Worst. Dentist Visit. Ever.

Okay, I will admit it. I have a sweet tooth the size of the Grand Canyon. And because of that, I ended up with a cavity about the same size. Or least that’s what I thought it was.

I scheduled a dentist appointment at a new place after doing my homework on it. They were new, state-of-the-art and very close to my home. I spoke with the receptionist, and she was very friendly and knowledgeable.

However, I also think that she’s a big liar, at least now.

I went to my appointment, and while it was a nice office environment, the receptionist was eating behind the desk. Very professional. Even though I asked about the wait time when I called to schedule the appointment, it took me 45 minutes to even get set up.

Then, a young woman comes in and just says open your mouth. I said excuse me but who are you? I’m the dentist, she says. So I tell her to
introduce herself before she gets into my mouth. She said her name quickly and I didn’t understand what it was. Before I knew it, she told me that I have tooth decay in two of my upper teeth and that two root canals will cost me $2,600, but my insurance will pay for extractions. She said, ‘make a decision and I’ll be right back.’ Then the dental hygienist comes in, scrubs about 9 or 10 of my teeth (I thought I had at least 28 left minus the
wisdoms), and that was supposed to be the cleaning. I also got x-rays of all of my teeth.

The dentist comes back and I asked her to again repeat her name. She said it slowly in a condescending way, which made me upset. I am a highly educated woman and I do not like anyone speaking to me like I am a dummy. I told her I haven’t made a decision and I will let you know when I
have. I said to explain my options again to me. She takes a heavy breath and tells me about root canals, extractions, implants and bridges. Clearly with her it was all about the money.

Hesitantly, I went back to get some fillings done that I had needed between the extractions and bridges and all the other mess that the dentist threw at me. The liar receptionist told me I could get fillings “in those rotten teeth of mine” instead for having to have them extracted. Since that wasn’t a choice before, I quizzed her about being sure that it was a choice now and whether my insurance would pay for it. She said yes to everything.

The lovely dentist comes in to do my fillings, and shoves that Q-tip with the pink stuff in my mouth to numb me up. She then started shoving that large needle with Novocaine in my mouth. Then she left. I’m looking at the hygienist like, is this who you have to work with? She just put her head down and said nothing.

Since I am the expert on my body, I know that I am one of those people that needs a lot of Novocaine. I asked the hygienist to tell the dentist. And I heard her do it. The dentist just comes in, grab the drill and shows this thing into my mouth to keep it open. She quickly says raise your hand if you have pain. I raised it immediately. I said I heard the hygienist tell you that I said I needed more Novocaine, and you’re not going to do what I request? She stuck the needle in again a few times and ran out.

I told the hygienist right then and there that I wanted all of my records because I was going to follow up with a new dentist. She did my small fillings, and I got my records and left. The receptionist seem to think that I was going to blow up, but because I’m a lady I of course did it with class. There are still skid marks on the floor from how fast I got out of there.

You never have to put up with a healthcare provider treating you in a way that is less than you deserve. When you are getting treatment, you should ask all the questions that you need to, get a firm understanding of what is going on and not be rushed to make any kind of decisions. Sure, I could have went back and told the dentist what I really thought of her, but then I give her power over me.

In order to be an active patient that advocates for yourself, get good treatment during your treatment. That may call for having to stand up for yourself at times, but it is greatly worth it. Needless to say, I am never going back there, nor would I recommend it to anyone else.

Advocating for Your Health Can Be A Full Time Job

If you are not out on disability, and have to deal with your own or someone else’s chronic conditions, you have TWO jobs. Face it.

Right now, I am helping a client with chronic pain get the medications that she needs – however, her insurance requires that she go by their rules of trying three other medications on their “formulary list” before she gets the one her doctor wants her to have. In other words, her doctor wants her to have a really expensive medication for which there is no generic, and that formulary list contains cheaper, and possibly, inappropriate medications for patients. But patients must try them in order to see if their pain can be lessened and money can be saved. That’s the name of the game, folks.

What’s worse with this patient, is she has met the criteria for the insurance to give her the medication that she wants, but they still insist she tries another. That means they are making her go beyond their rules and still try another cheaper medication instead of the one her doctor recommended. WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

You get on the phone. You make the calls and make sure that everyone is on the same page. You wait on call backs. And to be honest, this is just one task for one medication for one condition that this particular client has. Think about it. Managing her care is a full time job.

