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Feb 19

Clear PET, Crippling Meds

2-19-15 – I had my PET scan as scheduled, and saw my oncologist yesterday about it.  She said it was all clear, went over the day’s LABS, gave me the regular exam, and said she’d see me in another 4 months, on Thursday, June 18th.  So, still in remission here.

Today, I saw my regular doctor and told her about how the high blood pressure meds she put me on crippled me BAD.  Soon after I started taking them, I started getting aching muscles and some cramping, but I didn’t associate it with the meds.  I’ve had muscle aches and pains and cramps before, so I didn’t pay much attention to it.  Over the next few days though, it got worse.  A LOT worse, until it was unbearable, morning, noon and night, in every muscle of my body.  That’s when I finally put two and two together and guessed it was the new meds doing it, and stopped taking them.  About a day later, I was back to normal.

After that, I borrowed mom’s blood pressure cuff to start checking my supposed high blood pressure and keep a log of it.  About a week later, I bought my own blood pressure cuff to do it, and returned mom’s to her.  My oncologist and my medical-knowledgeable family members all said when looking at the log that it’s a little on the high side, but nothing they’d be worried about.  My oncologist in particular said it’s what my BP has looked like throughout my medical history of going on 14 years dealing with my cancer.  In all that time, NOBODY, not ONE doctor, has been worried about my BP being too high.

When I related that to my regular doctor today, she said they probably just weren’t worried about my BP because they were concentrating on my cancer instead.  Frankly, that makes NO SENSE to me.  Surely, they would have dealt with it if it were a concern, and it’s not like they were taking my BP hundreds of times over the course of my visits for no reason.

It was obvious though that she wasn’t interested in anything I or my oncologists over the years have had to say about it, and was more than willing to argue that I have high blood pressure and need to be on medication for it, just not the meds she prescribed first.  So, she’ll try a different one, and I guess we’ll see if that one makes me go blind or something.

She also said I need to watch my sugar intake.  Not that it’s high or a concern, mind you, but compared to the LABS she got after having me fast, compared with the LABS I got yesterday, she sees that I should chill on the sweets.  Ummm… Okay…

Tell you what else.  I hate the office procedures there too.  Just the way they have to have me recite my whole name, birth date, address, phone number every time I go there scrapes a nerve with me.  Okay, name and birthdate is common, but why all the rest?  If you really need me to ID that I’m REALLY who I say I am, just ask for my damn license or something!  No wonder my blood pressure is high by the time they get me into the exam room!

She asked how the Spiriva is doing, and I had to report that I’m REALLY liking the way it and the Albuterol are making my breathing SO MUCH easier.  BUT, I told her, if it’s going to keep costing me $300 per month, that’s not going to happen either.  We then had a chat about my prescription coverage, tiers, percentages and other insurance-ese medi-gobble-de-gook, and she suggested I get a copy of the formulary to her, so she can see if she can find suitable meds that won’t cost me an arm and a leg.

I emailed it to her after I got home.

Of course, that was no easy thing either.  First, I go to my Humana Prescription coverage page and log in.  Then I search and search and search and search some more, looking for the formulary.  Of course, there’s no search feature, so I try “Help”.  Nope, nothing there to help me find it.  How about Frequently Asked Questions?  Nope, nothing there either.  Okay, Contact Us!  More directions to look here and there – still no help.

Eventually, it’s phone number time, and I make the call.  I spend the next 10 minutes trying to navigate my way through a bunch of recordings, since none of the options have ANYTHING to do with how the HELL I can find the formulary.  I finally manage to get to an actual human being, and within 30 seconds, there’s a bunch of static on the line, and I get disconnected.  AAAARRGGGHHHH!!!!!!

I call back, and again wade through 10 minutes of mostly useless “informative” recordings, and finally get to another human being.  Completely exasperated by then, I ask her if she can possibly call me back if we get disconnected, and tell her why, since it just happened.  She says she can, and that she has my number.

I explain to her what I need, which is a link to the formulary on the website, and she says she can send it to me in the mail.  I ask how long that will take, and she tells me 14 days.  I ask if there’s any way I can get it sooner, and she tells me that a web specialist can help me get it on the web site, which is what I asked for in the first place.

She’ll just need to transfer me to that department.  At the very thought, I get anxious about the call getting dropped again (today isn’t the first time calls have dropped while I’m on the phone with Humana, by the way).  She assures me that she’ll make sure I’m connected before she’s done, and will call me back if it goes haywire.

A minute later, and I’m on the phone with a web specialist.  I explain the situation, and she guides me through the web site, click here, click there, click on the dropdown list, now there….  Oh, wait…  Ummm…  I just realized something… Go back to the beginning and click here instead.  Now go down to there and click that.  Okay, now click… etc., etc., etc.

Eventually, I get the formulary, thank the specialist, and hang up.  Then I copy it to my computer and email it to my doctor.

A few minutes later, I get an email from a company that watches my doctor’s email and weeds out spam.  It says that I have to verify that I’m a real person, and to do that I have to click on a link in the email.  I do, and it takes me to a web page that says it can’t find the web page.  AAAARRRGGGHHH!!!!

I track down the company that sent the email, find an email address for them, and send them an email with the email they sent me attached, saying that their website link doesn’t work, and what do we do NOW to get my email with the formulary list to my doctor, at her request.

A few minutes later, I get an automated response email from their company saying that they don’t actually read or deal with emails from that address until they have a staff meeting, but if I need assistance sooner, I can send it to one of two other email addresses they have.

I send it to both.

A few minutes later, I get another email from them, saying that they passed my email on to my doctor, and I should follow up to make sure she got it.

I would, but NOBODY IN HER OFFICE ACTUALLY ANSWERS THE PHONE WHEN YOU CALL!!!!

It’s always a recording with a menu.  And if you drill down to an operator, it’s someone who doesn’t seem to be able to actually connect you or answer your questions or anything else – all they can do is transfer you back into the system, where you can leave a message, but if you’re lucky and very specific, they can transfer you to the phone mail of a specific person or department, and THEN, if you leave a good message, you may actually hear back from them later in the day, or tomorrow maybe, or …  you know… whenever.

Did I mention that I hate that office?  Good.  Because I do.

I mentioned the phone thing to the lady I checked in with today too.  She reminded me that I have a $50 payment to make for the last two visits, after Medicare.  I said, “Oh, yeah…  I tried to call and pay that by phone, but nobody here answers the phone, so I couldn’t do it.”  It was the truth.  As soon as it came in the mail, I tried to call in and pay by phone, but it was a no-go.  Kinda makes you wonder why they even put the phone number and a “pay by phone” message on the bill, since you can’t actually do that.  She just screwed up her face and shrugged a little like, “do I look like I care?”

Speaking of things you can’t do, when I went to try to figure out my doctor’s email address, I pulled out the handy-dandy appointment card I got today that says my next appointment is Thursday, 3-19-15.  On the other side of the card is stuff like the name of the place, a nice logo, phone and fax numbers, and the website, where I figure I can go to find her email address.

Unfortunately, when you go to that website address, it just says, “This web site is no longer in service. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please contact your physician’s office for more information.”  Cool, huh?

Did I mention that I hate this office?  Good.  Because I do.

Anyway, I had a little bit of a milestone a couple of days ago, on the 17th.  3 years on that day since I quit smoking.  I actually had my last cigarette the night before, but I count the 17th as my first day as a non-smoker, so it’s an anniversary of sorts for me.
BuckSmoke3YearsAnd that, my friends, is pretty much the whole update of what’s happening with my medical junk for the moment.  I’ll be back again if and when there’s anything new!  :)