22 January 2009 0 Comments

The most expensive appointment you never went to

So you have an appointment scheduled with your doctor, therapist, counselor, dentist, or whatever – an appointment with an individual who provides a professional service. Someone whose time is just as valuable as yours, in some cases – depending on the specialist, they may perceive their time to be more valuable.

Regardless of the profession, lets say you make an appointment. Your calendars are reviewed, time slots are filled and your done. Off to go do whatever it is you do to fill up your time until the next appointment – snowboard, hang out with the kids, run errands, sleep, work, play with the dog, go for a ride, eat, pay bills, sleep, exercise, go out to eat, have beers, party, sleep, work, make deadlines, kids, etc. Life goes on, and you realize you just missed that appointment. Oops.

So you forgot the appointment, honestly. It slipped you mind – there was no malicious intent. So you call about twenty minutes into the appointment you were supposed to be at, to reschedule. No answer, so you call again, no answer, and then you finally send an email. ‘Sorry I missed the appointment, can we please reschedule’ (or something like that).

About forty minutes into the appointment you were supposed to be at, you get an email – not a phone call – stating that your appointment was missed and according to the contract, since there was less than a 24 hour notice you are being charged the full fee of, let’s use $100 as an example. And let’s say that he/she decided to use the numbers of your credit card (which was retained without your knowledge) to charge that no-show fee. Is that desperation, or just a strict adherence to a self imposed rule which undoubtedly leaves both parties at odds.

All of us have missed an appointment for some reason or another. Perhaps to no fault of our own, we’re not infallible. None of us.

Most if not all of the service related professionals listed above have a similar cancellation policy. Some go even as far as 48 hours. It’s understandable. But to charge the full fee – immediately after the appointment missed? What happened to three strikes? Or in this case, the first one? A partial fee maybe. But to even charge at all? If it was an oversight and you have every intention of rescheduling, why not empathize, reschedule and say “next time buddy, you will pay – oh you will pay”. That’s fair. But no warning?

I’ve talked to several doctors who have similar policies, and asked them if they have exercised their “cancellation policy”. The answer was predominantly “no”. The repeat offenders – the ones with great excuses for continuously missing appointments were charged and in the end went away. But they did not penalize their regular patients who may have once, maybe twice forgotten an appointment over the years. It’s about fostering relationships in a small community, not enforcing unjust stipulations. I suppose some people cannot see the forest through the trees.

Rant over and out.

13 October 2008 1 Comment

Day 23

Continued from a previous post.

What a weekend! It started early with another Friday morning visit with Dr. Eshraghi. We left our house in the morning and made it just in time for our 11:30. The ride up was pretty chill, but there was a brief moment when traffic slowed just past Madras – it looked as though a trailer full of pears had somehow dumped its contents all over the highway – that being fresh pears. So for a brief moment we drove over what looked like a river of crushed pears – a green river that bridged the highway severed only by the tracks of north and south-bound traffic. We continued on. The turning leaves just past Mt Hood weren’t as bright as last week but still nice to look at.

Day 20We didn’t know what to expect at Max’s appointment – but we knew that that one area on his arm had not healed as fast or as completely as every other burn had. It was/is still an open wound. The big unanswered question, and the one that was on everyones mind was ‘Is Max going to need surgery?’. Max has been such a good sport throughout this whole time, and had already reluctantly assumend surgery was going to be the outcome, but it was our job to remind him it wasn’t a certainty and that’s why we were going to the doctors again.

We arrived at the hospital (where the doctors office was – on the 5th floor) and made our way to our appointment. The doctors assistant escorted us to a room, somewhat smaller than our previous visit, and asked Max to remove his shirt, he did. She took his temperature and removed his dressing and left. Dr. Eshraghi walked in, smiled briefly and went directly to Max. He looked carefully, thoughtfully, and delivered his conclusion. We had three options. 1st: We do the surgery and remove the burn. 2nd: We wait several weeks, return and do the surgery if the wound is still bothering Max. 3rd: We return after several weeks and if the scar looks fine and does not bother Max, we leave it alone. He looked at us and basically stated that Max’s injury was borderline, but would be fine without immediate intervention – but made it clear that it was our choice. I think he really didn’t want to put us through any more. The hospital already had us booked for surgery that afternoon – so we were prepared, but not really looking forward to another procedure on Max. We chose option three, the doctor nodded and agreed. We liked the doctor – from the moment we met him at The Burn Center, we could tell he cared. He pointed out what to look for in Max’s wound as the weeks progressed, and gave us some information on what things we could do to help his scar heal properly. And with that we left the hospital.

