My Woes with health care. - Also a few details about my life I’ve never really shared with anyone, and It’s not like I have a million followers so to the 10 people who actually do follow me. SORRY, I needed to rant and tumblr is cheaper than a therapist)
A little info about me, I’m unemployed. But by choice(If having no time is a choice), I’ve taken care of my elderly and disabled (Vietnam war veteran) father pretty much since high school. I did it jointly with my mom who died of cancer at the ripe old age of 54 in 2008, so I’ve pretty much been on my own ever since. I -am- overweight, and have quite a few health issues myself including:
- anxiety (Panic attacks, worries I’m going to keel over and no one will be able to take care of my dad etc. I’m kinda a nutter)
- obesity and the wonderful stuff that comes with it which despite many doctors telling me about it, I’m down 80 lbs (NO SURGERY) and don’t have die-a-betus, joint issues, thyroid blah blah
-migraines (BAD, like I will stab you in the eye if you speak in more than a hushed whisper and I get very comfortable with my bed)
-PCOD, Poly cystic ovarian syndrome. If you have it, you know it’s HELL. 2 periods a year if I’m lucky, and they are so painful, miserable, and lets face it, MESSY.
-Heartburn, I had my gallbladder out in 2001 and have had gastric issues ever since. Huh who’da thunk it.
-Sarcasm.. That’s not a health issue, that’s just a defense mechanism.
Despite all my crap -I- have to deal with, I also have to feed, change, practically carry my dad, clean him etc. But seriously he did it for how many years of my life, I love the man, we’re all each other has, so I suck it up. I complain, whine, rant, but he knows it’s just my way of coping. He -gets- me. I -get- him. We have bouts where we don’t talk for 20 minutes, watch an episode of NCIS and we’re over it.
Those are pretty much it. Now I had 0 insurance and had been treated at a free clinic for a few years. I’d see them every 3 months, get to know the nurses, get high fives when my weight was consistently dropping, we talked about my issues, they put me on a deadly tango with anti-depression meds for my anxiety (If you’ve gone through this, I feel for you and your loved ones).
My Medication list as follows at this point in time (The free clinic)
-Atenolol, turns out my migraines were blood pressure related, this helped keep them from every day, down to a few a week. (YAY)
-Metformin, -NO- I am -NOT- Diabetic, it’s a common treatment for PCOD (See above)
-Simvastatin, My cholesterol was a smidge high so they put me on this for preventative measures. (Remember this one, cause we’ll come back to it.)
-Protonix, For my acid re-flux and the nasty awesome issues I have with my digestive tract. (Fiber folks, FIBER.)
-Clonazepam, ANXIETY ATTACK PREVENTION. Holy crap it worked. And it didn’t make me loopty do, it made me not feel like I was having a heart attack every day. (YAY!!!)
-Zoloft for Anxiety/depression/whatever (Remember this one too folks)
-Crapload of Tylenol/aspirin/caffeine in my wonder migraine meds cause well, when you take care of someone you gotta just suck it up. (My dad’s a marine and uses that phrase a lot)
Dat’s it, Dat’s All Folks. Life was working.
-Insert Dramatic Noises-
I get Access Plus.
Clinic says they can no longer help me. -Insert lots of swearing. I don’t like change when things finally start working.-
New place I go can’t see me for 2 months cause they’re booked SOLID and apparently are the only place Access Plus can afford. (After my first visit there, I can see why, but that’s a bit ahead of the story.)
-MY MEDS RUN OUT-
Let me tell you, -I- am not suicidal. I’ve got too many responsibilities to just be like. OK, checking out now. But I found myself doing 99 mph over a mountain top and was approaching a turn and actually had the thought, “Huh, I could just drive right off the mountain and no one would give a ****”. Whoa, hold the truck. Did I just think that? I pulled over, had one of the worst panic attacks I had ever had in my life, serious omg I am dying. Drove myself to the hospital and they’re like oh your BP is elevated (Duh), You are having a panic attack (Duh’r) Oh and you’re going through Zoloft withdrawl. (Wait what?)
