Tricare Through Civilian Eyes


I wrote two weeks ago about giving life-altering news over the phone to my husband in Iraq.  First I had to tell him I was pregnant.  Then I had to tell him the nurse said we'd probably lose the baby.  Then I got to happily tell him that I'd had an ultrasound and saw our baby's little heartbeat.

And then Thursday I had to tell him that the baby has died and that I have to miscarry without him.

I promise I'm not writing this post so I get a comments section full of sympathy (though it's nice and it does help.)  I'm writing it because it's related to something kinda funny.

This is a Tricare post.

My mother was here visiting when we got the bad news.  I know I wrote about seeing her off at the airport, but crazily enough, her flight was cancelled and I had to return to the airport to get her.  Then I went to the doctor, and so she extended her stay to be here with me so I'm not alone. 

It's really funny to see our health care through her eyes.  Things that are completely normal to you and me are a surprise to her.  That includes the good and the bad.

When I went to the doctor, they went ahead and did an ultrasound because I am high risk.  I commented to my mother that I kept thinking about Erin's I Heart Tricare post from the other day, about now nice it is that I don't have to make a decision on whether I think it's worth it to pay for an ultrasound, and the doctor, who was an Army captain, gets his base pay regardless of how many ultrasounds he does or doesn't perform during the day.  They were doing the ultrasound because they thought it was necessary.  I think that's a great aspect of our care.

But then, I went home.  And the next day, which was Friday, I was supposed to get a phone consultation with the doctor and a prescription filled.  I called at 10 AM and left a message.  I called at noon and left another message on a different machine.  An hour later, I got a call back from one nurse, saying she'd follow up and make sure my prescription got filled.  At 2 PM, I called the advice nurse and asked if she knew what was going on.  At 3:30, the advice nurse goes home.  At 4:20, no one is answering the phones in reception any more.  At 4:30, you can no longer leave messages on voicemail.  I called the pharmacy: no prescription had been called in.  And now it was the weekend.  My mother said, "You mean NO ONE is available to help you on the weekend?"

My mother was freaking out.  "This is how things work for you?  You haven't talked to a human being all day long, just answering machines!"  But for me, this was totally normal.  I never talk to human beings when I call the hospital.  I don't even know how to call a human being, save the advice nurse.  In fact, that's why I called her in the afternoon, just because she's the only human being I know how to reach!  My mom was shocked that someone, anyone!, didn't call me during the day to let me know what was going on.

My husband called from Iraq at 5:15 PM to see how things were going.  Five minutes later, the doctor beeped in.  I had to hang up with my husband from Iraq to talk to the doctor!  If that doesn't suck, I don't know what does.

The doctor was really nice and explained that he'd been in the operating room all day.  He spent a good 20 minutes on the phone with me, answering all my questions.  And he placed the prescription order, which my mother and I drove on post and got...for free.

All in all, I think it was an interesting experience for her, to see how our system works.  She joked at one point, "This is worse than an HMO!"  But then when I got two expensive drugs without any payment, she thought maybe it wasn't so bad after all.  And for me, it was just another day of dealing with our military health care system.

Our system has good and bad points.  It was interesting to see it through my mother's eyes.

Story Continues

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