Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Normal" MRI

Don't want to say too much about the MRI results just yet, because the neuro hasn't seen them; he's still in Mexico.

"There are 2 punctate foci of high signal in the left frontal perventricular
white matter on the FLAIR sequence of doubtful significance, and there is
asymmetry in CSF space about the IACs left larger than right, a normal

Whatever that means. So you can see I really need to discuss it with the neuro. Anyway, at best this means that there was no new damage! At worst: I would have to go in for another MRI. Pray it's the first, please.

So lets see where I stand:

Two calls and two letters from Aetna, and I am still scheduled to return to work the 29th. Fine, I guess, although my neuro, if he were able to be reached, would probably not like that at all, since he prescribes three months at home.

Papers were not sent to Aetna with the doctor's orders until last Friday. See post below. The doctor's orders are faxed, but nothing from Aetna.

I called the uro only to find that "no tests, no appointments" is the report from them. This was puzzling, since I know he told me we would have some sort of followup. I said as much and thanked the person. Less than an hour later I get a frantic message on the machine that I should call back immediately.

Figures. Of course there are not only tests, but followup appointments and more tests, enough to fill next week with a lot of running around.

Of course. Wonder if I will be hearing of their firing soon, too?

So this morning I called Aetna yet again and told them I have a whole week of appointments scheduled and really can't go back to work yet. I am now in Farmville, rearranging my crops and livestock, while waiting for the inevitable callback.

You know, I would heal an awful lot faster if I weren't always so knotted up in nerves over whatever paperwork wasn't getting done by whoever. Many times I have had to do all the running, faxing, and calling myself.

Another thing: I am a very conscientious worker who not only gets work done, but has the courtesy to follow up immediately with whomever I promised the work. I see none of this in any of these offices.

Doesn't anyone do their job well anymore?

Little Pond

Monday, March 22, 2010

After a couple of days to sink in...

Friday's events are becoming real. They were so dreamlike, I needed the time to assimilate them.

The lady in the neuro's office is gone. While my neuro is on vacation for a month, the parent company--a local medical center--fired her.

My mother and daughters all wanted the results to the MRI. Usually I wait to hear from my neuro on that, because they have a better idea what it will actually mean, and I won't get hysterical or so depressed.

This time, however, everyone was waiting, so I called the neuro office. The phone rang a very, very long time, and was finally answered by a shaky-sounding fellow who mostly handles the ortho's business. He informed me that the lady was gone, but he would dig up the results.

The results were negative. Huh? What's that mean? It said it was "normal." (Much more on that later.)

At that point, I panicked. But I am not well, and my work insurance will cancel, and I will need to return to work, and I will need to travel three hours every day again. Et cetera.

The nice man couldn't help me and I could hear the phones ringing in the background as he told me that the lady who processed the neuro's stuff was now gone, fired in the early part of the week. Stunned, I thanked him and hung up the phone.

It was a pretty fair bet that they didn't file the papers I sent them on Monday. The fired lady took her time about everything, usually smiling and telling me they would be fine, sweetie.

Yes, sweetie. I called my family and informed them that the MRI was normal. My younger daughter told me to call my GP and ask him what we should do.

Duh. I never thought of that.

I called the GP, who immediately--and I do mean immediately--called back and told me to ride the neuro's office until I had proof that those papers went out. The GP couldn't help me at all, because it would all cycle back to the neuro.

Well, I went in person to the neuro office, and found the poor fellow rummaging through files, with a phone in one ear, and the other phones ringing incessantly, and people still waiting for the ortho, lined up nicely in the waiting room.

After waiting until I was sure he took care of the others, I approached him again and explained my troubles. It seemed to me that we simply needed to find out if papers were faxed to Aetna.

He brightened right up and began rummaging again. He took care of the waiting ortho patients, and finally unlocked the neuro's office--remember how the neuro had gone on vacation-- and came back empty handed. He began to look desperate, then wandered out to the "back room" and came back with my folder.

He actually told me I needed to look at the folder and tell him what was significant! There, right on top, were the papers that needed to be sent. I sighed with relief and pointed them out to him. He shook his head and said, "If they had gone out, there would be a notation on it."

We looked them over, page by page, and ultimately found that the last paper needed to be signed by me.

I signed the paper, and he faxed them to Aetna on the spot, returned copies to me. Those papers included the "office notes" that should have been sent weeks ago. The nice man marked a paragraph for Aetna that gave the time period that was needed for my recovery: three months.

Mystery solved; immediate crisis averted. I thanked him profusely.

Now I have to work on the uro's office. They were supposed to call me with a date for my tests.

That was last week, so here we go again.

Little Pond

Thursday, March 11, 2010


How do you like my new header?
Thanks to my BlogSis
for a new, much fresher look!

Yesterday, I was wiped out after the MRI. No real exercise, no real anything, but I was exhausted. Fell asleep in front of the television that evening.

Today I tried my usual round of groceries.

I started at Walmart, "cherry-picking" the best prices on our weekly stuff. Then I moved to Tops, already noticeably flagging.

When I finished Tops, I knew I needed to hit Weis for 5-6 items not available elsewhere. I finished the shopping and went home.

Then I found that I still needed to run the bank errands.

All in all, some four hours of running. After all, what else did I have planned? Anything not finished would need to be done Friday, likely in the rain.

I can barely move right now, and am blogging because I don't have the energy to do anything else.

I won't do that again. Four hours is way too much for me, these days.

Well, maybe better days are coming.

Little Pond

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Let the testing begin!

MRI today at 2:30. I am apprehensive enough to lose sleep over it, but not enough to demand an Open MRI. I will meditate and pray during the ordeal.

Neuro Lab on the 30th for hearing and vision tests.

