Friday, February 18, 2011

Blood, Sweat, and Health Insurance

Chemo Day was Tuesday once again.  I was now looking at just four chemo's left and getting so close to the end is both exhilarating and a little scary all at the same time.  It's funny how you can get so used to something...even something like chemo...that it becomes such a part of you that you are once again a little unsettled by the change to come.

Numbers, is all about the counts.  It is the first thing everyone wonders about once they enter the chemo ballroom.  "Will I get my chemo today?",  "Are my counts up?", "I think I'm feeling OK.".  There is much that goes through your mind as you wait for the blood tests to reveal your fate that week.  My oncologist wears heels every week that click heavily as she walks into the room.  I always feel my heart beat along with her footsteps.

This day, already two others had heard that their counts were too low.  I knew that my counts had already been low the week before and I had just "made the grade" to be able to get chemo.  I was hoping this week would be OK also.

I stated to get anxious when, once again, the chemo nurse couldn't access blood from my port.  This had happened two weeks ago, but since there was a small return, I could get chemo through my port; although the blood test had to be drawn from my arm.  And I do have lousy veins on my left side.  It is always so difficult for the nurses to find a vein to draw from.  I have had blood drawn from places on my arm that I did not think would be a possible spot.  They are good at their job.

This time, though, there was absolutely no return at all!  And she tried her best!  She flushed it several times and gave me a shot of heparin to see if that would help.  She had me turn to my side and cough...breathe deep...all kinds of tricks.  But there was nothing in the syringe.  This began a long wait on "what would be done".   It was decided that I needed this certain drug that would dissolve the "film" that my body seemed to have produced within the port which was preventing the return of blood (the drug is kinda like roto-rooter of the port).  It seems this happens in "some people"...and I guess I happen to be one of them.  There was about an hour where the office was fighting with the insurance company for the approval for the drug I needed.  When the dust settled, I was told that to get the drug that day would be very costly and our health insurance was fighting it...however, to order it to be delivered later in the week would be OK and not as costly (you's just insane!).   It was also decided that they didn't want to risk giving me chemo through the port even though the flow IN was OK, so the nurse had to try to find a vein in my arm that would be sustainable for the blood test AND the chemo.  Thank goodness...she did!  In the middle of the inside of my forearm, she found...somehow...a vein to do both.  Then I wait for those clicking heels.

Finally, I hear them!  My oncologist sat down and told me my blood counts were low once again but good enough to get the chemo (YEA!).  However, they were low enough that I would need to come in on Friday to get a shot to boost my counts (YUCK!).  And since I had to come in on Friday, I might as well also get the "film-dissolving drug" at the same time.   I was glad for this since they said the drug had to sit for about 1/2 hour to work  (plus the wait that always happens in the chemo room) and being able to get it on Friday, I wouldn't have to add the 1/2 hour plus to my chemo time next Tuesday.   After all the waiting, chemo was hooked up, benedryl dream begun, chemo done, and home again in a daze.  

Today, I went back to have the drug and shot as planned.  The roto-rooter drug worked and now the blood is flowing free once again.  Hopefully, the shot will work and my counts will stay up enough to continue to get chemo next week.  THREE MORE LEFT!

Then...the next turn in the journey...the surgery and reconstruction.  It's been a long time waiting and I am, as I said, both happy and a little anxious.   


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