Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Accident – part five – finale

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Part one is here, part two is here, part three is here, and part four is here

Aside from the surgery coming up, the next few months were spent with a lot of waiting and nothing happening.

Dean’s eye surgery was scheduled for the beginning of the new year at a hospital in DC. The surgery took longer than anticipated because once the doctor got in there, he discovered even more scar tissue than he anticipated. Ultimately he had to cut a few nerves to remove it all. The implant went in just fine and was instantly effective in moving the eyeball forward. The waiting time from surgical wait to Dean actually getting into a room was ridiculously long. It should have been an hour or two at the most because this was scheduled 2 months in advance and had gone through insurance already. A room should have been ready. Was it? NOPE. 6 hours after his surgery, he was stuck waiting for important eye cream to stop infection and trapped in waiting while I was stuck in the waiting area with my mother-in-law and her brother. We were worried and wondering what was going on, but getting zero information. Meanwhile Dean was miserable and trapped and they wouldn’t let me visit him in the post-surgical room. Odd since usually that’s okay for spouses.

They finally got him into a room and Dean was angry as a hornet. He was hungry, his eye was dry, and he thought we’d been avoiding him so we became the target of the anger. Thankfully I had some snacks in my purse so I gave him those while we waited for the damn eye cream. Having been through years and years of hell with doctors and waiting things out and having a nurse for a friend, I know a lot about the process. I know it’s rarely if ever the nurse’s fault when things go wrong. However, when I know there is an important eye cream needed after an eye surgery and after a few hours it’s still not there, I know we have a problem. Being utterly exhausted at this point, I let my mom take over and get angry with the staff. She’s pretty effective because we FINALLY got the fucking eye cream at this point, then went to get Dean dinner since he’d missed dinner service. Way to fucking go, hospital! He was supposed to stay overnight so I eventually went home and got the first peaceful night’s sleep in months.

The next morning I brought him fresh clothes and took him home. Recovery was fun. I can’t even begin to describe the stitch situation we had without feeling sick to my stomach. Let’s just say he was able to open and close his eye and there was a dental floss looking situation keeping his eye from opening further. It was gross and he had a week off of work. Oh goodie! More unpaid time off!!!! Dean recovered nicely and was finally able to wear his CPAP mask at night again so normal sleep finally started to happen for me again.

Flash forward another month. Nothing really happened until February when, after looking online out of sheer frustration, Dean discovered that not only had the other driver’s court date come and gone, but it was DISMISSED. After making a few phone calls we were told that either the cop who filed the report hadn’t shown up OR it was because the other driver was a minor and it was in the wrong court. Either way, we were pretty furious with our lawyer for not knowing this information or informing us of the court date and I was ready to fire him. A fuck ton of nothing had happened in months and now this? Not to mention some of the bills they supposedly paid were now being sent to me for non-payment. After a pretty angry phone call from Dean, a lot things got taken care of pretty fast, but it shouldn’t have come down to that. I was not even a little bit happy at this point, but very very VERY happy that I’d been proactive from the beginning and paid for shit that we “didn’t have to pay” because look where we were now?! Waiting waiting waiting.

A few phone calls and some lawyer involvement later, we found out that the cop supposedly did show up and was going to be filing an appeal of the dismissal. Oh good, someone DOES give a shit! We were supposed to get a call back a week later, but it never happened. The officer’s superior officer happens to be a customer of Dean’s shop so when we had heard nothing, we had an ounce of leverage. We got a phone call a few days later and were told it was in process and we should see a subpoena in the mail in a few days. It was more like a few weeks when it finally showed up and Dean was called in to appear on behalf of the state to testify against the other driver. Finally some fucking movement!!!! The court date was set and we just had to wait it out. More. Fucking. Waiting.

The court date finally came and Dean was there with one of the lawyers from the firm (not even our lawyer so you can imagine how happy I was with that!!!). The judge took one look at the case, didn’t call anyone up, and said “this has already been dismissed. I’m not hearing it again. Dismissed.” And just like that, our hopes vanished. The only thing going for us at this point was that we did not have a not guilty ruling so we could still fight the kid and his family despite his outright lying about being at fault. Now the one thing we had going for us was gone. It was over. The lawyer representative was panicked and went back to the firm. Our lawyer called back later and said they’d never seen that happen before and were shocked and weren’t sure what to do next, but would call soon.

