6/6/12

Balls. Of the eye variety.

Back in December, my wife had eye surgery on both her eyes because she had extreme dry eye and some kind of conjunctival lesion that needed to be removed. They pull tissue from another place on your eye under your lid and graft it to the area they cut away. Here's what they did to her. Try not to puke:



When it was done, she couldn't open her eyes. Two days later, she looked like an emo vampire -- her eyes were blood red and she was involuntarily crying all the time.

It's been a long recovery, and while her eyes still bug her a bit, they are looking much better these days. I thought the worst was over -- until I got the bill.

It cost over 10 grand, and luckily a good chunk of it was covered by my insurance. But since we have a fairly high minimum yearly deductible, I'm going to be paying it off until the end of the year at least.

I understand some of the itemized charges, but some of the other line items made me laugh. Apparently eye surgery requires some weird things. For instance, they could be charging us $110 bucks for a pregnancy test and I wouldn't even know it -- oh wait, yes I would because it's itemized right on the bill. Yes, they actually required a pregnancy test before eye surgery. Good thing she wasn't having a pelvic exam -- they probably would have required an eye test. Ridiculous.

Let me share a few of the other items with you. The first one I understand:

Operating Room, 90 minutes -- $3422.00

That's 38 bucks a minute, just to lay there in a room while a light mist of virulent staphylococcus germs settles gently upon you. And this was just to rent the hall - before any surgery actually happens. After the surgery is just more of the same:

Outpatient recovery, 125 minutes -- $545.50

Again, that seems like an assload of money to just lie somewhere watching a 4:3 picture stretched onto a 16:9 TV for two hours. I mean, if your eyes weren't all cut to shit and you could actually see the short fat people on the screen. Why hospitals and doctor's offices can't get the aspect ratio correct on a flat screen, I will never know. Drives me insane.

Eraser Wetfield -- I don't know what this is, but it sounds like the nickname of a hit man you'd hire if you never, ever wanted the body to be found.

Beaver Blades -- No idea on this one. They might have gotten her chart mixed up with someone else. I may have to dispute this charge because as far as I could tell, there were absolutely zero changes to the bikini line.

Esteem -- I never knew you could get this so cheap. $12.88. I should totally load up the next time I'm in the doctor's office. I figure for less than two hundred bucks I could have the ego of Kanye West and Bono combined. I'd be a super-hero in my own mind. I wonder if I'd let myself finish.

Cannula Nasal -- This might be nose oil; I'm not sure. It was only about five bucks, so I guess if it kept her nose from squeaking during the operation, it was worth it.

Drapehead Bar -- I think I got drunk there once in college. I'm not sure what a drape head is, but it sounds like some kind of insult. I think I got billed for it because the doctor had a scotch/rocks right before the operation to calm his nerves and I told him to put it on my tab.

Ondansetron -- On Cupid, on Donder, on Blitzen! I'm pretty sure Dansetron was the gay transformer reindeer who didn't make the final cut to be on the team. Apparently, he now makes hospital visits to cheer up the post-op patients. Too bad he didn't get the Christmas gig and has been reduced to this. You gotta know when not to dance is all I'm saying, Dansetron. It's really your own fault.

Micro spears -- I saw no evidence of a line item for the micro warriors who would presumably be wielding the micro spears, so I'm thinking I got them as a freebie. Kind of like that bag of sour patch kids the cashier missed in my cart last week. I won't tell them if you don't.

Stopcock -- This one was very reasonably priced at $3.63. That's amazingly affordable when you consider that it was completely effective for almost two weeks.

So my advice to you is to double check all your medical bills and make sure you got what you paid for. And if you get charged for Beaver blades, make sure that shit is high and tight. In fact, I recommend checking it before you leave the hospital. Maybe take some before and after pictures just for evidence in case it shows up on your bill later.

Also, don't ever get eye surgery if you can help it. That shit is expensive. And really, really gross.

