29. I'm sorry that you are going through all of this. I'm praying for your healing! I know someone who had the same ear problem and it did heal. Hang on, and take one day at a time. I have an ear condition that makes me feel dizzy all the time. I've had it for 20 years. It's only by God's grace that I can deal with it. When I get frustrated, I bring all my frustrations before the Lord and then I feel better and know that He cares. Know that He has a plan through all of this for you even if you don't understand it right now. Hope you will be feeling better soon.

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  30. I really admire the strength you have to accept things. The doubt only make you human. Thinking of you.

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    1. I used to think I was weak and just could not accept things. I felt afraid. Then I got divorced and learned that I was stronger than I ever thought. Because I stopped believing him, and started believing me.

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  31. Hi Brenda, I wouldn't be surprised if the insurance woman meant to keep telling you audiologist. I've worked as an interpreter for the Deaf for years I can't ell you how many times I've been asked if I can read Braille. For some reason people continually confuse hearing and sight. Does this mean you'll need two pair of the same shoe? One larger to acomadate the boot and a smaller size for your uninjured foot? Once the new normal has lost it's shock you'll have to become a little creative with the boot. For instance unusual shoe laces or use pretty ribbon to dress it up. It has to be a big mental adjustment for you. Hopefully this will offer you freedom to do more of the things you love and then your spirits will lift and it won't represent a burden anymore.

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    1. Audiologist was not on the list of choices. Or I would have told her to look at that.

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    2. Not because I need an audiologist, but because at least it's for the same part of the body!

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  32. I'm not saying you need an audiologist. I mean people always confuse ear and eye issues. Could you call back and immediately ask to speak to the supervisor? That's what I do when it's going no where. The problem normally gets taken care of then. Everyone reports to someone else. Just go to the top.

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    1. I think she was going to her supervisor for help, scarily enough. She was going to someone who she thought knew more than she did to ask. Because frankly, she didn't have a clue.

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  33. Brenda, maybe you could paint that BAD BOY a pretty color, decoupage a few birds and flowers on it and swap out the laces with some neon ones.....if you have to use it, might as well be reflective of your color and style! Just a thought :)

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    1. Well, there are many rules I was given in a pamphlet for taking care of it. You have to do constant maintenance on it like clean with alcohol and water, etc. I haven't even gotten to the rest of the list. So not sure I could alter it in any way.

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  34. Before people can get a job at insurance or government agencies, they have to take an IQ test. If their IQ is over 65, they have to move on and maybe work at Chuckie Cheese or Walmart, who accepts employees with IQ's up to 85. Maybe what the insurance companies try to do is frustrate people to the point where their blood pressure goes up several dozen points so they have yet more ailments and they can make more $. :/

    Honestly, I don't know how you deal with all this. I'm glad you have this blog to vent your feelings and receive support.

    As for the boot, when I first saw it I immediately thought 'Victorian'. I think it's time you shop for some long skirts.

    xxx

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    1. I am afraid to ask what the IQ must be for an employee like this woman. Or a government employee. I do think they try to frustrate us, but I think much of it is simply that they don't know the answers and are not likely to try to find them out for you.

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  35. So much frustration - aargh! That boot looks very uncomfortable. I can somewhat relate as I have to wear that fingertip to shoulder, thick, heavy compression garment every night when I go to bed (I call it my oven mitt) and then I'm supposed to wear one of those flesh-colored fingertip to shoulder tight compression garments 6-8 hours a day. (I have Primary Lymphedema.) I hate both of them, especially the daytime compression garment. It's tight and very uncomfortable and hot, plus it makes me look like I have an artificial arm and hand so I get lots of stares out in public, which I hate...I'm an introvert so I don't like any attention drawn to myself as it is. So now I wear it mostly in the house and then take it off when I go out in public unless it's somewhere that I have my coat on all the time, like the grocery store. Well, hope you get things straightened out soon with the insurance company.

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    1. I feel for ya, Melanie. I hate wearing things that make me even hotter in these Oklahoma summers that can get up to 118 once in a great while. I too don't like people looking at me. Sometimes I wish I was invisible.

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  36. I hate insurance companies! I swear health ins is the worst to figure out. So sorry you are going through all this. Praying the boot will become your friend and be a help to you. I feel so bad about your ear since you were on the phone with me! Keep moving forward Brenda, it's all we can do, one little step at a time.
    hugs,
    Linda

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    1. Well, if it hadn't been you, then it would have been someone else.

