It's now Monday, 12-10-01,
one week since I last saw my Oncologist and had my last Rituxan
Being a Star Wars fan, I bought "Episode
I - The Phantom Menace" on DVD and
then got a Phantom Menace of my own in the form of some mysterious pain in
a few of my toes and a finger. It feels like an infection, and causes a lot
of pain, like a toothache. The pain is particularly severe in the
little toe of my right foot. For 3 days I controlled the pain with
Tylenol, and then finally couldn't take it anymore and contacted the
doctor on Sunday night, 12-9-01.
He didn't want to take any chances, so he had me go to the emergency room
Joseph's Hospital to have it looked at. After describing the
symptoms to a doctor there in the emergency room, I jokingly suggested
that the pain is so severe I'd like him to either cut off my toes or give
me some good drugs. I needed some relief !
He looked at the digits in question,
had 3 X-rays in different positions of my right foot made, and said he could
find no evidence of actual infection or other problems, despite my
description of the pain.
Taking into consideration my description that it
affected the big and little toes on my right foot, the little toe on my
left foot, starting to feel the same thing in the ring finger of my left
hand, and the numbness of my left thumb and forefinger, he suspects that it
is a nerve problem, rather than actual infection or other injury to those
digits. Thus - my own personal phantom menace.
While I was there, the Tylenols wore off and the pain returned in full
force. He gave me a couple of Vicodin tabs and in a little while I
was feeling better again. After consulting with my doctor on the
phone, he prescribed some pain killers and I was on my way.
The whole thing is pretty strange to me, since I don't recall ever having
a pain that wasn't due to some injury or illness to the painful
area. Apparently, this is all in my head and has to do with my
In any case, my doctor agreed the next day, 12-10-01,
and prescribed Neurontin,
which is a drug that is used to treat seizures and chronic pain. My
guess, by the name of the drug, is that it's some sort of neurological
inhibitor. In any case, it works. The pain is gone, though it
leaves me pretty light headed and somewhat confused. It's a little
difficult to focus on things. I just hope they're right about there being no infection.
This morning, 12-11-01,
I threw up about an hour after taking them. Then I got so light
headed I had to lay down. Right after that, I passed out for about 5
hours. The doctor wants me to take these things twice a day for a
week, then three a day after that. I hope my body gets used to
them. I'm not looking forward to throwing up and passing out two or
three times a
day! I think I like the Vicodin better.
More of the Phantom Menace at work: My stepmother goes to the
pharmacy to get the prescriptions filled (same one we always go to) and is
told that I have no insurance coverage! Here we go again...
What? Is there an echo in here?!
I call the insurance company, play the "press 1 for this and 2 for
that" game for about 15 minutes, finally connect to a real live
person, talk for awhile, get transferred, talk some more, and they tell me
that, indeed, I'm no longer covered as of December 1st because I was
terminated from my job.
DUH! They've been agreeing to pay for all these treatments and drugs
and hospitals and doctors for months because I've been diagnosed with
CANCER, and now they act like they don't know anything other than a date
on a computer screen that says I was terminated from my job. Where's
the little text box in their database that says it's because I can no
longer work because the CANCER nearly KILLED ME ?!! HELLO ?!!
IS THIS THING ON ??!! HELP !!!
I often wonder why people in important, potentially life changing,
decision making positions have brains when they aren't allowed to use them
I point out the fact that I have a letter from them that I just received
today that states that they've agreed to pay for fees on the items listed
until January, when they'll review again. The letter is dated
December 4th, 4 days AFTER my coverage ceased, according to today's
events!! How does THAT work??!! Get this: I'm told that,
eventually, when they actually GET the bill and compare it to the dates on
their little computer screens, they'll kick it back UNPAID !!! What
a nice surprise THAT would have been, eh?!
I tell them that I think I should have gotten some kind of warning that my
insurance would be terminated unless I ( fill in the blank ).
Yes, yes... hmmm... someone else's department... nothing they can do
about it at their desk... they'll look into that... meanwhile, you're just
not covered... You'll need to make lots of phone calls to other
departments and companies and fill out lots of forms to get this
straightened out, Mr. Cash.... Yessssss... Do you have a fax machine
near your deathbed? Can you get to one in your wheelchair?
Good luck and have a nice day...
So, now I'm a prisoner in Insurance Limbo
Hell. Candy and mom are working hard on
it, making phone calls, moving paperwork and speaking lots of
insurance-ese, which I don't understand. In my
neurologically-drug-inhibited brain, it's just a hodge-podge of sentences
with words like "UNUM", "COBRA",
"disability", "CIGNA", and "provider" all
strung together. All I know is, the whole thing makes me nervous and
today a prescription that should have cost $10 cost $123.00 instead.
To straighten it all out, mom drove ALL the paperwork I have several
hundred miles to where my sister Candy is. It's best measured in
pounds, rather than # of pieces of paper. Candy looked through
everything and found the single, little piece of paper that needed to be
filled out and returned to someone to keep it all straight. I don't
know how I missed it. Well, I guess I do, since I don't understand
it at all. Anyway, it turns out it's all my own fault, and I'm the
one that didn't use my brains. Damn that Phantom Menace!!
Candy says I need to make a payment of several hundred dollars to
straighten it all out, which is good news to me, simply because it means
everything will be fine soon on the insurance thing. WHEW!!
What a ride!
Meanwhile, on Saturday, 12-8-01,
I got a visit from my Aunt Trudy, Uncle Don and cousin Burns. It's
been awhile since I last saw them and it was good to visit with them
again. We chatted and yukked it up for a couple hours and made plans
to visit at Christmas.
My lower extremities have been going steadily down and are almost back to
their regular size, and I can feel sensations in them again finally.
I suspect this has something to do with the new pain I'm experiencing in
them. There's a little scab where my skin must have cracked open at
some point, but I never even felt it at the time. Even better, I can
now reach them again while I'm sitting down by bringing my foot up and
resting it on my knee. The physical therapy is working well.
The force is with me!
If the shoe fits...