advocacy

Sep. 12th, 2014 09:59 pm
llcoolvad: (newer)
Two times in the past eight weeks I've tried to advocate for myself, medically, and I was met with nothing but skepticism and arrogance.

The first time was my aforementioned cough-that-broke-my-titanium-wire episode six days after surgery. I knew I'd broken something. Knew it. Went to the local ER, asked for an X-ray. Doctor talked me into taking a CAT scan, gave me fluids while I was waiting. Had to wait a long time for someone to read it after. Attending doc came in, told me I'd be released soon, he was sure. There's nothing wrong. It's ok. Then suddenly, no, you're going via ambulance to your surgical hospital's ER because we don't understand what your CAT scan is telling us. Let me hang more fluids. NO, I insisted, the fluids are making me feel worse. Ok, they listened (turns out that was a good thing).

At the ER I stayed in a hallway for 2.5 hours, doped on dilaudid. I make it into a room, at last, and the parade of doctors and surgeons begin. I think I saw seven, plus two nurses and several interns. They initially couldn't load my CAT scan (brought with me on disk) into their system, so everything was delayed. Turns out they could LOOK at it, though, and couldn't see any problem on the scan. They all patronizingly told me that what I was feeling was normal surgical healing pain, and I should go home and take it easy. Seven hours later I did just that, but the entire time I felt that they were wrong.

Five days later, after feeling like crap for those days and having what my visiting nurse and visiting physical therapists both referred to as a "setback", my surgeon's office did a simple x-ray as part of my follow-up exam and told me that yes, the top surgical staple had indeed broken. It would eventually scar over and heal up and I shouldn't worry, though. Even though I could feel flexing with every breath and coughing was making it hurt a lot and I was doing a lot of coughing. Not sure if they could have done anything when I first complained, but I would have felt better knowing I wasn't being hysterical, anyway.

They ended up having to remove a liter of fluid from my lung, and then again doing the same in a week. For some reason I am not getting rid of fluids as quickly as I should be. Still, I could have probably had that done on Saturday instead of Thursday if they had listened to me--I could have had treatment days earlier.

----

The second time was this week. I went to my primary care doc because I can't walk any distance without gasping for breath. It sucks, and I figure that 7 weeks into my recovery I should not have this much trouble. My lung doesn't feel any better than it did while I was in the hospital or after they did the thoracentesis (lung tap). I call them in advance to ask if I shouldn't get a chest x-ray first, so they could tell if I've got more pleural effusion, in case I need another tap. I could get the x-ray on my way in as radiology is right in their building. His PA tells me no, he will want to see me first. I insist that she ask him, explain my issues patiently, and point out that I still can't drive so it would be best if I did it all the same day since I have to get a ride. She calls back after talking to him. No, he wants to see me first. SIGH.

So I go in. I tell him everything, he looks at my prior tests. He listens to my chest, says it doesn't sound bad. Starts writing me refills on all my prescriptions. Doesn't think I need the x-ray I want. I insist. So he has me get it done on the way out, along with getting my blood work done. I go home, dejected. I feel like I'm never going to get better, and I feel like my doctor is just not in the caring business anymore. He didn't EXACTLY treat me like I was a hypochondriac, but he really didn't seem to be addressing my concerns.

Yesterday at 7:30pm, so four days later, he calls me at home. Tells me that the fluid around my lung hasn't increased (note that it hasn't decreased, either), but that instead I had some INSIDE my lung (so, pulmonary edema). Swell. The treatment is to take a diuretic, which he has already called in. I should start taking it in the morning. (NOTE: If he had done as I suggested, and had the x-ray done before I came in, I could have started on the diuretic four days ago. But ok. At least I have a diagnosis and a treatment.)

But why does it have to be so damned hard? I live in ostensibly the best area in the country for medical care. My doctors are based out of one of the best hospitals in the country. I am not a shrinking violet about confronting people. And it's taking all I have to get treated. I can't even IMAGINE what happens to people who aren't pushy.

----

So this is really a PSA for advocating for yourself. Keep pushing. Apparently both pleural effusions and pulmonary edemas can cause permanent damage, up to and including death. Important to get what ails you treated!

