Christianity, Chronic Illness, Faith, Health, Prayer, Recovery, Relationships, Spirituality, Trust, Uncategorized

At least I have insurance…

I was finally able to have some thoughts from the porch this morning. If you read on, you’ll know why I haven’t been able to post anything for the last several days. I’ve missed my porch like you wouldn’t believe. My front porch represents everything good and wonderful in my little world – my wife, my kids and grandkids, my dogs, my friends, and most of all, my God – the things that have real value; that are truly important. I never knew how much I missed my mornings on the porch until I couldn’t be there. I’m sorry for the longer read than usual. Maybe you can relate to it.

Before we jump off though I need to say a heartfelt thank you to Jodi, Jennifer, and Mary – the house looks great! Margaret and I don’t know what we’d do without you all; without our “village”. So, without further ado…



21st May 2018:   “I’m going to try this again”. That phrase has been repeated a lot the last few days. You see, I haven’t posted anything since Mother’s Day as I’ve been in the hospital since last week. I can’t get the “guest” wi-fi to work and the constant in and out of nurses, technicians, and doctors has caused me too many stops and starts. Add to that the fact that all I can think about is going home and the result is writer’s block. So, I’m going to try this again…

I’m beyond tired of this place. The staff here is amazing. The nurses and doctors are wonderful, but I miss my wife, my dogs, and my front porch. Joni Mitchell was right, “you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone”. I’ve listened to Joni for a long time and maybe that’s why I always end conversations with “I love you”. There are times life shows up and things change in an instant. Whether it’s a temporary absence or a permanent one, I certainly don’t want to leave “I love you” unsaid to the people in my life. I may only be in a hospital room down the road, but I feel like I might as well be on the moon.

So here I sit, hooked up to an IV pole, wishing I was enjoying the gorgeous spring day from the comfort of my porch rather than seeing it through the window of this hospital room. Apparently, I have an infection related to my bout with brain surgery and meningitis several years ago. My doctor says it’s far more serious than I would like to think. I have to be on IV antibiotics for the next eight weeks because if the infection enters my bloodstream I risk going septic and all that entails. Moreover, it’s only a couple of millimeters from my cerebellum and that’s not good. I told her there’s nothing there to get infected, but she didn’t see the humor in that. So, even if I’m feeling better today, there are some serious goings-on underneath the surface. Ain’t that always the case…

Being hooked up to an IV isn’t so bad. I’ve dealt with that several times in the past. It’s always been a few days of inconvenience. What is bad is that Medicare, in its infinite wisdom, doesn’t want to pay unless I go to a “skilled nursing facility” (the politically correct way of saying “nursing home”) for ongoing treatment. I’m not sure why as they didn’t seem to have a problem with home infusion treatment five years ago. Not only was I able to be home with my family back then, it was much cheaper than being in a rehab facility. I guess cheaper home care doesn’t make much sense to Medicare. Then again common sense doesn’t apply to insurance companies. No wonder healthcare is so expensive!

So, I’m in limbo as to when I get to go home and I’m experiencing some serious fear here. The “what ifs” have reached critical levels here. “what if” I’m not home to take care of Margaret? “What if” I’m not home to take care of the bills and the house (as if she wasn’t handling those things before we ever married…)? “What if” my new business venture fails because I’m locked away in a nursing home (even if it is for only a couple of months)? “What if” I’m destined to eat nursing home food for the next eight weeks? Suddenly, sepsis sounds like a viable alternative…

“What if, what if, what if” – I’ve made myself miserable and wrapped myself in fear in short course. So, I did what people like me do: I changed the way I felt (I just heard a collective gasp from my friends in recovery…). I prayed and took a nap. You see, sleep changes the way I feel. God instructed the Hebrew people to enjoy the Sabbath rest. I get it. There’s power in napping. It’s a brief escape from uncomfortable and, sometimes, painful situations. Somehow, I see the situation more clearly upon awakening. I spoke to my wife, my close friends, and had a long conversation with God. Now I’m able to react more appropriately even though my problem still exists. Pre-nap, I wanted to rip the PICC line out of my arm and call an Uber. Post-nap, I’m still tethered to the IV pole but I’m making the phone calls necessary to solve my dilemma. Changing the way I feel means something different today.



