God Trumps our Health Care 

Remember the good old days when you call the doctor’s office and get a live person who answered your call without going through the Artificial Intelligence Robo sequence?  You could explain the reason for the call and they would ask pertinent questions and you could get an appointment within the same week?  You could even have a house call.  Of course, today we do have Tela-a-visits which are kind of cool.   But I digress.  If I hadn’t lived in that by-gone era I would think you were just smoking some funny stuff.  Unfortunately, those days are gone.  What happens today is a series of frustrations, aggravations and the need to be totally on point at all times.  Not to mention that a degree in medicine would help with a yearly continuing studies course to cover the constant changes in the healthcare system.

Frankly, I am getting at an age where being on point is getting more difficult.  Call it what you will: “rowing with only one oar”, not the sharpest pencil in the box”, or a ”sandwich shy of a picnic”.  Whatever you call it, I have it. Almost 50 years of marriage and it now takes two of us to make one functioning brain.

I am in a season where I feel like my life is a bit out of my control?  While I am working hard to remain in control of certain things; I am quickly feeling like the Titanic about to crash into the iceberg and sink into hysteria.

I know I sound nuts and the medical system is making me a little nuttier than I already am.  Let me explain.

I have been having various medical issues all of which need specialists.  No problem, I have a spreadsheet.  It’s many years spent as a medical secretary.  Don’t laugh.  If you had as many docs as Thad and I do, you’d need one too.

I recently began my day knowing that I would make it a “medical day” and I was okay with that.  It started with an 8:45 am appointment to have a Doppler lower extremity ultrasound for swelling in my left foot and ankle. There I was told that I was flagged by Medicare that this procedure might not be paid for and would I still want to have it?  $2,100.00 and Medicare might not pay any of it? Have they looked at my foot?  I’d be happy to send them a picture but where would I send it and who would review it – some one who previously worked at Toys R Us?  I looked at the lady and then at my foot and said “Yes, I’ll take the Doppler behind door number one for $2,100.00.

When I got home from the ultrasound (by the way, they were very nice) I made lunch to fortify the plethora of phone calls I was about to tackle.  I really wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream but settled for a turkey sandwhich on Ezekial bread.  I was still in control at that time.

The GP had sent me to the gastroenterologists because I have elevated liver enzymes.  The gastroenterologist put me on three months of Prednisone to hopefully lower the liver enzymes.  While it only lowered my liver enzymes incrementally it did serve to constipate, make me sleepless in Oviedo, and eat like an elephant eating its weight in food. However, the Prednisone did make me an “energizer bunny” and got me through helping family members move, Christmas shopping, and decorating for Christmas – all done at Star Trek warp speed.  But once I stopped the prednisone I was reduced to a tortoise clawing its way through mud, with muscle aches and pains as a bonus.   The gastroenterologist said he was out of ideas and referred me to a hepatologist.

So I contact the hepatologist he referred me to and they got right back to me and said as soon as they reviewed my record they’d set up an appointment.  That was 6 weeks ago.  I checked after three weeks and they still hadn’t reviewed the blood work even though it is within the same health care system and we can all see my record in their portal.  I waited another three weeks and called them and they told me my records are indeed in scheduling and forward me to that department.  Great, I think.  Ah, not so fast.  There I get a recording explaining that unless this is an emergency in which I should go to the nearest Emergency Department, there is a 2-3 month wait for appointments.  And only leave a message if it is a dire circumstance.  Dire?  Did I need a liver transplant?  No. But define dire.

I decided to put the hepatologist in my pending file and approach my problem from a different view point.  Since I have been on a statin for 14 years and statins are known to cause increase liver enzymes, I would contact my cardiologist who prescribed it and see about moving me onto a different drug to lower my cholesterol.  Except my old cardiologist had the audacity to retire and this new one isn’t available before May, which is when I was scheduled to see him anyway.    Harumph!  But they did put me in touch with the nurse who said she would take it to his “team” and they’d get back to me in a few days.  So his file goes in the pending folder as well.

