Pam’s voice is like crisp white sheets on laundry day.
Soothing. Warm. Inviting.
And yet, all she does is deliver bad news.
Pam is the social worker at the NYU Langone Medical Center in Brooklyn. It’s her job to make sure I get my medicine. I like her and the fancy office. For instance, they took my picture and scanned my fingerprints so now I feel safe knowing that if someone wants to steal my identity and become a sick person with shitty insurance, NYU will thwart their efforts.
But I know Pam would never let that happen to me because she cares.
I know she cares because a week after my appointment, she called to see if I, and not some hooligan imposter Diana, had MRIs done. I hadn’t – my appointment was the following Thursday.
“Good,” she says. “Give me a call on Friday and let me know how it goes.” They’re eager to get me started on Tecfidera and so I decide I will call her. I’m committed this time. I will call. I won’t disappear again. I promised.
I get my MRIs done on Thursday. I am responsible and call Pam on Friday to let her know I’ve done my part. A Russian receptionist transfers me to her office but the line rings and rings and rings and rings. I call again a few hours later. The lines rings and rings and rings and rings. Pam doesn’t pick up. No one does.
I stop calling. I enjoy the weekend thinking about my MRIs. I call back on Monday. It rings and rings and rings and rings. I feel like throwing my phone against the wall. This is what I get for being responsible and keeping my word.
I am nervous. I am also angry with Pam. How could she do this to me? Keep me hanging on like this? With not even a reassuring prompt asking me to leave a message or, at the very least, to kindly stop calling.
I plan all the things I’m going to say to Pam when I finally reach her. “You told me to call you but then you didn’t pick up! The diagnostics facility said they already sent you my MRI results! THE SAME DAY. I did everything I said I would but you didn’t! Why, Pam, whyyyyyy?”
But then she calls me and I forget why I was mad at her; I’m just glad she’s calling me. I don’t care if it’s to let me know my insurance denied the medicine because they deem it medically unnecessary.
Great! Thanks. Always a pleasure.
“We’ll file an appeal. They’ll probably deny that too and then we’ll figure it out with Biogen. They’re pretty good with assistance.”
Did she just sing me a lullaby? I’m lost in the fibers of her voice and I wonder if maybe she is a vampire. Probably is. How could she not be?
“Okay, Pam. I trust you. Can’t wait to get denied again. Fingers crossed for Biogen!”
I hang up. I think about how much easier it was when I didn’t know Pam, when I didn’t care about keeping my word to my neurologist, when I just didn’t care about scientifically proven treatment.
Like the feeling of love and hate, it’s simply not quantifiable.