Just a bit of an update. I know… I’ve been really bad about keeping this journal up to date and letting everyone know what is going on in the world of this cancer patient… victim… survivor… and sometimes journal keeper. What holds me back from posting here is that… most of what I would have posted is negative… and it seems to me to be an oxymoron to post in print about all the negative health issues I face on a site entitled… The Vision of Hope. Besides… I don’t want to read negative things about someone all the time either… nor do I want to write them.
So… here’s a brief summary of past events… sort of.
As you all know, I have chronic lung and throat problems mostly due to radiation treatments. A persistent cough is always present that I tribute to those very reasons, so I tend to just try to deal with it… ignore it as best I can.
On Thanksgiving Day I fell… Quite ungracefully. No… it’s never a good thing to hear a loud thud and find an old man lying in the floor… and no… I don’t have one of those “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” buttons. I tried to deal with the pain on my own, but considering I have so much lung trouble already, I didn’t really want to wait around and see if I damaged anything important. So the next day, I went to a walk in clinic to see if anything was broken. There wasn’t… only badly bruised and internal contusions around the right side of the ribs, the shoulder and the arm. I’d heal. However… following the x-rays and the doc informing me that I was just the clumsy old man I already knew myself to be, he pulled out a sheet of paper with a picture of an x-ray of my right lung, scooted his stool on rollers closer to me… and said, “Have you been coughing?”…
I replied, “Yes.”
He asked, “For how long?”
I replied, “Quite some time.”
He then held up the piece of paper and said, “See this… this is your right lung and there is an infiltrate in the right lower lobe.”
After pausing in silence while staring at the paper he was holding up… a mere copied printout of an x-ray that meant little to me in that form… I very intelligently responded with….
The doc looked at me very seriously and said, “There’s no way for us to know what the organism is that is infiltrating your lung… so I am prescribing an antibiotic to attempt to prevent it from becoming bacterial pneumonia if it has not already done so.”
Me again… “Okay!?????”
Then he added, “You need to get a chest x-ray within the next few days and see your primary care physician as soon as possible.”
Now… Here’s where we run into trouble on that one. First of all… I misguidedly thought that he had just done a chest x-ray to see if anything was broken and he found the “infiltrate” in the lung. What is another chest x-ray going to do that this one didn’t? I told him I was supposed to have a PET scan in a couple of weeks and he said “Good”… which to me… could possibly mean… “Bad”.
So… I didn’t want to go through all the red tape involved with seeing my primary care doc at the VA without an appointment, so I called my radiation oncologist and asked her to go ahead and get me scheduled for the PET. She did… It happened yesterday.
The medical facility where I have been going for PET scans for the past 5 years has changed hands and the new management has added a whole bunch of red tape to being admitted for anything… even outpatient shit. (excuse me) And now they require co-pays up front. They told me on the phone that the procedure cost $6,300 or something close to that figure. Then she told me what Medicare allowed them to charge… (in other words… they’re making huge profits off of those who are uninsured)… then she told me what I would be responsible for at the time of my appointment. My first thought… and what I wish I could have said to the ‘new management’ was… So… I guess less fortunate people just die wishing they could dig up enough money to pay for treatment… but I knew that this person on the phone was not the one responsible for this unfortunate requirement… so I kept my thoughts to myself. Now… don’t get me wrong… if you cannot pay them what they ask… they will be happy to turn you over to a collection agency that will proudly and persistently hound you to pay your bill to the point where you wish you hadn’t had the procedure done in the first place.
Welcome to modern day health care in the United States… Where… if you have plenty of money… it is indeed… America the beautiful. To those less fortunate… it can be a very ugly America. If Medicare didn’t decrease the cost of this test tremendously… I would not be able to have it done. Period. I would not be able to have radiation treatments. I would only be able to sit quietly… somewhere in America… and die.
I kind of got into trouble once at the hospital when the staff told me I was going to have to be admitted for treatment and high powered IV antibiotics. I told them I couldn’t afford it. They said… “Oh, don’t worry about that!” I replied… “Oh, really… are you going to pay my bill?”
It was very quiet in the room after that. Funny… I didn’t get even one volunteer.
Okay… I’m sure I’ll be in trouble with a few folks on those last comments, but I can always take the heat when what I have said is the truth.
There was a lot more red tape when I showed up for the test and they have changed nearly everything from the last time I had a scan. Not for the better. Health care in the U.S. is utterly ridiculous.
So now… you’re all up to date until next week when I see the Oncologist and go over the report from the PET scan. But of course, we all know by now that I will probably find a way to get a copy of the CD and the report before I see the Doc.
There is one thing that I would like all of you to do in the meantime.
THINK: CANCER FREE!
I think it is time for one of my PET scans to indicate… NOTHING THAT GLOWS. I know that I will be dealing with whatever is going on in the right lung, but as most of you already know, I’m kind of used to dealing with that sort of thing and with a little luck… a few blessings… support from my family and those who follow this journal… there will always be a tremendous amount of “HOPE”…..
Thank you for always brightening my day…
Hope yours is most beautiful..