To sleep: perchance to dream

By Mir
September 27, 2012

First: A thank you, which feels inadequate, but is necessary, because y’all are nice and I love you, man! And I don’t even want your Bud Light. You are all lovely and I appreciate you so much.

Second: Please know that my intention in indulging in a bit of woe-is-me “Why do people DO THAT??” whining is just… venting. Wallowing. Many of you were quick to jump on the SCREW THE BASTARDS train in response—and I get that comes from protectiveness and caring and kindness—but in my logical non-hurty-emotional mind parts I know that in general people do not hurt us on purpose. In specific for the situations I mentioned I know this even more; the people in question are not evil or bad or even (most of the time) inconsiderate. Things happen by accident, sometimes, and people end up wounded. It doesn’t make the folks doing the wounding villains—it makes them human. I get that. Thank you for letting me vent. Now let’s please stop bagging on people for being human.

Third: Here at Casa Mir we have been on a complete spending freeze for months while slogging through getting Chickadee approved for Medicaid on account of that whole “oh God we are going to end up broke and homeless” thing that wasn’t hanging over our heads. And that’s fine and all—it’s not like we got her Medicaid card and then ran out to party or anything—but of course we didn’t realize that wasn’t the end of the story.

To be fair, once she got approved, poor Otto DID go out and buy himself a new (used) car. Ever since his car died at the beginning of August we’d been just kind of vehicle-juggling and putting it off, “just in case.” (And here you understand “just in case” to mean “because we might end up owing the hospital more than our house is worth.”) To Otto, cars are kind of a big deal. He didn’t want anything fancy, but he did want to have a car that was HIS, and he didn’t want to get something that we’d have to worry about, say, blowing up on a random day in Atlanta (whoops), and I suspect it was a lot more aggravating than he let on that we had to wait so long for him to go ahead.

To me, the fact that he went without a car for a couple of months and never once complained about it even though the reason was the never-ending clusterfuck of complications I brought into his previously calm, comfortable life is just another reason that this man is an utter rock star. It was also a source of guilt, for me. I feel like I signed on for all of this, and he didn’t. I mean, he did, but… you know. Anyway: I was relieved when he was able to go out and find himself a suitable vehicle.

The other WILD AND CRAZY expenditure we’ve been discussing seemingly forever is replacing our bed. A quick search reveals that our mattress has been being an utter asshole since 2009. That’s… kind of a long time to sleep on a surface that has begun to resemble camel roadkill. (You know, mostly flat, but with some bumps? It makes perfect sense in my head.) We’ve been making do, obviously, but for some TOTALLY CRAZY reason, neither of us are sleeping well lately. I’m sure it’s just the bed. HAHAHAHA.

I dunno, it’s like we used to just go to sleep on our crappy bed and wake up kind of stiff in the morning, and maybe complain about it now and then, but that was it. Now we lie in bed at night whispering about everything that’s going on, and then I try to snuggle up to Otto and feel like I have to roll five inches down Crappy Mattress Hill to get there, and then suddenly the conversation is no longer about the kids and life but about how THIS IS THE WORST MATTRESS EVER.

At this point I pretty much believe there is nothing that’s going to help me sleep unless it comes with a WARNING: DO NOT OPERATE HEAVY MACHINERY label, but there’s no denying that the bed is in bad shape.

So we started looking at beds once Chickie was approved for Medicaid. And debating the various pros and cons of different options.

And then the hospital called to explain that the way Medicaid decides to pay for stuff like this is that they send out a third-party agency to do an assessment and blah blah blah blah (other stuff that I didn’t quite catch or care about) and P.S. it’s not retroactive so they’ll try to get them out there ASAP.

Cue the sound of a record screeching to a halt.

But but BUT BUT BUT. Medicaid is supposed to be retroactive! It takes forever to get approval, and it says in all the stuff they send you when you finally get it that they’ll cover back to the effective date, which is, you know, EARLIER.