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  37. Dear Brenda, You have, indeed, been dealt some hard cards to play with. It is healthy for you to express your thoughts and feelings with words. I am sure I am not the only reader of your blog that began breathing words of prayer for you as I read your story. You are right to remind yourself that there are so many others worse off than you. That line of thinking often helps me when I'm in tears and at my wit's end. I suspect that boot will eventually be your friend, a strong support. But as with a lot of new relationships, there is that 'getting to know you' stage. May the Lord help you through these tough days.

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    1. I wore it for mere minutes, but afterwards the ankle on the outside hurt for hours. I suppose the man who came to make sure it fit was trying to ease me in by telling me to wear it for only short periods at a time. You would have to slowly adapt to this thing. I know it can't stretch because it is very hard, so I'm at a loss for how your foot would adapt. I guess I'll learn.

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  38. Sorry for all your frustration. You are an inspiration with your sense of humor and honesty. So many bloggers ( in my opinion) sugar coat everything. Perfect house, family, health, spouse, etc.
    I am a biology teacher and I am not surprised at your experience with the insurance rep. I probably would have given her a lesson on Latin/Greek prefixes, suffixes and root words.

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  39. Oh Brenda, you have a lot on your plate. Prayers to help you handle it all.

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  40. Unfortunately this is what happens when insurance companies are making medical decisions. You need to ask to speak to a supervisor. My PCP helps me to find specialists who take my insurance. I am so sorry that you are going through all of this. I lost the hearing in one of my ears several years ago. It lasted a month and I know how vulnerable it makes you feel. I google doctors in my area. It will often say what insurance they take. I then call them and double check. They have always been able to tell me. I don't understand why doctors in your area don't know. That is inexcusable. Wish I could help you. xo Laura

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    1. There is a BCBS website, when it isn't down, that tells you what doctors are in your network. But then when I call a doctor's office from it, it is THEY that tell me they don't know, aren't sure whether they REALLY take it.

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  41. The good news is that your doctor seems happy with the progress on the ankle. And that you have an upcoming ear appointment. The boot may become something you never really notice after awhile. When I first got hearing aids. I felt like everyone was staring at them...I'm not vain, I just don't like people staring at me! And I would feel sorry for myself because I miss out on so many conversations, and I get really embarrassed when I don't understand what someone has said. I get treated like an imbecile instead of being someone hearing impaired. Oops, this isn't about me. Just a few of my grievances today.

    Good luck with the insurance issue. I always ask to speak to another rep or manager if I need to double check something. I bet you already tried that.

    Jane x

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    1. Yep, already did. I didn't know you wore hearing aids. I've seen you in photos many, many times, and I sure didn't notice anything.

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  42. I would think BCBS would have an online site that lists physicians in their network.

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    1. They do. But then I call a doctor listed, and their front desk tells me they aren't quite sure that they do or not.

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  43. Decorate your boot in Boho style
    Put your pretty shoes on at night
    when you are resting. Find fun in
    New ways. You are so strong in spite
    of the setbacks.

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  44. You would think the billing dept. of Dr.'s office would know what insurane companies they deal with. Insurance is SO frustrating. I do hope the boot works out for you eventually. Hopefully your hearing will eventually return to normal. So many issues can really be discouraging. My daughter has gone through serious health issues....she never complained about her condition, never asked "why me". She had many C T scans & MRI's, went by helicopter to hospitals, had numerous life threatening procedures.....it was the insurance snafus that brought her to tears.

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  45. I have had alot of injuries and those with my feet or legs are the worse. The boot looks uncomfortable. I would guess you might get some owies the first few times. Think of it as security to keep you from falling. I wore an ankle ace bandage for a year, minor compared to your brace, but it made me feel safer. Now the ear thing should get better in time but I don't know why it is bothering your other ear. I went through a time when I couldn't hear anything people would say. Then it went away.
    Like a doctor told me....."you just need to pay attention more." That was as good as the ortho guy telling me that I was a big girl with little feet. These were specialists. Is it any wonder that the insurance person doesn't know the difference between an eye or an ear. Make sure when you do get an appt. Draw a circle around your ear so they won't get mixed up. This is to make you feel better.

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  46. Oh no I am so sorry you are having problems with the ENT and finding one. Hang in there. It is such a maze and yes it is sad how the folks working there are so inept.

