Monday, May 16, 2016

Life is a Highway Part II

Here is the full saga of my adventure trying to transfer my out of state license after the big move. I will warn you, it's a SAGA. My hope is that maybe it can save other people some of the nonsense I went through. Feel free to read on if you have time. Prepare to get frustrated...

Five years ago, I got my driver’s license.  As some of you may know, it took me about ten years.  

What I didn’t think about was that after that, I might be moving to another state (two different states actually) and what that would mean for said driver’s license.

LUCKY FOR YOU.  Once again, I am here, to provide transition “lessons learned” so that if any of you driven, ambitious young people want to get the hell out of your home state you will know the steps to go through to eventually transfer your out of state license, be a real citizen of that state, and MAYBE have to make less ridiculous trips to the DMV than I did.

Let me back up a little bit.  

We moved to Colorado in August of 2015.  My license expires May 28, 2016.  I got my Colorado license today… with 12 days to spare, before my Maine license would expire

I made my first trip to the DMV in October of 2015.  There were a couple of reasons I waited to start the process a little late in the game.  The first one, is similar to why I waited to  transfer my healthcare when I was living Boston.  Because I just wasn’t sure.  As I have mentioned before, I am most definitely my own worst enemy when it comes to believing in myself, and my life choices.  WHAT IF I FAIL!?!?!?  What if I lose all my money and my job, and everyone hates me and we lose our apartment, and I have to move back to Maine!?!?!!? I might as well keep my Maine license, juuuust in case.

The second reason- let’s just be clear about this.  I AM NOT ACTUALLY DRIVING IN COLORADO.  My car, Lily, is happily in Maine, hanging out with my sister, because logistics, and I take the bus, and it’s fine.  Otherwise, I would have had to renew my out of state license within 30 days of changing my residence to Colorado (this may vary per state, so be sure to check)

Anyway, so one day in October, I took the morning off from work, and took an Uber to the specific DMV that does driver’s license (cha ching- $20).  I had done my research on the website, and had my proof of residency, my passport, my current license, a blood sample, my first born, etc etc.  
It really didn’t take that long to get called and go through the process, so I figured I was good to go.  However, when they called me up to get my photo taken, they had me review my information to make sure it was correct.  And my apartment # was wrong.  UGH. So, I mentioned it (come to find out, I managed to grab the ONE piece of mail that actually had my address wrong…but somehow it got to me so go figure) When I mentioned it was incorrect, they had me sit back down.  So I did, and waited, and waited.  And I knew I was not leaving with a license.

Sure enough, they called me back up, and having looked at my file, explained to me that I needed to have a form filled out by my doctor, because it said on my license that I needed accommodations in my vehicle THAT IS NOT EVEN IN THE STATE OF COLORADO.  I will say the staff was super nice, and even checked with the manager if this was the case, but it was.  Then they sent me on my way, with the form.

It’s kind of funny because I try not to be a big nerd who is like “Everything has to do with health care,” but you guys, everything has to do with health care.   

At this time, I was also transitioning to my second PCP because my first one just did not have follow through that I needed (that’s another blog).  I ended up switching to an Internal Medicine group, that is a lot better, so when I got my first appointment, I brought in the form, to this poor doctor who has never even met me.  She was nice, and didn’t ask many questions, and filled out the form.  

Then the holidays, work, and life happened, and I didn’t have the opportunity to take ANOTHER morning off to go to the DMV and do this again.  But, since the clock was ticking, I found a day.  I made sure all my mail had the correct address, paper-clipped all my crap together, took another Uber (cha-ching) and went back to east middle of Nowhere to the Driver’s License office.

This guy was also super nice, but as he examined the form, he told me that it didn’t include the specific information it needed explaining my particular accommodations that I need IN MY VEHICLE THAT IS NOT IN COLORADO.

I asked him (still being my super nice, Advocate self)  “Ok, well does it say to include that information on the form?”

DMV Dude: “Well, no.  But the doctor is just supposed to know.”

Clearly, they teach mind reading in med school.  I wish they had taught that in Public Health school, then maybe I would have known what I needed before I went to the DMV twice

I know he was just trying to help, but clearly not understanding how healthcare works, this kind young man said “Well if you can go back today and have them fill it out, and come back, I can help you right away.”

My doctor’s office is a half an hour in the OPPOSITE direction from my house, so about an hour from the DMV, which is in the middle of nowhere in the other direction.  Also,  you don’t just stroll into Internal Medicine and say “Hey, I need someone who can just jot some words on this form.  AGAIN.”

This was also the day of the Super Bowl parade, so getting anywhere in the city would take twice as long.  I ALSO need to mention, that in my current job, I do not have paid time off.  Not only am I paying to Uber each time, but I’m missing valuable work time that I am not getting compensated for.  My choice, but still, another factor that makes each DMV trip even more painful.

After they sent me away the second time, I had a very long moral dilemma.  I had a form with my doctor’s signature, and we had discussed my accommodations and everything I needed, technically I could just write in the notes section, whatever they needed and save myself a trip BACK to my doctor’s office.  I also didn’t have health insurance during this time, so I was not about to be billed for a dr filling out a form they ALREADY FILLED OUT.

