Back on Our Own

After a wonderful family Christmas,  Hubby and I got a reservation at a local Residence Inn to wait out the restoration of our fire damaged house.  As much as I  love my family, I also love having my own space, as do my granddaughters  who cheered to get the news that their rooms would again be only their own again.

We are thankful our daughter and her family welcomed us while we got our bearings while adjusting to our new circumstances.

Some old stuff had to be cleared out, to the benefit of the local Goodwill, to make room for our invasion.   Thank goodness for our good insurance coverage.  Never did I seriously think I would ever have to take advantage of my insurance, but I faithfully paid my premium every month for 46+ years.

We have also continuously had insurance coverage on our automobiles, all our personal belongings including a rider on valuable items, and our life.  Health insurance was affordable thanks to our employers, but there were times between jobs that we suffered the insecurity of our health being uninsured for as long as 6 months at a time.

Some people believe all this insurance is unnecessary.  Over our life together, Hubby and I have had a to dip into all but the life insurance.  I have a growing belief that the day we do cash in on our life insurance is coming, but we hope to put that day off for as long as possible.

I suppose if we were wealthy we could be self-insured, but we have never been wealthy.  We are now, thankfully, average middle-class people.  Insurance helped when we were a struggling young couple expecting a baby, or needing an unexpected minor surgery requiring a hospital stay.  As we have gotten older, medical expenses seem to be growing exponentially, even as preventive medicine has become a staple of medical care.

I have a bad feeling, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Our Worldly Worries

CNN Logo

You recognize it.  This is the news logo of an organization some politicians rail against.  In fact as I write, Hubby is watching (therefore so am I) and news is breaking about the previous president warning the current president about the fired member of the current cabinet.

Lisa A. got me on this topic with her blog posting “What The Fu*k is Going on in This World.”  There is so much disturbing news, I’m surprised that we aren’t all curled up in little balls with the covers over our heads.

Airlines, not so friendly.  Over crowded flights, no more meals, no smoking (thank-goodness) , no cell phones, and no room leads to customers lashing out at each other or attendants.  Commercial airlines don’t seem to care about safety as they ask a father to hold his young son in his arms rather than in a car seat strapped safely into the airplane seat as the airline recommends, and which the father dutifully paid the full price for.  People are threatened with arrest, and dragged off of airplanes with bodily injuries, and lame apologies.  This is the news we see.

You want customer service?  You think the airlines would have a vested interest in keeping the customer happy?  It is obvious the commercial airlines don’t have to care. There is no government regulation for them to worry about.  People need to travel for business, to visit family, to satisfy their desire to see the world.

Airlines have cut the number of flights, decreased personnel, cut everything they can, and added more and more seats packing people in like sardines.  The commercial airlines have you right where they want you.  Each commercial airline is like the other.  There is no advantage to the customer of one airline over another.

Healthcare is what I wrote my representative about.  I got a very nice letter from Senator Portman (R).  I expressed my concern about family with preexisting conditions, and another on Medicaid.  I can’t tell how Portman will handle the Senate review of healthcare.  I am glad for his response.  Countries with national healthcare include:  Canada, England, Denmark, Australia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy….

For reasons I fail to understand, it is believed that the compassionate pharmaceutical industry will do the correct thing. Hospitals will always put the patient first as mandated by law, and will absorb the cost, which we will all pay for.  Doctors will take care of you if you are in need, by sending you to the emergency room where they have to treat everyone.

So why am I shocked that Hubby’s diabetes medications have dramatically jumped in cost.  My mother refused the most effective asthma medications, because of the cost.  She flat refused to let the pharmaceutical industry get an outrageous profit from her treatment.  Those with life threatening allergies have recently had to contend with the EpiPen 400 percent price increase.

So what do you think?  Do we need any government regulation of healthcare?

Passing costs on to the states is not a plan I support.  Passing healthcare to the states will increase state budgets, and unless we get a federal tax cut large enough, who will want to pay more in state taxes.  (This also applies to education and other cuts proposed by the federal government.)  I may be wrong, but don’t American’s want a simpler tax system with fewer loopholes?  Don’t we also want to pay less tax overall?  Does moving the services from the federal government to the state government satisfy any of the goals?