Well, it turns out that this whole assessment process thing generally isn’t retroactive. Even though the services it’s supposed to then authorize ARE. The gentleman from billing explained to me that he just wanted me to know that it was “extremely unlikely” we’d be able to get Medicaid to pay for the earlier services because of how this process works. He almost sounded like he felt bad for us, even, or maybe he was just feeling bad about the fact that we’re obviously not all that clear on how, exactly, we’re supposed to come up with this money, then.

We stopped looking at beds. Instead, I spent a goodly amount of time lamenting the fact that I’d spent all of this time and energy and aggravation on securing Medicaid coverage when it’s apparently not going to cover anything. (Don’t worry; we can spend MORE time and and energy and money fighting them for that coverage! I CAN’T WAIT!)

And then at some point I did that mental math where I realized that the cost of a bed was going to be a drop in the bucket compared to the hospital bill, and if we were going to end up on the hook for a ginormous debt, we should at least have a shot at a decent night’s sleep. I’m not sure this is logical, but that’s where I ended up. I am generally very reluctant to spend money even under the best of circumstances, so this is testament to the fact that either 1) I really haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in forever or 2) I’ve finally well and truly lost it.

Otto greeted the news of my declaration that we should just go ahead with a wary, “… really?” He knows me pretty well. Heh. Nevertheless, yesterday we drove over to our local Big Bed Store, flopped down on a couple of different options we’d been considering, and walked out of there fifteen minutes later with a promise of sweet dreams to be delivered in 5-7 business days. I feel confident that our new magical bed will be just as comfy in a van down by the river, should it come to that, as it will be here in the house.

I went to sleep last night feeling guilty about spending the money, which was actually a nice change of pace from going to sleep worrying about my sweet girl and what her future holds. This morning I woke up from an vivid dream wherein I was back in the town where I went to college, and I was still writing and Otto was still teaching, but I was also working as a lab assistant for a professor I haven’t seen (or thought of) in a couple of decades, PLUS I was waitressing at the diner where I worked as an undergrad, PLUS I was going back to school to get another degree. And in my dream, I couldn’t WAIT to come and tell you about all of the exciting things I was doing! I was so relieved to have blog fodder that wasn’t depressing, and it never once occurred to me in my dream how odd it was that this was supposedly my real life, yet I somehow had neglected to mention any of it to you before. Dreams are weird.

I was so confused when I woke up this morning. I have to conclude it’s my brain totally messing with me. Hopefully the new mattress comes with dreamless sleep.


  1. ste

    So what kind of car did Otto get?

  2. Mir

    This is where I say “a blue one” just to watch his head explode, right?

  3. deva

    :hug: Mir, I hope that you know that I have been following along, sending vibes for strength and recovery, and I hope and pray every day that everything will soon be back to as it was.

  4. Chuck

    I just got a new bed myself last year as my old one was closing in on 15 years of age. I splurged a bit and got a fancy but firm memory foam one. It was totally worth it.

  5. The Domestic Goddess

    What kind of mattress are you going to get? Because as far as I am concerned, sleep is more important than ANYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD.

  6. {sue}

    In for a penny, in for a pound. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. It ranks right up there with a maid service and boxed wine.

    I’m going to say your dream means you are at the beginning of a time period of new and good things. (What the hell do I know though?)

    Our county has a grant program for kids with special needs for specific, time-limited services. So by the time I applied, got reject, appealed, spent 1 million hours on the phone, yeah, we were done the intensive therapy and it’s not retroactive blah, blah, blah. They look good on paper for having it though.

  7. Navhelowife

    The bed thing? totally worth it. No sleep = poor health of all kinds = more stress
    Also? Melatonin is non Rx, and has done wonders for my son for sleep.
    The car thing? Totally worth it. And “blue one” works for me :)

    Hoping that all the money things turn out to be more manageable than you thought….

  8. Kim

    oh, just hell.

    Also, you are one forgiving woman. I believe everything you said, it just would’ve taken me a lot longer to get there. Although I admit I like the image of you surrounded by a circel of women with their hackles up and pitchforks at the ready.