We were all so happy. For the first time in what seemed a long time, we were a happy family again, no worries and most importantly for Max – no surgery. I made calls, sent some texts out about the good news and we set off for lunch.

Lunch was great – we met my cousin Nicole for a tasty lunch at this place on Mississippi called Muddy’s, then we cruised to a comic book store up the street to kill some time before heading downtown and hooking up with our friends Mark and Heather.

We cruised across the river, parked and made our way around the Pearl, stopping at Powell’s and mio gelato for some, well, gelato.

We met up with M & H at their cool studio across from W&KScenic as they were wrapping up their Friday with their cute little Welsh Terrier Layla. We hadn’t seen them since Max was at the Burn Center, but didn’t really have the time or energy to really hang-out, so it was good to see them under less stressfull conditions.

We (Laurie, Max, Ana, and I) stayed at their home for the evening – which was memorable for sure (good times, good times). We had our own room and the kids were set up in a tent – they loved it. Ana spent most of her time playing with Layla, and Max was plugged into the PS3. It felt good to be in Portland with friends – not a hotel, being in such a relaxing environment removed us from our reason being in Portland in the first place and allowed us to chill. Thank you Mark and Heather for having us over and being such wonderful hosts.

Saturday rolled around and we made our way back home. No stops this time, Ana had a soccer game to get to and she didn’t want to miss it. The ride was fast and uneventful. We got home and all was well. Our neighbor Megan had watched Coco and Lucy for us, thank you Megan!

The weekend melted away as I spent most of the time hanging inside with Max, who was taking a day off from having to smear massive amounts of SPF on his face and arm. We played Halo 3 online w/ my brother and Max’s cousin (we kicked butt) and started organizing Legos.

Day 23Max’s burns are for sure getting better, but there’s no doubt there are still marks that tell the tale. Before we left the doctor’s office I had asked how long before his skin started blending back to look as it did before this all happened. I was told he would look ‘normal’ in about twelve months, but there would be a chance that some areas may look a little ‘different’ but time would tell.

I’m positive Max is going to do great in these upcoming months. He’s shown nothing but strength and resolve throughout this whole ordeal. His outlook has been and contiunes to be positive and that counts for alot.

With such a great community of family, friends, and well wishers how could he not get better? :^)

7 October 2008 3 Comments

Back from Portland, back to school

Continued from a previous post.
Day 16

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for sure – but things may be settling back to the way they were, at least at surface level.

Our visit to Portland was a short two day there-and-back adventure mainly to follow-up with Dr. Nick Eshraghi.

We left Bend just before 8am and arrived at the hospital with a little time to spare before our scheduled 11:30 appointment. Pulling up to the Burn Center brought back some memories, but it was good to be back in a strange sort of way. I suppose knowing that we were just passing through made it easier than before. I parked the car in the space right across from the window where had been stationed with Max, we all got out of the car and proceeded into the Burn Center for our appointment – Max covered in sunscreen and wearing a cool looking wide brimmed hat with a long flap on the backside. He looked ready for safari.

As we entered the building we pointed out to Ana where Max’s room was, she smiled. It was a chilling moment – of course the slight drizzle (which never stopped the whole time we were there) added to the effect, but I noticed that all of the windows had their curtains drawn. Not but two weeks earlier it was us in one of those rooms, curtains drawn as well.

Into the Burn Center, through the tunnel and up to the fifth floor to our appointment we went. Once inside we filled out some paperwork and waited. We saw the little girl who had been admitted just days after Max was, she was there for a follow up as well. Her hand and arm were completely wrapped up, but she was smiling. She couldn’t have been any older than three.

