Thursday, June 08, 2017

5103 I'm still here, and there, and ....

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Rabbi Julius Gordon: "Love is not blind - it sees more, not less.
But because it sees more, it is willing to see less."


Wow.  It's been something like six weeks since I updated here, and a month since the end (May 8th?) of radiation.  My absence was not on purpose - it's just that there were higher priorities, and very little energy.

With the doctors I kept denying that I was fatigued.  I was wrong, I guess.  It crept up on me so slowly I didn't recognize it.  After the first two rounds of chemo I didn't feel a need for daytime naps at all, and I guess that was my definition of fatigue.  On Tuesday, May 23, I woke up in the morning with all kinds of energy - suddenly!  It was as if someone had flipped my on-switch overnight.  Really, it was really that sudden.  Pow!  I'm back!

And I can't believe how bad the house is.  I hadn't done laundry in months.  The piles of dirty clothes were huge (yeah, I have a LOT of clothes, I've worn things in the past few months that I hadn't seen in years).  Literally mountains.  I can't remember when I last changed the sheets, and it's hard to change the sheets just yet because the bed footboard and the end of the bed are covered in "can get another wearing out of this maybe" clothes.

The day after I finished the radiation I got started on the anti-aromatase FEMARA® (letrozole), which sort of blocks estrogen.  There's some confusion as to whether my tumor was estrogen-sensitive or not, so the doctor decided to err on the side of caution.  If I can tolerate it, I'll be taking it for five years.  Some of the possible side effects are significant, but so far all I've noticed is hot flashes - about 8 or 10 short and tolerable flashes a day.  That's kind of funny - when I went through menopause I had a total of two hot flashes the entire time.  

Other side effects include muscle, bone, and joint pain, and I've got that, but I've ALWAYS had so much random pain that I can't tell what's the normal pain and what might be the medication.   

Well, we'll see where it goes.

Last Friday Daughter and I wandered all over Ikea (a big store) for almost three hours, and I was very proud of my energy - didn't need to sit down at all.  Saturday I was still fine.  Sunday my hips and thighs rebelled, and I'm still achy.  I'll have to start a regular exercise program.


It took me forever to clear up the medical bills mess.  The breast center, the oncology area (chemo and radiation), radiology, and some but not all of the doctors bill separately.  I have to register anew every time I go to the medical center, and every day's procedures (every registration) gets a new account number.  The first bill will be itemized, but any subsequent reminders for the same day won't say anything about what it's for, just that X dollars are owed.  I was often confused as to whether or not I'd already paid it and my payment and the reminder had crossed in the mail.  Sometimes when I registered they wanted my share of the out-of-pocket up front, but mostly they didn't.  The upfront payments were estimates, since it hadn't gone through the insurance yet, and then when the "real" bill arrived, it might or might not show the upfront amount I'd already paid.

So as I got more and more tired, it got harder and harder to figure out what the status was.  It got to the point where a few bills went to collection, and then it got even more complicated, since the collection notices didn't say what the account number, procedure, department, or date of service was - just the amount due, which was not necessarily unique enough to match up to a bill.  


So once the on-switch got flipped and I could think again, I spent some time in an few billing offices and got it all straightened out.  You know those up-front payments that didn't show as credits on bills?  It turns out that apparently those amounts were credited to earlier bills (with no notice to me), so the nice ladies in the billing offices were able to hand me several older bills with "Don't pay this one, or this one, or this one...) written on them.  The only way I'd have known not to pay them would have been the lack of "overdue" reminders.  

This, by the way, has been my experience with hospital billing for centuries.  There are some real horror stories with Jay's billing.  Albany Medical Center had one, count 'em, one, little old lady handling all billing and payments, and she was easily confused.  

Last night, at midnight, I drove to the post office and dropped the last batch of checks and payment slips in the outside mailbox.

Very large load off.

There will still be bills to come.  I decided to keep the implanted chemo port because I'm sure there will be future blood draws and possibly other scans possibly with contrast and my veins are not cooperative for stuff like that, so I need to go in and have the port flushed every six weeks, and I have to see the chemo doc every four weeks (but I suspect that will end up being every six weeks, since he's in that same area).  But those bills won't be arriving in quick succession, so I should be able to keep on top of them.

Getting late.  Bye for now....