    You got this, Mir. It sucks and it’s damn hard, but you got this.,

  9. Sharon

    Why do we go for years without a good night’s sleep? Then we assess all the other things that could be problems before we decide we really do need a new mattress?! We had an added obstacle in that I wanted a king-size bed, which led to months of looking at beds, too. When we found the right bed we ordered it, and it only took us 15 minutes to decide on a mattress:) It was all worth it. Wishes for sweet dreams for you and Otto.

  10. Karly

    Can I be a jerk for a moment and direct you to a super cheap mattress that really WILL be a drop in the bucket if you end up paying for the hospital bill? It’s ridiculous to buy a bed on Amazon, I know, but you’re such a fan of Amazon, as am I, and this mattress is crazy. I’ve convinced every single person that comes in my home to lay on my $400 mattress and then, no joke, they go home and order their own. I think our whole town now owns this mattress. (Insert joke about the entire town getting into my bed…)

    Search Sleep Innovations on Amazon. I have the 10 inch King and it is amazing. AMAZING.

    Just had to share that in case you’re having second thoughts about your big purchase. :)

  11. Arnebya

    I think the mattress truly will help. It won’t solve, of course (of course!) but, it will definitely help A LOT. I’m glad you went for it. (Coilless, foam, air?) A good night’s sleep gives you clarity and focus, and not clarity and focus on damn, I didn’t sleep or damn, my back and my neck and COME ON MY SHINS hurt.

    I don’t know what it’s like to have two cars anymore. Oh, wait. I don’t know what it’s like to drive a car that is yours and not your mother-in-law’s on loan because yours has been repossessed. Womp womp womp. My mattress sucks.

  12. Kristine N

    hugs for you…I admire your strength

  13. Pop C

    I like blue.

  14. Little Bird

    When I bought my new bed (frame and mattress both) from Ikea, and slept on it the first time….. It was the best sleep I’d had in a loooooooong time. A good mattress can make a world of difference! So when yours arrives, take a long hot bath and go to bed early!! Enjoy it!

  15. Mame

    I am careful with money and from what I’ve read it seems to me that we’re on the same page about spending. Before I got to the paragraph where you decided to buy the bed, I was thinking, they should buy the bed. You need to sleep in order to do anything else. If the problem was something structural in the house, a leaky roof, a broken pipe, you wouldn’t hesitate, you would know you had to fix it. The bed isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Get some sleep, then you can think about dealing with the medical expenses.

  16. suburbancorrespondent

    I haven’t slept right in almost 3 years. But the new mattress has helped a bit, so I’d say go for it.

    Gasping about the Medicaid craziness, but I can picture it.

  17. Morgaine Fey

    Blue is an EXCELLENT colour on Otto. (No, I am not stalking, I just remember the news article ya’ll were in.)

    As far as the medicare slog goes, we will be here to listen every step of the way. And don’t apologize for indulging in a wallow now and then. It gets the poison out!

    Continued hugs for you and your sweet little family!!!!


  18. Frank

    We recently got a new memory foam mattress (old one was 10+ years old). Well known brand NOT top of the line. Worth Every Penny. I’d forgotten what good sleep was until we got the new one. while it wont solve life’s problems, a comfy bed and a good nite sleep CAN and WILL do wonders. As always, luck to you!

  19. Barbara

    Yay you!! A new (used) car and a new (NOT used) mattress are at the tippy top of a long list of things I need but won’t buy ’til other thing get sorted. Thanks for letting me bask in the comfy blue glow of yours :)

  20. ben


    Yes, get a new bed! The rest will still be there, so you might as well try and sleep once in a while. Hang in there.

  21. Otto

    For those who want more details … after weeks of agonizing, I ended up with a four-year-old Honda Civic. In Atomic Blue, which brought me to naming the car Elroy. (Go figure it out …)

    I waffled between a new Ford Focus hatchback and a used Civic. I loved the functionality of the Focus (being one of the last three people on earth who appreciate a station wagon) and it’s power and efficiency advantages. But a new car seemed unreasonable with everything else going on.

    So, I had my local dealer search for a previous-generation Civic with a manual transmission, which took them forever to find. But I am happy with it – nothing like driving the third best-selling care in America to feel validated.