At this point it was decided that the only way to get anything done or get our money back was to sue the kid. Our case was then turned over to a trial lawyer within the firm (apparently ours was only personal injury) and we had a new meeting with him. Keep in mind that it’s now June. Fertility treatments are now on the horizon and I’ve had it with the whole thing. Dean talked to the new lawyer, the lawsuit was filed, and then we waited for the court system to schedule a hearing date.

Fast forward to September. We’ve been through two failed rounds of IUIs with the clinic and round 3 has just begun. We get a letter in the mail from the other driver’s insurance. They’re offering a settlement of the kids entire policy limit (which is the state minimum for Maryland and is liability only) and immediately call the lawyer. We set a meeting, set an appointment with their hired eye doctor for a final review of the damage, go see the lawyer, and it’s all doom and gloom. Come to find out that this settlement is OUT of our hands. We have no say in accepting it or not because our insurance took over the case back in October. It’s entirely up to them now. Lawyer explains to us the grand total of all costs after settlements and what is legally allowed to be paid back to our health insurance (which covered a huge chunk of the medical and legally they have to reduce it by 1/3 to cover the legal fees), what the lawyer takes (1/3 – ouch, but there’s that 1/3 the medical reduced it by!), and the potential of what we’ll get (whatever is left). I also found out I have a policy maximum that’s a little more than 3 times what the kids insurance is so we’re entitled to up to that amount based on the policy. Word the wise: GET UNDER INSURED AND UNISURED MOTORIST COVERAGE!!!!

So the real doom and gloom came when he said that for our insurance to accept the other agency’s settlement, they’d have to waive their rights against them, waive the right to collect on this kid later on or sue him, and waive some of something. Laywer says “of course this is all pending [our insurance]’s decision and in all my years of doing this, they are the number one most difficult insurance company to get money out of. I doubt they’ll waive subrogation and settle in less than 6 months” Awww, thanks Dr. Doom! So we left feeling pretty hopeless. I also thought we’d end up with MAYBE $3,000. Not even enough to recoup our fertility fund. That same week I found out our third IUI had failed. I was devastated and feeling hopeless.

2 weeks later we got a call from the lawyer… with good news!

It didn’t take 6 months, they didn’t do what the laywer thought they would, and the end was so close! Our insurance company decided to waive their rights, collect the settlement from the other agency, pay out on our policy, and provided a new settlement offer… a settlement that blew my mind. Our lawyer, having just gotten the last results of the final final final eye exam made a counter offer. Our insurance agreed and said “yes, final offer”. We agreed and the lawyer drew up the final paperwork that Dean went and signed a week or so later, then they mailed out the check. It took almost 2 weeks to clear our account fully and once it did, I finally felt free. The money was ours. The lawsuit was dismissed. The accident was FINALLY over.

I can’t begin to describe how freeing it was to know this burden was finally off our backs. This elephant in the room for the last year was finally going back into the wild and leaving us alone. And not a moment too soon because around this time we also found out that we were heading down the road of IVF and since my insurance doesn’t cover fertility costs, this would be 100% out of pocket. Turns out that this accident that initially derailed our baby plans and wiped out our savings for it, ultimately delayed it for the right reasons and will ultimately pay for the new treatment we are facing.

At long last, the accident that nearly ended my husbands life was over. O-V-E-R over!

The Accident – part four

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Part one is here, part two is here, and part three is here

When we last left our heroes, we were fucking devstated that the other driver was being a dick and denying fault. Well, nothing further to be done at this point with that little fuckhead other than to wait out his eventual court date with the state of Maryland. He was a minor too so there was very little information we could obtain. The State of Maryland likes to take it’s sweet time issuing court dates too. The State of Virginia (where we live) is the opposite. Your court date is issued on your ticket the minute you get it. I should know – it happened to me. They don’t fuck around. We had no idea when the court date was and left it in our lawyer’s hands to stay on top of the court system.

