Yesterday was a good day . . . I got a lot done. All medical stuff. With Monday’s insurance caused fire drill, I wasn’t so sure I would be able to get what I need done prior to my surgery on Monday. If you have been following my blog the past few days, then you know that my insurance company initially refused to cover the surgery. My insurance company informed me of this on Monday – a week before my surgery date. Their reason for denial was that there is a “competent” surgeon within the network. Yet, it was my insurance company who sent me to Cedars Sinai in the first place, because that is where they send reconstructive patients who have problems (with their in network “competent” surgeons . . . ugh). So after seeing Dr. Sherman at Cedars Sinai who is one of few surgeons on the West Coast that has the expertise to fix my problem, I was told I had to go back to my first surgeon.
Incidentally, I saw three other plastic surgeons about this – all three out of pocket, by the way (and my pocket is pretty much empty right now :)). All three surgeons told me that I needed a different type of procedure for the radiated side – different than what my first surgeon was planning on doing. And, two of these surgeons told me that they could not perform the surgery because they were not trained in the technique. Dr. Sherman’s name came up repeatedly as “the guy”. Another local surgeon came up as well. But, my insurance has a relationship with Dr. Sherman (they contract with him in high risk, problem cases) so that is who they sent me too.
Anyway, the upshot of all of this is great . . . the surgery is back on (it was only off for one day, but, a whole day, that I lost to fighting with my insurance company, making my case and standing my ground). Like I said earlier, if nothing else, it was good to know that I still have the fight in me. You never know when you are going to need it.
So, one lost day . . . BUT, I got all of my pre-op testing done yesterday (SO happy about that). Today I have work to do – cleaning up my place, getting things organized for my recovery and hopefully arranging for caretakers. I slept last night for the first time in weeks and I feel energized . . . rest is such a good thing.
Tomorrow I have to get up to Cedars Sinai for my pre-op appointment with Dr. Sherman. Friday morning I have a pre-op appointment (and first meeting) with my new primary care physician. I am looking forward to meeting my new PCP as I have heard really good things about him.
I fired my last PCP doctor. I have fired a few doctors in the past couple of years. But, I refuse to have sub-standard health care . . . I dumped my last PCP doctor because her medical staff told me that I was just “too complicated” and that I asked doctor “too many questions” . . . they actually called me up and chewed me out over this – telling me in a fairly hostile tone, “Okay, this is how it is going to work from now on – you can only ask Dr. _____ about one issue” per appointment.
Welcome to healthcare USA.
They explained that she (my former PCP) can only afford to meet with me for 15 minutes, that is how long all of her appointments have to be in order for her to make money. The office staff then proceeded to give me a whole run down on how it costs money to run a business (as if I wouldn’t know this) and that I was, essentially, costing them too much money because I was too “complicated”. So their solution to this problem was to have me come in for two or three appointments in the same week . . . that way my doctor would get paid what she deserved . . . they actually admitted this to me . . . hysterical.
I told them that I wished more than anything that I was not so complicated, that I was sorry that my cancer diagnosis was creating so many problems for them, but, that I could not only not afford the time of two or three extra appointments in a week, but, that I could not financially afford to pay extra co-pays.
I asked them if they could recommend a doctor in my network who would not charge me a “cancer surcharge” . . . ooh, did that one piss them off.
The other thing about this doc that really annoyed me was her insistence that I go on some kind of anti-depressant. “You seem depressed”, she told me, “I think you should go on an anti-depressant”. I told her that I preferred not to force yet another drug through my chemo-taxed liver; that I preferred to meditate, exercise, pray and diet my way to feeling better. And, I told her that I thought it was kind of normal to occasionally get a little down once in a while about having cancer.
Still, she recommended that I go on an anti-depressant, urged me to “at least think about it, don’t be so stubborn” . . .
So I thought about it. I researched the drug she recommended I go on and discovered it interacts with Tamoxifen in such a way to make it ineffective. I’m telling you, I have to check all of this stuff out myself. When I told my doc about this bad interaction she got angry with me. I guess I am not supposed to know anything or learn anything. Okay, sorry . . . enough ranting.
Today is Wednesday, one of the last days to get stuff done (since tomorrow will I will be up at Cedars Sinai and Friday I have to be in San Diego). There is Saturday . . . I am considering asking friends to come over and help me get my house ready . . . but, then my friends would see my mess . . . a year and a half of cancer treatment and surgeries really gets in the way of keeping up on your home.
I am physically feeling a bit better, but, still really not in a position to lift much . . . the skin on my right side is paper thin in places (from the over-expansion, from the radiation and just because it is). So, when I use my right arm, it pulls that skin and poses a risk that the expander will tear more skin. It is really a creepy, creepy feeling. I can not express how grateful I am that surgery is this coming Monday. I am grateful for the time I have had leading up to surgery, but, I SO want this surgery over with and behind me . . . it is just so creepy and kind of scary to be walking around the way I am right now. But, all is good, really it is.
I just need to get my place in order. And, I need to get groceries and things like paper towels, napkins etc. . . . and I am completely broke. Isn’t that nice. I ran through so much money this past year (so grateful I had a bit socked away . . . I thought it was going to be “down payment on a house” money. But, instead it was “kicking cancer’s ass money” . . . well spent I think :)). My parents have helped me SO much – covering rent and so much else. And friends have helped me too.
I have stayed in my place, as my family and I agreed that this would be best for my getting well. I don’t know, maybe it would have made more sense to move in with a family member – it would have saved a lot of money. But, I didn’t. And, I am nearly done . . . nearly about to get off of this cancer roller coaster. Unfortunately, I ran out of money before the carnival ended . . . ha, ha, ha . . . the “cancer carnival” . . . full of so much amusement, hijinks and hilarity
BUT, I am going back to work in a few months, who knows, maybe even sooner. I will be recovered in time, for the FIRST time in over a year, for my next busy season. I am SO excited about this.
And, I have a book that will be out in a few months, already pre-ordered by Hastings College of Law Bookstore (kinda excited about that). So, things WILL pick up on the money front. Unfortunately, not before my surgery on Monday.
But, these things will work out. I see this surgery as my gateway to my return to life, to work. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t like I haven’t been living. I have. But, it is going to be so nice, so great, to be back to working. The last time I worked steadily was during chemo (of all things). But, after my mastectomy, it was one complication after another. I have no regrets about a penny that I spent on second opinions and specialists that my insurance would not cover. And, at least I am not in debt (yet) over this cancer nonsense. So, I have to be thankful for all of that.
Okay, time to get to work, the day is whipping by!
Love and peace,