You Don’t Scare Me

My medical bill post gave some of you a little sticker shock.  Sure, I don’t have the money to pay a bill like that, but I’ve gotten enough of these things by now that it really doesn’t even phase me.  Really, what are they going to do?  Take their radiation back?  Or put my old boob back on?  Not that I’m a deadbeat about it or anything, but you know, there’s only so much cash to go around up in here.  Get in line, hospital.  Right behind the surgeon’s office, and the oncologist, and the lab, and the mammogram people, and the pathologist, and the foob store, and…. 

Besides, when you’ve faced down cancer, is anything else really scary anymore?   It’s kind of like, once you’ve given birth nothing else is really painful by comparison.   The first surgery I had was scary because I’d never had one before.  But was it the most painful thing I’ve ever done?  HECK no.  Not even close.  I’ve given birth—to a 9 lb baby—there IS no worse pain.  And, surgery isn’t even scary anymore because I’ve done it four stinkin’ times in the last year.  At this point I’m totally over it.  My biggest concern is whether or not it’ll keep me from going roller skating on the 2nd Friday of the month.

So, sorry, hospital, you’re just going to have to wait your turn.

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Remember my post a couple of days ago about search engine terms people have used to find this blog?  I’ve got another one for you: “pink tourniquets”.  Gee, I didn’t know they came in colors.  All the ones I’ve ever had wrapped around my arm (at the same time, even) have been that generic rubber glove color.  Maybe my insurance will only pay for the generic, as opposed to the name brand tourniquet.  No fancy DKNY or Prada tourniquet for me.  Nope.  I get the Faded Glory tourniquet.

But I guess I can’t blame the insurance company.  If I had to pay for it, I’d be like, “We’re getting our tourniquets at a yard sale this year” or “We can’t draw your blood until July when the summer tourniquets go on clearance, because I am not paying full price” or “Make sure you hang onto that tourniquet and bring it back with you next time.” 

 

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We Now Return to Our Regular Programming

So last week I got this in the mail.  Note that it’s due in 7 days.  You know what I’ve got to say to that?  HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA HA HA HA!  Notice also that for my convenience, they’ll let me pay by credit card. That would indeed be convenient—but so is Hamburger Helper, and I ain’t doing that either.

Really, is there anyone on the face of the earth that thinks that putting 33k on my Visa would be a good idea? 

You might be wondering if that bill was for a surgery, hospitalization, etc.  Nope.  It was for radiation.  Now, it wasn’t for the doctor, or the therapist, or any of the other people.  This bill is apparently for the use of the lovely facility.  You want to talk about high rent.  I’m thinking for 33-grand I should have been able to watch the stinkin’ Food Network instead of those horrible soap operas.  And for that kind of money, I’m entitled to open the blinds and let a little light into the joint.  But I suppose it doesn’t really matter, because all that stuff has moved to the new building anyway.  I hate to think what radiation there would cost.

Now before you all freak out and plan a chili supper to raise money for me or put a can with my face on it by the cash register at the Mexican restaurant, I have to tell you that upon further investigation we discovered that the hospital submitted the claim to the insurance under my SSN instead of Hubster’s.  So, the insurance company declined it, and consequently, the hospital billed me.  They are resubmitting that and the insurance should pay it all.

 

Bigger Than a Bread Box

Hey Aunt Phyllis–I visited your hair yesterday! I was back at the boutique, only this time my mission was to find a prosthesis. Along with the fake boob I needed a special bra, with a special little pocket to hold my special new friend. Two bras were approved by Dr Schmidt for immediate post-mastectomy use. The 1st one had about 6 hooks in the back & 6 hooks in the front–in case you can’t reach the back. It comes in beige only and is bigger than a bread box. It may even be bigger than a bread truck. I didn’t even try that one on. The 2nd one only had hooks in the back. It came in the exotic color choices of black or white & was not quite as big as a bread box. I did try this one. The granny style cup molded my real boob into the approximate shape of a can of frozen concentrated orange juice. Need I even state that this was NOT acceptable? Furthermore, it was so big that it peeked out the top of my not terribly low plunging shirt and said, “Howdy! I’m Aunt Bea’s underwear!”

Andrea, the boutique manager, is a little younger than me. She could feel my pain and brought me a bra that was not on the approved list, but was more along the lines of Victoria’s Secret, instead of Obviously Octogenarian. This one comes in a variety of colors including black and leopard. I tried it on. Finally! I actually felt like myself. Andrea even ran over to Dr Schmidt’s & got Tana’s approval. In the meantime, Hubster was on the phone with the Insurance Nazis trying to figure out if they would cover the new boob. They informed him that they might, provided that we send them a letter of medical necessity, treatment history, etc. It would take 2 weeks for them to decide whether of not to cover it.

