The worry started back in November. I countered it by strategising. I clocked up a few sleepless nights and listening to Joe Duffy didn't help. Once they announced the new mercenary tactics of the Medical Card application process I could smell trouble ahead. Skilled as I am in bare-armed administrative combat, I gathered my documentation early, acquiring a crack unit of facts, figures, medical assessments, revenue forms, receipts all printed, primed and poised for battle.
There were three forms to fill in: one for both kidneys and one each for the girls, except it should have only been one form but since the computer had spat out three, the man at the end of the helpline said I needed to fill out three. Now this is where it starts to get tricky: my thirteen-year-old daughter had to list me and the two kidneys as her dependents, I in turn had to list her and Junior Kidney as my dependant with Senior Kidney as my spouse while the Senior Kidney had to take responsibility for the lot of us and list us all as his dependants - simple.
So I duly filled out the forms, assigned the appropriate spouses and dependants and attached the small forest of supporting documentation, in triplicate. I was even anal enough to number each supporting document and cross reference it with a carefully constructed index page. You could say I threw a complete stationary salvo - both barrels- at the situation. With years of form filling and bureaucracy baiting behind me, I took the wise step to send - the by now weighty file - via registered post on the twelfth day of February.
I had gleefully ticked every box, dotted every 'i' crossed every 't' and rewarded myself with the smug knowledge that there was nothing they could throw at me, I had covered every base. I sat back and waited for either a grenade to pop or a medical card to arrive; either scenario being entirely possible under the current administration.
I got the first letter demanding copies of documents (that I had already sent) on March 10th, they were immediately re-sent. I capitulated as I figured it was their word (and the receipt for the registered letter) against mine. They were logged as present in HSE HQ on March 18.
Last week I took to the helpline again to check on progress, I couldn't get through because the helpful automated system where you key in the office you require was stuck on the welcome message. I eventually breached their telecommunications defences by going through the general national helpline, that only took me an hour to figure out. I spoke to a human and she confirmed receipt of documents and that an answer would be forthcoming within ten days.
I got a text today asking for the same documents to be sent again! Eyebrow twitching and nerves jangling I got on the phone again and here's a précis of the conversation:
Nice HSE lady: Yes we have the documents they were logged on March 18 but unfortunately they weren't verified. You'll have to send them again.
Demented HSE Client (AKA me) Well can't you just verify them now then?
Nice HSE Lady: No sorry the people who verify documents and indeed the documents they verify are in another building so you'll have to send them again.
Demented HSE Client: I'm not being funny but I've sent them twice already - what guarantee do I have that they will arrive and be verified this time?
Nice HSE Lady: Hold on let me check.
Pause for horrible phone hold music
Nice HSE Lady: It's coming up here on the computer that you are eligible but we can't issue the cards without the documents.
Demented HSE Client: But how can you determine that we are eligible if you say you don't have our documents?
Nice HSE Lady: Well your situation hasn't changed.
Demented HSE Client: But how do you know our situation hasn't changed without our proof of income - one of the mystery missing documents?
Nice HSE Lady: That's a good one! Listen could you just send them again - I'll give you a fax number and an email address so you can prove you sent them.
Demented HSE Client: (who is now thinking that they will find that lost plane in the Indian Ocean faster than the Other Kidney's tax return, decides to raise the white flag and reaches for a pen to take down the number) Ok - do you have a reference number for my file and how can I check that you got them this time - should I ring tomorrow?
Nice HSE Lady: Oh God no - don't ring tomorrow - give us at least 72 hours!
So I collected myself and the documents and placed them in my antique fax machine. Can you guess what happened next? The number was engaged - for two hours.
I have had more success writing to Santa Claus.
I need more cake to cope with this.