Here's hoping the diuretic will handle my fluids. Because breathing is a good idea!
llcoolvad: (newer)
Since it's over seven weeks now, I feel like I should update, but I really don't have a lot going on. I wake up. If it's a work day, I either log in, or get ready and go to work. (I'm sticking to only a few days per week in the office since I still can't drive and since I still have some pain) If it's a day off, I hang around doing not much. I've watched a lot of tv and rewatched a lot of movies. Can't get that enthused about reading right now, other than the internet. Short form seems to be the way to go for my current attention span.

The pain is improving, but it feels like it might be at a point where it's going to stay static for a while. it's very raw-feeling around the incision, and the muscles underneath sometimes get seriously sore. I've still got some referred pain in my back, and the area under my arm still feels swollen and numb. On the other hand, I'm off the hardcore pain meds and am just on ibuprofen and tylenol.

Since I got off the pain meds I'm sleeping better, only waking up one or twice per night and I can get back to sleep most of the time without having to sleep in the chair, so that's pretty exciting. I am SO SICK of lying on my back I could scream. Occasionally I prop a pillow under one shoulder so I can angle ever so slightly to the side, which is pathetic but the best I can manage.

My breathing isn't great yet. I had to have two lung taps and they told me that the fluid would eventually clear out, but so far I can go about 30 feet and then I start breathing pretty hard. I went to my PCP this week and he wasn't particularly helpful, but he did take a chest x-ray, so maybe I'll have to have another tap. Ugh.

I did a load of laundry in my own house the other day. Totally exciting. I can't carry anything heavy (and by heavy they mean ridiculously light like five pounds or less), and even though I'm feeling better I'm afraid to break that rule by much. I can't go through this again. But I can chuck a small hamper down the stairs, drag it to the wash, drag the wet clothes to the dryer in stages, and then carefully bring stuff back up the stairs (as long as I keep it light). SUCH a relief. I think laundry was the worst part. Mom can't do a whole flight of stairs, never mind do it a couple of times in a day. P did some for me at his house, which was over and above the call of duty, then mother and I managed to get to the laundromat a couple of times, but it was stressful and expensive. I am so glad I got better enough to manage it myself.

I've been getting most of my supplies from either Amazon Prime or Peapod or the occasional trip out with either Patrick or mother. Peapod really is super convenient. Having stuff brought right into my kitchen for a small delivery fee? Excellent. I might keep this up. I hate the supermarket anyway. I could save my chores time for going to unusual stores. That would be nifty.

Solving my other problem, washing floors, is my delightful birthday present, Mr. Mint. So cute. Turn it on, wet its cloth, let it go do its thing. Floors clean. Done and done! If the floors are especially grotty, run it a couple times. No problem! I like any tool that I can set and forget and have good things come out at the other end.

Speaking of my birthday, P arranged a surprise party for me on the Saturday following my birthday! I had no idea! It was pretty awesome. There was good food and a bunch of people I like. I even got presents. Everyone got me earrings, proving that my friends know me pretty damned well.

So that's about everything. My license expired on my birthday, so tomorrow P is taking me to get it renewed. I will take my car over to Jiffy Lube and get the fluids changed (it's been sitting for almost eight weeks) and get the tires rotated. And then I'll have to decide if I'm going to keep driving, or wait out the full 12 weeks they suggest. When I called the surgeon's office to ask if I could drive yet, they said if I'm off the pain meds and have full range of motion without pain then maybe, carefully. But the pain part is important because you move more slowly when you're in pain. I'm still worried about the airbags, though. And I drive a stick, so I'm not sure I will be able to handle it anyway. But I like having a maybe on the horizon, anyway!
llcoolvad: (newer)
Tomorrow it will be three full weeks since surgery. I was intending to keep a more detailed journal of my recovery, but mostly I've been sad, lonely, in pain, feeling pathetic, and feeling like this burden would never ease, and who needs to read about that shit? Not even me. I've had excellent help from Patrick, from my mother, and from many people who've sent me cards, plants, flowers, and who have texted and called me to cheer me up. That part has been great.

I did write down a few things as I went, so here they are.

July 27, 2014

I'm feeling angry AND I'm feeling perspective at the same time.