Medical Privacy

You receive an identification bracelet when you go to a hospital.  Before you leave the hospital, that bracelet is supposed to be removed.  Do you know why?  You might think the ID bracelet is just not needed anymore.  The reason it is removed, is you might forget about the bracelet, and removing the bracelet protects your privacy.

Your privacy is protected even when you receive a doctor’s note to allow you to go back to school or work.  The only information the note contains is that you have been under the care of a doctor.  Why you have been under the care of a doctor is not their business.

Whether you share your medical information, or not, is under your control.  If you want your spouse, or other family member, to be given information regarding your condition and care, you must authorize specifically in writing what type of information can be shared and with whom.  Your employer is not entitled to your personal health information.   Your neighbors are not entitled to your personal health information.  You do not need to share any personal health information on the internet to receive prayer (just ask for prayer).

Yes, there are laws in place that if you have a condition that directly impacts another person, such as a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) or other disease spread by person to person contact, those people who may have been exposed must be notified.

If you have a heart condition, diabetes, depression, anxiety, cancer or other condition, you don’t need to advertise the condition to anyone.  You do not need to share the information with your boss, clients, or co-workers.  You don’t need to tell your aunts, uncles, or cousins.  You don’t even need to tell your brothers and sisters,  and you may not even want to share all the details with your spouse.  Even if your condition is protected by the American’s with Disability Act, you don’t have to tell anyone about it, not even your employer.

We know that relationships can be affected by knowledge of our health, so sometimes we keep the news to ourselves.  We don’t want others worrying about our job performance, because of an illness.  We don’t want our friends and family to treat us differently, so we keep quiet.

Some conditions come with a stigma attached.  Remember two years ago, Aid  Doctors were kept in isolation upon returning home, after treating Ebola patients.  There were questions about whether they should even be allowed into the country for treatment.

Being private about these matters does not mean you are ashamed.  It does mean that you can get on with the business of living.  You can go to your job without your employer or co-workers fearful that you can no longer do your job.  You can interact with your family and friends without questions and expressions of sympathy.  You can be free of people watching you, waiting for whatever happens next.

You get to be you, not just a disease.

Why I Love the Pacemaker

I was looking for free open stock images this morning, and fell in love with a small collection of photos by Nic at Little Visuals.  This site greets you with a message from the photographers family asking for donations to the Hand on Heart Charity in the United Kingdom, whose mission is to place defibrillators in schools.  Nic Jackson died of something called S.A.D.S., Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.   In the United States we know S.A.D.S. better as Sudden Cardiac Death.  The heart goes into arrhythmia, stops pumping blood, and the person can die.  This is an electrical problem of the heart.  It is not a heart attack.  The heart just stops pumping blood.

The first person I knew with the condition was a young father who died suddenly at the age of 34.  He was a fit, active adult, as were we.  His death was a shock to all, as are the deaths of young athletes and other healthy people of all ages that this condition afflicts.

Dizziness is one of the primary symptoms, you may or may not notice a rapid heart beat, and the heart stops.

A few years ago I realized something was wrong with Hubby.  He was lacking in energy, He had no interest in doing anything.  He just wanted to sit in the evening with his favorite drink, a dirty martini, and munch on his olives in peace.  I was distraught.  I sent Hubby to doctors, who listened to his heart, checked him out, asked about his drinking and thinking he might be depressed, sent him home with a prescription.  A the choice between his martini and his medication caused him to stop the medication.   Hubby didn’t think depression was his problem anyway.

Things did not improve at home.  Hubby passed out one night, while I was taking care of my parents and not at home, cleaned up the blood and went back to bed.  In the morning he got 9 stitches.  A stress test showed nothing wrong.  A few months later, alone again hubby passed out in a doorway, leaving his body badly bruised.  This time the Doctor did a Cat Scan of his heart and head.  Nothing.

At this point I was livid.  Something was wrong!  Was he drinking more than I thought?  Several family members had all commented on and expressed concern over Hubby’s drinking and behavior.  Talking to our doctor, I had a fit!  Why hadn’t the doctor suggested my husband stop drinking?  I wasn’t sure what the problem was.  It could have been his drinking, or his drinking could have masked the real problem.   Two years we had lived with whatever this was, and I felt it was getting worse.