We had other things to deal with anyway. Dean eventually had a follow up with the non-surgeon eye doctor and was cleared to drive in a few days. A full MONTH after the accident, he was FINALLY able to return to work. Good thing too, because I was running out of money. I knew we’d have to buy a new car and was hoping the car settlement check would arrive soon so I could put that money towards the new car. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

I ended up paying a huge chunk of our bills with credit cards that month because I just couldn’t make it work otherwise and I didn’t want to put our car down payment on a credit card whenever we had to do that. This is the moment I suddenly regretted our trip to New York and all the money we spent. After being talked off the ledge by my mom, I stopped being angry with myself and just said fuck it. There’s only so much to be done and it’s easier to pay off smaller debts on numerous cards than a big one so I made the right choice. I knew the fertility money would be gone shortly, but on some level I’d already resigned myself to accept that treatments would be delayed anyway so I just did what needed to be done. And what needed to be done next was to buy a car.

Due to our commutes, it makes infinitely more sense for Dean to have a new car with a good warranty and for me to always go used. Case in point: I’ve put less mileage on my Explorer in 6 years than Dean has put on his new cars in 4 years. And the irony is that we take my beast for the long road trips! Reality is that Dean’s commute is hell. It’s along drive around the Beltway every day and the wear and tear would destroy a used car much faster than a new car. A new car also has different warranties that used ones usually do not. So instead of even bothering to look at used, we went straight for new. We had waited to buy a new car until Dean could safely test drive it, but now we couldn’t wait any longer.

Dean had been researching cars and dealerships while he was home and had 3 picked. Once we got the clearance to return to work, we went to the nearest dealership. Turns out that was the golden one because within 2.5 hours we had a brand spanking new car. I was the one who did the test drive and I was a very happy woman after that test. I drained the last of our fertility savings to put a substantial down payment on the new car so we could keep our monthly car payments the same as the old car. We got a hell of a warranty and a REALLY good interest rate on the new car so I felt better about forking over that chunk of money. Of course we couldn’t drive it home yet because Dean wasn’t legally cleared to drive. They were going to make a few modifications anyway though so it worked out. They told us we could pick it up Monday morning. That actually worked out perfectly.

Oh, but this couldn’t be that easy, because why should anything be easy at this point?!

3 days after we take the car home, we get a call that our loan application didn’t go through and the paperwork we had was void. Ummmm… what? I’m gonna save the headache of the back and forth we went through for the next 24 hours where we worried the car would be repossessed and we wondered if we’d have to sue them. Long story short, they ended up re-running it with a new lender and made ME the primary lender with Dean as the secondary (the first time they made Dean the prime alone without me and his credit isn’t as great as mine) and now we had a new loan so please come sign the papers. Great, now I have another chunk of liability on my credit and oh look, I now own two cars. I’m a fuckin’ baller now! Well the upside of this kerfuffle is that we ended up with even lower interest because of adding me to the loan and we were able to lower the monthly payments. The other shining moment is that we also got the insurance check for the totaled car and it was enough to cover half of the down payment I’d just put down.

Dean eventually had a follow up appointment with the surgeon and now that all the swelling was down, a proper evaluation would take place. It was decided that surgery was required to restore his vision as much as possible. He needed an implant to push his eyeball forward and replace some of the fractured/shattered bone. There was a lot of scar tissue that needed to be removed as well. Unfortunately the surgeon was new to the area so securing his place at a hospital was taking some effort. We couldn’t get a surgery scheduled until January. At this point the damage was done so waiting any further would not cause any more problems. Dean was restricted from night time driving and was told to rest his eyes as much as possible.

From an accident standpoint, everything calmed down while we waited out the surgery appointment. Just in time for me to have a massive meltdown that lead to a few massive fights with Dean that nearly destroyed our marriage. The stress of it all – the loss of money, the not sleeping at night, the hormonal imbalance from the infertility doing its damage, the delay in the baby, the CONSTANT care of Dean… it all took it’s toll on me and I collapsed in anger and tears. We spent our anniversary camping in the woods on the cusp of a hurricane. After a rocky start, it ended with a lot of love and promises to make our marriage better. Sunday morning we woke up to rain pouring on our campsite, packed up our shit, and bolted at 4:30am. The hurricane was just starting to hit and wouldn’t get worse until Monday.