I'm angry because I just don't feel that I was adequately prepared for the helplessness I'm feeling about my recovery. I alternate between everything being ok, reasonable, fine, and then weeping at how hard everything is and why can't I play tennis and swim right now because it's summer! Mostly I am weepy because sleeping is hard. I love sleeping, and getting into and out of bed is just sucktastic. "Sternal Precautions" are hard to remember, sometimes, especially not lifting your arms over your head. I am pretty nervous all the time that I am going to permanently damage myself. I felt a pop last night when I coughed, and I am certain that I did something bad (it really really hurt and scared me badly) but the seven different doctors at two different hospitals couldn't find anything, so I guess I am wrong. Still, each time I cough now I feel a shifting/popping/sliding. So I am angry.

But perspective: I can recover at home. I have a job that I don't need to be at for long periods of time and I still get paid. I have insurance that will cover this (once my out of pocket is met). Beyond normal surgical dangers, I wasn't in danger of dying at any particular point.

Keep the perspective in the forefront. That's really what I need to do. Hard, tho.

August 3, 2014

I probably should stop watching all the normal tv I like to watch—dark crime dramas. It's left me feeling bleak. First I watched the last six episodes of The Killing, which Netflix produced after the series was cancelled at AMC. Then I watched Top of the Lake, which is set in New Zealand and written, produced, and directed by Jane Campion, so while everything is quirky, it's also horrifically bleak. I need something more cheerful. I might switch to movies I've already watched. I can't watch comedies because laughing? It hurts!

August 10, 2014

At my first follow-up visit with one of my surgeons, they determined that I should have fluid drained from my lungs. To do that, they do an ultrasound first to determine the largest collection of fluid and they mark you up. Then they make you lean over a table, stick a needle into your back and stick a tube in and suck out the fluid (in my case, a liter). Surprisingly that part isn't bad. It's the end, when they get close to being done, and you just start coughing and coughing and it feels like you can't breathe and it hurts. Eventually, you stop coughing, mostly, and you feel slightly better.

I had more energy for a couple of days afterward and could get around without breathing hard. When I went back for my second follow-up visit with the same surgeon a week later (this last week), they did it again. This one was for what fluid was left (another liter), and was somewhat more unpleasant, as I started coughing about three minutes in (did I mention the procedure takes a long time? It does) and couldn't stop. Man. Draining in so many ways! The whole next day I was wheezy and congested, too. I had to sleep upright in my chair, because I just couldn't lie down. Bleah.

So the tap was Thursday. Friday I was just wrecked all day, and I had a visiting nurse, and we got a new fridge delivered so there was uproar (furniture had to be moved, doors had to be removed, the old fridge contents needed to be put in a cooler, the new fridge had to be loaded, uproar). I was in pain and wheezy and tired and just a mess. That night I managed to sleep in the bed, however, and woke up and felt better. I managed to go out to the store with mother, did a few errands. It's remarkable how feeling useful really helps. I think the worst part of all of this is that I have no ability to do anything and I can see all the things I usually do and it's infuriating that I can't do them. But I really don't want to mess anything up further. I haven't mentioned here already, but the pop in my chest I felt back the first Saturday after surgery was indeed me breaking a titanium staple. They didn't see it in the CAT scan, but it was obvious in the X-ray they took a week later. They say I'll heal up around it and it should be fine. I am dubious, but trying to be optimistic because I don't know if I could stand going through this again. (I don't even know what they'd do to repair it if it doesn't heal right, because I am afraid to ask.)

I only have about a week of pain meds left, if I took them every four hours like the bottle says. (Yes, I know I can ask for a refill. I did that last week. This IS the refill. I just am sick of being doped) I did an experiment today, and instead of taking a pill at 5:30pm I waited until 11:00pm and just took Tylenol. Uncomfortable, but not excruciating. Maybe I can get off the oxycodone soon. I'll save it for bed, perhaps. It makes me nod off if I'm sitting in my comfy chair, so I'd rather just cut it loose.

So anyway, my status is quo, I guess. I am finally feeling better. Tomorrow I see my primary surgeon, where I anticipate that he'll tell me that there were some micro-carcinomas in my goiter like there were in the part he removed six years ago, and that everything was contained, and that there is no further treatment that I'll require. He'll tell me everything looks good in the X-rays and that I should be fine in a while. I wish I knew what a while is, but everyone is different. Other surgeon said 8 more weeks (I think total recovery is 10-12 weeks) but that I could go back to my desk job any time I felt ready. Yay?