It was our turn. It was good to see the doctor again. He came in looked at Max and gave his diagnosis. I had been thinking of this moment for sometime, not knowing for sure if he was going to need more time to heal or need intervention of some sort – surgery. I had the best and worst case scenario worked out. Best case, the doctor would say everything was looking good and Max just needed some more time to heal and he would be fine. Worst case, Max would need surgery involving harvesting skin from one area of his body for another. I hadn’t really thought of anything in-between, which is what the doctor (surgeon) had prescribed.

Day 16Max’s burns on his face, chest and lower arm were healing up just fine. There would be some slight discoloration at first, but over time he would look fine. There may be small areas that leave marks, but overall, with regular application of lotion and SPF, he should be good – with the exception of one area on his upper arm. This area looked the worst from the first day. It looked deeper and rawer than all of his other burns and it just didn’t heal like the rest of them. To no fault of Max – his little body did excellent work repairing what it could – this burn was just too deep.

Dr. Eshraghi gave us a couple of options: Wait a week and see how things progress. Within that time his body could still try to heal. If nothing changes and his wound still appears the same we could wait longer – OR – Remove the burn surgically, like you would remove a really large mole – cut out the area and pull his skin together. Time will tell, but we are preparing for the surgical option.

Max’s other burn marks should blend away in about twelve months or so.

Max has prepared himself for either outcome – it was evident in the doctors office, he wasn’t happy with the diagnosis, but understood the options. I (we) Laurie and I, we were just relieved that for the most part, Max was healing just fine.

After seeing the doctor we had lunch in the hospital’s cafeteria, it was good – but there was an undertone of frustration building up in Max. What we thought was good news, just meant the likely possibility of more things being stuck in him – once again.

We left for our next appointment at the Burn Center. It was good to see some familiar faces – faces of people who had taken care of Max not but a week ago. We gave them a sort of progress report on Max and they were glad to see him doing so well. One of the nurses told Max that he was one of their best patients and that his progress was due in part to his listening and cooperation. I’m so proud of him.

OMSIWe finally left the hospital and decided to visit the OMSI. What a cool place! We had never been before and it was the perfect time to go, it was raining, we had the kids, and some time to kill before check-in. We engaged in some of their exhibits but the best part was taking a tour of the USS Blueback submarine – that was super cool. Max and Ana really got a kick out of it. Max especially, he’s fascinated with anything related to military machinery, aircraft carriers, planes, tanks, and being inside an actual submarine – he was in heaven, although he was somewhat bummed that this particular sub didn’t see any heavy combat, or launch any torpedos at the bad guys, but regardless, he was in awe.

We got to our hotel (The Inn at the Northrop Station) a cool swanky place with super fast access to the hospital, some restaurants, and a very cool street car (which we rode the next day). We checked in unpacked our stuff and realized we were starving. We walked through the pouring rain three blocks west and four blocks north to a Pastini. The funny thing was, the rain didn’t even phase us – we were all having a good time being together, knowing everything was going to be allright and a bowl full of pasta was around the corner (um – and a cold microbrew for mom and dad).

Dinner was great. There’s nothing like having the family together especially for dinner. It would have been even better if there were more of us, but just the four of was great. It’s funny the first Pastini we’ve ever been to was in Bend (they just opened a couple of month’s ago) but over the past couple of weeks, we’ve eaten mostly at their original Portland locations. There was one on NE Broadway close to the hospital (where my sister got us take-out) and the one on NW 23rd close to the hotel. So now in addition to pizza, Max has added Pastini to his favorites. Sure it’s not a food group, but it’s close enough. I suppose it’s a bit of comfort to him/us knowing there’s a little bit of home away from home. Max even requested we stay at the same hotel this Friday because Pastini’s was so close. How can we say no?

We walked back home stopping at a few shops on the way. The rain was still coming down but it didn’t matter. We got to the hotel got ready for bed and whatever the next day had in store for us.

