Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Boneheads and Bowheads

Well, despite assurances from the administrative staff at the clinic, my doctor did not return my call before end of business on Friday. Monday morning, bright and early, they called and told me that they didn't have the results either.

So, the mystery now is, WHO set up the referral for the surgeon? Determined to find out the answer, I called the referral desk, who said indeed, it was my GP, although he and/or his staff doesn't know it. I suppose the important thing is that I have an appointment, right? By the end of the day they called to let me know that the result was "dysfunctional gallbladder", so they were going to set me up a referral to a surgeon. I told them, "I've already got an appointment -that's the whole reason I'm calling!" The nurses' response: "Boy, I guess we are really on top of things!" Yeah. Right. Whatever!

Tuesday I got the official results on paper in the mail, so I took them along to the surgical consultation today, just in case they didn't have a copy (they did.) Jerry took off work to go with me to the appointment, and I must say, it took forever. We waited in the waiting room a good long time - by the time we left his office we'd been there for two hours, and by the time we got out of the lab (at the hospital) we'd been there almost another hour. I've never had to wait that long before - it's because Jerry went with me!

"So", I'm sure you are wondering, "what did the surgeon say?"

Well, my test results are not conclusive at this point. He says with the results he has now, it's about a 50/50 chance that it's my gallbladder, and he'd like a little more evidence before he decides to remove it. So, tomorrow I go for a gallbladder ultrasound. If they find stones, out it comes. If not, I start taking a medication to help thin my bile. If, after a month, I am getting relief from that, it is most likely my biliary system, and out comes the gallbladder. If not, that's probably not the issue. Long term though, he says that my gallbladder has low function, and eventually, in my lifetime, will probably have to come out. He also put me back on an acid reducer because he wants to have that under control so it doesn't mask any of the symptoms of the gallbladder, since my GI system obviously goes loco under stress. But then, we already knew that!

Since I never intended to have a blog to post about such mundane stuff as my health, here's a little something to lighten the mood:

Gracie came out of the bathroom the other day and said, "Look at me Mommy, aren't I beautiful?" And of course, I sure thought so! Don't you?

Of course, as soon as Maggie saw the picture, she wanted one too, so here's my other beautiful baby girl!

And with a super thanks for all your prayers that have been holding me up this past week, I'll sign off!

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Medical Establishment

Ah, what is easier to rail against in this country than the medical establishment? At this moment, for me, not much.

Since the beginning of the year I have had ample opportunities to visit various medical providers, both for myself and my children, which has also given me ample opportunities to become frustrated with all things medical.

First - The ER. This particular incident wasn't too frustrating. I did find that the way to be seen in the ER pronto is to have something affecting your heart. The frustration in this incident is that I was not in my home city, and therefore getting my test results to my doctors has been a real pain. They should be there now, as the hospital sent them on April 3, but I can't find anyone at my doctor's office that can confirm that.

Second - Flu shots that don't work. Need I say more?

Third - The well-child visit. I got an EOB from the insurance saying that they don't cover the $72 dollars that was billed as a 'vision screening.' Okay - first of all, what we got was Maggie standing at one end of the hall with her hand covering her eye while she read an eye-chart taped to the wall at the other end. Hardly worth $72! They didn't even give her a little spoon thing to cover her eye! How much can the overhead for such a test be? Also, all I asked for was a 'well-child' exam. If an 'vision screening' (which has always been included in previous well-child exams) was a separate line item, shouldn't I have been told before I was charged for it? I could have told them they were having the same exact vision screening at school the next week! I would have declined this test, as I have vision insurance that would cover a REAL eye exam.

Third - my insurance. We knew when we took this new job that we would be paying more money for less coverage, but it's still a shock to see how much health care costs. My cardiologist and I were discussing this and I said, "I don't know how people without insurance do this." His succinct reply - "They don't." Even though it is comparatively less, I am grateful that we have this insurance.

Fourth - Today really takes the cake. I think I mentioned that I had a gall-bladder function test on Monday. I just got a phone call from the referral office of my doctor to schedule me for a visit for a surgeon.

"Um, okay. Can you tell me why?" I ask.

"What do you mean?" the girl says.

"Well, I had a test on Monday on my gallbladder, but no one has called me with the results yet." I answer.

"Oh. . . I guess they didn't think I'd get your referral done so fast. Sorry about that. It's just a consult, there's no procedures scheduled. Would you like the number for your doctor's office so you can call them?"

Let me think about that. Yes, yes, I think I would.

I hang up the phone and holler in frustration.