Patrick's BF Peter is driving me tomorrow. Are they the bestest, or what?
llcoolvad: (newer)
I have to get up at 4:15am to get to the hospital by 5:30, for a 7:30am surgery time tomorrow. I have no idea if I'll manage to sleep at all. I didn't sleep much this weekend. No idea why I'm so nervous. I was nervous the last time about anesthesia since I'd never had it before. This time I seem more worried that I won't survive. Weird! Intellectually I know my odds are very good, so I don't know why it's really got me freaked this time.

Anyway, I spent the day doing the next two week's chores, since I won't be physically able to. Grocery shopped, did returnables, six loads of laundry, changed the sheets, vacuumed, tidied, took out all the trash and put it in the barrels in the garage, swept, mopped, vacuumed some more. I am sore now, which is probably a dumb way to greet surgery. Then again I'll be on meds tomorrow so it's probably ok. Concentrating on hydrating now so I won't be parched in the morning (since I can't drink anything past midnight). Took my insulin already. Had a shower. Will have another in six hours when I wake up. Took an ativan earlier today, then took another about an hour ago. Waiting for another load to finish in the dryer (mom's stuff) before I turn in. I'm as ready as I can be, physically, but mentally I am just still pretty much a wreck. I wrote out a "here are all of my investment accounts and here's what to do and who to call and here's what I owe and all of my passwords" kind of list for mother, which might seem morbid but makes me feel better that she wouldn't have to worry about THAT.

So I guess that's it. I'm bringing my phone and a set of headphones with me as entertainment (oh, and the charger with a really long cable, so I can just leave it plugged in). I am hoping to be out of the hospital by Tuesday, with Monday possibly spent dozing, but I have no clue yet. It depends how I do and how much they cut me.

I said yes to the film crew. I figure I'll be unconscious so why not. Catch y'all on the flip!
llcoolvad: (newer)
Had my pre-op exam on Monday. It was pretty easy, they took some blood, the Nurse Practitioner did an exam and took my history, and that was about it. Later that day I got a call from a diabetes nurse, however. Apparently my blood sugar was pretty bad, really spiked since February. I've been pretty lucky so far as a diabetic. My levels have been pretty easy to control with just an oral med and reasonable eating. Lately I've been eating really badly, however, and combine it with the stress of being really sick two times and not being good about taking said oral meds, I guess now I'm in trouble. Because if I can't get the damned levels down, they won't operate. So my diabetes nurse prescribed insulin for me. Yikes! She called the Rx in for me and asked me to meet with her on Thursday, after I meet with surgeon number two, so she could go over the plan with me.

So that makes me pretty nervous. Not the taking insulin. I'm fine with needles, and it's just a maintenance dose that's supposed to get my numbers in line quickly. It's just that somehow I've gotten pretty sick all at once:
  1. Sick enough to require antibiotics 2x since end of March
  2. Severe back pain (possibly due to #1, from coughing so much)
  3. A 5.6cm mass in my chest that will require major surgery to remove
  4. Blood sugar out of control
  5. A probable hernia in my stomach (see #1 again)
  6. A weird painful bump on my finger

I sort of whined about it all to my PT while she was massaging my "soft tissue", who remarked that all systems are connected, and often this kind of thing cascades. Yeah, I get that. But I'd like it to stop now, kthxbai.

Yesterday Dr. Gawande called me to ask if I had managed to get an appt with the thoracic guy, because he needed to talk to me about how they were going to get at the goiter. Another revision. He told me that they'd explain it when I was in there. Then he told me he was being followed around by a PBS film crew on the day of my surgery, and would I want to be part? I didn't have to be. I told him I'd think about it. Maybe!

Today I saw surgeon #2 (amusingly named Dr. Wee, which makes me giggle every time I think of that Geico ad where the car salesman says "Why don't WEEEEEEEEEE go out to the car?"). He told me that because of the location of my "lesion" that they'd have to either do a full sternotomy, or do a hemiclamshell incision. And that in my case, because there are arteries and important stuff in the way (the goiter is behind) they should really do the hemiclamshell so that Gawande has more room to work.


I was a bit shocked, to be honest. I went from what I was imagining was about a 4-6" incision to at least 12". And they open me wide during the surgery. Scary. I'll need to stay in the hospital longer, recovery is longer, and there's a lot more "discomfort" as he put it. YAY.