Monday was October 29th, exactly one month since the accident. How fucking appropriate that we were riding out a hurricane just after our one year anniversary.

To be continued…

The Accident – part three

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Part one is here and part two is here.

I skipped this in the last entry, but we still had our car to deal with. The towing yard could only hold our mangled car for so long so after a few days, when we still hadn’t heard anything, we had to have it moved and ultimately our insurance authorized it to be moved to a junkyard for evaluation and damage estimate. They said “it’s better for us to evaluate it anyway because we’ll value it higher than they would.” so yay – one positive thing in all of that mess. They took possession of the car and I had one less thing to worry about.

After the initial week of hemorrhaging money (our savings which was set for fertility treatments, mind you) and going towards numerous doctors and hospitals and to cover the lost paychecks from Dean being out of work, we still had zero word from the other insurance company. We made the decision to talk to a lawyer. Dean made the appointment for the following week and unfortunately I could not get the time off because I had a big meeting to attend, plus we were going away for the weekend and I couldn’t take another day off that week. My mom ended up taking him to this appointment. At this point it’s now been about two weeks since the accident and still no word from the other insurance company. We’d kept in constant contact with our claims representative though and stayed on top of it.

I am NOT someone who likes to get lawyers involved. I often feel that people exploit the system for money and use lawyers to make that happen. I feel like there are a lot of unnecessary lawsuits that could be avoided in this country if they just spoke to each other and avoided lawyers. The point of this is that I was VERY hesitant to get a lawyer involved, but after our money started vanishing to pay for various appointments (because I’ll be damned if I’m gonna ruin our credit that I’ve worked so hard to build over stupid fucking hospital bills!) it became clear to me that we needed to protect ourselves. I had a laundry list of questions ready for mom and Dean to ask the lawyer because of my fears. After the appointment they called me and I did feel better, but I still wasn’t too gung-ho about having a lawyer involved. I just wanted this to resolve on it’s own, but it was clear it wasn’t going to happen. We then had to inform our insurance company we’d lawyered up because from here on out, everything had to go through the lawyer. I’m the policy holder on the insurance so I had to authorize it.

The next day, we had a mini-vacation scheduled to go to ComicCon in New York with my best friend and her boyfriend. Dean had finally gotten strong enough to withstand walking around for extended periods of time so we were excited about having some fun there. We also decided to take a small chunk out of savings we’d earmarked for this trip to spend like wild up there. Since the lawyer now had our back, our savings would be restored soon and our fertility fund would re-build so we didn’t feel guilty about spending that money instead of putting it in the fertility fund. This was the big gift we’d given to ourselves for our one year wedding anniversary (which was 2 weeks away at that point) and we were really excited about it. It ended up being one of the best little vacations we’ve ever taken and we had an absolute BLAST! We still talk about it and are planning on doing many more of these over our lifetime. We have had a lot of fun framing and hanging and displaying all of our swag from that trip too. ComicCon was a small glimpse of sunshine in an otherwise dreary month.

On the drive home we got news from our insurance that they’d finished evaluating the car and not only was there going to be enough money to pay off the remainder of our car loan, but there was going to be a little chunk left over. Things were starting to look up for the moment! (Word to the wise: Honda’s REALLY retain their value!)

And then it all went downhill a few days later. Our lawyer reported that the other insurance had finally heard from their client, but it was the wrong one. His MOTHER had called in to report it, but until they talked to the driver, they would not pursue. She was also very concerned with Dean’s injuries and was asking about them. Thankfully they wouldn’t tell her much because they didn’t know anything – only OUR insurance knew and they wouldn’t say shit until things were resolved. I should have seen this as a red flag right then and there, but I took the high road and thought this woman had a heart and actually gave a shit. Boy was I wrong.

