Tales from the uninsured

It has been about two weeks since I last wrote my blog about being uninsured and unhealthy in America.  With the influence of my family, friends, and even our blog readers, I quickly made an appointment for blood tests to see what is going on within my body that I’m not aware of.  Alyssa has had her life engulfed with solving her own health mysteries and it has taken months to get any conclusions out of the medical world.  Finally the doctors were able to tell her that she is pre-hypothyroid and has a fatty liver to add on her to her diagnosis of Poly cystic Ovary Syndrome. The amount of time it has taken for Alyssa to get answers makes me dread how long it will take for me to get my own issues figured out.  But I guess the silver lining is that we get to go through this together.  Joy.

Yesterday I got the lab results from my six vials of blood I had taken from my arm a week ago. Most everything on my lab came up normal except for my liver numbers.  I don’t really understand what all the numbers mean but the doctor told me that my liver count is high and they suspect it could mean that the pain that I have been feeling in my innards for three weeks is gallstones.  My progesterone levels were also low, which according to Alyssa was something she had going on with her PCOS diagnosis.  According to the doctor, it depends on where I was at in my menstrual cycle.  All my other symptoms of PCOS were ignored and a recommendation was written for me to get an ultrasound on my abdomen as soon as I can come up with the $100 it will cost.

I’m fighting for more than the ultrasound to be done on not only my abdomen but on my pelvis as well as I feel like the pain I’m having is not just in my upper innards, but in my lower region.  Every time I sit down, I feel like I’m smashing together my organs.  Sharp pains have been shooting through my left ovary for weeks and while I was going through my horrible Sunday three weeks ago, the pain was incredibly comparable to a ruptured cyst I had when I was 15.  

We know our bodies better than anyone else and if it wasn’t for me trusting my instinct,  I would have put this all off when my original doctor told me that all of my pain was related to the strep throat I had at the beginning of all this.  “Sometimes the bad bacteria (my strep)  just carries through into your intestines.  It’s better to put together your symptoms rather than breaking them into two separate issues”, she said.  Once the second round of doctors took another strep test and saw it was gone, they knew they couldn’t blame my pain on residual strep bacteria having a party in my intestines.  It would be easy to believe that I only have gallstones but since most of the pain I’m feeling is in my ovaries, I refuse to just roll over on this without getting further checked.  Plus, if I am going to pay $100 for the ultrasound, I don’t want to have to do it twice.

I’ve been very fortunate as I qualified for a low-income plan at the Petaluma Health Center so each doctor visit is just $25 and all of those blood tests were FREE.  The ultrasound goes through a private company that allows cash payment and while $100 is equivalent to my new Spanish textbook, three months of my car insurance, or one weekend out in San Francisco, I feel that the money is worth it.

So next Thursday I’ll have yet another appointment at the Petaluma Health Center so the doctor can reevaluate my symptoms and hopefully write me a recommendation for the ultrasound to be done all over my innards, not just on my abdomen. And then I’ll have to make another appointment for the ultrasound and then I’ll be headed onward to…

“I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.”

– By Dr. Suess from Oh, The Places You will Go

Le sigh.  So we’ll see what’s going on within the next few weeks.

The doctor told me I need to stick to eating low-fat and I’ve been doing alright with that over the past week.  I haven’t been GREAT, but I haven’t been nearly at gluttonous as I was upon my first week of behavior after I got home from Europe.  In fact, somehow I managed to lose seven pounds in six days with barely any effort at all.  All that weight is what I had gained during the first week of all this illness so I know it was from bloating but such a large number made me quite freaked out as I know I can’t even lose that much weight when I *really* try.  If the weight continues to just fall off like this, I’ll suspect something more serious because it is not unlike me to fluctuate by a few pounds.  Seven pounds is kind-of a lot though.

Do any of our readers have any issues with their gall bladders or know anyone who has?

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend, free of pain and issues within!





Uninsured, unhealthy, but not very “Un-American”

You may have noticed that I haven’t written in a while, but sadly I’m not off on another continent trotting around so I can’t blame it on my travels.  Barely a week after I got home, I came down with this crazy pain all throughout my innards.  It started in my womanly parts and made me believe it was just cramps, but as the day went on the intense pain spread throughout my abdomen and up into my chest.  I tried to sleep but could only do so for an hour at a time from the random pains that would shoot through my sternum if I accidentally breathed too deeply.  At around 4 am last Monday, I decided to look into going to the emergency room.

After a few minutes of clicking around on the interwebs, I realized I had two choices:  Go to the emergency room, hopefully figure out what is wrong, and end up with a medical bill of a few thousand dollars… or just wait, hope I survive, and be able to afford my future college education.  Unfortunately this kind of choice is something that many people deal with all the time.

You see, I am one of the millions of Americans who lack health insurance.  According the the US census, in 2011 with a population of around 306,560,685 people; 46 million Americans lacked insurance. Of those 46 million, 40 million of them are in the age range of 19-64 years old, thus making myself just one more person of that big statistic.

I survived through my Monday by moving very softly and not eating much.  My stomach seemed to be incredibly bloated and it definitely was, using my tape measure I noticed my waistline was three inches larger than normal.  Late into the night, my throat started to hurt incredibly bad when I swallowed so I told myself if it still hurt in the morning, I would go see my wonderful and free practitioner at the Santa Rosa Junior College.   The next morning I woke up and saw my throat looked as if Lindsey Lohan and Amanda Bynes had a snow party in it, so I made the call and got an appointment half an hour later.  It didn’t take long for my doctor to diagnose me with Strep Throat and to tell me that it’s better just to assume that my internal pain is because of the Strep, instead of believing it could be two separate issues.

So now it’s eleven days after all my pain first began, my strep throat issues are gone, but yet the internal pain is still hanging around.  It hurts to breathe in deeply because something weird is going on within my right shoulder… not the muscles or bone… but something up in that region is quite painful.  I also still have the abdomen pain and have been having a headache nearly every day.  Alyssa and my friends have been harassing me for many days now to try going to the doctor again (not the simple care at my school) and I keep giving the same excuse of not having enough money to do so.  But being that I just lost a classmate to colon cancer and many people in my life seem to be having health issues; I decided I better just cough up the cash and get myself checked out.

It’s been over twelve years since I’ve had any sort of blood tests or even a physical just to check up on myself.  I’ve had my womanly parts taken care of thanks to Planned Parenthood, but who knows what has been going on elsewhere in my body.  Maybe I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome too…   Maybe my internal pain is just from strep throat…

Regardless of what the results are, at least I’ll be able to find out what has been going on.  I have one more day left of penicillin and then I’m excited to start on an Erba Vita detox supplement for the next month to get all these medications out of my system.  I’ve done my grocery shopping and will be saying goodbye to refined sugars and processed foods again, hopefully this time I’ll be more motivated since I won’t have any excuse of “being on vacation” or “being sick” again.

So what I wonder from all of you – Who has insurance?  Who doesn’t?  What does it take to finally get YOU go to the doctor?

Till next time,