22nd May 2018   I’ve had a good night’s sleep and a morning of prayer since I started writing this. I still don’t have a resolution to the “skilled nursing facility” question, but I know God has already taken care of it. I’m not as fearful and anxious as I was yesterday. I keep hearing a gentle, sweet voice saying, “look at the lilies of the field… aren’t you worth more than all of them”?

My beautiful and incredible wife has reminded me over and over that we’ve been through worse and that we have an amazing village of friends and family who have always walked with us. She even took the humbling step of asking for help via a gofundme page. Although this medical stuff couldn’t have happened at a worse time, I wasn’t too thrilled with that idea until she reminded me that “a closed mouth doesn’t get fed”. Her capacity for humility far exceeds mine. I want to be like her when I grow up.

This whole situation is another reminder that God always has my back and my best interests at heart no matter what’s going on. Yesterday, my prayers, my conversation with God contained some words I’d rather not put in print. My prayers were, like so many of the Psalms, a lament going up to God. My fears, my doubt, my feelings of abandonment, and frustration poured out and as they did I began to feel a sense of peace. God cares how I feel. He listens. He lets me vent my frustration. I’ve come to learn that He far prefers the authenticity of gut-wrenching and even colorful language to the posturing and “thee’s” and “thou’s” of my youth. He’s more than just a theological concept. He’s my “Abba” (Hebrew for “dad”). Because he loves me, I can bring everything to Him. Everything’s okay…

I still don’t know what the outcome is going to be, but I felt peace and clarity. I was able to make calls to the insurance company and others involved. Dealing with health insurance is NOT, I repeat NOT, a pleasant experience! Still, I treated the person on the other end of the line with courtesy and kindness. I was able to practice my doctor’s admonition to deal with them firmly without getting hung up on.

I didn’t feel much like being kind, at least not yesterday. Still, acting kindly, regardless of my feelings, has its own reward – a sense of calm and a positive change of heart. I didn’t talk to any of “those” people. I talked to another person like me just trying to make the day and provide for their family. They weren’t out to screw over Greg Joel. Imagine that…

Engaging in honest, authentic prayer, relying on a “village” of family and friends, and putting one foot in front of the other made yesterday’s crisis today’s simple annoyance. It will be okay whether I go home or have to go to a “skilled nursing facility” (that really does sound better than “nursing home…). In the grand scheme of things, two months isn’t that big a deal. I still miss my wife, my dogs, and my old front porch. It might just take me a while to get there.



May 23rd – as my friend Edgar says, “Day eight of the hostage situation…”

I’m still here in the Harris tower of the hospital. It might as well be the Tower of London, except for the torture chambers, beheadings, and such. Okay, maybe not like the Tower of London at all. It just feels that way. Don’t tell me you don’t exaggerate your feelings…

I may be stuck here again today, but this is really nothing compared with what the majority of folks deal with. I have a roof over my head, food (even if it is hospital food) to eat, and clean water to drink. As frustrating as Medicare can be, I have it despite living in a state where uninsured medical care is the norm. I have this great view of downtown from my sixth-floor window and the staff here has been beyond fantastic. I start with the simple things and my gratitude list goes on and on…

Later in the day…

I tried to expound on my experience with gratitude today, but I just heard the news – the insurance approved my home IV infusion. I’m going home. Go figure…

3 thoughts on “At least I have insurance…”

  1. So inspirational. You’ve done a great job expressing your thoughts and emotion through this impressive writing. You’ve shared something phenomenal. I totally loved it. I am Ragazza, I hope you could try to follow my blog page, if you don’t mind. Cheers! 👍👏😊


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