ABSOLUTE HELL WEEK ENSUES, I finally get to visit new clinic. WOOHOO. I’m over the moon, go in waiting room is PACKED with crying babies, grumpy people (Who I can sympathize with, I’d hate to be in the state I’m in AND have 3 kids cause I can’t afford birth control, lucky for me the PCOD is natures way of keeping me from THAT wonderful treadmill)
I see a nurse for about 60 seconds, and this nurse you can tell had had a bad day, bad week, bad year, lets just say she’s not the perky nurse that’s gunna high five me for losing 15 lbs. She takes my BP writes in chart, says a total of 6 words to me, walks out.
-20 minutes later-
Physician Assistant (Male, for the life of me I can’t remember his name cause he said even less than Nurse Grumpers, though I’m sure if I kept my old prescription bottles it’d be on there.) enters room, hands me prescriptions I was already on -minus- the Zoloft cause he didn’t think it was worth putting me on suicide row again. I agreed. I paid my 3 dollar copay and left to return in 6 months. No blood work, no check up. Just see you in 6 months to refill your prescriptions cause it’s the law. (Oh that makes me tingle with joy and confidence!)
-6 months later-
I see nurse Grumpers, waiting room of the same people (SERIOUSLY) same crying babies only 6 months older. Nurse grumpers takes my BP, says my weight is too high (I was down another 20 lbs. Give me a break woman it’s not like I’m wonder woman, I wipe butts, am constantly miserable, don’t have time for a real job, exercise, I can’t cook. 20 lbs was GOOD for me Grumpers. -Frustration level.. CRANKY- )
New Physician’s assistant walks in looks at my chart, apologizes cause PA whats his face is out sick. I make a light joke about it, something to the effect of “It’s OK, you’ve said more words to me in that greeting than I’ve heard out of either him or the nurse ever.” I did not make a friend with that comment. She writes me prescriptions by hand, complaining the whole time I’m on too many medications. And she’s not in the system where she can print them out. I interject — “Well that’s the thing, I’ve not had blood work in like a year, I’m hoping to maybe see if I don’t need some of these.” — The look she gave me I can only describe as NAS-TAY. Like I just asked her to do actual work or something.
I get my prescriptions and leave. I even flipped off the door behind me, not like me but well. It happens.
-Access Plus disappears and I did not qualify for new insurance. Free Clinic is not accepting patients.-
-3 or so months later-
SEVERE PAIN IN LOWER STOMACH, OMG, OMG, OMG. I call the Ambulance, it’s not like my DAD can drive me. Go to hospital, they do internal, my uterine lining has now reached 22mm thickness, I’ve not had a period in 12 months, I have pearls around my ovaries. They give me morphine and refer me to see a gyno. I go, uhh.. Yeah with what money.
Call my old case worker, he immediately gets me insurance. Like Just wave your access card, go see who you need to see, get yourself better, and in a month we’ll switch you to Coventry Cares. (Really? They Care? How sweet.)
Meanwhile I’m on a cocktail of Motrin, Excedrine and Naproxen (I call it my suck it up cocktail) So I can still manage to lift my dad out of his chair, get him to the bathroom, wipe his butt etc., without KILLING someone.
I see Nurse Practitioner at the Gyno’s office who thinks I have uterine cancer, blah blah blah. (Did I mention my mom died of Cancer in 2008? I did not handle news well.) But wants to do a better ultrasound/test/pap cause she couldn’t get a proper one done. 3 different speculum and none of them made my cervix do the poppy thing. I was in painful tears, she made soothing noises which only made it feel WORSE. She gives me progesterone to produce a period, antibiotics cause I had a UTI, and diflucan(REMEMBER THIS, cause I sure as hell didn’t.) cause the antibiotics might give me a yeast infection.
And refers me to a doctor down the hall, there’s 2 accepting patients in the same building, one’s REALLY thorough. (YAY). I go down the hall, get an appointment, one of the doctors is going on maternity leave soon so she’s not accepting new patients. I figure 50/50 change I get doctor wonderful ok book the appointment.
They have no appointments for her for 1 month, so I see Nurse Practitioner Perky in a week. Hey this might work out right? Go drug store, get pills, go home, take pills.
-WEEK OF DEATH, MURDER, CRAZY, BLAHHAHAHA Ensues.-
If you are a medical professional, and someone has chronic migraines, 3 a week, do not give them hormones. Please Please Please.