Next I reach out to the dermatologist office for my six month checkup.  Now he, along with the doctor I saw the previous year, has moved out of the area.  But it’s a big practice and I figured I could see someone else.  I call and the only option to make an appointment is an automated system where I could tell them if I wanted a male and female doctor and it assigned me a date and time.  The automated service was most cordial and asked if this was not suitable I could ask for another.  I decided I would just take what was offered and side step going through the 20 questions with AI Robot repeating every answer which could take another 20 minutes.  On the positive side, I was able to get the appointment within two weeks by choosing a Nurse Practitioner. No doctor but sometimes the NP’s are better.  At least I got an appointment.

Next on my list was to reach out to our endocrinologist who is going concierge. For those that do not know what that means it is when a doctor or practice decides to limit the number of patients they will see in order to give you better care but will charge you an annual fee for that privilege.  My doctor was going concierge, however, others in her practice are not.  Thad and I decided that for $3,000 a year we would go with the other doctors in the practice only to find out that they are so inundated with patients they cannot take us on.  So I will need to find another practice.  That’s for another day. And yes, into the pending folder.

It is now 5 pm and I have documented every step I have taken because without writing it down I wouldn’t remember it and I certainly wouldn’t be able to explain it all to Thad when he gets home.

But here is my take-away.

  1. Write down everything down on paper.  I use a yellow pad so I can readily see it.  I date everything and ask for the names of the people I have spoken with along with their telephone number or extension. I document the conversation, what the next step is and when it is expected to take place.
  2. The medical system is broken along with so many other systems in our country. It is ineffective, overburdened, and while many in the industry do they utmost best to be courteous and helpful, the system itself is convoluted, run according to insurance policies and not for patient care.  We must remain patient, kind, and work hard to understand the current system and work within it without letting up.  You will need super strength vitamins for this one.
  3. Provide feedback to any and all practitioners as you encounter them. Realize that your feedback is important not only as a complaint but also suggestions to make it better.  Without it, we can never hope for change Talk to office managers, hospital advocates and social workers, and your insurance providers (good luck with Medicare).
  4. If you need to, change practices, doctors. Connect with others physicians that you respect for referrals, along with family and friends.  Check on line for their individual backgrounds and training before making an appointment.

We live in a world that is spinning out of control and if we let it, we will be out of control as well.

So now that I have spewed forth my diatribe – how do we handle it?  I personally find a big bowl of Pasta Bolognese and a glass (or two) of wine followed by chocolate cake helps soothe my stress but unfortunately not my weight.

I recently heard my pastor preach on surrendering control and  I think the Holy Spirit was speaking through him to me.  Here is what he said:

“God may not calm the storms in our lives when we want Him to; but He can calm the storms of our heart.”  How?  By surrendering to God.  Fear may make it difficult to surrender and is the tool of the devil, not God.  But we can fight this fear and the storms by hearing the Lord’s teaching, obeying his teaching and sharing it with others in fellowship.

Psalm 46:10.  “Be still and know that I am God.  We may feel like we have to ramp up our efforts.  But God tells us to be still.  He wants us to know that He is in control and no amount of fretting, worrying, or concern can change anything.  Do we not trust Him?  If so, turn your troubles over to Him.  What you care about, He cares about.  Take it to him in prayer and trust him and believe in Him.  He can handle it.  His Holy Spirit will help us to be still as we await His answer.  “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, trust also in Me – John 14:1”  The Lord is on your side.  Bear patiently and He will provide a way.  I don’t need to be in control for God’s got this.

We can ask Him to comfort us and He will answer us by comforting us even in the storms.  God will give you the peace that surpasses all understanding.  Remember he did so for David after he showed him Goliath, and Jesus after he showed Him the cross.  He will do so for you for He loves you.  And even me!

So I will surrender to God what I cannot control and know that He has a plan for us, plans to not harm us but give us hope and future.  Jeremiah 29:11

And armed with the promises of God, arms of Jesus around my shoulders, and the Holy Spirit calming the storm in my heart, I will live another day in supernatural peace.  My prayers are for you to do the same.

In the meantime, how about some Pasta Bolognese and a glass of wine while the storm passes?

Thank you for reading my post.  If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it.  Feel free to even re-blog – may these words take flight!

I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts.  To order a copy or learn more go to my website at www.lorettaschoen.com

Blessings for Health & Wellness.

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