Street CarWe decided at the breakfast table to skip Ana’s soccer game and leave a little later in the morning so we could ride the Portland Streetcar which stopped right in front of the hotel. It was a fun ride – a bit long (1.5 hours) but fun. We rode the whole loop, from NW Portland to SW Portland and back. We saw all sorts of people, it was cool. It kind of made me miss the city and all its offerings, diversity. If we were to ever move back to a city though, I’m not sure Portland would be it but who knows what the future holds, NYC would be a contender for sure.

After the ride we packed it up and headed back south to Bendo. Laurie mentioned stopping off at Timberline Lodge – the thought was immediately appealing as none of us had ever been. The six mile diversion was set and we were on our way.

Timberline LodgeWow. Timberline Lodge was incredible. We totally lucked out too – as we walked in (through the pouring rain) we entered the main lobby area downstairs and were greated by a Forest Ranger, she told us she really wasn’t supposed to be there this late in the season, but happened to be there and was getting ready to give a tour, we jumped at the opportunity. We walked around gazing at the craftsmanship, artistry and just the overall magnificence of the lodge. So cool. So cool that people could get together in such a time to make something so wonderful. We stayed for lunch. The food was pretty good too, especially the meatloaf sandwich, yum. A good diversion for sure.

We wound our way back home, passing the rain and clouds and into clearer skies. As we approached home the past two days had caught up with us and exhaustion was setting in. The kids were just as exhausted as we were as our road trip came to a close. Our fun family time was over and reality hit as we entered Bend – Max was bummed. Bummed that we were back and bummed that his ordeal was far from over. He lashed out at everyone in the car and pushed us to our limits. We had to go back into parental mode. It had been three weeks since Max had even seen any remote side of discipline, but his frustration turned to anger and we had to stop it – off to his room he went, along with his sister – both relegated to clean-up duty and solitary confinement for a short period. We all needed a break.

A couple of hours past and we were greeted by my sister. Two gifts were delivered from our well wishing friends: A home made loaf of bread w/ a special topping from our friend Maeve, and a beautiful gift basket from Gale. Thank you both.

The night melted away. An easy Saturday night. Sunday arrived and it was a mellow day. The highlight was dinner at mom and dad’s. Mom made my favorite – Beef Stroganoff with egg noodles, tasty. Max and Ana liked it too. It was a great dinner – all seven of us once again together, no worries. We shared our stories about our time in Portland and Max’s next steps in regards to his burns. We wathced part of Iron Man, and left early so the kids would get a good nights rest for school – which Max was kind-of excited for.

Today was Max’s first day back at school since the incident. We accompanied him into his class and were greeted by his classmates. There was a big banner in the corner ‘Welcome back Max’, below was a table full of breakfast treats assembled by parents, kids and his teacher Miss Sterling, and assistant. It was great. we could tell Max was feeling good – he was a bit nervous on the way over, but once he walked through that door it was all good. He sat down in front of his classmates and fielded everyones questions. ‘Was it scary?’, ‘Did it hurt?’, ‘What was the best part? The Worst?’ – He answered the questions perfectly all on his own. He was ready and he wasn’t nervous at all. Both Laurie and I stood behind him and smiled – and answered a couple of questions as well. His classmates were great. They were curious, concerned, but most of all understanding.

Laurie and I are so glad to be in such a wonderful community here in Bend and beyond – from Max’s school, classmates, and teachers, to our emergency services network in Bend and in Portland. To our family and friends who have supported us throughout the past several weeks. We are truly thankful for all of you.

For once I am starting to feel like we’ve made it over a huge hurdle and that things are slowly but surely starting to fall in place as they once were. But things have changed. Seeing our son go through something like this was tough and not a day goes by that I don’t think of that day, but what happened has drawn us together, especially as father and son, so I’m thankful that he’s doing good. And look forward to many many more days of building legos and just hanging out.