I left there a bit shell-shocked. Met with the diabetes nurse who showed me how to stick needles in myself. She kept asking if I had questions, gave me her cell number so I could call this weekend if I was freaking out or anything, and I kind of laughed and said that insulin was not what I'd be freaking out about, but thanks!

I talked to my boss after I left the hospital to warn her about the extra time away from work, and she pointed out that at least I wasn't coming into this thing from the ER. She had had the ER leading to surgery experience and didn't recommend it. Which made me feel immensely better and snapped me out of my shock, really. I have two good surgeons, I'll be at an excellent hospital, and except for the blood sugar I'm really in pretty decent health to get through this without issue. So yeah. Shock, but recovery.

I'm sad about the giant scar, though. I already have the normal thyroid scar. Now I'll have one that puts that to shame. I am not meant to wear plunging necklines, I guess.
llcoolvad: (newer)
Had a good vacation. Perfect weather Sun-Tue in Provincetown, where we ate good food, relaxed on the deck, wandered around downtown and looked at art, and visited the Whydah Pirate Museum (which, frankly, was uninspiring). Still, beautiful weather and fun times. There are pictures and a lot more text inside, lots of it about my health... )

As always, more pictures at Flickr.
llcoolvad: (newer)
Goiter 2: The Thyroid Strikes Back?
Goiter 2: Electric Boogaloo?

Short story version: went to Urgent Care to make sure that my six-week-long cough wasn't pneumonia. It wasn't! Instead, there was a mass.

goiter crop with pointer

Probably another goiter (of course they won't know for absolute sure until they yank it out and test it for cancer). It's in sorta the same place as my goiter the first. It's smaller than that one was (5.5cm x 5cm vs. 12cm x 6.5cm), so it's not actually displacing my esophagus this time (yet). It's weird that it's in the same place as the first one since they took that side of my thyroid out and flushed it. Apparently I had a void that needed filling!

I won't know much more until I meet with my fab surgeon again. Saw my doc today and he basically confirmed everything that the hospital said, and called my surgeon to discuss. Apparently he just sits around taking calls, because my doc talked to him while I waited for a couple minutes. When half the thyroid is left, goiters can recur in about 20% of patients. I always was an overachiever when it comes to really dumb things.

Previous entries about the first goiter.
llcoolvad: (cold)
A jumble of things:

I am going back to work on Friday. My short-term disability covers 2 weeks at 100%, so two weeks I shall take. I have been feeling pretty much back to normal, although I do like being able to lie down whenever I want to so having the extra couple of days off is pretty keen.

My incision has closed up nicely. I can't really tell what it looks like yet, as it's still got a pocket of swelling all around it, and because the dermabond is still all over it. There's purple marker (or whatever surgeons use) all under the dermabond, too, so it looks angrier than it really is. I can see pink down under it, though, so I know it's pretty much closed up. I don't see my surgeon until the 15th, so I am not going to bother with any pictures until after the dermabond either flakes off or is removed on the 15th. Everyone at work can just wince every time they see me until then.

Had my first comment on it today, from the guy at my local pizza place: "Did you have surgery?" I was tempted to say "No, I was mugged!" but I refrained. So many wiseass answers spring to mind! But I like the pizza guy, so ...

I finally got out of the house a tiny bit this weekend: lunch with Patrick on Friday, then dinner and a movie (Bolt — very cute) with Patrick on Saturday. Today I did some grocery shopping. Not a lot of time out of the apartment for a week and a half. A little stir crazy!

Still feeling pretty enraged and sad about the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Our main Mumbai office is right near the Taj Hotel; in fact, my boss and a coworker stayed at the Taj when they visited the office last year. From what I can tell everyone from our office is fine, though, thankfully. This Big Picture entry is quite fascinating for images of the aftermath.

We got the unhappy word today via voicemail that there will be no "compensation discussions" until February at the earliest, meaning no raises or bonuses until further notice. I sort of expected it, but I always hold out hope for the best so I am still pretty disappointed. It mystifies me why they wait so long to tell us these things. They laid people off back in September. Why are we hearing two weeks before we'd have our meetings? I guess they wanted all of our non-disillusioned hard work between then and now. Sigh.