    Of course, I’ve never had a car this common before and keep trying to open other people’s doors in my parking lot – there are three other blue Civic sedans in it.


  22. Jim

    Mir; I’ve worked in the medical billing field for the last 20 years so I can tell you positively that Medicaid coverage is retroactive to the date you applied. Your best bet is to work through the business office at the hospital to get those bills paid once you are approved. Whoever it was that you spoke with told you wrong. You will not be responsible for the bills leading up to your approval. You will be covered from the time you first applied.

    PS) Thanks for your column. I don’t think you realize how many people you touch and help by pouring your life out into this forum. God bless you and your family.

  23. Kim

    As long as it is a *pretty* blue that’s all that matters! And you need and DESERVE a new mattress – so thankful that my ex insisted on spending way too much money on our mattress at the time because it’s mine now (ha!) and will have to last me forever and ever because I certainly can’t afford another one of the same quality now!

  24. Michele

    Hi Mir and all … the funny thing about venting is it sorta gives permission to others to vent too, cuz you know we ALL have a little built-up tension about stuff :) It’s all good.

    Insurance and talk of money totally stresses me out. So let’s just say here’s to many more good dreams in your new comfy bed!

    btw, taking a little magnesium citrate before bedtime works wonders — helps with sleep -and- stress. Check it out

    And Hi to Otto .. congrats! I recently bought an old Subaru Outback wagon (2002) and love the wagon part of it. My first real car was a 85 Honda Accord hatchback, carburetor, manual trans and omg how I loved that car. Had her for 10 years. I later wished I had kept it until whenever (if-ever) it decided to rest in peace.

  25. Andrea

    I agree with you, the cost of a mattress (and even a gently used car) will not make or break things financially no matter how all the Medicaid stuff is resolved– and you need both. Sleep well…

  26. Stimey

    I am glad you got the mattress. I do not like the rest of the bullshit you are going through. But I thoroughly support the mattress purchase.

  27. suburbancorrespondent

    Jim’s comment matches my experience, although I am in a different state. I don’t know if it varies state-to-state.

  28. Angie McCullagh

    I’m glad you got yourself the new bed! You deserve some good sleep and so does Otto.

  29. ~annie

    “…that mental math where I realized that the cost of a bed was going to be a drop in the bucket compared to the hospital bill…” So true and TOTALLY get it – as completely logical as it is crazy. Hope you will be sleeping better!

  30. Liza

    His boy Elroy! I love the name. I’m going to start calling Licorice “Astro” in my mind.

    I have a (used) silver Prius, so I understand the wrong-car problem. May I recommend allowing Monkey to put some stickers on one of the rear windows? Or if you want a less permanent option, perhaps a post-it note?

  31. Amy-Go

    What Karly (comment 10) said. I too bought a Sleep Innovations mattress ( I got mine at, which always sound vaguely dirty to me, but I digress). It was dirt cheap and it is FABULOUS. I refer to it as “the precious” (always while rubbing my hands together and slavering like Smeagal, but don’t let my geekitude frighten you off). Think about it – guilt free sleep! What could be better?

    And I sincerely hope that Jim (comment 22) is correct. Because the only thing I can imagine making this unbelievably suck full year worse would be sleeping on that new mattress in the back of Otto’s new car. Although I do think “Jetson” would be a cool new last name. Just sayin.

  32. karen

    LOL.. the precious. But hey, when you DO finally get that new bed/mattress… you will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner, Mir. TOO IMPORTANT… sleep, don’t ya know.

    And.. the CAR, woman… what KIND??…

  33. Amanda

    I would have said the same thing about the mattress. Says the woman still sleeping on one purchased in 1999.

  34. Jeanie

    All along I kept thinking they should buy the bed. So glad you did. And Otto? I also have a Civic. I bought a brand new coupe in 2007. The only complaint I have about it is that you can’t see the front end when pulling into a parking space. I’ve had many a scrape hitting those stoppy cement-type things they put in front of parking slots. Mechanically, the only problem I’ve had is when a rock made a hole in my air compressor (I think it was). That was unavoidable, just like running over a nail in the road. Hope you enjoy your car. You can’t go wrong with a Honda.

