Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Little Head Case

I was thinking about Cael's birth recently.  Thanks to an effective epidural, I was able to rest (even at 10 cm) and let Cael work his own way out of the birth canal as we waited for my doctor to finish delivering another baby at a hospital across town.  An unexpected side effect of that delay, however, was that he was born with the biggest conehead of any baby I'd ever seen.

That's no problem, because babies' heads are malleable, right?

That's a fact I had always taken for granted, I suppose.  With both Cael and Graham I only considered the soft spots on their heads at their scheduled check-ups, but with Adler it only took a few weeks before I became aware of his soft spot-- or lack thereof.

Where his brothers had a noticeable dip at the fontanelles, Adler has only a very tiny (completely undetectable to most) dip where there should be a larger open space.  At his two month check up, I brought this up to our doctor who checked him over, determined that his soft spot was open but admittedly much smaller than it should be, and tried to assure me that we would measure Adler's head circumference again at four months and seek out additional help if it was needed.

In the meantime, however, I did some reading which, yes, I know you're not supposed to do, but I stayed away from blogs and read several articles published by the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics that suggested treatment for prematurely fused skulls could prevent developmental delays and be done with a much less invasive surgery if performed by three months of age.

Adler was nearly 15 weeks old.

I tried not to let my worry get the best of me, but still visited our doctor again and requested a referral to the U of I to get a specialist's opinion. 

Now when both Cael and Graham were born, our family insurance policy was adjusted automatically by the birth of another child.  We took the kid home, fed him and loved him, payed a small fortune to keep him, and went on with life.

We didn't realize that things had changed.  Don't get me wrong-- we still payed a small fortune (a large fortune, actually) but instead of our policy accommodating Adler automatically, it waited for us to do something.  No one called to let us know that, and the insurance company was happy to bill us in his name, but all the while they were likely wringing their hands and cackling ominously.

So as I called to pre-register Adler for his pediatric neurosurgical consult, I heard words I wasn't expecting:

"You may want to reschedule, your son doesn't have health insurance."

Excuse me?  As it turns out, Adler has not been covered these last three months.  His well-child checks were not free, and that large fortune his birth was costing was about to grow a few more zeroes.  We made frantic calls to Blue Cross/Blue Shield only to learn that, since more than 30 days had passed, he could not be added until a qualifying event took place like a birth or death (neither scenario I'm even willing to consider) or our policy renewed in 2015.

Let's call this rock bottom.  $18K in the red from flooded basement, baby with potentially fusing skull, neurosurgery appointment, no health insurance.

We went to the appointment anyway.  It couldn't get much worse, right?  We hung onto hope that Joel's school insurance contact person could work some magic and get him added with retroactive coverage, and headed off to the hospital.

Adler was great.  He slept, he snuggled, he ate, and Joel and I nervously checked Facebook for a distraction.  We finally met with the doctor who couldn't assess anything without a skull x-ray, so we headed upstairs to strap our three month-old onto a padded table.

Maybe this is rock bottom.

The doctor returned and reviewed the xray, determining that his skull is not fused (although is essentially closed) but should still provide enough expansion to accommodate his growing head and ample double chin. 

Things were finally looking up.

She noted that with the condition we were investigating (Craniosynostosis) 80% of cases begin in utero, and we knew that Adler's head was normally constructed at that time.  There is a small percentage of children whose heads do fuse to soon after birth, so if it becomes apparent that he is in that minority, we will cross that bridge, but thankfully even that bridge does not usually lead to cranial surgery.

The next day we got a phone call that our insurance would accept Adler, but would only cover back to July 1st, so we will be responsible for his entire birth and hospital stay out of pocket-- a small price to pay for the news that my sweet boy is healthy.  And expensive.

But damn, is he worth it.

1 comment:

  1. Oh no, that sucks! But yes, he's a cutie---glad he's ok!


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.