28 comments:

  1. OMG I wish I could find the bill when I had a broken bone in my wrist set with titanium and screws and pins. It was almost as hilarious. A total of $23,000+ of which I paid about $500 total thanks to decent insurance. I think the screws (4 each) were about $500 each, and the pins (4 each) were about $350. I don't remember the plate's cost, but I'm sure it would have bought a lot of good meals at Outback!
    Peace <3
    Jay

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    1. Ow, that just sounds horrible.

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  2. That must have been some super duper insane pregnancy test to cost that much!! Ours around Nowheresville run about $20. They require those things for EVERYTHING. Even when you KNOW you're pregnant, they make you take one just in case you could be more pregnant?? I guess??? Hospitals... they'll get you for something pointless every time.

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  3. Wow, timely post as I am watching my partner sleep after undergoing his THIRD detached retina eye surgery today: 3/1, 4/26, 6/6.

    I'm not quite certain, but I think we'll be somewhere around $100K after all the bills are in, and that's not including the bonus round of replacing his lens that got trashed during the 3 retinal surgeries.

    Best of all, he gets to use this awesome equipment during recovery: http://www.mcfeetech.com/packages.htm

    Thank GOD he's got a way to maintain his mad scrapbooking and needlepoint habits, and that he can *even* attend church. :-)

    Seriously, though, hope your wife is doing well.

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    1. a hundred grand?? Man. Somewhere there's a porsche named after your partner.

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  4. I am a registered nurse in a trauma center here in Birmingham, Alabama. I know what each of these things are, and am laughing at your descriptions! Thanks for the giggles!

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    1. Ok, so now you are aware that you must define beaver blades for us...

      Somehow I know that it will be a letdown.

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  5. I used to work in medical supply at a hospital. The markups are insane on items. 200% on low cost items and lessening as the cost goes up. It is similar to the cost of hammers or toilet seats for NASA. They used to use procedure based charges until they figured out they could make more using time base room charges and individual item charges.

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  6. Holy shit. I'm from Canada and I have never seen a health bill. This is nuts! (and hilariously described).

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  7. There are days I really love being in Canada. And this is one of them. This would be covered under our universal medical insurance here.

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    1. Yeah, but on the downside, you'd be blind now. Just kidding. I think we just need to get rid of the third party payer bullshit over here to start with.

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  8. I'm thinking, these days it's kind of elitist to have surgery of any sort.

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    1. I agree. I offered to fix her up with my soldering iron, but she wouldn't go for it.

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  9. First, I've had a few eye surgeries and "emo vampire" is a PERFECT description!

    The only one I can define for you is the nasal canula. That's the oxygen thing that goes in your nose. You know, it looks like a bit for a horse, but in your nose? Yeah. That.

    And "make sure that shit is high and tight" made everyone around me think I was crazy because I laughed so loud!

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  10. ondansetron is an anti nauseant...just in case you wanted to know LOL..also known as Zofran. Ive always thought Zofran would be a great warrior name. and his side kick Zaditor! ( which happens to be a measly eye drop)

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  11. Hospital procedures are crazy; I was in prep for a hysterectomy, and they wanted a urine sample for a pregnancy test. First off, I hadn't had any liquids since before midnight, so no way I could give them ANY kind of sample. Second, even though I swore to them it was not even remotely possible that I could be pregnant, they insisted that I might not be sure. I said that I think if you've had your period for four months straight (which is why I was there for the hysterectomy), it's a pretty good bet you're NOT pregnant. They chuckled at my quaint logic, and hooked me up to an IV so I could give them their damn sample. Of course, the doctor was late, and with the IV, I couldn't stop producing samples. Doing the 25 yard dash down the hall in my half-assed (literally) hospital gown and bringing my friend the IV cart. Oh, and the total bill for the surgery and an overnight stay with jell-o thrown in, $45K.

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  12. I came over from As the crackerhead crumbles to have a look. Unfortunately I got to the video and I couldn't so I skipped that part. Since I'm running errands today I do believe I'll drop by the hospital and pick up a supply of esteem, you never know when you might be getting low on that

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  13. Anonymous11:18 AM

    It's Alli, but I can only post as anonymous now. Shh..don't tell. Last few posts about Man Candles - hilarious. I am a nurse and could not even watch eye surgery - ew! Hope your wife feels better!