I see nurse Perky, I’m in hell. My BP Is high (on Atenolol) My head is so bad I want to punch people in faces, she’s like. “Oh my, you poor thing, let me put in an order for Verapamil (This is important too.) But you’ll just have to suffer out the hormones.
-Week gets worse-
I tearfully call Gyno at the end of my 2 weeks of taking Hormone of doom like I’m supposed to and tell her I didn’t even spot, she calls back making soothing noises (Again, not helpful) and suggests another round of progesterone. At this point I say sure, while I’m thinking in my head evil ways to drop a house on her and steal her ruby red slippers. (Side note, I didn’t take the progesterone the 2nd time, and the hormones finally left my system. YAY)
-Appointment is set. Coventry kicks in and is like. No you’re going to X doctor WAAAAAAAAY over here. I get this 2 days before my month DR appointment with Dr Possibly Thorough, I call Coventry cause they Care, they change my Primary to Dr maybe thorough, but it doesn’t take effect for 7 days. ($#^@-$#^@-$#^@-$#^@-$#^@)
I call Dr office, reschedule, they’re understanding, but can’t get me in for another month. I take it, grumble but I’ve still got pills from Clinic of Doom so I take it.-
-ENTER NEW SYMPTOM FROM LEFT FIELD, if you are a medical professional, googler, or read the massive amounts of () next to my pills, this symptom might make some sense.-
My muscles start to hurt. I can’t lift my dad, I can’t lift my arms. I’m in complete hell, I can’t get out of bed, I can’t type, It’s like I’m trapped in my own body stuck inside my brain.
I see New Doctor (The Jury is still out if she’s the thorough one) explain symptoms, get lecture about my weight which went up 7 lbs. When every muscle in your body hurts, you don’t want to move, you don’t want to exercise. You want to lie still, and WHIMPER.
Then She tells me she doesn’t like my drug list, wants to do blood work to see if I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, or something nasty (OOOH maybe she is Dr. Thorough) but in the mean time she wants to wean me off Clonazepam, and puts me on Lexapro (Which I nickname Speedy, Perky, Crack pill later). Refills Atenolol, metformin, protonix, a reduced dose of Clonazepam, Simvastatin, Verapamil (Don’t get ahead of me if you know where the magical symptom came from). Says she wants to see me in a month.
She ALSO explains to me about how as an overweight American who is unemployed and on this type of insurance, she sees a lot of substance abuse, and major problems and urges me to keep my appointments, and doesn’t feel right prescribing me anything for my pain till I get blood work done and we can go from there. (hold the phone did she actually say that?) That’s the real reason for taking me off clonazepam (Which by the way took my panic attacks from daily to 3-4 A MONTH, fantastic right?)
I gotta say at this point, I understand, but I’m kinda hurt, pissed, angry that I’ve been lumped into a category. I’m an educated person, I didn’t go to college, but that was because I took care of my dad, not because I couldn’t. I speak 4 languages (ONE of which is my Dr’s native language -Russian- and I speak it better than she speaks English, though I’m terrible at writing it.), I was urged to join Mensa by my teachers in high school, but taking a 3 hour qualifier to have a pretty little membership wasn’t really on my agenda. I had colleges that offered me all sorts of scholarships, and if google gave a degree, I’d be set.
OK, I go away, get blood work done like good little girl so Dr. Baba Yaga doesn’t smother me in my sleep. Wean myself off Clonazepam.
-Month goes by, Symptom of doom worsens, cocktail now includes enough NSAIDS I should have been vomiting up organs, I actually have to stretch and flex each muscle for about an hour before getting out of bed, and if I sit too long I gotta do it all over again-
———NEW SYMPTOM———— I suddenly go from 3-4 Panic attacks a month, to 3-4 a DAY, I turn MANIC, I don’t sleep for 3 days straight, and when I do it’s not because I should, it’s just my body has a blue screen of death moment. I have Dr. appointment next day, decide $#^@ it and take a clonazepam to sleep. I SLEPT!
