Archive for the 'medix' Category

Healthcare Action Required

nullLast week, I received a letter from my retiree benefits provider regarding “Action required to Maintain Health Coverage for One or More of Your Dependents.” The medical plan overseers have suddenly discovered that they need to have me update proof of my dependents eligibility “even though your dependent(s) may have been enrolled in coverage for some time.” To that end, they have hired a “dependent eligibility verification service” who will gather “required documentation.”

The verification service (not the retire benefits folks) will send us a package with detailed instructions and forms to return for the proof required. The letter I received implies a veiled threat that coverage will be discontinued for dependents for whom no proof is provided by some arbitrary deadline.

So, in addition to whatever forms are to be filled out, we are obliged to provide photocopies of our government-issued marriage certificate and the first page of our 2016 Form 1040 income tax return “confirming this dependent is your spouse.” We have no problem providing the former, but the latter, which contains SSNs and our financial numbers, is off limits unless we redact the information which is non-essential to proof that we filed jointly.

We can’t be completely sure, but we believe that this new requirement of proof along with the 30 percent increase in spouse health insurance premiums this year, is fully attributable to the disastrous ACA (a.k.a. Obummercare), which should have had nothing to do with our health coverage. (Grumble!)

Healthcare Status Update

nullIt has been several months since I posted anything about our health status. We have both had issues, mostly minor. The Better Half is just getting over a two-week bout with common cold and sore throat. She is still a little congested and taking some OTC elixir to help with that. She no longer has the sore throat and headache symptoms that have been with her for the past couple of weeks.

Just before the new year, I underwent a routine colonoscopy where five benign polyps were removed. The proctologist that performed the procedure said everything else looked normal and advised me to schedule another routine colonoscopy within five years.

Later this month, I am scheduled for more bladder resection surgery. The urologist was not completely sure that the last small tumor was completely excised, so we will do the fourth or fifth of this procedure in less than a fortnight.

Lastly, and not least, is the discovery by the family doctor that my kidney numbers were low in a routine blood test. I saw a nephrologist yesterday to confirm this and found out that the numbers are indeed in a bad place and may have been caused by several factors; there are a number of OTC pain relievers that can cause kidney problems and the intravenous contrast dye used when I was having CAT scans in the past is a no-no. We will be taking corrective action on these things to see if the kidney numbers start moving in a good direction. I had a blood test today and will repeat the same test in eight weeks.

For all the maladies we have encountered there are several things that all the doctors recommend; lose weight, drink more water, less beer and get more exercise. Starting today, that will be the drill.

Healthcare Status Update

nullWe postponed a few healthcare issues until after our September excursion, so October has had a few routine and some special healthcare appointments. Among the routine, we had our dental and medical periodic check-ups and among the special, we have undergone a couple of procedures. The routine exams went OK, with some minor mods to The Better Half’s medications and both of our dental checkups have shown improvement in some troubled areas that seem to be getting under control.

As for the not-so-routine issues, the urologist excised another very small tumor from my bladder for which the lab report is still impending. There is a possibility that the doctor will have me back in the outpatient procedure to resection a portion of the bladder wall. I will find out next week both the results of the biopsy and the verdict on more bladder surgery.

I would call the above a pain in the ass, but after another in-the-office procedure last Friday, an external thrombosis in my lowest G.I. component wins the pain in the ass award. It’s healing nicely, but still a P.I.A. Prognosis for a complete recovery is good.

We’re hanging in there for the time being and will update with more when we find out the details.

Post Surgery Report

Yesterday, The Better Half and I drove to the ENT Doctor that performed the surgery to have the sutures removed and to get the lab report on the tumor that was removed. The suture removal was a snap since there were only six. It took him under two minutes to get them out. The residual scar is at the left behind the clickable title. There are still some swollen spots which gives it a raised appearance which should diminish and smooth out the skin in time.

As for the biopsy report, the main finding was short and sweet: “periparotid hyalized nodule and intravascular organizing thrombi - negative malignancy.” Quite a mouthful to try and say that, but I love that last part - no carcinoma. There were a bunch of other notations by the lab but after the good part, none of that mattered much.

There are a couple of after effects which are forecast to disappear after some recovery time of unknown duration; one is a numbness in my left cheek and the other related neurological effect is range of motion in my facial muscles on the left side. My crooked smile is even more crooked. But everything works well enough for speech, eating and such.

Between the folks on Fecesbook© and here, the thoughts, wishes and prayers have done the job again.