One day Hubby was in a meeting, and a nurse noticed him repeatedly taking deep breaths.  She grabbed his wrist and realized his heart rate was off.  A quick trip to his heart specialist got him hooked up to a heart monitor of the next 48 hours. Hubby’s heart stopped for a few seconds more than once during that time, which resulted into a referral to an electro-cardiologist. The electo-cardiologist’s initial thought was to adjust some medications, because hubby said he experienced no dizziness.  Instead, Hubby wore a heart monitor for a month.

Hubby’s heart stopped several significant times during that month, without incident.  Hubby got a pacemaker.  Suddenly Hubby had a little energy.  It turns out those falls he took, may have restarted his heart.  He was a very lucky man.  The morning after the pacemaker installation a check and reported that it had fired a quarter to a third of the time.

Since Hubby got his pacemaker, he became the man he once was, and instead of only wanting to sit with his martini and be left alone, he has resumed interests and activities he has always enjoyed.  Now that Hubby’s heart is keeping his blood moving, he is a happy man.

So on this Wonderful Wednesday, I am thankful for Hubby’s good health, and I share his story in the hope that you are a little better informed of this killer.

Doctors Run

After reading Impatient Patient I was ready with a comment that went on and on, until I thought better and decided my comment would make a better blog.  So after a rest, I decided to  share my story.

I really do feel fortunate to live in a country, and at a time, where good medical care is available, as I wrote in So Spoiled. While I am grateful for my excellent doctors, I am testy lately.

Hubby works in a hospital, and talked to everyone about the doctor’s and learned everything he could about our caregiver options.  I volunteer in the hospital, and when they hear who I have chosen for my for my PCP, Primary Care Physician, they seem to relax in the knowledge that I am getting good care.  And yet….

All medical people know that medicine can’t fix everything.  Medicine is an art, a practice.  Refined and increased with each case building upon the last case is how medical knowledge grows.

Knowing this, I can still relate to the Impatient Patient.  When I am sick, I want an appointment now.  I do not want to wait till the next day, because I’ve already been dithering about the decision to see a doctor for five days.  Another day, logically, will make no difference, but I am really sick, and I want relief, if not a cure.  All the OTC, over the counter, stuff I usually take isn’t working.  I need help, and I want it now.

That is not how the world works.  Doctors have to schedule in advance.  Preventive medicine seems to take precedence over the average illness.  I had one doctor who had two appointment times during the day.  The patient could pick one, either 9 a.m. or Noon.  You would wait, and the doctor would stay as long as it took to see everyone.  The Doctor was excellent, with a very good reputation and in high demand.  This was not enough for me to stay his patient.  I was not happy with preventive medicine patients and those with illness that might be contagious sitting side by side for hours.

My current doctor is more the norm.  He staggers scheduling of patients throughout the day.  A wait of 20 minutes or more is very unusual.  But let’s get back to me, who has been sick for 5 days, and if I have to wait till Monday, 7 days.  I am lucky if I can get an appointment on the next business day.  After being miserable for so long, I debate if it would be an abuse of urgent care to go there.  I usually, but not always, wait for the next available appointment.  Usually, this is the correct choice, and my doctor has something in the little black bag to help me.

Recently I’ve had several trips to the doctor.  There are no tricks in his little black bag.  Technically, I have had four different diagnosis.  I’ve been on three courses of antibiotics, two  courses of steroids, and had to wait a minimum of two to three weeks between appointments, plus be rescheduled when the doctor had to go out-of-town for some reason.

After my first course of antibiotics and steroids, I knew I was feeling no better, and went back to the doctor.  My lungs were clear and I was getting better, he said.  Just over two weeks later I was in his office again, the cough won’t quit and my entire chest is in pain.  Meanwhile, my cough is taking a toll on my entire body.  I was coping with the physical repercussions of this continuing cough, and my complaints received compliments on my handling of them.  Those complaints are for another time after we have dealt with the cough.

Previous allergy testing was negative, for anything.  Should I try that again?  The Ear Nose and Throat specialist found there was congestion, but no infection, and a polyp, scheduled for removal.  My x-rays were negative.  When delay threatened my testing by respiratory, I burst into tears.

I have no idea why, but my cough is easing.  Am I getting better?  My life has been seriously modified by this prolonged annoying cough.  I am not yet well enough to resume water aerobics and swimming, I cautiously have resumed some of my other activity.  Last week a couple of nurses I know from volunteering said I was starting to look better.

If I were a doctor and saw it was me walking into their office with a cough, I would run.

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