Managing your care or the care of a loved one properly requires extensive thought, patience, time and effort. Or it should. I have said it before and I have said it again, the days of healthcare being handled by your healthcare providers are loooong gone. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN HEALTHCARE. PERIOD. And because your health is your greatest treasure, you had better believe it deserves the time that you will put into it. Which maybe as long as a full-time job. Again, name of the game, folks.

It is too much for some people. GET HELP. Hire an advocate like me to help you. This is the kind of stuff that we love to do. Either way, management of your healthcare is just that important, and you can hire someone to do it who has already taken it on as a full time job! What a novel idea!

That will free you up to focus on the things that you need and want to pay attention to, such as family and that wonderful concept you call a life.

The Patient, Social Worker and the Advocate

As an healthcare advocate, I’ve been through a lot of health issues in 2014. It gave me more insight into what we are still dealing with…and there have been some improvements, but most of the quagmire still remains. I found that in my own healthcare crisis, that some advice I was giving was not the best for my clients. I was teaching aggressiveness instead of assertiveness. I never want my clients to alienate their healthcare providers, because most are really trying to do what is best for their patients. Watch the LBB! re-launch in 2015. I have been the patient, social worker and advocate.

Do You Know What a Life Event Is?

Yes, life events…we think they mean something like getting into an argument with our spouse, going on a shopping spree with a friend, or our in-laws coming for a visit. Not so when it comes to your healthcare insurance.

The Internal Revenue Service (our good friends at the IRS), have strict regulations as to what life events are. A qualifying life event is defined by Healthcare.gov as “A change in your life that can make you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period to enroll in health coverage. Examples of qualifying life events are moving to a new state, certain changes in your income, and changes in your family size (for example, if you marry, divorce, or have a baby).”

This means that you can make changes to your health insurance plan if these things happen during the year you are covered and you do NOT have to wait until your Open Enrollment period to makes the changes you may need. It’s a good idea to inform your health insurance plan know if you have an upcoming life event such as a marriage, birth, move, adoption or divorce. Get the particulars of what you may need to do to satisfy the requirements of your specific plan.

One of the most important ways to get the best healthcare is to be familiar with your healthcare plan and its benefits, and to know what your part is in keeping your plan active (besides paying your premium of course).

Yours In Health,


The Quest for Good Healthcare Never Stops

It’s been a long time since I have written here, but it had to do with what? Healthcare issues in my family. Yes, a healthcare advocate dealing with healthcare issues. How appropriate.

Anyhoo, you would not believe the things that I have witnessed since I last wrote in my blog. I should have written during the sleepless nights I had wondering if the individuals in my family would be ok, but my mind was so exhausted in dealing with doctor’s appointments, paperwork, making sure that all of our healthcare providers were on the same page, calling our insurance company and making sure that they covered our appointments, procedures, durable medical equipment, medications and the multitude of other things that we needed to make sure that we were and are alright.

It’s frustrating and exhausting for me, and I AM A HEALTHCARE ADVOCATE. I truly feel for people that have no clue where to begin in handling their healthcare issues and having extremely pressing issues on their hands. Patient navigators in hospitals and other facilities look out for the interests of the HOSPITAL, not the patient. An advocate, a real advocate, makes sure that the needs of the patient are met. Just so happens that for the past few months, my family have been patients.

From colds and sinuses and allergies to orthopedic issues to heart conditions, I have been the one that has had to speak up for my family’s needs, talk to doctors and therapists, and make sure the medicine was the right dosage and for the right person (I’m not joking).

As an advocate for yourself or your loved ones, you have to be prepared and ready to go at any time. You cannot back down if a healthcare provider tries to brush you off. You should keep your eye on the prize, which is the best healthcare possible for yourself and your family. Do whatever is within your means to make that happen, in a positive way of course. You won’t catch any flies with vinegar.

Stay tuned here for tips and tricks to get the best healthcare for you and your loved ones. You can’t afford not to…

My Healthcare Providers Are Fighting – Part 2

Last week, I posted a blog talking about what you can do when your healthcare providers are disagreeing about the route to take for your treatment. Here are some practical tips to use with your providers to get everyone on the same page.