  35. Alyce

    I have a 2011 car (needed it for work, we commute in different directions, it gets great gas mileage and it was less than $18k, had never had a new car before). JB drives a 15 yr old Camry that wheezes (belts?) and maybe has other issues. Can’t afford even a newer used car, am afraid to find out if its worth fixing, and darn it makes me feel guilty. I think we’ll be down to one car plus public transportation soon (also not cheap) and he’s going to be the one on the bus. Ugh. Glad we even have public transport as an option. For that, we’re lucky.

    Glad you were able to take care of Otto and the bed.

    Just wanted to say, I feel ya.

  36. Sheryl

    I haven’t had a new car or a new mattress in 16 years. I’m living vicariously through your purchases.

    PS I hope to God Jim is right. ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, SHERYL.

  37. meh

    My head almost blew up at ‘it’s not retroactive’. WHAT!! :(

  38. Korinthia Klein

    A place to sleep where you are comfortable is no small thing. Good call on replacing the mattress. Hope it helps!

  39. Hope

    The bed will be worth it. Having replaced a 16 year old mattress with a brand new one last year, I can tell you it’s worth it to no longer have my arm fall asleep from elbow to pinky and ring fingers.

    All will be well. Jim sounds like he knows what he’s talking about.

  40. TC

    Otto: Solution to your dilemma = unusual bumper sticker or bright-colored fuzzy dice hanging from the rear-view mirror. I have both after going from an uncommon, bright-red vehicle to a very common dark blue one.

    Wish I could solve the rest of your issues as easily, but it’s something, right?

  41. MamaChristy

    I’d just like to say – I like Jim.

  42. Kethrim

    Otto- I, too, have a blue Honda Civic, so I feel you on how common they are. My solution was to cover it with daisy decals, which I and all my friends love. Your results may vary.

  43. Cele

    Either my fat butt creates moon craters darn fast or I’m the world’s worst mattress buyer. Good luck with your choices.

  44. Flannery

    Perchance you can look upon the mattress purchase as your consolation prize for surviving several trips to hell and back. I mean, it’s the least you can do for yourself, especially since you deserve so much more happiness than just a bed!

  45. addy

    See Otto I have the same issue with my Malibu. That is why I usually drive red cars. I didn’t pick this one out. And Medicaid can suck it! Makin us all crazy….

  46. toni mcgee causey

    Mir, like Jim said earlier, Medicaid is retroactive.

    Secondly, I cannot tell you how many times we were told something incorrect by the hospital(s) we’ve been dealing with. It has been a serious challenge navigating that information and getting my brother’s bill covered, but there were a couple of social workers who sort of jumped in and started fixing some of the problems. If you’re not getting help from the hospital’s social workers, you can ask for that.

    Lastly, kudos on the bed purchase. You’re not going to be able to handle your life and help Chickadee if you’re sleep deprived. It doesn’t help anyone for you to deteriorate and then be vulnerable to illness yourself.

  47. EG

    Suck it, Medicaid (is that helpful?).

    Enjoy the mattress! Hope it makes you feel like a new woman (I’m aiming high!).

  48. melissa

    Medicaid doesn’t go retro to date of application in your state? That sounds… odd. Generally for institutional Medicaid you have to complete 30 calendar days and then it kicks in. So that means you might have to pay for just-shy-of-two-months yourself (say she entered 1/2/10; you’d pay 3/1/10 then MA kicks in) but not everything. And I think retro is limited to 90 days.

    There can be some weirdness with level of care issues (ie kid was lots sicker in beginning, less sick now and might not meet inpatient care now) but those usually get worked out.

    Did you talk to the hospital billing guy or the Medicaid billing guy? If you haven’t talked to Medicaid, call them. Ask for whomever does family of one determinations for children and adolescents. If that doesn’t get you anywhere call your division for CMS (the feds).

    Good luck. (Silver lining: You can deduct medical expenses from your taxes it they exceed a percentage of your AGI)

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest