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Frumpy Mom: The next round in our healthcare odyssey

Hello, sports fans. When we touched base last week, the score of my argument with the fabulous health organization known as Kaiser Permanente was Kaiser 120, Marla 1.

I gave myself one point because I was at least able to get through to a live person on the phone. This person didn’t actually help me, you understand. But I still felt it was an achievement worth celebrating.

Just in case you have actual lives and didn’t read my column last week, the subject of my dispute is my 25-year-old son, Cheetah Boy, who was in a horrific scooter accident last month and managed to break nearly every bone in his body.

Since my company gives us the choice of Kaiser health insurance or Kaiser health insurance, he ended up in the Kaiser Southbay Medical Center, which is many miles from me, making it difficult to visit. Welcome to compassionate American healthcare.

I’ve been undergoing high-dose radiation treatments designed to kill some of the pesky cancer cells that have been annoying me for three years now. As a result of this, I’m extremely wimpy and can’t even walk my dog. I’m having my food delivered and friends are driving me around.

This is why Kaiser decided it would be the perfect time to send my severely injured son home for me to take care of him. He can’t walk until his shattered pelvis heals. He has a broken wrist on one side and a broken shoulder on the other. (Don’t ask me which is which; I can’t even walk the dog.)

Now, let me add that the son wants to come home. In the great wisdom he’s acquired in his 25 years on earth, he doesn’t think it will be a problem when he needs a drink of water at midnight or to use the toilet at 2 a.m. Even though I pointed out to him that there’s no one here to help him with those things except, guess who? Oh yeah, me.

So, I started tussling with the fine folks at Kaiser. Many of you have told me that you’ve had similar battles and lost. Well, I had a secret weapon, which was a friend who knows how to deal with the state Department of Managed Health Care. This agency is the boss of HMOs, and they have to do what they say. Anyone can file a complaint with them online, and according to their website, 68 percent of them are resolved in favor of the patient. I’m telling you this so you can have fun with this yourself.

We filed a complaint and got it “expedited,” which means it will be heard sometime before the Rapture comes. Meanwhile, they call Kaiser and ask what’s up. Additionally, I’m sure the column I wrote last week about this mess got their attention because suddenly a big cheese at the hospital was visiting my son in his room and discussing the options.

It’s a long boring story, but the conclusion was – after a week of additional wrangling – Cheetah Boy has gone to stay in a so-called board-and-care in Torrance, which is a private home with nursing assistance 24 hours a day. There are five or six patients there.

He has a small, stuffy room with an uncomfortable hospital bed but a huge TV. They feed them three meals a day, although I brought over extra food, since I imagine they’re used to feeding seniors, not bodybuilders like Cheetah Boy.

There’s someone there to help him with the necessities of life, like the first time he was able to put on actual clothes since his accident nearly a month ago. He wasn’t sad to leave the hospital gown behind, even though it was printed with cute tiny surfboards.

The house is attractive, with a big front porch, and very clean. The nurses are nice. Old Town Torrance is only a block or two away, so once he gets going on the electric wheelchair my friend bought us, he can be mobile.

He’s not happy to be there and he still wants to come home, but realistically, that can’t happen until he can walk. Kaiser has agreed to pay his $6000 monthly fees for the room for two months, and they’re sending physical therapists over to work him out daily.

It’s not exactly the rehab that I had in mind for him, but it is acceptable, at least to me, if not to him. I should enjoy the fact that he has to do what I say right now because it’s been a while since that happened. He’s still mad at me that I won’t let him come home.

I love my son and I want him here. So do the dog and cat. But he has to be able to walk into the kitchen and get his own snack. Until then, he’ll be in Torrance.

Tomorrow, he has an appointment at the hospital, so we’ll be figuring out the wonderful world of wheelchair taxis. I’ll keep you posted.

Current score: Kaiser 60, Marla Jo Fisher 40.

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