I'm planning on spending the rest of the week before I go back to work getting a little bit done every day. I've spent a week+ basically doing nothing but recuperating, but now I have some energy so I'd like to get stuff done. I have to do a lot of laundry, so that's first up. I'd really like to get through a huge stack of magazines and catalogs and get them out to recycling, too. I have to have a blood test on Thursday to see if my calcium levels are normal. And, finally, Friday is date night, which I've been looking forward to for (what feels like) weeks already! The best way to end the week.

What's on your upcoming agenda? Anything fun?
llcoolvad: (newer)
It's now six days since surgery, and I'm feeling pretty much back to normal. Sleeping normally, no pain meds, eating normally, no sore throat, not even achy! I've still got some pretty exciting bruises, and of course the incision is still there, but seriously, no pain! Medical science is totally amazing.

So that's what I'm thankful for today. Along with all the usual stuff: warm home, food to eat, many good friends, my kitty, a pending president that probably won't suck, the internet to keep me entertained, and lots of stuff to read.

What are you thankful for today?
llcoolvad: (cold)
I already feel a lot better. I've only been taking extra strength Tylenol for the pain, and it's been more than adequate to deal with it. My doctor wrote me a prescription for oxycodone, but I haven't felt the need to try it.

The high points of my day so far? I took a shower. And I had a sandwich. Exciting times.

Recovery entertainment: Just watched the entire season to date of "Sons of Anarchy". Pretty good. Katey Sagal is awesome. The whole cast is good. It doesn't quite have the punch of other great crime series, though; I only thought "wow, that was great!" at the end of one episode, and I used to think that regularly at the end of, say, The Sopranos or even The Shield.

Next up: Season two of Mad Men. Maybe I'll read for a bit, first.
llcoolvad: (cold)
My incision looks like someone tried to cut my head off and failed. Wanna see?

my cut behind a cut! )
llcoolvad: (cold)
Surgery is tomorrow afternoon. They pushed the time back to 3:30pm. It was scheduled for 11:30am, which I thought was awesome -- I could get up at my normal time and wander over there and before I knew what was going on it would be over. Now I'm going to have time to fret.

I guess there's little chance they'll cut me at 3:30 and send me home the same night. My doctor told me I'd probably stay overnight anyway, despite it being scheduled as day surgery.

Ah well, I am certainly going to have time to sleep late!
llcoolvad: (newer)
Ha! They just name-checked my surgeon on "ER" tonight, twice! I swear, by the time I see him again I'm going to be a gushing fangirl. Suppose it's in bad taste to get his autograph? Maybe I'll get copies of his books and have him sign them.

Probably not.

But heh!
llcoolvad: (newer)
I've been really scattered lately. Don't know if it's stress at work, general overload, or the smack on the head, but it's been hard for me to keep two thoughts together at the same time.

I was chatting with my friend Jenn on AIM yesterday and she asked if I had googled my surgeon yet, and I realized that yet another thing on my mental to-do list had wandered away. So last night I did a little googling and found out that my surgeon is kind of famous! I mean, he's got a Wikipedia page. He won the MacArthur genius grant and was a Rhodes scholar. He worked for Al Gore and Bill Clinton so he's a good democrat. He wrote for Slate and the New Yorker. He's got a couple of books published. He's cute. He teaches at Harvard.

Here's a rather lengthy (but very interesting) Google author talk for one of his books. And here's a NY Times slideshow of him in action.

Interesting!
llcoolvad: (newer)
Hey! These scans look very much like my innards! My trachea/esophagus isn't quite that badly shoved aside, but the CT scan is very similar to what my alignment looks like. Multinodular substernal goiter. Fun! I should note that I am not certain if it's my trachea or my esophagus that's shoved aside. It is probably the esophagus that's shoved, and the trachea that's compressed. Normally, they should align with each other for a while.

Here's a normal neck:



You can see the larynx there (hence the possibility of permanent hoarseness); and the part that makes me nervous a bit, the carotid arteries. Eep! Please have steady hands, Dr. General! He'll be cutting out the right half of the thyroid. Then my tumors are down below in the upper chest, sort of behind my breastbone and wrapped around my trachea, but sort of attached by threads to the bad side of the thyroid.

In retrospect, I am kind of irritated with my normal GP. I cough more than anyone, all the time, and yet he never thought to get a chest x-ray before now? He brushed off my questions and said it was my asthma. Which has never been serious, ever, and yet the last year and a half or so I've complained about constant coughing and (what I call) wet lungs. His response? More prescriptions. Which I didn't take. Leaving me to conclude that my coughing was my fault.

