United Health Care…how dare you.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 2, 2017 by thedesertfiles

Dear United Health Care,

Why are you hurting us?

My Wife and I are both covered under your insurance and she is currently undergoing IVF treatment with an in-network provider.

However, because Kaiser is her primary carrier, before we receive any coverage from United, everything has to be sent to Kaiser first so they can reject the claim (Kaiser does not cover or deal with IVF), then processed, and then the rejection notice needs to be sent back to my insurance company in order for our claims and orders to be processed by United Health Care.

We have finally pushed Kaiser to send back denials with EOBs and now guess what? United is denying our claims. This is frustrating, sad, and depressing…are you not supposed to be an advocate for us?

We have a blanket denial of benefits letter from Kaiser, our doctors office has sent over stamped and marked denials and EOBs which clearly indicate we, the patient, are not covered under Kaiser and are responsible for the amount.

Here are your mission values in case you forgot….

http://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/About/MissionValues.aspx

How are you meeting any of those values with how you are treating us? You should be ashamed that you tout the mission statement that you do, then treat your patients like you are treating us.

It’s intolerable

You may reach me at jmdiaz@ucla.edu.

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Deny us Kaiser…Please

Posted in Uncategorized on September 15, 2017 by thedesertfiles

Dejected.

Devastated.

Angry.

Sad.

Hopeful.

 

We walked into the doctor’s office expecting good news. We sat down in the lobby cracking jokes to each other, and we fully expected that this would be the day we chose our child.

40 minutes later we walked out in shock. We had to start the entire process over again. Not one embryo came back healthy. There were 4 boys and 1 girl. When we were shown the list all I could think was “That was supposed to be her”. The car ride home was silent. You could cut the anger with a knife. It soon gave way to sadness and then finally…what’s next? She has to put her body through the entire procedure all over again.

What else is next? It’s a little technical, a tad bit boring, and incredibly infuriating. I can’t begin to imagine what other folks have to deal with in a broken health care system. If the insurance company doesn’t act, we may well lose out on our last opportunity to have a child. But then again, you can’t really call our current Health Care System a “System”.

While we both undergo more tests to pinpoint the exact problem the other pressing issue is dealing with Kaiser, a company we don’t have IVF coverage under. You see, we are both covered for IVF under my plan (United). But she also has a previous plan from her work that is considered her “primary” plan…enter Kaiser Permanente.

Because Kaiser is her primary carrier, before we receive any coverage from my insurance company, everything has to be sent to Kaiser first so they can reject the claim (Kaiser does not cover or deal with IVF), then processed, and then the rejection notice needs to be sent back to my insurance company in order for our claims and orders to be processed by United Health Care.

90 days…is how long it takes Kaiser to reject a claim after receiving it. 90 days to say no to a procedure they don’t cover. No to a process they have no part in.

All we need is a “no” from Kaiser…that’s it. Not receiving that “no” from Kaiser puts our coverage under United at risk because if a claim takes too long to be filed, the carrier may reject the claim even though we are covered.

So after calling Kaiser multiple times they told us it’s not their problem. Kaiser’s slogan is “Thrive”. Kaiser, we are trying to; with all of our strength. You’re putting everything we’re working so hard for in jeopardy.

I doubt you’ll listen because you haven’t so far. Let us thrive so we can try to have our family.  

We just want you to say no.

Also, I’m doing a back-yard project and require some tape, red in color so we can see it against the fence. I hear you really thrive at making the stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So your testicles don’t work: Our IVF Journey

Posted in Uncategorized on September 5, 2017 by thedesertfiles
 
Bet I got your attention =)
 
Well friends it’s time to share a story, and as you can infer by the title; it has to do with infertility. Never really thought I’d have to think about it. Just another one of those things that pops up and shifts your life in an unexpected way. After months of vigorously vigorously trying to conceive, nothing was happening. Michelle went to the doctor to get checked out and her ovaries, in a phrase uttered many times since then by health professionals, are robust and young. 
 
It all started with a home sperm test that gave me an abnormal result, a sperm count below 20 million. Immediate concern fell over me and a weight griped my chest, “My God it’s me”. I waited a few minutes to call Michelle as I had to compose myself with racing thoughts of every bad scenario imaginable. We talked for a while, she told me she loved me, and whatever it was we would work through it together. I married the right woman, she is incredible. How incredible? More to come in a moment. 
 
A count of 20 million sperm is normal, normal enough to allow a male to conceive naturally with a healthy female. Below 20 million could mean a lot of things. The home test didn’t tell me much other then at least this test was somewhere between 0 and 20 million. It could be 18 million, it could be 5 million, it could be none. After hanging up with Michelle I immediately made an appointment with a urologist, supposedly the best man for the job in San Diego. They had an opening in one week. At that time it was the longest one week I’ve had in a long time. 
 