Surgery Completed, Recovery Initiated

Yesterday was the day I went to the Same Day Surgery Unit for the procedure to relieve the blockage from a salivary gland. Each of the two parotid (pah-roh-tid) glands accounts for less than one-fifth of human saliva produced. In fact, in my case, the duct was almost completely blocked, so I shouldn’t notice much difference when all healed up should they completely remove the gland.

[Animation - click to alternate between description and image]

The Better Half took the image seen in the alternate-action animation above shortly after we arrived home form the ordeal. If you look closely, you can see the initials of the incision Author, Dr. James Osborne. No, he didn’t autograph the work, he used that as a mark to locate the swelling under the skin prior to surgery a.k.a. left parotidectomy with facial nerve dissection.

I actually negotiated the incision the doctor made with him while I was being prepped. I read about the big incision typically made where they split you open from the top of your ear and down in front of the ear, continuing along the mandible for a total of about eight inches long. The doctor would then fold the large flap of skin forward to access the gland and other exposed tissue. Click on the big incision link for the post-op incision. Talk about the Acheson, Topeka and Santa Fe . . .

Anyhow, I’m really glad he could fix me without going to all that trouble. He removed the tumor, tied off the blood vessels that led to it and (I presume) most of the left parotid gland still resides within my left cheek.

They normally prescribe Percoset pain killer for the procedure, but I refused it and today, the day after, I’m comfortable just taking the meds I use for arthritis. I am also taking an antibiotic for a few days until we have our follow up in another week or so.

The procedure left me with some mobility issues in the muscles on the lower left side of the face (I have a really crooked smile now, more than before) but, in time, those should clear up when the nerves resume their previous functional capacity.

Thanks for the wishes, thoughts and prayers. They’re working.

Updates on Healthcare Issues

nullThere are always several things we do in the pursuit of maintaining our good health. Today, I visited the dentist for routine cleaning and exam. The hygienist found one troublesome spot in my gums that she referred to the dentist. His recommendation is that I should consider having a minor dental procedure to attempt to eliminate the “pocket” in question. I’m OK with that and having prior periodontal procedures will probably sign up for the repair. The Better Half also has some similar areas that need attention, so we will schedule those to take place in the near future.

On another front, I am scheduled for some minor out-patient surgery late this month to remove a blockage from a salivary gland in my left cheek. This problem has been with me for a while and the ENT thinks that it should be fixed to eliminate any possibility of it becoming malignant later. More on the status of this later.

The third report is about the MRI that I had last month. The radiologist reported the exam to be normal, but my general practitioner wants a neurologist to weigh in on the issue. As a result, I have an appointment scheduled, but the neurologist is so booked up that I won’t be able to get in until AUGUST. The clinic says they could book me with another neuro, but it would have to be over a hundred and twenty miles round trip. My GP says the second opinion isn’t critical, so I just will have to wait for the guy who is only a 64 mile round trip.

I think Medicare and Obamacare have a lot to do with the difficulty in getting proper and prompt treatment. Government trying to “help” ALWAYS fucks things up.

MRI Procedure Tomorrow

MRII reported some past dizziness and fainting to our general practitioner the last time we were in for a checkup. “Just to be sure,” he ordered an MRI test for me. The procedure will be tomorrow morning.

Clickable image: Siemens MRI 1.5 Tesla that I expect to see in the radiology unit tomorrow morning

I had an MRI way back in 1994 after a serious throat abscess and remember it was an unpleasant experience being sent up a narrow tunnel into a clattering, clanking, claustrophobic contraption which caused me to threaten the technician’s well being should he ever send me up there again.

I am still anxious about the matter, so I did some on-line research and am pleased to learn that the state of the art over the past 22 years has improved. The apparatus depicted above is a far cry from the monstrous “tunnel of doom” that I recall from that previous encounter.

I found some helpful information about MRI scanning from Caltech: How does an MRI work, and why is it so noisy?

An MRI is noisy because its magnetic field is created by running electrical current through a coiled wire—an electromagnet. When the current is switched on, there is an outward force all along the coil. And because the magnetic field is so strong, the force on the coil is very large.

When the current is switched on, the force on the coil goes from zero to huge in just milliseconds, causing the coil to expand slightly, which makes a loud “click.” When the MRI is making an image, the current is switched on and off rapidly. The result is a rapid-fire clicking noise, which is amplified by the enclosed space in which the patient lies.

Read [more] about how MRI works. This is the best simple description I found on MRI and how it works.

« Previous entries