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http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2013/03/06/in-the-magazine/health-in-the-magazine/how-doctors-die.html

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/sunday-review/why-everyone-seems-to-have-cancer.html?kwp_0=3848&WT.mc_id=AD-D-E-KEYWEE-SOC-FP-SEPT14NONSALETEST-ROS-0922-1006&WT.mc_ev=click&bicmp=AD&bicmlukp=WT.mc_id&bicmst=1411358400&bicmet=1446872400&kwp_1=86921&kwp_4=26773&_r=0

https://www.yahoo.com/health/things-you-should-never-say-to-someone-who-has-cancer-93414490137.html

15 working days until I head to the beach for some R&R with family.  Passing through 3 Florida counties will not require a passport but will provide good times!

While we prefer the west coast of Florida, it is just abundantly easier to get to the east coast so we have opted to rent a condo in Flagler Beach.  We can be there in about an hour so it is quite convenient and easy.

I get antsy if I don’t have an adventure planned.  Despite my health issues and accompanying financial woe$, I just couldn’t imagine not going ANYWHERE in 2014.  I love to make packing lists, then revise them, then revise them again and hone and whittle and sharpen and…well, you get my drift.  Honestly, planning is as exciting as going.

Wanderlust is just my nature.  Anyone can work hard to conceal or control their basic nature but I don’t know that it can be changed.  So I hope cancer goes away and stays away.  I hope (and expect) to get all these bills paid quite soon.  Then I hope to get back to daydreaming and bucket list planning and experiencing the joy of discovery that makes me so happy.

I need to visit places like Cooperstown, Cumberland Island, Italy, Washington D.C., Bay of Fundy, and Yellowstone just to name a few.   FlaglerBeach   But I will start with Flagler Beach.

Money2I was diagnosed with breast cancer in early October 2013 and had 11 business days to prepare for double mastectomy. Virtually every other day I was heading somewhere for a test or to fill out paperwork. Not only did I have to take care of so much administrative stuff before surgery, I also had to get my house ready, and I had to make preparations at my job. Needless to say, this was extremely difficult because of the tight time constraints coupled with a diagnosis that scared the begeezus out of me.

One of the many tests my surgeon scheduled for me in the 11 days prior to surgery was a PET scan and an MRI. Perhaps now is a good time to say I am fully insured having a PPO with a major provider via my employer. After surgery on Oct 29 I had to go back for second surgery 3 weeks later for more lymph node removal. Then chemo began Friday the 13th ( I kid you not) of December. 4 months of chemo followed by 33 radiation treatments and I am now trying to return to normal.

About a month after my initial surgery, I received notice from my insurer that my claim for the MRI/PET was being rejected and I should expect to receive a bill from the facility that performed those two diagnostic tests. My insurer let me know I was responsible for payment in full. Shortly after that I got a bill for roughly $8500.00.

So began a frightening journey into insurance hell. I am a smart person but I know virtually nothing about how to fight an insurance company. I felt like a blind person in a cave swinging at lumps of coal. My repeated attempts to resolve were futile. I shared my frustrations with our HR rep at work and he reminded me that our benefits plan included the service of Health Advocate. So I reached out that day and it was one of the best decisions in my life.

First, lucky for me that our HR rep was informed because I certainly was not. Second, I am just so grateful for such a service and happy to know it is another one of my employer-provided benefits.

Working with the Health Advocate rep was simple, timely and straightforward. Communication was always on time and easily understood. I would not have known all the required steps nor the timing of those steps in order to wage a good fight regarding this $8500.00 charge. But my HA rep knew and finally managed to win on our final appeal. I ended up paying $114.00 instead of $8500.00 and this appeal process took about 4+/- months. I would have failed without the assistance of Health Advocate.

I have since recommended the HA services to anyone who will listen. I encourage anyone facing health care issues to investigate HA and utilize them if necessary. I was trying to fight the rejected claim with emotional responses. The Health Advocate is schooled in responding with medical and processional reasoning which certainly has a greater chance for success.

Even fully insured, this cancer battle has been a huge expense that I never saw coming. It would have been so much worse, had I been responsible for that $8500.00 bill.

Thank you new-best-friend Health Advocate! I expect to stay in touch for many years to come.

That’s my story. I hope this is helpful.

Just a great sports/human story from a local guy. Well done J.C.!

Carnahan Chronicles

My son has a very cool mom. On Mother’s Day we took her to St. Petersburg to see the Cleveland Indians play the Tampa Bay Rays. (Moms who love sports are keepers, kids.) We had great seats, right behind the home plate area along the first base side of the park at Tropicana Field.

