I took my baby boy Oliver to an appointment today at Kaiser Permanente. Most of you probably already know that this is an HMO and that Oliver is not a baby. He will, in fact, be 18 years old in May. Good god almighty. We have not been in an HMO in twenty-five years, but this year I downgraded his and my health insurance policies because I just could not afford another 35% increase in premium for the PPO that we were on with Sophie. Sophie stays on her Cadillac plan with MediCal as a secondary policy.
Kaiser Permanente proved to be exceptionally -- dare I say -- efficient. We really, really liked the doctor we "picked." It was amazing, honestly, how easily everything worked -- a one-stop shop. We visited the doctor, moved to another floor and barely waited to get blood work and then another to pick up a prescription. We were out of there in less than two hours, and the co-pays were minimal. Honestly, if Sophie didn't require such specialized care, I'd be all over Kaiser for her care, too. I've always been terrified of managed care, but let's face it. We're all managed every single moment by the Powers That Be. When we went to the lab for bloodwork, we had to get a ticket with a number on it, one of those little scraps that you get in the deli department at the grocery store. That was maybe the only moment where I felt annoyed, but I let it go. So, after just one visit, I'm going to recommend Kaiser Permanente for routine healthcare -- my god, in comparison to literally ALL the other places we've sought healthcare (UCLA, NYU, Columbia, USC, Children's and Cedars-Sinai), it was the best experience. I'll keep you posted on my own physician visit which is coming up soon.
Now, let's talk about 911. We just dropped another Who Lives Like This?! podcast. This week, Jason and I had Dr. Rita Eichenstein on the show. She is a neuropsychologist and the author of a really great book. Not What I Expected: Help and Hope for Parents of Aytpical Children. Even if you aren't the parent of an "atypical" child (and this category includes children with mental health disorders like anxiety and depression, as well as diagnoses of ADHD), I think you'll find a lot of value in our discussion. What really stood out for me was some advice she gave to those parents with newly diagnosed children. Among many helpful tips, she suggested compiling a 911 list of people you can call when you need help and support. After listing these people, she suggests calling each of them and asking whether they'd be willing to be on your 911 list. I know some of you are thinking, well, duh, of course you'd already know who to call or who wouldn't say yes to being on the 911 call list? I'm here to tell you that, at least for me, it's hard to call people, to ask for help, to vent, to cry, to share grief and exhaustion. Especially when it's done, over and over. I think it would have been tremendously helpful for me to have made such a list early on in The Troubles and communicated what I was doing with those people I trusted to be on it. Does that make sense? I feel guilty when I call my friends with my latest woes, especially regarding caregiving. I actually don't even do it that much anymore and feel isolated (of my own making, I know) as a result. I do see a therapist regularly, and that is enormously helpful, but it'd be great knowing that certain friends had taken on the responsibility of being on call for me, beforehand. I know for a fact that many of us struggle with asking for help. This seems like a simple -- yet almost formal -- way to connect with others and to "allow" them or give them the opportunity to help us.
What do you think?