Still waiting on Elmira Urology appointment. I don't want to see the numbnuts out in Corning. They were worse than useless the last time. We actually wound up having the Neuros write prescriptions for them, because they refused! My suspicions are that Elmira Uro will be more of the same, but at least we can get some tests out of them.

Will follow-up with the Uros after I survive the MRI.

Anxiety is growing. The bad economy, lack of local advertising, and who knows what else, all promise no good for local employment.

Little Pond

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Back in whack

So here's the p00p:

Yesterday I noticed that I had inadvertently stopped taking the Potassium supplements need to counteract the diurected needed to regulate my blood pressure. (That was a trip!)

And today I can already see better and am much more awake. My blood pressure is normal and I ran right through the morning paper, the sudoku and the crossword. Admittedly, those are the easier versions that get harder as the week wears on.

Unfortunately, I still wobble. A lot.

Aetna tells me I am covered until March 28th. At the same time, they requested the dates for 1: the MRI, 2: the bladder tests, and 3: the next neuro visit. A quick trip to Arnot Health Services (neuro) verified that the next visit is April 26th. The two scans/tests are not yet set, because our insurance requires pre-approval.

Where does that leave me? Assuming the tests are approved, we should be then covered until the neuro visit in later April.

I assume nothing.

Am I ready to return to work?

I would say "yes" if I were working here in Elmira. A resounding "no" if I must go to Binghamton. For the first time in a year, I am getting about 8-9 hours of sleep, albeit interrupted by trips to the bathroom. And that includes a short nap at midday.

The bottom line is this: if I am not covered by Aetna, I will definitely return to work on the 29th of March, even if I must return to Binghamton. We are only one paycheck away from financial disaster--the crash and subsequent Bank shenanigans have guranteed that. I had been merrily paying down and eliminating bills before then. Then one after another, they ground to a near halt, as the interest rates rose to unimaginable levels, at least for someone who never missed a payment, had an excellent rating, etc.

It doesn't take a neurologist to figure out what triggered this last exacerbation. Eleven hour days of commuting and working await me, but my job is in Binghamton, and they are holding for me. And the bills still need to be paid.

Little Pond

Monday, March 08, 2010

Out of whack!

For the past several days I've been awakening in a strange fog, almost a stupor. I can't see clearly and have no balance and, worst of all, I'm dizzy. Over the balance of the day, I can usually even out to the point where I can at least drive, if not walk very far.

Until today, I have been attributing it to the leftover steroids in my system, worsened by middle age. After all, it has been around a decade since my last infusion.

Today, I was replenishing my everyday cubby of prescription meds, when I noticed that I have no bottle for Potassium.

Potassium was the first substance that went completely awry when I started Diovan for the blood pressure. That was a few years ago, and I had the same sort of symptoms back then. Now, it's been about a week, maybe, since I tossed the old bottle and did not replace it. I forgot.

So many meds, so little brain space to store them in!

Now I must wait a few days before I reassess my post-Solumedrol progress.

My current status: Aching, twitching muscles, especially in my arms and thighs. Dizziness and weakness. Bad taste in my mouth, relieved only with a good scrubbing with baking soda (toothpaste tastes bad, too!): I can't even taste chocolate and citrus. Poor overall coordination and emotional depression. Not weepy, but just hopelessness and anxiety constantly playing in the background.

Back in a few days with a new report.

Expecting great things!

Little Pond

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Solumedrol, then and now

Before it fades in my memory, I want to mention the Solumedrol drip. Almost a decade has passed since my last infusion, so this trip was new territory.

It is my best guess that infusion centers are a result of insurance giants protecting their bottom line. Since we used to have to chip in a sizeable amount out of pocket, we are not complaining about the ride over and back. Reasonable, I guess, although the nurses were not pleased to learn I was alone after a minor "episode."

A liter of the solution used to infuse over a few hours, done by a very attentive home health care provider. I was amazed to see only a very tiny--maybe 250 l.--amount waiting for me. The nurses said it would take one hour, and that they would check with my doctor. Neuro wanted several hours, but agreed to try the new way.

Immediately, my hand swelled up. In fact, both hands swelled up and got very sore and achy. The discomfort left me wondering if something was going very wrong. I say discomfort, because it is very difficult to detect pain these days. This exacerbation has left me in a mess.

In the meantime, MSers were also taking the cure around me. They seemed comfortable, at least in contrast to the many others who were getting, blood, and God knows whatever else was being dispensed there that day. In fact, I watched one MSer come, receive his infusion, and leave, all in the time it took for the nurses to even find a vein to poke in my arms.

Was I a wimp? Well, in ten years I had gotten older. I also developed hypertension and asthma during that time, so things were very different for this old carcass.

About 20 minutes in, I could hardly stand what was now pain. I moved my body, to see if shifting my weight in the chair would help. This made my head light and my stomach sick, and I reached for the wastebasket. There was so much paper and medical waste, that I thought the overworked nurses didn't need a mess to clean, so I straightened up to sit back. The curtain of sparkles fascinated me a second or two before I realized I was fainting.

"Some help over here, please." I am still proud that I maintained full composure.

Chaos ensued. A call went out for more nurses. A call went out for the Rapid Response Team. And seemingly dozens of hands picked me up and placed me into a lounger--my chair. (Later, I would find little bruises on my arms and legs.) The RRT couldn't find the infusion center and showed up when I was fully stabilized. I was not impressed with the RRT.

Of course: "This never happened before." I knew that was coming, because they had told me, and my neuro after me, that they had never had a problem with Solumedrol.

They resumed the drip and we finished over the next hours. The remaining infusions were two-hour drips over the next two days, and were uncomfortable, but uneventful.

So, did I just get old? I think so, because others breezed through. The nurses watched more carefully, and offered food and drink over the next two days. No more troubles.

Maybe I'm just a wimp, after all.

Little Pond