Thursday, June 22, 2006

WARNING: Rant to follow. Also, post contains personal information. Skip it if these sorts of things irritate you or make you uncomfortable.

Do not ever, ever do business with The Donor Source if you can help it.

Depending on how well you know me, or in what context, you may or may not know that some time ago I made the decision to donate eggs to a Seattle couple who could not otherwise conceive on their own. I donated through The Donor Source.

Unfortunately, as a complication of the donation process, I got very sick - more ill than I've ever been in my life. I had an extremely severe manifestation of Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). My ovaries swelled up to the size of softballs and filled my abdominal cavity with blood and fluid. I could not keep food down, I could not lie down due to the fluid from my abdominal cavity painfully rushing into contact with my lungs. My body distended; I looked like I was 9 months pregnant with twins. Three times they had to do an operation to draw fluid out of my abdominal cavity. I had to be hospitalized for a week - my kidneys had stopped functioning, my bowels had stopped functioning, I was severely dehydrated and malnourished, my blood pressure was extremely elevated, I was more in pain than I have ever been in my life, and I could not function. In the hospital I could not leave my bed - I had a catheter and was fed for days by I.V., most of which time is a haze in my memory due to painkillers and anti-nausea medication they kept me on.

It was nasty, but I lived through it. About a week after I had checked into the E.R., I got to go home. I was 40 lbs overweight, all of it fluid and water sitting around my various cavities that my body had not known how to process or get rid of. Over the course of a week, as my kidneys woke up, my body processed the fluid and peed it all away. After just a few weeks, my ovaries shrunk down to a normal size. Thankfully it seems that there were no lasting complications.

In retrospect, knowing more now about OHSS, I believe that the Northwest Center for Reproductive Sciences, the clinic that handled the donation, should have seen any of several warning signs during the donation process that I was at risk and perhaps proceeded differently. And when I started to go downhill after the donation, they should not have kept assuring me that I was fine, just wait a day or two more and everything would be better. I listened to them for a while because I had been brought up looking at doctors as authority figures, all-knowing, always right, never to be questioned. I kept getting more and more sick, though, and finally, after a week I was more sick than ever - could not eat, could not lie down, could not sleep, had trouble breathing, was feverish, was vomiting constantly, was visibly distended, had already had two procedures done to remove fluid from my abdomen but it kept filling with more - so I visited an E.R. near to my home, where they checked me in right away and started monitoring me and working to give me care that I desperately needed.

If you are considering IVF or Egg Donation or any other care through NWReprosci, I would advise you to proceed with some level of level caution, and to have a frank discussion with your caregivers about risks, warning signs, and about their course of action should any warning signs appear. As for me, though, what's done is done. I can't go back and change the care that NWReprosci gave me, and happily I have my health now. It's better maybe to just move on.

What does this have to do with The Donor Source? Was it their fault I got sick? No. Did they provide the care? No. Why then am I so upset with them?

Before the donation process, I and the recipient parents both met separately with a lawyer and signed contracts provided through The Donor Source dealing with many facets of the donation process such as custody, rights, responsibilities of all parties involved. A portion of those contracts specified that the recipient parents would be taking out a temporary supplementary health insurance plan on me, through The Donor Source, to deal with any complications. They would pay any deductibles required by the plan, and it would cover anything else that might go wrong. I was not to be held responsible for any costs incurred by the donation process or by any complications resulting from it.

Well, it turns out that operations to remove fluid from one's abdominal cavity are expensive. Week-long hospitalizations are expensive. All the trauma and trouble translated to a thick stack of bills.

And so far, The Donor Source has not followed through on getting them paid.

This all happened almost 11 months ago. Those bills are still not paid. Some are still sitting with the hospitals, some have gone to creditors.

These hospitals and creditors are not patient. I've spent more time than I care to recall talking to them, explaining, directing them to the The Donor Source, writing letters. I've paid some of the bills out of pocket just to get them off my back, but I can't afford to pay them all. I don't think anything has made it all the way to my credit report yet (my letters of dispute to the creditors clearly establish that I am not responsible and they need to desist) but it's hard to be sure.

Meanwhile, my contact at The Donor Source assures me again and again that it will be taken care of soon, any day really, it's just that insurance is slow. It's sitting with insurance and they'll take care of it soon. Just hold tight. I'd ask them for a contact in the insurance department to speak with, or anything, a policy number, any information about the status of the claim, and they always gave me the runaround.

Except -

Here's the tricky thing -

I managed to piece together enough information in a form The Donor Source had me fill out earlier this month to track the actual insurance policy holder down and to speak with someone there. The guy I talked to was actually quite helpful and I am finally feeling optimistic that I may see some traction soon. But I cannot tell you how surprised and upset I was to hear from him that they had not actually received any paperwork or bills for me until late in May, and they're still waiting on The Donor Source for paperwork they need to tie things up and settle the accounts.

I faxed this insurance guy all the paperwork I have, all the bills, all the records, which will hopefully help jump-start things a bit. But I was only able to do this because I cut corners, did a little detective work and found him on my own. The Donor Source was never going to help me - for the last half year they've actually been blaming the insurance people for the delays. And for almost that entire time, they hadn't even initiated things with insurance!

Almost as if to rub it in, this afternoon, after I had spoken with the insurance guy, a Donor Source rep returned my call from earlier in the day and assured me that insurance people are just slow, it's normal, everything should be taken care of any day. What a pack of lies. And all the while it's sucking up my time, my energy, stressing me out worrying about money and collectors and my credit report and my credit future.

I just want to be here and now, in the present, excited about my baby and everything to come. I don't want to keep worrying about this stuff forever - I'd like it to get resolved and all go away. This should be a time for anticipation and celebration, not for worry and trouble.

I wouldn't wish my experience or the mess afterwards on anyone else. So stay away from The Donor Source if you can; it's better that way. They are not responsible, they are not reliable, they are not trustworthy. They're bad news waiting to happen.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Apparently it's not only illegal to gamble online in WA state, it's illegal to even discuss online gamling. I could be in violation of the law with this post.

So 1984...

Just three days later, and I've got my computer back!

Everything's in working order - I can now load CDs, I can power up my battery again... mmmmmmm, so nice. And all covered under warranty! (Well, under the extra 2 years of warranty that I purchased up front.) Apple told me 5-7 business days at least, but here it is, delivered to my doorstep just 3 from the day I dropped it off (a Sunday, at that), early in the morning so that I was here to receive it before I left for work - oh my, oh my, oh my. I am not used to having my expectations exceeded by the corporations with whom I choose to do business.

Kat is so, so happy.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sadly, on the eve of June 17, 2006, my computer met a desperate end. She is now "in the shop" with the Apple Techs, who are even now attempting a brave resurrection.

Sad computer.

Sad Kat.