22 September 2008 119 Comments

Tragedy, family, friends and neighbors

It wasn’t but 8 days ago when I posted a photo of Max playing soccer on a warm summer day in Bend. Today I find myself looking after him with Laurie at the Oregon Burn Center in Portland. The amount of support we have received has been overwhelming and Laurie and I thank everyone so much for their thoughts and prayers. Everything has been happening so fast – it’s been hard for us to keep up with letting everybody know how Max is doing so I think it’s best to just post his status here as he is being treated.

On my way out the door to Portland on Friday I made my best attempt to let family and friends know what had happened, but in my haste (and using Laurie’s computer) I didn’t get an email out to everybody so I will recap what happened and end with where we are today.

Friday evening Max was standing outside by the bbq grill when our friend Eric was making an attempt to re-light the fire w/ some sort of fuel. Max tells me now that he was standing about six feet away from the grill when the fuel my friend was using exploded. I was sitting inside talking to Laurie  when all of a sudden we saw this massive explosion right outside the side patio – I had never seen such a thing before in person. The 1st thing I thought of was Max. I immediately ran outside and saw both Max and friend partially on fire – I ran towards Max and tackled him to the ground rolling him and smothering him as best I could. With the the fire off his body I ran with him to the car to take him to the hospital – but then someone called the ambulance so we waited. We grabbed as many towels as we could and soaked them in cold water to put on Max and my friend – skin was just peeling off of his face, arms and chest – Max still didn’t realize what just happened – and didn’t know at 1st why his sister and mother were screaming and why I was acting so crazy. The ambulance came, Laurie left with Max and I took Ana to her Grandparents house as fast as I could.

After dropping of Ana and explaining to mom and dad what had just happened I took off to the hospital – and waited for the ambulance to arrive.

Max started to realize what had happened and was looking at us staring at his face and was getting a little concerned – he had very serious burns on his left arm, face and chest – so the doctors decided he needed to be flown to The Burn Center immediately – my friend was to go as well, but he took the helicopter not the jet.

Once the decision was made that Max was going to Portland, I left for home to get whatever I thought I would need for our stay.

I got home – threw some clothes, toothbrushes in a bag, stopped, typed up a quick email and sent it off to whoever I could think of at the time – I let the dogs out got in the Pathfinder and raced to my dads house picked him up plugged the hospital in the GPS, got fuel made hotel reservations and headed for Portland.

The drive up there was torture – my father did his best by talking about anything but what had just happened to Max – I as a father I kept thinking how could I let something like this happen to my son. What could I have done to prevent this – why did this happen?… I had no idea how bad the burns were, if Max was going to be OK – his beautiful 10 yer old skin had been chard from his body, his eyebrows were gone, eyelashes burnt, I kept on seeing him as I did when I ran out there after the explosion – blank stare on his face while his hair was on fire, then his skin peeling off as I was trying to keep the wet towel on him – then my phone rang as we were entering Sandy – it was Laurie.

‘Hey honey, the Dr looked at Max and he thinks he’s going to be ok. his arm is kind of bad, but his face may be ok – he can see, and still feel – but we’re going to be here for about 2 weeks’ My state of mind went from uncertainty to relief – my stomach stopped churning and I felt my foot get a bit lighter – my dad immediately called my mom and left a message.

Laurie was there about an hour and a half before we arrived – We 1st went to the emergency center, but they directed us across the street to the Burn Center (which is where I am now). We buzzed the door told them who we were and they let us in (it was after hours). Once inside there were a series of doors we had to go through to get to where Max was – but it was quick.

I remember walking into the room with my dad – it was very quiet, somewhat brightly lit and there were two nurses working on Max. They had already mostly finished wrapping him up. His head was mostly covered with dressing less a few holes for his nose and eyes, they had already wrapped his arm and were just finishing his chest – ‘Have you washed your hands?’ one of the nurses asked. We were directed to the hand washing station before we could approach Max.

Immediately after washing my hands I quietly walked up to Max who was sedated and appeared to be unresponsive. I whispered in his ear ‘Max it’s dad, I’m hear’ – his head jerked toward me and his right hand moved up to reach for me. I squeezed it just hard enough to let him know I was right there. He let go of my hand and then gave me the thumbs up – and then put his hands back down and was out again.