I call the doctor's office. They are seeing patients right now, so I leave a message.

And so I wait. . .

Monday, April 21, 2008


Well, that was the sound of April passing me by! Where does all the time go? As a Star Trek fan, I can't help but wonder sometimes if there is something about my space-time continuum that I'm missing, but if I'm truthful, I can figure it out pretty quickly.

Lots of things have happened this month. . .
  • I finally made it to the photography museum to see the Pulitzer prize winning photo exhibit. A very few of those photos are of joyful moments. It was a sobering exhibit.

  • I worked with Gracie's Brownie troop on their scrapbooking try-it. We'll get to finish up at a later meeting - trying to keep 23 6-year olds focused is a lot like herding cats.

  • Maggie had her 2nd grade field trip - to a Henry and Mudge play.

  • We got our season passes for the local aquatic center. This was a bit of a sly move on my part. The passes are only offered to city residents, and you have to bring your utility bill to prove your residency. Our new house is not in the city limits, so we won't be able to do this next year, but this year we will enjoy that benefit!

  • We paid our taxes. UGH!!!

  • Gracie was a star in her first grade production of "Pooh's Clues" and even got her picture in the local newspaper!

  • We had muffins for mom at the girls school. This just means that the girls brought me to school with them, and we ate muffins and then snuggled up with a book and read until it was time for school to start. A friend sent this, which I found amusing:
    If you give a mom a muffin, she'll want a cup of coffee to go with it. She'll pour herself some. Her three-year-old will spill the coffee. She'll wipe it up. Wiping the floor, she will find dirty socks. She'll remember she has to do laundry. When she puts the laundry in the washer, she'll trip over boots and bump into the freezer. Bumping into the freezer will remind her she has to plan supper. She will get out a pound of hamburger. She'll look for her cookbook. (101 Things To Make With A Pound Of Hamburger.) The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail. She will see the phone bill, which is due tomorrow. She will look for her checkbook. The checkbook is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two-year-old. She'll smell something funny. She'll change the two-year-old. While she is changing the two-year-old the phone will ring. Her five-year-old will answer and hang up. She'll remember that she wants to phone a friend to come for coffee. Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup. She will pour herself some. And chances are, if she has a cup of coffee, her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it.
    by Kathy Fictorie, based on "If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
  • Gracie's Girl Scout troop visited and made a donation to the local Ronald McDonald House.

  • I got to sit and watch kids take standardized tests for three days. I'm not complaining - they asked us to bring something quiet to occupy us, so I took Maggie's Christmas Stocking - I'm so close to being done!

  • I actually invited someone over into the abyss that is my craft room and we scrapped!

  • And we enjoyed the proximity of family - my in-laws came to pick up the girls for the weekend, so Jerry and I enjoyed a quiet weekend to ourselves!
Also, since my last post, I've been rather, shall we say, preoccupied with my health.

After the whole heart racing episode I got referred to a cardiologist. Looking at my overall heath picture he decided that he didn't want to sentence me to a chronic medication if what I had was a truly random episode, so he scheduled me a treadmill test to see if we could make my heart race again. My test was April 1 (I briefly thought about falling down clutching my chest while doing the test, then popping up and saying, "April Fools!", but with my luck they'd hit me with those electrified paddles before I could get up!) and I did pretty well, all things considered. I asked my technician if I was going to have to run, and warned him that these days, the only time I run is if one of my kids is in danger. He said we'd have to see how long I lasted. I did get up to a run before it was over, and did just fine on the test.

A couple of days after the test though, I had a quick sharp chest pain, and then some lingering discomfort for several days. A call to the cardiologist got me set up for a couple of more tests - a heart CT scan to check for plaque (it was normal) and a leg ultrasound (not done yet) to check for any deep vein blood clots. I also saw my regular doctor, and he wanted to check on some non-cardiac things, so he wanted to schedule a gallbladder function test. What the heck - at this point I'm WAY past my deductible, so let's find out what this thing is/was.

The gallbladder function test was today. From my reading on the Internet, I thought I was going to have to chug down something called a "fatty meal replacement" - ugh! Sounded like they want me to pound down the contents of my grease can - gross! Can't I just bring in a side of Outback Cheesy Fries and eat them? Well, today I was relieved to find out it was something they injected, not ingested. The test seemed to go fine, but it will be several days before my doctor gets the results.

All in all, I feel pretty good, except for being so out of shape. That's probably half my problem right there, and the other half is not getting enough sleep and/or too much (self-induced) stress. So, that's what I'll be working on for now! Here's to a relaxing May - may it go by slower!