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  14. If I go to prison for my last post, I'll be asking a few more questions about that stopcock. Just as a preventative measure. Also, sorry about your wife's bikini line...and, you know, the eyeball and stuff.

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  15. Your poor wifey. Please tell her I hope she gets well soon...I was cringing at the thought of all of that..and then I really cringed at the itemized bill.
    Over the weekend, I poked myself in the eye with a mascara wand and if it were physically possible to do so, I would've kicked my own ass for inflicting that much pain on myself for the love of vanity.
    Eye pain is horrific.
    Thanks for the laugh - as usual. I am trying really hard to understand why they gave her a bikini shave for eye surgery. Apparently, someone else needs their asskicked as much as I do. Please JG..please get to the bottom of this and let us know what their reasoning was - I just really need to know. I have to be honest - if it were me, and I was getting eye surgery - and someone came in to shave my nether regions, I would've been like Hells to the No. I can only assume your wife did not have the beaver blade procedure and if that is the case, they charged you for something they didn't do. Asskicking is in order either way.
    Peace and High Fives. DG

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  16. OMG... this (aside from the extremely gory video, which I watched for about 30 seconds - does that beat anyone else?) was pure comedy gold. LMAO. Picking up "esteem" at the hospital? LOVE IT! :-))

    I knew what a few of those things were, like the nasal cannula, but I really would like to know about the Beaver blades. I have read line item hospital bills in the past and the prices are truly mind-blowing. Considering I have seen pregnancy tests for sale here for the princely sum of ONE DOLLAR - yes, Dollar Tree has EVERYTHING! - I think that charge particularly egregious. Somehow I don't think waving her little stick from home and swearing it was "fresh" would have cut it with the nurses, though.

    On the more serious side, I sincerely hope your wife completely recovers. I'm scared to even get Lasik so I think she's very brave.

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  17. Eye Surgery clearly costs that much because there are like four living human beings who could actually bear to perform it. Because it is the most disgusting thing in the whole world.

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  18. My husband doesn't let me look at itemized bills anymore; he says it's bad for my blood pressure and the dogs' nerves. But I can tell you that your insurance is one reason the bill is so high. You should feel good about that - it means you've made it!

    Still, as others have said, beaver blades, PG test & cock block (and possibly esteem) can be had much cheaper. I think you can get ALL of that at Dollar Tree. Best to your better half, though - that sounds like a terrible thing to have, and not much better to recover from.

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  19. My husband doesn't let me look at itemized bills anymore; he says it's bad for my blood pressure and the dogs' nerves. But I can tell you that your insurance is one reason the bill is so high. You should feel good about that - it means you've made it!

    Still, as others have said, beaver blades, PG test & cock block (and possibly esteem) can be had much cheaper. I think you can get ALL of that at Dollar Tree. Best to your better half, though - that sounds like a terrible thing to have, and not much better to recover from.

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  20. Anonymous9:55 AM

    Beaver blades are the actual scapels used to do the cutting. They are made by the Beaver company... No really there us a surgical blade company named Beaver not sure I want to know how they got started and came up with the name. Houdini

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  21. I've had 7 eye surgeries - including one to remove my right eye - totaling around $250,ooo. The itemized bills did provide some comic relief though, my boyfriend and I cracked up at some of the stuff on there, beaver blades included, wondering what the hell some of that stuff was! And yes, eye surgery is gross.

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  22. I had to have a complete hysterectomy a couple of years ago, to the tune of $32,000. The itemized bills kept coming for *months* after the surgery. My favorite line item was Something Something High Impact Mesh. Mesh?!? No one mentioned any mesh when they explained the procedure at my pre-op appointment. It took about five calls to the insurance company, the hospital, and the doctor's office before I found someone who could explain exactly what high impact mesh is and why it is now residing in my body. Turns out that when they take a bunch of stuff out of you, the bits that are left might sag, so they bind them up with plastic mesh. Yeah, I feel *totally* comfortable with that.

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  23. Anonymous2:54 AM

    Ondansetron is a drug. We dont charge much for it at the pharmacy so they may have raped you on it.

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