May 29th, 2018
Continuing the story of what halted my travel to Alaska with the following disclaimer-lite. Be aware that the current theme I am using places the whole post and not just a summary. I plan on going into some detail that not only is very personal but also possibly graphic in nature. If you feel you do not want to read this for it may offend you or may reveal too much about me, please move on. I intend to write about more travel exploits soon to catch up from the previous as well as new ones. Thanks for understanding.
(Monday, March 26th, 2018)
A bit of a recap. I informed only one person of my plan to return home. At this point, I changed my mind that I did not have a boil like I originally thought and suspected it might be a cyst. I did investigate it and possible causes, or what else it might be. Panic set in, but the pain was so great, I started making stories in my head of what possibly could be going on.
(Tuesday, March 27th, 2018)
I headed home after taking some over the counter pain meds, sending updates to my friend with GPS locations on a regular basis so they knew how close I was, and I did not crash at any point because of the pain. I informed them of the ticket as well, only because it was a delay in travel and eventual return time. There was an extra hour based on the time I was planning on being back so additional delays should be mentioned. At some point, I was getting feverish, but it passed.
I intentionally did not tell my sister because I did not want her to freak out. She was actually in my house earlier in the day taking vegetables I left and would be rotten by the time I got back. Realizing I would be back later that day, I probably could have used them.
When I got home, I let Lily out and placed a cold compress in the area in question. I also got undressed and went commando in sweats, so nothing was constrictive, based on the location. I keep many pillows on my bed, so I was able to elevate and separate my legs easier than when I was in a hotel with limited options. I spent the night in an awkward position, but more comfortable than the previous night. I let Lily out one last time and switched to a warm compress, drank some mead, and took more pain meds, falling asleep shortly after.
(Wednesday, March 28th, 2018)
After a long night of pain, as the long trip with pressure on the area in question did not help and possibly made it worse, Lily woke me because she wanted to eat. It was still too early for me to do anything about a doctor, and the sun had not even peaked a bit. I slowly shifted out of bed and shuffled through my house to get her something to eat. After feeding her and sitting with my bad side extended, I took her out and let her run in the yard again. She wanted to run, and I was in no condition, so she did her thing while I winced in pain. I brought her back in and tried to do something while I was still upright.
I realized the car was still packed and that needed to change if I planned on going anywhere, so I took as much out as possible without bending or straining in ways that would hurt more. As always, when removing items from the car, Lily wanted to get in as close as possible to sniff-lick it all. I was able to get enough of the items that were in the car out and out of the way that I would be able to transport myself when needed. I did leave the crate in the seat, as it was enough out of the way that I could work around it if needed.
I neglected to mention what happened when I was doing research on this thing that was growing in me. I say “thing” because I was thinking it could possibly be somewhere between an Alien or Thing from Another World. It didn’t move, but it felt like there was something growing in me the way it didn’t exist one day, then it was small at one moment, and then half the size of a golf ball and growing. My research gave me five possibilities. It could have been a boil, but I felt there were two if that was the case. It could have been cysts. There was the possibility of a hernia because I might have strained when taking some of my luggage up the stairs at one point. An STD was possible but highly unlikely. And then there was the one that I was dreading. It could have been cancer. Almost everyone in my family had it and I was expecting to get it at some point. This would possibly include lymphoma based on the location. With my imagination and a general sense of dread and anxiety, I was living a horror story with every second that this did not get professionally diagnosed. I also recently quit my job and did not have insurance, let alone the supplemental cancer insurance I paid for, expecting to get cancer one day. My head was not in the best place that last day.
After the sun came out, I went to call my doctor but could not find her info on my phone. I looked her up based on a past bill on my credit card and then a general website for her office. I was relieved when I saw she specialized in abscess draining. Here’s exactly what it says on the website under 18 Procedures they perform: Abscess Or Cyst Drainage Or Aspiration. Being at the top of the list, it was easy to find, although the list is alphabetical, it made me feel better about going there. So, I got the number and called and was told I could get in at 3 p.m. It seemed like a long time to wait when I was in as much pain as I was, but it was that day and not a week later as I have seen happen with other doctors, so I had no complaints. Still sitting in my chair with one leg outstretched in the only position I was comfortable when not laying down, I started to plan the rest of my day. Then I got a call from the doctor’s office saying there was an opening at noon and asked if I wanted it. Of course, I did and took it. I don’t recall the hours in between but know part of it was getting Lily situated in her crate before I left.