Am I fertile? 
What if I don’t have any sperm at all? 
Will we ever have a family? 
 
Each day consumed in that thought…what if this, what if that. It’s almost maddening. Through it all Michelle was there telling me it would be alright. 
 
A week later I walked into the urologists office, sat down, and waited to be called. Other guys were there, some looking down at the floor, others on their phone, all of them not wanting to make eye contact with anyone else. Now from here it gets a bit sketchy only because I’ve lost count of how many times a guy with latex gloves has handled my balls. It’s almost become normal. I mean I ordered an amazon dash button for latex gloves for Christ sake. 
 
My test result came a week later and it was low, much lower than I expected. 1.5 million to be exact. The doctor said there was no chance of me being able to conceive naturally. Of course he did his due diligence, attempting to find out if it was something that could be fixed. It couldn’t and in the end I was diagnosed with severe oligozoospermia. Artificial insemination wasn’t even on the table, that’s how low it was. Fortunately I did have good sperm in there, not enough of course, but enough for IVF. 
 
Now it’s a weird feeling to have, a thought process if you will, of knowing that the only way you will ever have a family is dependent on an insurance company approving you for IVF. Knowing that someone is in an office somewhere, holding your file; and they will check a box that essentially says “Yes, you may have a family” or no “You are denied coverage”. 
 
It’s scary, it’s heart wrenching, and life changing in that one of life’s most intimate decisions you make with your life partner, is not yours to make. 
 
So here we are today, 4 months into the process, with 6 more months to go until we are out of the thick of it. Michelle has put her body through hell to do this. IVF isn’t a simple process, it isn’t pregnancy light, it’s not “designer baby” central, nor is it a shortcut. It’s sleepless nights wondering if everything will be alright, wondering if we will ever be able to meet our child. 
 
For a woman it’s three self injections a day of medicine. It’s putting your body at risk for cancer and the total loss of fertility. It’s a fluctuating roller coaster of emotions, depression, and happiness as your body struggles to adjust to an unnatural level of hormones. Your ovaries grow to the size of softballs that push against your pelvis and spine. It’s daily doctors visits for weeks on end. There are small victories, set backs, and lots of waiting. And the waiting is often times the worst part. Those are the moments your mind races away from you with all the scenarios that might happen. Nothing is guaranteed. 
 
Last week Michelle underwent egg retrieval surgery. Of the 40 eggs that were extracted, 36 were fertilized. Of the 36 that were fertilized, 25 grew into embryos. Of the 25 embryos, 10 grew to a size that could lead to a viable pregnancy. 
 
Those 10 embryos are currently undergoing genetic testing and we are hopeful that we will have at least 2 healthy embryos out of the 10. Wether it’s IVF or a natural pregnancy, it’s a miracle either way. A miracle of science and maybe a little help from up above. But Thank God for Science. 
 
So this is where we are at, a little farther a long, a lot more waiting, and holding out hope that everything will be alright. 
 
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Life by 40,000 Miles

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2017 by thedesertfiles

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I’ve always loved watching the odometer hit a milestone. On our way home from a fundraiser I noticed that the Jeep was about to hit 40,000 miles. Usually I congratulate myself for keeping the miles low for the year, but this time I started thinking about everything that occurred in my life during those first 40,000.

Without retreading over other blog posts I’ve written, my life since 2010 has had quite a few ups and downs. Some of it fantastic and some of it down right horrible. And when it comes to my blog, lately I’ve been struggling to find a topic to write about. Most of the time inspiration hits and the little voice in my head says “you should write a blog post about that!” Not so much in the past few months.

Looking back through my previous posts a lot of what I had written about was getting through challenging times; little nuggets of self-realization that happened when I was in deep thought about serious life moments. The original intention of my blog was to share my desert adventures with students. To give them a window into the fun and enjoyment of outdoor recreation, and to explore places unknown.

But life changed and my purpose for the blog shifted into an outlet to share my thoughts and learnings. However, like I’ve mentioned…during the past few months I’ve been in a blog rut. Only it wasn’t really a rut.

It took some time but I finally realized why. It’s because for the first time in a long time, I’m truly happy. It had been such a long time since things were normal steady that change and upheaval were my “normal”. My blog rut was because things have finally gotten good.

“Wow, this is what it was supposed to feel like all along?”

“This is the stability I thought was out of reach.”

“I can’t believe it’s finally here.”

“You mean to tell me I don’t have to worry about that? Or this?”