Dean had a follow up appointment with the eye doctor somewhere in the middle of all this and unless I consult my accident binder, I can’t remember where it actually occurred. What I know is that and he was still not cleared to drive which meant even more time off work. On top of that, now the doctor was acting like nothing was wrong. It was like a completely different doctor was in the room than the one we’d seen initially. We then pursued a second opinion and found another eye doctor. This one was AMAZING. He saw problems right away, reviewed the CT scan and x-rays we’d gotten from the first hospital, and immediately referred Dean out to an eye surgeon. We made an appointment with that surgeon who also had immediate diagnosis. He said he wished we’d gotten to him sooner because he was certain there would be a lot of scar tissue. He couldn’t believe someone could look at the scans and dismiss us the way the first two doctors had “it’s obvious from the scans that you need surgery” and at that point we concluded that neither doctor had ever reviewed the scans.

Around this time we finally got word that the other driver had FINALLY reported the accident and talked to his insurance company about it. Unfortunately he was denying fault, claimed that Dean was the one who ran the red light, and that he was going to file a claim against us!!!!!!!! This would be the moment my head exploded. I don’t think I’ve ever wished someone as much harm as I wished this kid and his fucking mother. At this point, my hesitation over having a lawyer was obliterated and I wanted blood.

The only upside to this is that from that exact moment onward, our insurance took over 100%, started paying bills (some of which we’d already paid) and told us they would be filing a claim based on the accident report because despite the kid denying fault, the accident report is unchangeable. We were still devastated though. The lacking morality of the other driver alone was enough to break our hearts. How do you hurt another human being like that and then not only wait almost a month to report it, but then deny that you even did it????

This is a question I would ask myself over and over and over again during the next year.

To be continued…

The Accident – part two

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Part one is here.

The day after the accident was my grandfather’s funeral. I hadn’t slept a wink. Dean could only sleep on his right side or partially leaning on his back so I’d wedged pillows between us to help support his aching body. Dean also has sleep apnea and sleeps with a face mask at night, but because his face and eye were so banged up, he couldn’t wear the mask. All night long I would start to fall asleep and then the minute I did, his breathing would stop so I would move him so he’d breathe again. Sleep apnea is deadly and in his current state of being, I was ten times more worried than usual.

I was a mess when I finally got out of bed. My mom was a mess as well, but for a different reason. Guess who had to do all the driving that day because mom couldn’t drive, stepdad was picking up my stepsister, and my dad and bother were on the other side of town? Oh yay, ME! I hate funerals. I hate them even more when I have to do so much work to prepare for them and then hold other people up during them. It was a fucked up morning of being grateful for my husband being alive (albeit banged up and in a lot of pain) and extremely sad to being saying goodbye to someone I love so dearly. Conflicting feelings doesn’t even begin to cover it. I honestly don’t even remember most of the day or the service for my grandfather. I remember being in a receiving line for a bunch of people I didn’t know, worried out of my mind about Dean who couldn’t even stand and had to sit in a chair for the line of people. From there I recall everyone going back to grandma and grandpa’s house, feeling how empty it was without them there anymore, changing clothes, eating, and then going home.

Dean’s injuries were not all that bad for the most part. He had not broken or fractured any bones. We knew from the first hospital’s report that he had contusions everywhere along his left side (impact side), but no clue what that meant until someone explained it. He did not have any internal bleeding (nothing short of a miracle) and aside from a lot of pain from the contusions, he was pretty much okay. Yes, his arm was torn up from all the glass and stitching up and let me tell you, that was FUN to constantly clean and bandage, but that was small on the scale of things. He had a lot of back pain, which was a little worrisome, but again it was something we could deal with. The big problem was his eye damage. At the time, we had no idea what we were facing.

Airbags save lives but they come out of their casing at the speed of a bullet launching out of a gun and cause injuries of their own. Again, lifesaving, but painful. In this case, because of how he was hit and what pieces of the other vehicle landed in our car, I firmly believe that airbag prevented what would have been a likely decapitation. That is ALL I will say there because it makes me violently ill to think of it any further. So, because that side impact curtain airbag deployed, it literally punched Dean right in the eye when it blew out and did a lot of damage to his eye.