Finally, I decided I was just going to fill in the information, and make another trip to the DMV.  Well, apparently the universe didn’t think that was a good idea because the form was blank.  After my second trip, the guy at the DMV had TAKEN THE FORM THAT WAS SIGNED and given me a blank one, without even telling me.  I was literally back at square one.  Are you kidding me?

At this point, I had lost much of my motivation to even make this happen.  The other reason that I was in such a panic to get my CO license in the first place was because I was going to be applying for jobs with the state, and having a CO license is a requirement.  At this point though, I had gone through the process and checked with HR, and since I already worked at the state, and could prove residency, as long as I was working on it, they told me it wasn’t as urgent.  That helped me relax a little bit, but I still just wanted to get it done.  The clock was still ticking, and as I mentioned, after spending 10 years trying to get my license, I will be damned if I was going to sacrifice it because the system is completely inefficient.

Fast forward to May, after four months of not having health insurance (another blog), and I make an appointment to see my new PCP, and figure i’ll have her fill out the form ONCE AGAIN.  Please note- this was AFTER I had been messaging with my team (who are all residents so I never see the same person twice) and they said I could mail the form, and they would fill it out and send it back.  Then they told me I needed to make an appointment EVEN THOUGH THEY ALREADY FILLED IT OUT ONCE.  But whatever, at this point I had other issues I wanted to discuss anyway so I actually just took a whole freaking day off in the name of wellness and took the bus to the doctor.  Because Eff Uber when the sun is out and I have nothing but time.  

I go to the doctor, and wait… wait… because healthcare is inefficient.  Then I get in with the doctor, and she says, “So you’re here for some paperwork?”  

“Yes, and you have the paperwork.  It was in an envelope with a note that included very specific instructions on what to write and it had a note that said, DO NOT LOSE THIS FORM.”

“I’ll be right back.”

I’m sure you know where this is going.  They couldn’t find the form.  I decided before I even went, I was not leaving without this form so I told them to find it.   They were super gracious, and they did find it.  Let me re-emphasize. I WROTE DOWN what I wanted them to write on the form.  This was another person who had never met me, so I basically did all the work and they got to bill my insurance.  CHA- CHING.  I left with the form.

Today, 2 weeks after that appointment, I decided to just take the plunge.  I gathered all my documentation UH-GAIN.  Left the house at 7 a.m. in the rain and Ubered to the DMV.  Luckily, I had the same girl I had the first time, who raised both eyebrows when I said “Maybe third time’s the charm?”

In less than 20 minutes, I was waiting to get my picture taken.  I was a little worried when she disappeared for a little too long, that there was some other reason I wouldn’t be leaving with a license, but I made a vow to myself I was not leaving until it was complete.  I was done playing games.  

So now 6 months later, I left with my Colorado license and and a goofy picture because apparently in Colorado you can’t show your teeth when you smile, BUT I DON’T CARE!!  Now that this is behind me, next time I can just renew this baby online!  The Maine chapter of my identity is officially off the books… there you have it!

Best of luck to all of you as you move into your new lives, and new identities.

For those of you who want the TL:DR version, here are my top five lessons learned from the Driver’s License Saga Part II:
  1. Don’t trust the internet.  If you have an adapted vehicle or any sort of your driving experience was a little different, call ahead of time to see if there is any additional documentation you need (I went back and looked, and that part of the website was down. Of course)
  2. Make copies of everything and stay organized!!!!! I wish I would’ve asked for a copy of the form before they took it away (But I thought I was getting the same one back) JUST SCAN OR MAKE COPIES.  After my first trip, I just kept the documents I knew had the correct information so if I did have time to go back, I could just grab my “DMV packet!”  It saved everyone time once  got there.
  3. Keep your cool.  Whether TSA or the DMV, if there are added steps for you, even if you are annoyed, take a deep breath and be clear on what you need to do.  It’s ok to mention there are gaps in the process or how it can be improved, but leave with a smile or at least a “Thank you.” and  you’re more likely to get what you need eventually.
  4. DIY. Always.  If  you want something done right the first (or second time) DO IT YOURSELF. Clearly my PCP who I was meeting for the first time is not going to know about my car in Maine.  Write the exact language you want them to put on the form, this goes for any sort of eligibility requests, or Medical Necessity as well.  Any guidance you can provide, saves them a lot of time and will get you your form back a lot quicker.  If you don’t know the language to use, find an advocate or someone who can help you make sure you’re “playing the game” correctly.  Hit me up, I minored in this!
  5. DON’T GIVE UP.  Seriously.  Cheesy as it sounds.  Figure out what you need, and the people who can help you get it, and keep at it.  The system is broken, but we can’t let it win.  I will definitely be writing a letter, since if that form had been on the website, it would have made my life a lot easier, but ultimately I got what I came here for, and I can now take a deep breath and enjoy my new Colorado life.  

All in a day’s work!  

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