…are all thoughts that have been recurring to me over the past few months. I used to not let myself get too happy because my line of thinking was, “well it’s probably going to turn to shit anyway so I better prepare myself.”

I don’t much think like that anymore. I’m going to fully embrace how good everything is because it’s about time.

So with that I’m really looking forward to the next 40,000 miles and getting back to the true intent of my blog. Desert Adventures and irritable bowel syndrome awareness.

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The Unknown…

Posted in Uncategorized on December 7, 2016 by thedesertfiles

You cannot truly grow unless you step into the unknown…

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A few weeks ago I packed my Jeep up and headed to Arches and Canyonlands National Park. It was a trip I’ve been wanting to do for some years but always put on the back burner. I decided to go solo, not so much to find myself (I figured that out a while ago), but to put myself through a backcountry trip where the only person I could depend on was myself.

I was going to document my trip day by day but instead I’ll go ahead and write what I thought about during my time out there.

A loss for words…

Being alone for 4 days in the wilderness was quiet, really quiet. After Day 2 I realized I hadn’t spoken a single word since I started my trip. The only thing I heard was the wild and the thoughts in my head. In the evening I could hear packs of Coyotes in the distance. The only sound to come out of my mouth for the duration of the trip was a few howls back in response. And respond they did!

It was kind of nice actually. When you don’t speak your mind it kicks into high gear and your thoughts become incredibly clear. Usually my mind is a quick fire race track of thoughts. There are a few things that I have always worried about, and these things will always occupy my mind. However, through the silence I realized that I just have to accept that they will always be with me. I’ve managed them pretty damn successfully over my 34 years. I got this far, so the reality is those worries haven’t really held me back at all.

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A Thunderstorm…

I started my trip a day ahead of schedule in hopes of avoiding a thunderstorm that was going to pass through. Whelp…didn’t really time it right and I drove straight into it. Not only that but I drove straight into it on a particularly rocky and steep section of the trail. I don’t often engage my lockers but for a few hours I was locked front and rear going up and down slippery slopes, lightning all around, with white knuckles and a puckered butthole. It was the only time during the trip that I was concerned that I was alone and help might be days away.

See, I tried to avoid something and drove straight into it. The lesson here is that if you see something unavoidable coming towards you, it’s best to keep your head up and face it with everything you have. Push through that shit and the sky will eventually clear.

That evening, when I finally arrived at my campsite, I poured myself a glass of whiskey and watched the stars come out through the clearing storm.

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Slow time down…

9 years ago I started exploring the desert in an effort to find myself. Since then I found what I was looking for. It’s become that constant that grounds me to what really matters in life.

Every now and then you have to test yourself. You have to go through something unknown. It’s different for everyone. For me it’s a new trail. It’s taking a risk in the great wide open and having enough confidence in yourself to face whatever happens.

Time passes by more quickly as we get older because we tend to experience less. When we were young time passed by more slowly because we experienced so many firsts. Elementary school, Jr. High, High School, dances, first dates, driving, band, sports, college, travel.

And then, as time goes by we fall into a routine…work then home, work then home, work then home. Time speeds up, and before long you are asking yourself where did all of that time go?

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If you want to slow time down, if you want to enjoy those special moments in life, try stepping into the unknown.

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About Time…

Posted in Uncategorized on October 12, 2016 by thedesertfiles

How much time do we really have?

There are folks that say, “We have enough time in the world”. Then there are others that say, “Live everyday as if it’s your last”.

How should we live our life knowing that at any moment it can all change in an instant? I prefer to think that it’s somewhere in between thinking we have enough time and living every day as if it’s our last. If you think about how you would spend your last days what would you do? Where would you go? Would you party it up in Vegas everyday or jet around the world 7 days a week trying to see as many places as you could?

If you partied in Vegas every day of the week you wouldn’t last 3 days…and then it would most certainly be your last day. If you jet set around the world everyday would you really get to know the places you travelled to? What’s travel without spending time with the culture you’re visiting?

If you move too fast you’ll miss the important moments of your life and those of the people around you. If you move to slow you’ll miss those things too.

Maybe living everyday like it’s your last isn’t about doing a thing; maybe it’s about what you do with the important people in your life.

Plan vacations and see the world.

Take it easy and relax.

But when push comes to shove and the situation is grim what you’ll think about first are the people you love.

So for them, live for them like it’s your last day and set aside enough time to show them.

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(Photo by Jose Diaz)

This is Home

Posted in Uncategorized on October 5, 2016 by thedesertfiles

Far off in the distance a contrail of civilization crosses the sky.

Dusk settles into evening.

A wisp of wind cradles the creosote.

The first starlight punctures the sky with a faint shimmer.

The campfire roars to life.

I am home.

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