Love of Procrit

I believe I’ve mentioned before that my mom is anemic, so she needs a jolt of Procrit every now and then. We figured this out about four years ago, when mom fell at her home back in Illinois and couldn’t get up on her own. She was taken to the hospital by ambulance…and never went home again. She sold her home and moved without ever going back again; my sister and I got her moved out (don’t ask me about 1-800-GOT-JUNK; I was physically ill at the sound of my mother’s wineglasses crashing into the trash bin). Anyway, she was diagnosed with several maladies, one of which was anemia, which contributed to the fall.

So she had her last shot of Procrit last December, shortly after she moved to Pennsylvania. We’d gotten her set up with a new medical practice here (no small feat since her medical records are like phone books), and she saw the nurse practitioner. We’d tried to get her in to see one of the doctors in the practice, since her case is so complicated, but they assured us that LeAnn was wonderful.

And she was. Took lots of time with Mom and me, made tons of notes, wrote new prescriptions, and set Mom up with referrals to all the right specialists.

Cut to about a month ago. I notice Mom’s getting tired faster than usual, and she’s a little wobbly on her feet. “Maybe it’s time for another shot of Procrit,” I venture. She calls the pharmacy later that same day for a refill.

The pharmacy calls back. Seems that Mom’s prescription drug insurance company has changed, so they’ll need to get it approved by them first. Should take a couple of days.

A couple of days later, we learn that the doctor’s office needs to submit paperwork to the drug insurance company. Several phone calls ensue over a few more days, and we are eventually assured that the doctor’s office will handle it and get back to us.

The doctor’s office submits the paperwork…TO THE WRONG INSURANCE COMPANY. Argh! More phone calls. They resubmit the paperwork to the right company. We wait.

And wait.

Mom calls.

We wait.

She calls every day that week. Lots of conversations.

One of which involves the line, “We have other patients, you know!”

On Tuesday, I stop into the doctor’s office personally to inquire about the status. After waiting for about 10 minutes, they check Mom’s chart and assure me that the paperwork was faxed and they’re waiting for a reply.

More waiting. It’s been over 3 weeks.

Finally, Mom calls and tells the person on the other end of the line that if she ends up hospitalized because she couldn’t get her medication in a timely fashion, she’ll make sure the bills are forwarded to their office.

BAM! That got ’em. The doctor’s office calls the insurance company to follow up on the paperwork.

Guess what? The insurance company NEVER RECEIVED THE FAX! They resend. The office calls to ensure they received it. They did. So we wait again.

This morning, Mom gets a call from the doctor’s office. The drug coverage was DENIED. Apparently, the office left a couple of spots on the paperwork blank, so they’ll need to be filled in and the paperwork resubmitted.

It turns out that the empty blanks were for blood test results. “Which doctor have you seen?” they ask her. “Neither,” she replies, ” I saw LeAnn.”

“Oh, she’s no longer with us.”

So now there’s no one on the medical staff familiar with Mom’s (complicated and detailed) health history.

She needs a current blood test, which Mom has never had in Pennsylvania, so now MY phone rings. It’s the nurse who’s been spearheading the process. She sounds really apologetic, so I can tell Mom’s ripped her a new one. It was justified, I guess, but I felt sorry for her anyway. I’ve been on the receiving end of Mom’s anger…it’s awfully chilly on that side of her cold shoulder.

The nurse tells me that she has an order for the appropriate blood tests, but is hoping that I can pick it up and deliver it personally–after all this, she doesn’t want it lost in the mail, for the love of Mike. Mom’s preference (and mine, actually) would be for the test to be done Tuesday morning. Someone from the assisted living unit of my mom’s senior apartment building can come to her apartment at 5:00 am and draw blood. That way, I don’t have to transport her, and she doesn’t even have to be dressed. Easy peasy.

But Tuesday is 5 more days. That’s a lot of time to wait. So I guess, gentle readers, I’ll be picking Mom up early this morning to shuttle her to have her blood drawn. This simple task will likely take at least four hours. Meanwhile, I still have a house full of in-laws.

I don’t know whether to be put out by the blood test or relieved of my in-law duty.

Will the simple errand take all day?

Will the in-laws feel I’m shirking my hostess duties?

Will my husband avoid the phone next time the caller ID says Chiquita is calling? (Duh.)

And what about…Naomi?

Tune in next time for the thrilling conclusion of: Love of Procrit.


UPDATE: Mom had the blood tests. They came back NORMAL. Weird. So she’s not getting Procrit, although all this mess was enough to get her in to see the actual MD that’s been listed on her charts since December. All’s well that ends well, I guess.


About Kathleen

Kathleen Heuer is a serial arts advocate and volunteer. She is the mom of two beautiful girls, wife to a brilliant nuclear engineer, and referee between her golden retriever and her hissy 18-year-old cat. For more, go to
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One Response to Love of Procrit

  1. Faith says:

    I missed reading your blog while I was off lone. Oh Sandwich…I’m so sorry to hear this wonderful world of insurance and doctors has done this to you. I have fought numerous insurance and doctor offices getting what I need for myself and my mother. I’ve had several calls for help from my mom’s friends asking what to do. I’ve filed appeals on my own benefits and won, thank you God!!! One other thing I have found, that might be helpful, is to explain the issue of liability they are placing them seleves in. I do it in a nice way as if I am looking out for their interest. Then I name how. That usually gets things done. One has to wonder where the (bleep) the system went wrong. Over coffee recently my son and I were discussing how to revamp the health care system. Shame some of those in power couldn’t have a cup of coffee and put it together. Having worked in this for years in various positions in various ways, I grow weary. I had actually thought of opening my own business to help individuals deal with these situations. My problem is I feel so bad for people I don’t think I’d be able to charge anyone. (smile) My son has been lecturing me recently to stop being so kind as negative results have recently occured. But due to my nature I am having a hrad time. Best of luck to you and your mom. Let us know how it works out. Ps. Can I ask which side of pa. you are on?

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