I did not realize that my best negotiating skills were necessary to maneuver through the process of mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a lumpectomy and radiation in 2008. The cancer has returned to the same breast but a different quadrant.
Dr. “A”, my original surgeon back in 2008, who has also been monitoring my mammograms for the past 6 years, has recommended a full mastectomy. The reconstruction is to be performed by Dr. B, a plastic surgeon who specializes in mommy makeovers and breast reconstruction. (You can see him for all your Botox injection needs too!)
I met with Dr. B and decided okay, let’s do it, the clock is ticking; I have stage 1 cancer and I don’t want it to spread and become stage 2.
I should insert here that the “reconstruction” is taking belly fat, (aka donor site), and making a breast out of it. Donor site will then have a tummy tuck. Dr. B also said that they will “get rid of extra fat and skin and throw it away.” Okay, sign me up.
Meanwhile, my insurance company has informed me that they will not cover Dr. B at all. He is not in their plan. Too bad, so sad.
While I was stewing over that bit of news, I received a bill from Dr. A, who had billed the wrong insurance company. It said please pay us now.
Steam blew out of my ears, so I picked up the phone, called Dr. A and cancelled the surgery. Then I called Dr. B and cancelled the consultation appointment and the surgery. In other words, I walked off the car lot.
I couldn’t talk for the rest of the day because I was so stressed, but I did get some writing done and caught up on my BBC viewing. So not all that was bad I suppose.
I then had an appointment with Dr. Y, a female surgeon who comes highly recommended by the neighbors. Dr. Y put me in touch with Dr. Z, also a woman, who does the plastic surgery and breast reconstruction.
Dr. Z said she would do the reconstruction but that there would be extra flesh flapping around. She would only take what is needed from the donor site, stitch me back up (at least she’s not using staples) and whatever flesh is there, just kind of hangs there.
So although my insurance company is happy to pay for Dr. Z, do I really want excess hanging skin that’s not attached to anything? Can we make a deal? Can you fix that up, and maybe I could throw in a few bucks out of pocket, so I don’t, well, have pockets where my stomach used to be?
While still dazed and confused, I answered the phone the next day to find that Dr. B’s office is calling to make a deal.
“We will give you a free consult.”
“We will work with your insurance.”
“We will throw in a free set of white-wall tires…”
No, they didn’t really say that, but I did say, “Fine. I want everything in writing.”
So I am still working through the negotiation process, and waiting to see what the other doctor group offers me. A new dvd player? A wide-screen tv?
Breaking News: Dr. B’s office just called. “We need to change your appointment.”
“Why?” I ask.
“The doctor has an emergency he must attend.”
“Oh. All right then. Goodbye.”
Emergency at the golf course maybe?
I should have been a doctor so I could schedule my emergencies.
The plan is to decide by the end of the week which doctor group to go with. I’m not sure which package I will purchase at which lot, but I certainly hope to get a lot of mileage out of the product.