Sunday, February 6, 2011

Health Services

Have I mentioned there are excavators doing work on our street?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but if there is a department entitled "Employee Health Services", wouldn't you think that the jobs of the lucky employees working there would include serving others?  The word "service" can be so deceiving.  And while I'm on the subject of health services, let me just ask if it takes anyone else's ONCOLOGIST a week to return a phone call.  Am I currently in treatment? No.  Am I currently in remission?  No.

Hmm.  Let me ponder this one for a bit.  I am okay with not being priority A #1 patient.  If you are not concerned about me and my cancer, grrreat!  I can get on board with that (at least with the help of my qualified therapist).  But what I don't understand is how a doctor's attitude toward patient care changes completely the minute said patient is not currently undergoing any medical procedures.  Oh, wait a minute, now...  I just had a scan!  So that doesn't really follow that logic either.  Hmm.  Back to square one.

I'll back up a bit for those of you feeling some confusion at this juncture.  Last Wednesday, I spent the day in the ER, was scanned for "routine lymphoma" as well as to look for a pulmonary embollism.  Luckily, the preliminary results of the CT scan were "favorable" (as noted by my radiation oncologist - he who actually returns phone calls with results) and no new growth or clot was detected.

I explained in the previous post that I had been feeling shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat and dizzy the past few weeks.  These symptoms worsened in the days just before the scan and did not go away as soon as the results were received.  I know it's connected to anxiety but not caused by anxiety.

After seeing my primary care doctor on Friday morning, we determined that 2% of people taking one of my meds (which, I might add, I had taken years ago with no problems) can experience these side effects.  Did you know that only 2% of NHL is Primary Mediastinal Diffuse Large B Cell?  If I were Frank from 30 Rock, my hat would say TOP 2%.

Dang it.  So I stopped taking that drug pronto and am now on a strict regimen of multi-vitamins (yummy gummies), caltrate (w/ extra vitamin D for my D-ficiency) and as of this week, aloe juice (I'll get to that in a future post - gag me with a spoon).  I am still having some shortness of breath, but it's definitely improved over the past week.

Today, I was supposed to see my employer's doctor.  Just a check-in to see what my current medical status is (and if I am ready to return to work).  I had asked my PCP to write a letter updating my employer (oh, the mystery), which she did and faxed yesterday.  Of course the employer's HEALTH SERVICES department had no record of this letter (I got a strange deja vu feeling while dealing with this business this morning...).  I spent an hour waiting for the doctor's office to re-fax the original letter because I, the employee, cannot be served by the employer's doctor until they have a letter from my personal doctor. AAAAAAAAAAH.  I left for my next appointment (thank heavens therapy was well timed) and had to reschedule the Employee Health Services examination for next week.

After therapy, I stormed my oncologist's office for my scan report.  Turns out Doc was given 5 messages ('doc'umented) and the ladies gave him an earful for his failure to respond to any of them.  I sat and had a chat with my nurse practitioner and we discussed the report and bloodwork.  The bloodwork came back 99% normal (my phosporous levels are low - go figure) and the scan, as I've said before, had favorable results.  The mass is smaller (than the previous CT from July 2010? this is what's written as the compared image in the report) and with less attenuation (which means it's weakened -> less dense).


(finishing this post multiple days later)
I still haven't spoken with the doctor about this, or anything else for that matter, so I have some unanswered questions.  Tomorrow I return to Employee Health Services in an attempt to see the doctor again.

I don't want to seem ungrateful for my job or for my outstanding benefits.  I am very appreciative for all of the non-issues in my life, even though they don't always seem to outnumber the frustrations and disappointments.  I simply want to be treated like a patient/employee/human being who is more than an identification number or a statistic.  Furthermore, I want the people who are in charge of my benefits to have the sense and decency to treat me this way.  I know this is asking a LOT, especially when it's more common to speak to someone (representing a school district) who addresses a group of people as yous.  But I really do believe we can do better.  If we can't treat our employees with more respect, what honest expectations can we have for our students?

Upcoming posts include such topics as:  Birthday Bonanza, Waiting for Scans, and Living With a Compromised Immune System (and a 3 year old).



  1. Argh, how frustrating.

    I wish I could wave a magic (Disney?) wand & allow healthcare providers to reduce their overly-crammed schedules, eliminate decision making based on potential litigation, and make patient care the priority instead of insurance-provider negotiations.

    Can't we get someone working on this??? Oprah, maybe?

  2. Time for some Lemon Bar Relief? Your mother lode is on the verge of shipping.