Does anyone besides me get tired of having to beg their freakin’ insurance company to do their job?! How ridiculous is it that after they’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars for all my treatment, they conveniently don’t have the information necessary to decide that I deserve a prosthesis? That’s right, Giant Insurance Goliath…this whole mastectomy thing was all part of a big plot to get a free fake boob because they’re just so stinkin’ cool! Fake boobs are the new black you know–everybody’s getting one! Why just the other day my girlfriends and I were just discussing how lucky I was to have an 8-1/2″ incision across my chest, because I was that much closer to attaining my goal of defrauding the insurance company of the price of a spiffy synthetic detachable substitute breast! GRRR!

In the end, I got the prosthesis and bra. Paid for them myself. The new boob looks like what would result if the Cabbage Patch doll factory made B-2 stealth bombers on a B-cup size scale. Maybe I should check the package & see if it came with a birth certificate & name.
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The highlight of the day was having my drains removed. Okay, the actual process was not the highlight. But being free of them is wonderful. The bummer of the day was finding out that upon further testing the pathologist did find a speck of cancer in the node. That pretty much guarantees the radiation I was hoping to avoid. Dr Birhiray said that as little as there was, it’s not likely that it’s gone any further–which is the major concern here.

Have I mentioned that I love Dr B? (Okay, maybe the t-shirt was a clue)He’s a very busy man, but you never ever feel rushed when you see him. He will answer as many questions as you can think of. You’ll never hear me gripe about how long the wait is to see him. In fact, I expect him to be running behind, and I just ask, “How far behind is he today?” My visit to the boutique actually occurred during my wait.

Yesterday, Dr B said, “I think I know you well enough to say that you seem down.” He was right. I had been deflated by the news that the node wasn’t clean. I’m very thankful that I have people like Dr B as part of my medical team. They’re all excellent, caring people I’m very blessed to have them along on this journey.

Walkies!

Okay, which one of you has been taking Beginning Voodoo Doll Construction at the Y this summer?

Yesterday at chemo I had to get stuck 7 times two accomplish 2 successful sticks. Two for the prerequisite blood sampling and 5 more for the actual chemo drip. Not fun. It’s usually not this much drama, but apparently after so much chemo the old veins just start to revolt.

I had my treatment at the Hematology-Oncology center because Dr Birhiray was on vacation. Hubster and I had been referring to it all week and Death Row because, unlike the Breast Center chemo place, this place has people with all types and stages of cancer. I was by far the youngest patient there. After all my drama, I commented to the gentleman next to me, “I bet this makes you glad you’ve got a port!” He said, in a voice turned raspy from his ongoing radiation, “I was just going to congratulate you on getting through all that!”

The nice thing about Death Row was that since I was the only female there who sat around without a head covering, and I was new there, I got several compliments on my cute, bald head. Hey, I gotta take whatever I can get these days. Yea me.

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Hey kids, want a career that provides more money than you know what to do with and all the vacation time you want? Become an oncologist!

While waiting to see the doctor yesterday—not Dr Birhiray, who was on vacation—Hubster picked up a magazine in the exam room called Country Life. Now, you’re probably thinking it had to be full of old tractors, gardening, beekeeping and the like. (It even had a picture of a scruffy dog on the cover.) I’m sure he was thinking that, too. Nope. The first 108 pages were glossy ads for real estate, specifically manor homes in the UK, Caribbean vacation homes and even private islands. I can’t even tell you how much they listed for as the prices were all in Great British pounds.

And that scruffy dog? Well, that, my friends is a hoity, specially bred mutt known as a Lunger. Doesn’t that sound all British manor quaint? Makes me think of the English lady who used to be on TV training dogs. I can hear her now…”Walkies!” These things are sold for what amounts to several hundred dollars to manor dwellers for their sporting pleasure.

Wow. This is so not my reality, and I daresay most likely not the reality of any of the other patients.

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I’m feeling pretty good today. Always do on Wednesday, thanks to the ‘roids. Rah! I think I’ll go ride the Tour de France!

Thurday & Friday are usually the worst, and by Sunday I’m pretty well good to go. Taxol has been way easier than the AC combo I had before. It could not have been much worse, anyway. I’ve been walking and biking some the last few weeks. I told Hubster that after chemo is over and before my next surgery I want to go do some hiking in Brown County or maybe some canoeing.

And speaking of surgery…
I’m currently waiting to find out if my insurance company will pay for genetic testing to see if I carry either of two breast cancer genes. If you’re a young BC patient, it’s often suspected that you might have come by it genetically. If I carry this gene, not only does it make my chances of recurrence more likely, but it also means I’m at increased risk for ovarian cancer. If it comes back positive, they’ll be recommending I have those removed too.

The other thing is that if I’m positive, Mini Me has a 50% chance of having the gene. So would Garlic & Bagel.

So, all that being said, I ask for your prayers on this one. A) Pray that the insurance company will cover the testing, because folks, it ain’t cheap. B) Pray that it comes back negative, not only for my sake, but for Mini Me’s & my sisters’ as well.