About Me: Getting My New Ears: Part IV

Catch up on the journey with the links below:

Part I

Part II

Part III

UPDATE 12/7/23: OMFG!!! Grrr!!!

I spoke with the TWC rep's assistant on Tuesday (12/5/23) and inquired if the paperwork from the ENT visit had been received. She said she had not received anything from the ENT but would reach out to them to get it. We discussed some of the challenges I've had throughout the duration of this experience with my paperwork and I reiterated to her that I was ready to provide my financial obligation to this endeavor whenever the TWC was ready to accept my money, which is dependent on their receipt of this paperwork. The assistant assured me she would get it dealt with and to be on the lookout for an email from her telling me everything was processed and that they were ready to accept payment. Two days have passed and I've heard nothing. We are now 1 week+ since my ENT appointment but still in limbo "waiting for paperwork."

Tired of waiting, I called the ENT office directly this morning. I spoke to their medical records person who deals with returning paperwork for such things. She advised that my paperwork was sent back to the TWC on THE SAME DAY AS MY APPOINTMENT! She faxed the doctor's notes to the TWC within hours of my departure from their office. For 9 days I've been holding on the TWC to "receive" paperwork from the ENT that they've had the entire time. There was no reason that I should have been told last Thursday when I first checked in with the TWC rep that he should have told me they were still waiting on the ENT. This whole thing could have been a done deal within 24 hours of my appointment but yet here I am nearly a week and a half later still fighting with the TWC to recognize my paperwork as received.

Maybe there is an issue with the TWC fax-to-email system where the faxes are being sent to the TWC but not converted to email correctly. Maybe the emails aren't being sent to the right addresses. There might be a number of technical/clerical issues involved but this "I didn't get it even though it was sent days prior" bullshit is happening way too frequently on my case for it to only be happening to me. This seems like either a major technical failure or procedural failure at the TWC that the staff ignores and doesn't do jack shit about because its not their money, their livelihoods, and their families being impacted by it.

I've called the TWC rep's assistant and left a voicemail indicating that I called the ENT directly, the office advised that they faxed her the paperwork LAST TUESDAY, and that they would be resubmitting it TODAY. I gave a polite expectation that I wanted to see her email regarding the TWC ready to process my payment either today or tomorrow. There's really no excuse for why it hasn't already been processed but if they want to play the game of "I didn't get it until you can prove otherwise" then I can now prove otherwise and you need to take my money so I can be done with your incompetent asses.

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I was finally able to go to the TWC contracted ENT last week for my “confirmation” appointment. That was interesting. On top of the fun I had getting the appointment, the visit itself was something else.

The TWC rep described the appointment as just going to their ENT to provide a confirmation that my hearing loss wasn’t caused by a tumor or anything that the audiologist at the Callier Center might have missed. He made it sound like it was a simple appointment where an ENT checked me out and sent me on my way, nothing major.

Like so many other things in this process, that was not necessarily the case.

I was first taken back and put in a typical doctor’s office waiting room. The nurse checked some basic stats and reviewed my medical history. All standard stuff. After that the ENT doctor did come in.

The elderly doctor checked my chart, asked me a few questions, and then probed my ears, nose, and throat with the tools of his trade. I found it odd that he checked my nose and throat given I was there for my ears but hey, who am I to tell him how to do his job, right?

After a few brief minutes, he put his instruments away and declared that I had perfect hearing that “other people would kill for.”

Really? I went to a communication center specialist with state-of-the-art equipment where I spent 2 hours being tested where they found marked deficiencies in my hearing but after 2 minutes of scratching the tip of something jammed into my ear to the point it caused pain you can tell better than them? To say I was skeptical of his quick assessment and complete dismissal of my concerns and the Callier Center’s findings would be a major understatement.

After that, the ENT left the room and his audiologist came in to escort me to another room for a new hearing test. The room I was led into was reminiscent of the hearing test booths and equipment that I remember from my childhood appointments in the 80s. 

I sat through fewer but similar tests that I did at the Callier Center. The audiologist came back into the booth once the tests were finished and declared my hearing to be “fine” and no need for hearing aids. I questioned her findings and discussed my previous test at the Callier Center. Mentioning where I had that other test seemed to sway her opinion though. After I mentioned what Dr. Harris from the Callier Center described to me about my hearing and the purpose for her recommending hearing aids to me, the ENT’s audiologist suddenly agreed with that assessment and said, “well, I guess I’ll need to rethink how I phrase my report.”

For real? You were going to reject my claims until I explained who I saw previously and their reasons for the recommendation? How is that relevant? And once I described how Dr. Harris described my hearing, the ENT’s audiologist confirmed her findings mirrored those of Dr. Harris. But it was only when I pressed the subject that she admitted the deficiency Dr. Harris noted and the fact that while I wasn’t “deaf” that my hearing was at the very bottom end of the normal scale and that significant hearing loss was only a matter of inevitable time in a best case scenario.

The audiologist went on to share some new information with me that there is “a gap” between a bone in my ear and what it’s supposed to be next to. She said this could be hereditary or fallout from my childhood infections and/or tubal insertion surgeries. Whatever the cause, that gap is abnormal and is likely the cause, or at least a part of the cause, to my hearing issues.

From there, I was taken back to the first examination room. Even though the door was closed, I could hear the ENT and audiologist discussing their assessments. The ENT was convinced that one of my ear drums was “stiff” but the audiologist countered that instead it was “moving more than normal”. Two different doctors examined my ears in the span of 45 minutes, both had different findings, and now they’re standing outside the room I’m sitting in arguing about it. Ultimately, it sounded like that the audiologist was the more convincing of the two and the ENT accepted her viewpoint.

I got the feeling that as a TWC contracted ENT that their role was to find a purpose to decline claims without irrefutable evidence or need. I know my hearing isn’t terrible but it isn’t great and could benefit from some technical assistance. I’ve lived with my ears long enough to know that they are not perfect, more so than an old ENT who only met me for 5 minutes. Even after the audiologist’s voiced her opinion out in the hall, he still seemed to question my predicament when he joined me in the exam room.

The audiologist was giving me a lot of tips and tricks on what to expect with my devices when I get them and how to adapt to the changes they’ll bring. I felt that she would not be giving me that much prep info unless her report was going to reinforce the Callier Center’s recommendations. The ENT led me back up to the front of the office, said they would get their report faxed back over to the TWC, and that I was good to go. That was it.

That was a week ago. I checked with the TWC rep at the end of last week. That would have given the doctor’s office 2 full business days plus the afternoon of my appointment since I went in before lunch that day to fax their report to the TWC. Something simple in my mind but the TWC rep reported that nothing had been received yet. 

This is the last step before I’m allowed to order the devices. With each passing day we draw closer to Christmas which will undoubtedly cause delays in any outstanding tasks. The sooner the order can be submitted, the more that can be completed before everyone shuts down for the end of the year festivities. The TWC rep is now out for medical reasons of his own but has assured me that his assistant will contact me when the report is received and things are ready to proceed. I’m not optimistic that this will be completed without my intervention though.

If the TWC rep’s assistant hasn’t contacted me by tomorrow after lunch then I will reach out to her for a status update. If she tells me they haven’t gotten anything back from the ENT yet then you can already figure out what my next phone call with be. My goal is to have this paperwork back to the TWC, processed by the TWC, and my order paid for by the end of this week.

Four months is more than enough time for such simple processes to be completed. No excuses are valid for this level of incompetence and inefficiency.

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