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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dig It Up and Bury It

I gotta get something off my chest and hopefully soon afterward I can get back to the funny.

In 1989 I went to my first arthritis specialist. He told me to stop running and recommended drugs. My GP prescribed Meclomen, and for a few years I carried on as usual except for not running. But I began piling on weight, and was yo-yo dieting. Then Ian left NYC and I didn't have insurance anymore. When I moved to Vermont in '95 I literally couldn't afford to eat, so I slimmed down, and between the physical labor I did and slimming down, I was ok for a few more years.

In 2004 I was told I'd need a Total Hip Replacement. But, the surgeon said, nobody would do it til I was around 60 years old because of the need to replace the replacement every 12-15 years. No insurance company, even Medicaid, would ok it, she said.  I was then 45. After several-too-many cortisone shots in that hip, she said there was nothing more she could do for me. I then went to 3 other surgeons, 2 local and 1 an hour and a half away, in the next 2 years. The one that was hardest to get to was the only one who showed an interest. Not having a car and nobody to depend on for transit, that idea fell through. So no THR. He has since moved away.

In 2007 I could no longer work, and quit.  Thus began my disability. By the end of that year I could get around on a walker, but doing housework, shopping, laundry... that was all very difficult. The pain was still new then, and frightening. My doc gave me opioids- oxycodone and Fentanyl- and Cymbalta for the nerve pain. Now I was a zombie as well as a gimp. That went on for 4 years. I quit the Cymbalta first, and a few months later went cold turkey off the opioids. It's nearly 6 years since I quit prescription painkillers. I've gotten used to pain, and just deal with it now. I'd rather have the pain and keep my brain. Or what's left of it.

But conditions untreated tend to grow worse, and now I'm in a wheelchair most of the time. I've put on a lot of weight due to inactivity over the last 12 years, which doesn't help at all.

I can't help but recognize that had I gotten that THR 10 years ago I'd still be working. I'd also be a union member, as that place unionized 5 years after I left. And I'd worked so hard organizing for the last 2 years I was working there. It's the salt in the wound, really.

As whatever it is that I have keeps adding new features, I have to keep reinventing myself. Until some doc recognizes what's up with me and knows what to do, I can expect nothing getting better. So when I see my GP (last appointment was cancelled due to a head cold) I'll ask for a referral to Dr. Ditri, mega-brain over at Dartmouth's annex in Keene, NH. He's a physiatrist (a fairly new field that looks at the whole body's systems), and diagnosed me once in 2006. Maybe he'll know what the hell is happening to me now.

So, that's what's been eating at me for the last year or so. What is, what could have been if insurance companies didn't control our healthcare, and what may be.

Now I hope I can lighten up.


Elephant's Child said...

Fingers and toes crossed.
I remember what a relief it was to have my ailment diagnosed. There was something there, and could look at dealing/managing it.
And yes, pain is a bitch, but so is having brain cells consumed by drugs. Mostly I live with the pain. Mostly.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

The medical system is hard to navigate. I watched my mom die because of the care and attitude of the medical community. If you are young and have good insurance, everything works. Missing one of those components, you are at the mercy of "the system". My heart goes out to you. Medical care, as It is set up, is for the young and healthy and better yet, for the old and wealthy.

Geo. said...

For the past year and a half I've been seeing a knowledgeable psychotherapist who has helped me (grudgingly) accept the limitations of age and malfunction by much the same comprehensive criteria as a physiatrist --which does indeed sound like a promising new field. So far, I mainly learned that in laboring for love and causes we're not always very kind to ourselves. She has directed me toward a concept of self-compassion that I didn't know existed. In some areas I'm not a quick study. Now, after all the stress of the past few months, she called today and told Norma that I can't go in for a month because her office is full of fleas. I'm having enough insurance snafus lately without a flea-bitten therapist. Trust you'll have better luck with Dr. Ditri and keep all informed. I need to read positive things right now and your undefeated mind is among my best bets.

only slightly confused said...

You have been through a painful and frustrating time. I hope this new Dr can put his finger on the problem and bring you some comfort.

Munir said...

Hugs and more hugs.
Medical insurance companies do dictate how we get treated. When I was working my husband and I had the best Health Insurance plus his Medicare. His open heart surgery was no problem at all. As a matter of fact, the doctors treated him like a king. Now that I work part time and don't have the extra health coverage for him, the same cardiology group does not want to accept him as a patient.
I wrote a book called "Medicine Fruit " with the help of Lulu. This was just to get my frustrations to be known,
I just hope that something works out for you. Living with pain is bad enough. Having to deal with the Health Insurance Company is not needed.