But what to do when your healthcare providers disagree?

A lot of our decisions will be based on our own common sense, beliefs and values. As humans, we naturally do what makes sense to us and what is comfortable. So in functioning as a human, we must remember a few things in trying to sort out healthcare opinions:

• We should voice our concerns to each provider, and ask why they formed the opinion that they did. If you understand their reasoning for choosing the opinion they chose, it makes it easier to evaluate what they are telling you.

• Ask each provider to evaluate the other providers differing opinions. Have each provider write down their thoughts of the others’ opinions and show it to all that are concerned. Ask the other providers their thoughts about what was written, and if they still stand by what they first told you.

• Educate yourself about your conditions and treatment options so you can ask informed questions. This is your health, so it is your responsibility to make sure you have done your homework about it.

• Is it all about the Benjamins? Doctors get paid for the services they perform. Surgeries are almost always thousands of dollars in a doctor’s pocket. Do you need the services or do they need the cash?

healthcare journey• Trust your gut. After hearing everything your providers are saying, what is your gut telling you? You were ultimately in charge of your healthcare, as well as the expert on your personal health and circumstances. Use your common sense and make a choice, but don’t be pressured to do so immediately. Make the decision that reflects your values and beliefs.

You will be the one who has to make the choices about your course of treatment, no matter how many differing opinions you get. You will be the one financially responsible, and you will be the one to indoor any consequences that may arise as a result of your choice. Make sure it’s a good one.

Be a smart patient – do your homework, ask questions and question the answers. Make sure your decisions are reasonable (and covered by your insurance!). You can squash the fighting and get your best care.

Want more clever information about healthcare? Visit my site at http://www.livebetterboomer.com.

I have eBooks and I am putting together online courses to help people learn how to advocate for their best healthcare. Be well!

Yours in health,

Tiffany Matthews, BSW, MJ a.k.a. Healthebooklady

My Healthcare Providers Are Fighting

Well, not fighting, but they are having major disagreements. And the disagreement is about which direction to take in my plan of care.

So where does that leave me?

As you already know if you know me, I took a nasty spill really injured my knee. Now, it has led to some major complications with my knee, back and leg.

Right now, I have two orthopedic surgeons, a physical therapist and a rehabilitation doctor monitoring my condition. Hectic doesn’t begin to describe it. Meanwhile, all of these providers have an opinion about what is going on with me, as well as my plan of treatment.

healthcare journeyOne orthopedic surgeon has no idea of how to proceed of why I continue to have pain after surgery. The other orthopedic surgeon (thank goodness for second opinions!) says that I may have damage that no one has found or discussed with me before. The rehabilitation doctor says that he is about my hip, back and thigh. And the physical therapist has thrown her hand up concerning the other three providers. She is the one that sees me several times per week, so she feels her opinion is one the doctors should consider.

I feel caught in the middle – literally. This becomes a dilemma for me, as it would for any patient.

Now, all of these healthcare providers are smart. I don’t take anything away from them. But I am smart to, however I am at a loss as to which way to go.

Side note: I am a healthcare advocate, and I still have a difficult time with navigating healthcare at times, even though I know my way around very well. What about the people that don’t know their way around? What must they be feeling?

Why do healthcare providers disagree?

Healthcare providers are people too. Some know more and have more experience than others. Some are aggressive with treatment, while others take a more laid-back approach. Differences in a healthcare provider’s knowledge experience and practice methods vary widely. That is why you must find a provider that closely mirrors how you would like to handle treatment for your conditions. Make sure that the provider you choose listens and has a complete background on you. Healthcare providers, like all people, are different which leads to different approaches to care.

But what to do when your healthcare providers disagree?

I will give you some practical avenues to take in my next post. They take effort, but isn’t your health and healthcare worth it? I think so.

Want more clever information about healthcare? Visit my site at http://www.livebetterboomer.com.

I have eBooks and I am putting together online courses to help people learn how to advocate for their best healthcare. Be well!

Yours in health,

Tiffany Matthews, BSW, MJ a.k.a. Healthebooklady