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  47. Your doctor is pleased with your progress! Hurrah! At least there is some good news. I think your new brace is called an ankle gauntlet. Did the gentleman tell you how very important it was to get your heel all the way back and well seated in the brace? Otherwise it will hurt...a lot. Many years ago I used to teach at a school for the handicapped and we were instructed in application of braces should we ever need to remove them. It wasn't always easy to get the heel in properly. Were you instructed in what to watch out for when wearing your brace? Don't be discouraged, that ugly duckling of a brace may just give you your mobility back. I can't figure why they used black rather than flesh tone for a lady though.
    It is absolutely appalling that we are one of the very few developed countries without universal health care!

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  48. hi Brenda,
    As for the ins co., call back and ask for a supervisor. Explain calmly what happened with the last phone call, Sometimes it is just the bonehead who answers the phone on that particular day. Believe me, I know. I'm a nurse and have dealt with many boneheads who just think they have the "power" when they are on that end of the phone. So please, try again and if the person on the other end repeats what the same bonehead did, ask for a supervisor. A doctor's office should absolutely know which health insurances they accept! They get PAID from those health insurances and if an HMO, they get monthly payments to offset copays from patients and to make up income from patients who seldom see the doctor. So ask the receptionaist is you can speak with the person who does their billing and if they don't have someone in the office who coordinates that, ask them if you can have the name of their billing co and call them. I know it's a lot of work, but that is how medicine works today. More work on the patient, more patient responsibility, and that can be scary 'cause not everyone (esp older patients) have the energy, ability or knowledge of how to make it work. You must advocate for yourself. If I can help (tho I am on the East coast), please let me know. I'm so sorry for the ineptness of some people which makes your life difficult. Hang in there and..hey..it's ok for a little cry. You'll feel better!!

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  49. This is the second time I've read your post....the first time your pictures didn't come up. Now, I've seen the brace. I reread your post...and I'm convinced you can do this! You have overcome lots of obstacles...and you can do this! Know that...you can do this! ;)

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  50. I have a brace just like yours only a different color . You get used to it eventually....but it means I have to always wear tennis shoes. I still need to have the reconstructive surgery on my foot...but dread it. I just signed up for insurance ....I'm glad to have it again after not having it for the year I've been out of work, but I dread trying to use it for the same reasons you are facing. I'm finding life at 57 is more challenging than I ever dreamed. All any of us can do is live one day at a time....and try to be grateful for that day's blessings. I'm praying for a quick recovery for your ear and ankle/foot.

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  51. So sorry you've had so much trouble with getting a refferal. I have BCBS and I've never had an issue and so far have always had really helpful people (knock on wood). Most doctor's know if they are on a particular plan so I don't get that they couldn't answer your question?

    Anyway, so happy that your MD is happy with your progress and that brace doesn't look bad at all!

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  52. Brenda: With BCBS of OK, I would not only write a letter (make a copy for yourself), send it certified mail and write it to the top brass. I would inform him/her how incompetent the staff has been and what the difference is between an ENT and an opthamologist. I would tell the top person that you feel that you should not have to pay extra having seen someone outside the network because of the incompetance of BCBS's staff. That may definitely get the ball rolling.

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  53. All I can say is I don't know how you do not totally fly off the handle at the stupidity of the insurance people! UGH! I would be screaming by now.
    I hope you come to get use to your new footwear and that it's not too painful for you.
    Blessings,

    Sue

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  54. Brenda- I'm so sorry that things are so tough right now. It may seem like a hollow comfort, but I want to tell you that I get it. I had a small breakdown on a drive with my husband just before Thanksgiving and I cried. I'll always remember, I said "every day feels like it can only go up from here. At least I know this is as bad as anything can get. And then the next day, it does get worse and I think again that there is nothing worse than this. Each day is worse than the one before and nothing I can do can make any of it better. It's all beyond my control."

    I was so helpless. The only thing that kept me going was having faith and trust that everything always turns out okay in the end. I wouldn't say things are great right now, far from it actually. But they're better. Things are bearable. And there are days that are better than others. The chain of pointless days of heartache has broken and the few disappointments now are manageable.

    Good luck to you, friend. Much like my own woes, this too shall pass. New normals will always happen, and they'll always be scary at first. But you'll get through them. They'll become the old normal. And you'll be okay.

    *hugs* and prayers,
    Christine

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