Sigh. Why do I keep having to learn obvious things about the medical world, things like "see a specialist"? I must be incredibly dim.

Easy Peasy

Aug. 19th, 2008 01:18 am
llcoolvad: (newer)
So today was the initial consultation with both surgeons. lengthy description of hospital information and botheration ) Currently I am tentatively scheduled for preop meeting 11/3, biopsy 11/13, surgery 11/13 (obviously something in there will change). The scheduler chick at General's office told me that she's hoping she can push the biopsy earlier and that she'll call me with updates. If there's no way, the surgery will probably be moved to the 20th.

The end!
llcoolvad: (newer)
A letter I got in the mail today. We switched health care insurers at work last year, so I am still not wise to the ways of BCBS and found this both ridiculous and amusing (and maybe a little nerve-wracking):

Dear Member:

After careful review by the Clinical Coordination Department of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, I am pleased to inform you that the request for hospital services made on your behalf has been approved.

Place of Service: Inpatient Acute Care Hospital
Type of Service: Medical Care


I'd like to remind you that your hospital admission must be medically necessary and may vary depending on your specific condition. We will work with your physician while you are receiving hospital services.

Also, in order to receive benefits during your hospital stay, you must remain eligible for coverage and the coverage must stay in force. The nature and level of benefits available to your are specified in your Subscriber Certificate. Should you have questions about your deductible or copayment, if applicable, please contact your customer service toll-free number shown on your Blue Cross Blue Shield identification card.

Sincerely,
Some Doctor
Physician Review Unit
Clinical Coordination
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts


Was there some DOUBT that the big-ass MASSES in my CHEST weren't going to be covered? Isn't this EXACTLY what medical insurance is for? Holy crap. I didn't have any questions or worries BEFORE I got this letter, but now I dunno! I love the tone, like you'd get when you get accepted to college: "I'm pleased to inform you that you have been chosen to have your neck sliced open and stuff pulled out!"

Also, love the specificity. "Inpatient Acute Care Hospital" and "Medical Care" — like I'm going in for something other than medical care. Maybe hair care! And "I'd like to remind you that your hospital admission must be medically necessary" — as if anyone would have thyroid surgery on a whim. Hey! Can you remove an important part of my body for no good reason?! Thanks!!

I guess there will be more of this to come. Sigh. I suppose I should be relieved. It's covered!
llcoolvad: (newer)
For the first time in a month I finally have a little energy! It's been so long since I had the energy to do anything at all. This last week has been tough because I was taking Cipro for my pneumonia and the side effects were very draining — they included extreme dizziness, mild anxiety, and very bad leg cramps. I hate Cipro now. Hate.

Anyway, I finished with it on Sunday, so I woke up today feeling pretty good. Managed to get the kitchen cleaned up, my room cleaned up, grocery shopping done, recycleables brought to the city yard, and now I am hammering out loads of laundry. Feels good to be mildly productive. It's been so long since I could do more than the bare minimum.

I just went through my Kindle and realized that I've read a bunch of books that I haven't reviewed yet at [livejournal.com profile] greenstreetbks, so that might be next on my agenda. Then I need to clean the bathroom top to bottom. Then I need to update some lists and figure out what's next. So many things to do! I want to get the house under control before my surgery next month (whenever they schedule it for). And I just got added to a team at work that's going to require a lot of attention for the next few months, so it's busy everywhere.

I am kinda sad because I only have 11 days left of time off for the year. I hate using it up being sick. If one week is devoted to post-surgery recuperation, that just leaves me one week for fun! Feh. I know, I know, most people get 2 weeks total per year. I should be grateful. But I really really wanted to go a few places this summer. And now I probably can't. Sigh!

But anyway, it feels good to be alive again!

FINALLY

Jul. 15th, 2008 08:39 pm
llcoolvad: (newer)
It's taken almost four weeks, but today I feel pretty good! I got a full night's sleep last night, and my chest is almost clear; very limited coughing. Thank you, mega-antibiotics!

My nuclear scan is next week, and my appointment with my surgical team is August 18. So I won't have much news on the archaic illness front for a while. But who cares? I'm SLEEPING! I'm NOT COUGHING!! It's like the sun has come out after a whole month of rain...

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