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Coming Full Circle Again

Hi guys.  Should I even bother to begin my blog post tonight with yet another apology for failing to honor my commitment to blog every day of my fortieth year?  (No?  I didn’t think so, either.)  It’s now or never, as they say.  Tonight is the last night of my fortieth year, and tomorrow brings with it “the big 4-0” and another new year of life and love and adventures.  Thanks for sharing in mine over the last year.  It’s because of your prayers and love and pep-talks and hugs and endless support that I made it through.

I came full circle today.  As you know, my birthday last year brought with it the beginning of a scary and uncertain adventure (refresher course available here).  I went back to see my amazing doctor today for my annual exam.  I wasn’t expecting to feel overwhelming nervousness and fear going in to today.  After all, it’s just my annual exam.  No big deal.  The “H” word probably won’t even be mentioned, and I’d have bet a fortune that the “C” word wouldn’t even creep in to our conversation.  All day yesterday, however, the fear took my otherwise calm and happy demeanor and replaced it with worry and sadness.  I think I was scared for multiple reasons.  With so much time between appointments, sometimes it’s easy to forget that I am sick.  Life goes on.  There’s (always) work to be done.  Days turn to weeks and moving forward becomes effortless and normal as the events and business and busy-ness of the days capture my time and energy.  But now, here we are again.   Time to face the unknown.  Time to confess weight gain.  Time to be poked and prodded and to have my entire body and soul bared.  (I believe they call this “reality,” don’t you?)  So much pre-appointment hesitation (almost) for nothing.  The news was good.  Very good.  Everything looks and feels great.  Cervix is great.  Uterus feels good.  No breast lumps.  I’d already scheduled a mammogram, which my doctor promised me wouldn’t be as uncomfortable as I’d dreaded.  She wants to do D&C #3 right now, and Elaine from Billing will soon be calling to get the ball rolling.  As is usually the case with my doctor, we talk and laugh more than we poke and prod, and so it was a good appointment, one from which I should have emerged thrilled and delighted.  Unfortunately that was not the case.

You may recall that last year, I encountered significant difficulty getting my first surgery scheduled (details here).  That was a horrible experience.  I remember feeling like someone else’s greed and a bad economy could very well thwart me from getting a surgical procedure that could diagnose my symptoms, allow me to move forward, and ultimately, save my life.  I wasn’t very kind to poor Elaine, who did relent and schedule my surgery.  But here I am again, very early in the year and with a (very, very) unpaid deductible.  In an effort to prevent another emotional call with Elaine, I explained to my doctor what had happened and (attempted to) enlist her help in assuring that it doesn’t happen again.  She did explain that the clinic’s policy is to secure the entire (or remaining, if a portion had already been met) deductoble before scheduling any surgical procedure.  She said that patients have skipped out on payments in the past, necessitating this policy so as to ensure that the medical staff is compensated for their work.  I love my doctor and would never dream of taking anything from her, but this little policy of theirs is a matter of exceptional distaste for me.  Someone else’s bottom line is more important than my wellness.  The medical industry is in no way hurting for money, and I felt confident that the number of patients who had failed to pay for former procedures couldn’t have been very high.  I have worked every.single.day of my life since college.  I worked full-time when I first started out.  I worked full-time in graduate school.  I paid my insurance premiums and continue to faithfully pay them to this day.  To deny or delay me the treatment I need to move forward with (and ultimately, SAVE) my life is just wrong to me.  Our deductible is sky high, and we don’t typically have this kind of money just laying around collecting dust.  It screams “shamefully and heartbreakingly wrong” to me when someone who hasn’t contributed a day in his or her life can get the life-saving treatments he or she needs and someone like me cannot.  I hate (I wish I could double-underline that) the thought of making this blog in any way political, but this fact hit me as my appointment ended and stayed with me as my afternoon and evening continued.  It put a dark damper over what should have been a wonderful afternoon.  I love my doctor and I want her to think highly of me.  I felt so embarrassed bringing this subject to her attention, but the only way she can give me the best care is if she knows everything.  She was wonderful, as always, and promised to work with us in order to get my procedure scheduled.  I am grateful for her kindness, but dammit, the entire situation is just infuriating to me.  Either Elaine will give us a break or we’ll find the money.  But what if we couldn’t pay it?  The underlying thought: why should someone who has worked every day of her professional life and who has paid for insurance and who is responsible be left behind in the quest for the healthcare she needs to save her life?  Why should any hard-working family be forced to live in a state of delay and worry, wondering both if their loved one will be OK and how to pay for the medically-necessary procedures to save the life of the one they love?  I have a very good (and very expensive) insurance policy.  I am a long-time patient with this clinic, with a documented history of fulfilling all of my medical obligations.  Why is this happening to me?   Again, it isn’t my intention to politicize this blog or to offend anyone.  But this has been on my mind all day and I needed to get it out.  Keep your fingers crossed for me that it all goes well with Elaine and that we won’t have “Annual Shouting Match About Jen’s D&C, Volume 2.”  I read somewhere that only in America is a middle-class person terrified of getting sick.  Sad, but look at me.  Art so clearly imitates life.

On a happier topic, I’ve had two wonderful pre-birthday celebrations and have received flowers and cards and well wishes from so many of you.  THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH and know that I love you for thinking of me and remembering my special day.  Thanks again to the MANY people who sent love and warm thoughts and supportive hugs in advance of today’s appointment.  Most of you have been with me from the start of this scary journey, and I love you for it so, incredibly much.  How do you repay that kind of kindness?  “Thank you” seems terribly lacking in conveying what I want to say to all of you.  Quick, someone invent a word that means, “super-duper, incredibly powerful, tremendously-endously grateful!”

Have a good evening, everyone.  Try not to be too mad at me if you disagree with me.  Remember, there’s a lot goin’ on inside my spirit right now.

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