On my way into work at 5:15 AM on January 19th, 2010, I had something interesting happen.
I was just pulling out of a gas station parking lot after filling up my truck's tank, when I heard what sounded like a clip from a song, coming from inside the cab of my truck. Wondering where the sound came from, I looked over at my stereo to see if it was on, but none of the indicators lights were lit. Just in case, I reached over to turn it off, and found the knob already in the off position.
Looking out my truck windows, I checked in all four directions for a vehicle blaring its stereo, and saw none anywhere near me. The only vehicle for blocks was a police car sitting in wait, approximately 100 yards away.
As a last resort, I opened my purse, and pulled out my cell phone to see if I had missed a call. The phone's empty screen glared back at me with no indication of activity. "Besides", I said out loud to myself, "I don't have a ring tone that plays 'You don't want to'" on my phone". Plus the song ended abruptly, as if the singer had only that to say, and nothing more.
Since I am no stranger to unusual phenomenon, I decided to see if I could figure out what the words could possibly refer to. "I don't want to do what?", I asked the disembodied singer. Of course there was no reply, so I decided to go back through what I was doing when the song started playing.
"Let's see, I was in the middle of my morning prayers, and talking with God about our upcoming trip to Europe".
For the last six months, my spouse and I have been planning a two week trip to Europe scheduled for the end of May, 2010. We already have our plane tickets, which we purchased through United Airlines with miles I've been accruing over the last six years. We've also managed to save some of the $8000 we need for the trip, but nothing near what we hoped, due to a series of unexpected expenses.
It all started in August 2009 with a series of repairs to my truck. First my power steering pump started leaking, and I had to replace it. Then, just before a trip to Mt. Shasta, I went into the tire shop to get my alignment done, and was told I needed to replace my entire front-end. A couple of months later I took my truck in to see if I needed a new water pump, and instead had to replace my air conditioning.
By the end of the year, I had also helped my mother get out of a financial bind, had to have emergency dental work done on my three- year-old chihuahua, fixed my floor heater, and paid a large unexpected medical bill. All in all, we were out nearly $5000 in miscellaneous repairs and unexpected bills; money that could have been saved for our trip to Europe.
On top of the money issues, a recent CT Scan turned up a "mass" behind my thyroid gland, ending any possibility of saving the remaining $6000 needed for our trip, as I will have to take time off from work for surgery. With sunken hearts, my spouse and I made the decision to put off the trip for another year.
Having canceled the trip, I turned my concerns to whether I'd be able to also cancel our plane tickets, and still keep the airline miles for use the following year. Thinking back to my conversation with the booking clerk, I remembered him telling me that I'd be able to get a refund, "so long as you provide proof of your medical emergency in writing".
"Okay", I thought to myself, "this should be fine. I'll have proof once my surgery is scheduled".
However, before my surgery can be scheduled, my surgeon has to review my CT Scan to decide how he wants to proceed. Normally, this would not be an issue, but, I, in my brilliance, decided to change medical groups at the first of the year. Because of this, the surgeon couldn't just call up my records on the computer, instead he had to wait until the CT Scan was copied and mailed to him; a process that could take weeks.
I did, however, put in a records transfer on January 4th, and it was possible that my primary care physician already had a copy of the CT Scan that she could forward to the surgeon for me. Or, I could just let the surgeon's assistant do her job, and put through the records request I signed last Friday. Surely it wouldn't take too long for them to get a copy if the request came directly from the doctor?
It was right at that moment, as I was telling this to God, that the disembodied song sang out, "You don't want to". Was this a warning that I shouldn't wait for the second request to go through, but instead check on the status of the one I submitted on January 4th?
When I got into work that morning, I decided it might be a good idea to see if my PCP had received a copy of my CT Scan, and at 9:00 AM started making calls. By 1:30 PM I learned that my former medical group sent the wrong data files to my PCP, and that it would take another two weeks for a copy to be received by my surgeon, and then another week to get it into the new computer system, and a week more for the surgeon to review it.
If I had not checked on the status of my record's transfer, it would have been weeks before I heard from the surgeon, and possibly even longer before my surgery was scheduled. By then it would have been too late to cancel my airline tickets to Europe, and I would have lost my miles along with my tickets. Instead, I was able to arrange to pick up a copy of not only the CT Scan the next day, but also two M.R.I.s that have a better picture of the mass for the surgeon to review, and hand deliver them to his office. Because of the disembodied song, my surgery will be scheduled within the next couple of weeks, and I'll have my proof for United Airlines.