Wednesday, I visited with my new Oncology doc. I must admit that I had multitudes of preconceived ideas about her and how the appointment would go. As most of you already know, I don’t much like having to change doctors or going to a new one of any kind. As I recount my thoughts and compare them to how the doctor dealt with my now extensive history of cancer, the numerous radiation treatments I have undergone, my current health situation… well… I must admit… I was wrong.
Now, I know this was the first visit and things can change quickly when the docs start coming up with what they want to do. But here is what she did Wednesday. She went over my past cancers, without reading from a computer or from notes… she actually “knew” from studying my previous reports what I had been through already. That in itself was a bit rare as far as my extensive relationships with doctors goes. Most of my docs come into the treatment room, sit down at the computer and say nothing for several minutes while they look up to refresh their memory of what they themselves have done… and often, I even have to help them remember.
So, from her going over my history, she questioned several facts that seem to puzzle her greatly. First, she wanted to know if I had seen an Oncologist other than my radiation oncologist who recently abandoned her patients. I told her that I had not. She looked puzzled. Then she asked if I had seen a pulmonary doc during this process concerning all the lung difficulties that I have and are currently enduring. I told her that I had not. She looked puzzled again. She said, “So the only doctor you’ve seen through all of this is your radiation oncologist and primary care physician?” I told her… “Yes.” She continued the puzzled look.
She said that she was a chemotherapy doctor and then went over my heart history, at least… semi agreeing with my thoughts and the thoughts of my ‘now retired’ cardiologist, that surgery and chemo should be last resorts.
She is referring me to a new (and in her opinion an excellent) radiation oncologist. She wants me to keep the PET scan appointment that was already scheduled for next week, even though it was set up by my previous radiation doc… oh… and did I mention that she is the one that abandoned her patients?
Then she told me that the new radiation doc, in correlation with her, would review the scan, my history, and everything all together and decide on what might be the best treatment for me. She wasn’t certain that I could even receive any further radiation because of the excessive amounts that I‘ve already received She added that hopefully, the radiation doc could determine how much damage has been done to my lungs, heart and various other parts that have gotten zapped far too much. She also threw in the possibility of immunotherapy, something that I know absolutely nothing about, but as you all know… I’ll be reading about it very soon. She said that they have gotten some really good results from that type of treatment and it is generally less harmful than chemo. Well… I’m certainly for something less harmful.
She also determined from exam and symptoms (severe ear ache, headache, pain through one side of my face and down the right side of my neck) that I must have a rather severe sinus infection. She prescribed an antibiotic. Something that is often quite difficult to get the VA docs to do. They don’t like drop in patients and they don’t like to prescribe without seeing you. So… they need to do one or the other. Thank you ‘new’ oncology doc… I needed that. Since I have a nearly zero immune system remaining these days, it is nearly impossible for me to fight any illness without help of some kind. My problem is that I tend to procrastinate and allow the infection to become severe and very painful before I seek assistance. Shame on me.
As an overall result, I was quite pleased with the first meeting. I’m hopeful once again. It’s not going to be a fast process… wait a week for the scan… wait two weeks to see the radiation oncologist… wait another two weeks to see this doc for a second follow up visit.
On top of that… I am going to have to jump through a lot of hoops and make several phone calls to find out if this new insurance through the VA is even going to cover any of it. The PET scans are quite expensive, even at the 20 per cent with Medicare… and I am now at the point where I must choose between paying for the recommended health care that I need, or being able to pay the water bill and eat at the same time… and in addition to that, property taxes are due in my state within the next 26 days, which went up nearly a hundred dollars this year due to a school tax increase so that they can build a new sports arena because the rich people here were embarrassed when other schools came here to play basketball. I wonder why those same rich people didn’t volunteer to pay for the complex themselves so that lower income families didn’t get punished because some wealthier folks were embarrassed. I suppose they need their own money to fill up their swimming pools and pay their maids.
So……. what is one to do? It would be so much easier to… well… let’s say… throw in the towel. There was a man at one of the political rallies recently who said that he had a hundred thousand dollars in medical bills and there was no way he could pay them. He said that he wanted to kill himself. Now… I’m not geared in any way in that direction… but I certainly understand how he feels. Welcome to health care in America, Michael…
I won’t go off on a tangent about health care, but as a cancer patient… as a heart patient… as an aging American… I am totally sick and tired of hearing every politician in this country tell us how they’re going to fix our health care problems and give us lower premiums and cut the cost of pharmaceuticals… they’ve been saying that same shit for decades and yet… they’ve done absolutely nothing except continue to allow the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies and their CEO’s to make billions of dollars in profits and to stick plenty of it in our politicians pockets. Last year we even got a so called raise on social security… it was just a few dollars but even that helps in moments of medical crisis… but instead of being able to use those few dollars to our benefit… the government took nearly every penny of the so called raise and put it into their own pockets by raising the Medicare premium. Thanks Uncle Shit… ummm… I mean… Uncle Sam. If anyone in this country really thinks that any of these politicians are going to help the poor or lower income folks of this country… You must be delusional. Okay… so I went off on a tangent.
I’m done… for now… but… to be continued.
So… PET scan next week… if insurance will cover it. Appointment in a couple of weeks with new Radiation Oncologist to discuss the results… maybe… if that even goes through the right processes… and from there… well… who really knows? In the meantime, I’ll be coughing rather profusely and continuing my search for a good deep breath of air.
Wishing you all a most beautiful day.