He still had to be evaluated by several doctors to measure the extent of everything so that Monday I took the day off work and spent the day driving all over the DC metro area. We had an appointment with the eye doctor (he had an opening that morning) and with a plastic surgeon (who saw him in the ER and set aside a time slot for us in advance) and both were way out in Maryland so I figured we could also swing by the police station and pick up the accident report since yay, it was ready! (If you know nothing about the police, know that it can take up to 5 days for a report to be ready because they are VERY busy protecting society. For this one to be ready within 48 hours was a miracle.)

Onward to the first eye doctor! We were told that Dean had an orbital blow out fracture and the bone around his eye and into his nose had shattered. His vision was blurry and his eye constantly hurt. It was also filled with blood because when eyeballs are bruised, that’s how it shows. There’s no skin or muscle tissue to change the colors like on the rest of your body. Around his eye it was swollen and every shade of bruise you can imagine. There was also a stitch holding his eyelid together. Doc then said it was too swollen to determine much and eventually told us we’d have to see the plastic surgeon to know know and more than likely we’d just have to wait it out. Ummm… really? Not quite the answer we were looking for. Oh, and the cherry on top? No driving until his vision cleared, so make sure you schedule a follow up. Ummm, yeah. I’m gonna need that in writing because we need this man to keep his job!

Since it was on our way and literally in between the two offices, we made our way to the police station to pick up the report. That was enlightening. The kid who hit Dean ended up with 4 tickets and I finally had his insurance information so I had a leg to stand on. Alas, we had the appointment with the plastic surgeon so we had to move along and couldn’t make any phone calls at that moment.

After waiting an hour in a ridiculously high-end office of a surgeon who clearly caters to the rich, we were finally seen. After a quick look, he seemed irritated and pretty much dismissed us on site and said there was nothing to be done. Seriously dude? You know there’s a shit done of bone damage and his eyeball isn’t setting right in his head and you say there’s nothing to be done? Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you. I guess because he determined there was no money to be made, he didn’t want to deal with it. The two back to back appointments with these two ass clowns lead to a long search to find a good eye doctor, but more on that later.

We finally had a break after that and called the insurance companies. Our was great and happy we finally had the information. The other driver’s insurance was nothing but shitty with us and refused to be helpful. They even tried to get us to give them information about it since their client still hadn’t reported the accident. WHAT??? 2 days after you total your car, another person’s car, and send that person to the hospital and you still haven’t called your insurance company??? Suffice to say, we were pissed off, but what could be done?

Somewhere along the way home Dean started feeling excruciating pain in his side and my worry was that something had happened to his spleen. After he nearly threw up from pain, we drove straight to the emergency room at the nearest hospital. Diagnosis: no spleen damage, but there is a big kidney stone. Really??? So that stone we already knew about (he had a pre-scheduled lithotripsy set for Wednesday, actually) has suddenly moved north and is causing pain up in his rib? Fucking morons. (We later found out that Dean had a massive contusion around his ribs, the bone was bruised, and two of them were misaligned. Know who told us that? The awesome chiropractor we ended up with! But I’m getting ahead of myself.) We went home with pain meds and reassurance that his spleen was okay. Another sleepless night ensued. This would be the beginning of a month of sleepless nights, by the way.

So right, that lithotripsy… well what was the point in cancelling that now? Dean was out of work, it was already scheduled, and he was already in a lot of pain. I already had the day scheduled off too, so after a long night in the ER on Monday, I dragged my ass to work for a partial day Tuesday so I wouldn’t fall too far behind. I don’t think I got much done, but it felt good to get away for a few hours. Wednesday was the lithotripsy which was a success. After I got Dean home, I made more calls, scheduled more appointments, got the follow up visits set, and talked to my mom about how she could help us out over the next week or so because I couldn’t take too much more time off of work.

By Thursday, which was 5 days after the accident, we still hadn’t heard anything from the other driver’s insurance company and were starting to worry. We only had so much default temporary coverage from our insurance company and had already spent a fortune on two hospital check ins (the initial trauma center on Saturday after the accident and the ER visit on Monday) and we had a totaled car. Add several doctor’s appointments with doctor’s who either wouldn’t accept the car insurance because we were not at fault or wouldn’t accept it at all, and we were starting to hemorrhage money from our savings account. At that point we decided it was time to talk to a lawyer.

to be continued…