I arrived at the doctor’s office early, as instructed, because I needed to fill out new paperwork due to my insurance situation changing. They told me the new price, and I was fine with it.
I’m going to mention that this ordeal I went through (I specifically chose the word “ordeal” because that is what it became) made me question the medical billing situation in America more than I ever planned to. I can go into greater detail about this, and might, but I had to put this aside in here because it is something that I am literally still dealing with at this very moment. As soon as I am finished with this post, I need to make a call about payment. I’m still debating if I will mention those gory details.
I mentioned the price because one of the things I did not know and was causing a great deal of anxiety was the cost of all of this. I have had insurance for a long time and never considered how much things would cost. I know any medical issue is expensive because I have seen how much my bills were in the past and how much was covered by insurance. With no insurance, how would I deal with that expense? I planned on going back on the road, but if I was going to be into it in the tens of thousands of dollars, I was not going anywhere anytime soon. So, when the questionnaire I filled out as part of the intake at the doctor’s office asked if I was currently feeling anxious, I checked that box. I also didn’t know what I had and there was the possibility that it could have been cancer. The other consideration I did not mention yet was the location and the facts that, A) I’m pretty modest when it comes to personal displays of parts of my body to anybody and this latest issue was possibly the worst-case scenario, and B) this was a female doctor. Again, I don’t show my parts to just anyone, that includes when I date. It takes a while for me to get comfortable enough to get to that point. So there I was waiting to drop my pants in front of a doctor (uncomfortable) and a female doctor at that (way more uncomfortable). At this point, the pain wasn’t the worst thing happening.
I was eventually called back to the office and I dealt with the nurse. She was polite and understood my concerns. She also told me my blood pressure and pulse. It was really bad. I did not make note of the exact numbers, as I planned on, but the next 48 hours had so much going on, that those three numbers were the least of my concerns. The meaning behind them was important and that I recalled. They were both elevated but not the worst for that day. I was asked if I had a fever and said that I was fine at that time but did have one the day before. She left and a few minutes later my doctor came in. We discussed the issue at hand and she called in a third party to make sure nothing untoward happened. She had me drop my pants and I pulled my underwear aside, so she could get a look. I wore loose underwear to make this easier and not have to strip completely. Her reaction was not a good one. She was put off by how bad it looked, and she felt the area and it was painful and I winced several times.
I asked about how bad it would be for her to drain it and she said, “we don’t do that here.” I had a moment pass mentally where I recalled it saying it on the website that they did, but that passed quickly to the next part where she mentioned she knew a surgeon that could do it. She specifically mentioned it needed surgery and I started to freak again. She said this person she knew was just getting his practice started. He had been a surgeon for some time, but because his practice was new, and I was self-pay, he would be about a quarter of what it would normally cost. Again, I started getting stressed as I did not know what a quarter of a regular price would be, and my mind was hitting $10,000 to $20,000. To start! She said she would take care of getting me in because I would need a referral and she would try to get me in today because it was bad. When a doctor says it is bad, you know you are in trouble. Pain and desperation make one do just about anything to relieve oneself from those conditions, so I eagerly agreed.
Note, I still did not know what I had.
While I was there, I asked if I could get a letter for needing an emotional support animal, and she readily agreed because I was definitely an anxious person in the past, and she was seeing me turned up to 11. She said she might not have it for me that day, but she would get it for me.
I went to pay my bill and it was only twice the co-pay when I had insurance. Once I paid, I was done with that bill. No deductible or monthly premiums to deal with. Paid and done. See where I’m going with that?
While waiting to pay, the front desk person asked about getting me an appointment with the surgeon and started to give me their info when I received a call from the surgeon’s office. They told me they had a 3 p.m. appointment (lucky I was able to get in earlier for the doctor) and gave me the location. I asked about the price because I was stressed over that and they told me (normally, I would not mention a number, but in this situation, it really doesn’t work without it) 166. I asked $166 thousand because it was surgery and those are expensive, and I have no idea what I’m getting into. They laughed and said, “No, $166.” I was relieved and fine with that.
I limped my way back to my car and stopped at a grocery store to pick up food while I still could. This gave me just enough time to get to the surgeon for the next step.
I will tell that part tomorrow.