Dr. Baba Yaga looks at my chart, looks at my blood work, agrees putting me on lexapro(Speed) was a bad choice, and puts me back on Clonazepam. (I have a freaking PRAISE JESUS Robin Williams moment) and we actually TALK back and forth about my health issues instead of her assuming I’m in X category.
No thyroid problem, My Cholesterol is PERFECT, No Sugar issues. No liver issues (Which shocked me cause I had been diagnosed with fatty liver) I’m still Obese but working on it. I still have lady issues (Which I’m putting off, cause well those hormones really scared me). No Rheumatoid, or any other auto immune issues so she’s stumped on my pain. Chalks it up to wear and tear of being obese and is about to go.
I’m Still a bit manic from the 3 days of no sleep and the speed so I got a -little- insistent. Described EVERYTHING, how miserable I was (I’m sure she still thinks I’m a pain killer seeker, but at this point I don’t GAF) and then as I’m repeating myself for the 4th time -Still manic- I see a sort of dawning appear on her face and think.. PLEASE Let this be good news. And it was. Sort of.
She asks me a specific question and it’s very important. WHEN did these symptoms start. I explain they started about a week after seeing Nurse Perky who put me on Verapamil. -BAM- I could see light bulb over her head light up, explode and scatter shards of glass EVERYWHERE. (Side note, Nurse Perky no longer works at that Clinic.. Huh wonder why)
I had been on Simvastatin for YEARS, no issues. She put me on Verapamil which if you google. HAS SERIOUS $#^@ING side effects with Simvastatin, (not to mention the DIFLUCAN I took 2 days prior to starting Verapamil which ALSO has SERIOUS $#^@ING Side effects. But this was prescribed by Gyno so Dr. Thorough hadn’t really been aware of this at this point) Such as MUSCLE decay, MUSCLE hardening, Muscle $#^@ery. (YAY DOCTOR THOROUGH!!!!!)
Doctor Awesome (New nickname, if a doctor spends an hour listening to a manic patient and doesn’t admit them to the hospital, you get a cool nickname) says stop taking the statin, you don’t -need- it and call me in 3 weeks to let me know HOW you are doing. Gives me a prescription for an NSAID (to try, it hasn’t done crap, but it’s OK) We shake hands, I’m feeling good knowing it’s not all in my head, and there’s something ACTUALLY wrong with me.
AS WE ARE SHAKING HANDS, she notices a discoloration in my thumb I had forgotten about. (Yay Dr. Thorough) I had had a bobby pin go under my nail as I tried to push it off the paper it came on (it had rusted on), no big deal it happened a week ago no signs of tetanus. She frowns and says to be sure lets give you a booster and put you on an antibiotic. (Pro-tip: Tetanus Booster + Muscle hardening = No moving that arm for 3 days, lots of pain. $#^@, oh well).
-4 days on Antibiotic-
I get a Yeast infection (OH JOY) call Dr. Awesome’s office, she prescribes Diflucan, Nurse calls me back and says “Now Dear you’ll have to stop taking your Simvastatin on the day you take this pill or it’ll be bad. (No S&#$ Sherlock) Wait… I stopped Simvastatin. I can hear nurse frown on phone. “OH that’s right, you did, never mind me.” But it took me a moment to remember, I had taken Diflucan ON Simvastatin right around when my problems started. (Seriously?!)
I’m on Day 2 after taking Yeast infection med, and symptoms are getting better, Muscle pain is still pretty bad, but I’m hopeful it’s only been a week. And I’m still afraid to go BACK to the Gyno Nurse cause Nu UH am I taking any more hormones, I will take a melon baller in and say scoop me out if I’ve got cancer. Still in lots of pain in that region too, but I can’t really afford any more hell weeks. I’m out of favors with friends and family. I cashed them all in to take care of dad when I couldn’t get out of bed.
Simple lesson in this all, do your research, ASK your pharmacist, or look up new prescriptions for dangerous interactions. Know your own body and don’t let anyone put you into a category based on income/insurance/body type. Because we’re all individuals, and every life is important. Health care isn’t perfect, it’s expensive, doctors are overworked, nurses are overworked and the only person you can really trust is yourself. BE PERSISTENT, make them listen.
And thanks for listening to my still semi Manic rant.
(Names have been changed to protect the identities of individuals in this story.)