Thursday, July 16, 2009

You Gotta Have Faith-a-Faith-a-Faith-a...

A number of years ago, my father found God, which was a good thing, because it helped him through a divorce, then the death of his son (my brother), the death of his ex-wife (my mother), a number of audits, and most recently, a fall through the roof. But now, as he's healing, we prepare to face the next great challenge: the hospital bill.

We've all heard the terrible stories about the cost of staying at the hospital, and they are completely true. We found out today that my father's total bill would be $113,500 for his stay at Cooper Trauma Medical Center. This includes the nurses, the food, the surgeries, the IVs, the medication, etc, etc. Now, I must admit that this comes in under my $200,000 estimate, but keep in mind that this does NOT include his 4-hour stay at South Jersey Regional, the Rescue Squad ride to South Jersey Regional, the helicopter ride from South Jersey to Cooper, the prescription medicines he's now on, or the follow-up appointments.

But it's at a time like this that my father would tell me to have, "Faith."

This afternoon, we got a call from the hospital, wanting to speak to us about payment options. We already knew that our Home Owners Insurance would not be able to help them, nor would Charity Care as my parents currently make too much money for it. So our expectations weren't high going into the call. However, they simply made us an offer we could not refuse:


Yes, you read that correctly. If we're able to make a $1500 down payment, and then the subsequent $200/month following that, they will reduce the bill by 90% due to something called the Medicare Discount!! When I heard this, I really felt like there had to be a catch, whether there be another stipulation, or that they had read us the amount from someone else's account.

But no. It's true. $15,000.

Looks like he may have someone looking out for him up there after all.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Wonder Women

I just finished watching the newest DC Animated Movie, "Wonder Woman," and I must admit that I'm pleased by the product. They've got a talented team over there, putting together successful product after product, using the source material as an inspiration rather than a guide.

The voice acting in the film is nicely done, the fight choreography is great, and the direction is focused. Of course, there are a few shortcomings, mostly related to the script and the dialogue, as the love story between Diana (Keri Russell) and pilot Steve Trevor (Nathan Fillion) is a little forced. Also, the PG-13 is extremely hurtful, as the characters keep uttering the line, "Holy Crap." Now, I could have been fine with this if it happened once, but it's something that gets used a number times throughout the movie, and irked me every time I heard it. Plus, swords and arrows usually produce a little more blood than that.

But as I said, I liked it, and I look forward to the new "Green Lantern" animated movie due out later this year.

But as you probably noticed, the title of my blog doesn't just refer to one Wonder Woman, but many. And in order to explain exactly what it means, I have to take you on a mental field trip back to June 29th of this year...

Here I am. In New Jersey. Helping my father put a new roof on his house. We had started ripping shingles off yesterday, and today, we'd continue what we'd started, hoping to finish up in only a few days, when I'd return to New York and face whatever my future held for me.

But that's not how things played out. It seems my future had a good idea of where it was taking me from the very start. For that morning, my father fell through the very roof we were working on. It happened quickly, and I didn't notice until I heard the very crack of the wood beneath his feet. I turned, and just as I did, I saw him disappear over the edge. I ran over, immediately calling out "DAD!" And there he lay on the ground below, almost 20 feet down.

My first thought was to jump down, but that didn't seem to work for him, so I used the ladder. I ran to his side, screaming his name the entire way, alerting neighbors that something was wrong. Even before I got to him, someone from across the street was calling 9-1-1.

He was breathing. Labored. Making gurgling noises. Bleeding from his nose. His head had landed on a stone, his body, lying on its right side. You would have thought he was sleeping from his positioning. I continued to call to him, but for almost two minutes, no response. Finally, he began to move. His foot first, then his hand. Stubbornly, he rolled himself over, even as I called out to him not to move. He laid on his back, and finally opened his eyes, looking up at me.

"What happened?"

"You fell through the roof."

"No I didn't."

"Yep. You did, you dumb sonavabitch."

Before long, the ambulance arrived. He knew his name, the date, seemed competent enough. But then he removed his right glove, and his ring finger and pinky pointed in directions normal fingers should not go. They put him on a back brace with a neck guard, and moments later, I was crying as I drove my way to the emergency room at the hospital.

It seems my future had a good idea of where it was taking me from the very start.

To make a long story short, he stayed at South Jersey Medical Center for a few hours, and then was flown by chopper to the Trauma Unit at Cooper Medical in Camden, New Jersey. When my stepmother Debbie and I arrived later that night, he was knocked out, resting, after already having had his fingers set.

Over the next 11 days, the hospital would become our surrogate home. Debbie made sure to visit him everyday, even at times when he was simply resting due to the pain medication and exhaustion. I would accompany her as much as I was able, though I had business in New York that I needed to attend to in order to keep my own life in order.

Which brings me to the Wonder Women that I spoke of.

Debbie showed so much strength and resilience during this time, bringing courage and solidarity to each of us, including my father, as his wounds began to heal. He had fractured the right side of his face and broken his left hip in addition to his injured fingers. The surgery for his face was taxing, the physical therapy for his hip more so. But she was there everyday, helping him not only to eat, to dress, to bathe, but also to heal. She was everything you'd want to see in your parents, reminding you that through all adversity, the bond of love holds true.

Then there is my sister, Kat, who currently lives in North Jersey with her husband, Mike. We had just finished a road trip together, and suddenly, found ourselves thrust into the same car yet again to travel to Camden the weekend following his injury. She drove down, pushing plans aside to be sure she was with my father and the family. Even though she'll be 27 in August, she's still the baby, bringing life and passion to the bunch, reminding us that even though we're all grown up, she'll always be "Stupid" and I'll always be "Dumbie."

And finally, there's the ever wonderful Tracy Clifton. Tracy was flying out to the East Coast for my birthday, of which I was hoping to spend some in New York and then drive down to New Jersey to introduce her to my family. But that wouldn't be what happened. I told her this might not be the best time, and she said that there was no other place she'd rather be than by my side at a time like this. And that was that.

She flew in late the Wednesday night following the accident, and we drove back down to Jersey in the wee hours of the morning. Each day she was here, we drove to the hospital to see my father, and every day, she stood by my side, giving me as much love and support as any human could give, and then some. She never asked for anything, and simply gave everything she could to my family.

At a time when my birthday seemed like a footnote, she made me feel special, and reminded me that everyone deserves a birthday. I don't think I'll ever be able to thank her enough for her actions.

And so I am surrounded by some of the most amazing people I have ever met. Wonder Women, each of them. And it is with their support and their love that my father was finally able to come home this past Friday, July 10th. He won't be fully healed for months, but it's good to have him back.

For now, I find myself staying in Millville, to be with him and Debbie until we can get him back up on his feet (literally), and in the meantime, I'll work from here, knowing that even though I don't know what the future holds, it's already got plans for me.