Max had tubes and wires all over him – he had a tube in his nose to feed him, a tube in his mouth to make sure he could breath,  a catheter in him so he wouldn’t have to get up to go to the bathroom, IV in his arm for hydration and potassium, a blood pressure gauge on his ankle, a blood oxygen reader on his finger. These guys had him covered. I believe the people at St Charles actually put the breather tube in him before the flight.

Our 1st night here was rather bizarre – after spending a little bit of time with Laurie and making sure Max was OK I took dad to the hotel and drove right back here. Dad was looking tired and I knew he could have used some sleep – All of us had gone from 0 to 200 in seconds and we still had no idea what the final outcome would be. They set us up with cots in the waiting room so we took turns staying with Max and the whole time I was just starring at him, thinking is this really happening?

The next day (Saturday) was amazing – Max did not look good at all – but it was amazing to get calls, emails, and text messages of support from our family, friends, and neighbors. Laurie’s brothers and childhood friend flew in from the east coast, my brother just happened to be in Portland with his wife for a Wedding so he was here too. Max’s face was swelling up by morning, healing, but it looked bad – his spirits were up and he would give us the thumbs up on occasion and would gesture with his two arms up for hugs. They had been medicating him for the pain that he was no doubt in. Throughout the morning and afternoon he would have moments of lucidity, gesturing in the air like he wanted to write something – so we gave him a pen and paper. His eyes were swollen shut, and he couldn’t talk but he still wanted to communicate with us. The 1st thing he wrote was ‘The hospital is fun’. We laughed and tried to give him the best hug we could without crushing the tubes and wires and touching his dressings – we wanted to kiss him so bad, but his lips were just raw flesh. After a moment – he realized that it was just Laurie my dad and I and he gestured for the pen again and wrote ‘I love you guys’. I started to cry. How could this little dude who was just on fire less than 24 hours ago be so strong and spirited! He was keeping our spirits up because he felt we were upset.

The day progressed with dressing changes, family visits, phone calls, emails, texts, and just starring at Max. I made my best attempt to keep people in the loop, but realized after several hours I was loosing my ability to focus on anything else but Max. I may have returned some phone calls, but it’s a blur at this point.

It’s Sunday early morning and Max is actually doing really well! The swelling on his face has gone down considerably and the doctor says his face looks like it’s going to be OK, but he’s a little concerned about his arm which is bordering a 2nd degree burn – his face was mostly 2nd degree burns, which appear to be healing – but with burns I’ve learned it can go either way.

He has just one tube in him now for food, but that’s it. He hopped out of the bed today and we took him for a roll in to the beautiful garden here. He walked around for a bit to go to the bathroom (record pee time for him today) and his appetite has come back (he was nauseous yesterday and vomited pretty much everything that was pumped into him). I’ve been helping the nurses remove and replace his dressings – Laurie helps too and has been right next to Max this whole time. There was one sad moment today when Max looked in the mirror and saw his face for the 1st time – he gasped and was shocked – he didn’t recognize himself and was scared – we assured him he was getting better and this was just part of the process. I think seeing himself really put things in perspective for Max – he’s as strong as ever and now understands what happened. He’s such a strong kid and we are so proud of him. We’ve been with him this whole time, watching movies, reading, playing roshambo, talking, explaining, and mostly relaying messages of encouragement from our family and friends. I just want to say thank you to everyone for your awesome show of support and prayers – I believe it is really helping Max’s healing process with everyone thinking positively!

The doctor came in today and gave us a bit of encouragement. We may not have to be here for 2 whole weeks – Max seems to be healing well, so that’s good to hear. Eric is also here and is doing OK – he may need some surgery to his arm/side but we will know more later this week.

It’s getting late and I’m tired, but wanted to write about Max’s condition here and continue to post his progress for family, friends and neighbors to see. Thank you all for all your positive thoughts, support, and well wishes. We really really appreciate it and realize that without you guys this would have been way way harder!