Today was a big day for Sadie. We didn't know that it was going to be a big day when we started out. After church we headed over to Health and Human Services. It wasn't really a part of the day that I was looking forward to. I knew that there was a good chance that it would take a while, but it was something that needed to be done.
When going in to try to get an answer to a question from someone who works at Health and Human Services you wait in line to speak with a woman sitting at a desk behind a thick pane of glass with a little gap at the bottom where papers can be slid back and forth. After a few minutes in the building I decided that the glass was to protect the workers from the people they are "helping" because by the time you leave there's a good chance you're going to be so frustrated that you want to throw something. The glass also means that you have to speak loudly for the woman on the other side to hear you. Incidentally this also means that every other person in the waiting room is going to hear every single word that you say. This is especially pleasant because by the end of your time in the waiting room you will likely be groveling for someone, anyone really, to help. No one seems capable of helping or giving answers, but you can leave a message and they are pretty certain that someone who knows what they're talking about will get back to you.
When I made my way to the front of the line I explained our situation to the room full of listeners. "We applied for Healthy Families back in September but we didn't make enough so they passed us on to you. I filled out the Medi-Cal application and had it back to you in October. Our doctor tried to bill you and the claim was denied, so I called back at the beginning of December. The message on the social worker's phone said to leave a message and not to call back because she would contact us. It's been over a month now and we haven't heard anything. So I guess I'm here to see what's going on." She asked for a social security number. I said that I didn't know Sadie's by heart yet, but that I had our Medi-Cal card. She asked me, in a rather obnoxious tone that did nothing to endear her to me (I reminded myself that she probably deals with difficult people all day) if I could remember my own social security number. I gave it to her and, wow, guess what, they didn't have anything linked to it. I can't say that I was shocked. She tried my name. Nothing. She tried Sadie's name. Nothing. Possibly because they're so incompetent that they can't spell our last name, something we have gone round and round about already (along with a disagreement over Sadie's birthday. They insist that she is five. The card, they say, says she born in 2003. They resist all evidence to the contrary. It may be easier to change our name then to get them to change it in the system.). She finally took the card I had offered to give her at the beginning of our conversation.
After pulling up our information she said (in a somewhat more pleasant tone): "Oh. Your information's here. And it says you have a social worker. Jill. Would you like to leave her a note." "I already left her a message a month ago." I took a deep breath and balanced Sadie on my hip. "But why not? Maybe we'll have more luck with a note." I took the form and went to sit at a little table with Sadie balanced on my lap. This might have been the low point of my day, if it hadn't been the high point of Sadie's day.
Across the room a baby with a round face was smiling at Sadie. Sadie smiled back and her mother carried her closer. They both cooed and squealed and waved their arms at each other in delight. The baby was about the same length as Sadie, but she looked to have a good ten pounds on her. When I asked her mom how old she was she smiled and said she would be six months old on the 14th. Six months old? If Sadie is in the 90th percentile in weight this cute little girl must be well over the 150th percentile. She must have been around 30lbs. When I said that Sadie is six months old she looked shocked too. I know that whenever I see a baby that's Sadie's length I figure that it's probably at least a year old. It's surprising to see someone taller than her that's also younger than she is.
I filled out the form and turned it in. I'm giving them a week before I write a letter to the editor of the newspaper (in our tiny town this might really help) and to my state congressman (thanks for the advice, Rob!). I imagine that one of those two actions might speed things up. Hopefully! And at least Sadie had a good time while she was waiting.