The best decision we made though was moving across the aisle to sit in a less crowded area, because in the bottom of the seventh inning the most amazing thing happened. Logan Forsythe, whom I admittedly know little about, entered the game as a pinch-hitter and fouled a pitch from Cleveland reliever Marc Rzepczynski in our direction. I stood up and watched as the ball sailed over our heads and bounced off the siding of the second level.

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My hair fell out on  Dec 29th.  Had my final chemo on March 21.  Hair has returned bit by bit.  These are exciting times!  I will need a haircut soon – well a trim anyway.

In my pre-cancer life, I  had short hair for a very long time and I  paid to have highlights for a very long time. Highlights, cut and tip runs about $100.

I am not really sure what color to call my new hair.   Maybe it is grey but because it is so short it kind of appears to be the exact same color as the highlights I used to pay dearly for.  So if I it stays this color or mix of colors I won’t have to pay for those awful chemicals.  Sweet! Who knew cancer could provide such a bonus.

I was chatting with a friend the other day and mentioned that maybe in 30 years we will look back at typical cancer treatments of this era and laugh at how we had to ingest poison (chemo cocktails) in order to get cured.  Maybe it won’t take 30 years.  Or maybe we won’t ever say that.

Either way, I just roll on.  Like deodorant.

Crap

My life is crap and revolves around crap, My last chemo is next Friday 3/21. this chemo journey has been more than i bargained for and so much more difficult than i naively imagined.

Chemo began on Dec 13 and has continued EOW since. My treatments are on Friday but the misery begins 48 hours later and takes various forms but nearly always includes the inability to crap or, alternatively, crapping too much. Surely my stomach feels permanently distended. i have considered stabbing myself with a juice box straw just to get some relief but decided against that since that would just be another thing for BCBS to NOT cover.

My troubles with BCBS are too lenghy for a blog post so I am thinking about chronicling that in a white paper followed by a screenplay that would be turned into an Erin Go Brockovich (Happy St Pat’s Day) type film.

Back to crap, etc. I know I didn’t corner the market on chemotherapy trauma. i just share here because it is a safe haven for bitching among others who read without judgment and who may feel the same.

In addition to crap issues I have experienced twitchy legs. sleeplessness, insomnia, redundancy (wait-did i already say that?), forgetfulness,  itchy breakouts on my chest and arms, skin cracks/peels on hands and feet, neuropathy, sore throat, and of course I am bald.  But it all comes back to crap.  Nothing throughout this journey has caused me as much misery as the inability to crap or the inability to stop crapping.

At this point I am looking forward to my colonoscopy just so my GI tract can start over at zero.

oh cancer, how I loathe you.  Oh chemotherapy, how I hate you despite all the good you do. Oh former life – life before cancer – how I miss you.

As i was showering today i noticed my scalp felt like it was sunburned. It was kind of sore in spots. As i began to investigate  i realized my hair was indeed falling out. I knew it was inevitable and had been wairting for it much like you wait for the audit team or a colonoscopy. So anyway the balding is underway.
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I am still debating the wig.  I may just stick with ballcaps. I have a great selection and i love ballcaps. Today i am wearing a cap i bought at US OPEN tennis 2009. It was one of the greteast trips i have ever taken. A friend and i flew to New York and caught a Mets game,  a couple US OPEN matches and then got to see Derek Jeter’s hit to pass Gehrig. It was heavenly! We also killed time over wine and cannoli in Little Italy. Just a really good time. Travel is such a great educator as well as an excellent recreational activity.
This time last year i was in the final stages of preparing for trip to Iceland. What a difference a year makes.  But i will get well and i will make plans and i will travel again.  I need to visit Yellowstone in winter and New Mexico for balloon festival. I want to stroll Savannah and catch the ferry to Cumberland island. I want to witness the incredible tidal action in the Bay of Fundy. I’d like to visit North Captiva Island in summer and stay in a glorious mountain cabin in the Smokies maybe for Christmas. I have lots left to see and do – just might have to be patient until i am no longer a patient.
I keep telling myself that delayed is not denied.

I will prevail.

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Tomorrow is my first chemo.  Chose Friday afternoon so I can consider it my Happy Hour.  Sister is taking me and I will be wearing Depends just in case I crap my pants (dohhhh). Also placing puppy pee pads on the car seat. Semper paratis and down the hatch!

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