Nov 28

Thumbs Up!

11-27-2013 – So, it turns out I’ve been a bit remiss about a timely update (again).  I actually had my latest visit to Karmanos a little over two weeks ago, and have been meaning to blog an update ever since, but I’m just getting to it tonight.

I’m gonna blame… um… my thumb.  Yeah, that’ll be the excuse this time!  LOL!

Seriously though, my thumb has been messed up, making it difficult to type, so I haven’t been doing nearly as much of that lately.  Here’s what happened…  About two months ago, I was working on a wood project out on the front porch, when I split the tip of my thumbnail.  At that point, I should have gone in the house and used nail clippers and a file to take it down.  But no, I decided to just be a manly man and tear it off in both directions.  In doing so, it tore out a little of the meat on both sides of my thumbnail.  Yeah, it bled, and yeah, it hurt, but I’m a MAN DAMMIT, and I can TAKE IT!!!  LOL!

I knew from previous times I’d done something like that that it would heal up relatively quickly, so I wasn’t terribly concerned about it.  I cleaned it every day with alcohol and peroxide and kept a fresh band-aid on it to keep the dirt out of it, and carried on with life.  A couple weeks after it happened, I went to a regularly scheduled Karmanos visit, then did a blog post on it, the most recent up till now, and thought little more about it.

But it didn’t get better.  It got worse.  A lot worse.  So when I went to my most recent Karmanos visit, I had the doctors look at it, and they said, “yeah, that’s infected.  You definitely need to see a doctor about that!”  They recommended that I see a podiatrist because it appeared to be an ingrown nail caused by the injury I’d done to it in ripping off the split nail and ripping out part of the meat of my thumb with it.  They reasoned that podiatrists deal with ingrown nails all the time, and would be able to handle it.

The rest of the Karmanos visit went pretty much like all the previous ones, so I won’t go into the details.  Drive to Detroit, waiting room, blood draw, patient room, nurse, prelim doctor checkup, head doctor checkup, get another month supply of drugs, drive back home, stopping along the way to eat.  I had a craving for sushi, so we stopped at the same Chinese buffet as the last time.

Anyway, the next day, Tuesday, I called a couple of podiatrists, who said very matter of factly that thumbs are nothing at all like toes, and that they only work on feet and toes.  One of them suggested I try Quick Care instead, so that’s what I did.  I called them up and scheduled an appointment for the next day, Wednesday.

Mom and I took the trip to town and we got to Quick Care a little early.  Even so, they got me in quick and ahead of my scheduled time.  A nurse took some basic information about why I was there, and then the doctor came in, and I showed him this:

Thumb_0177Thumb_0179Thumb_0178Thumb_0180I relayed to him that I’d been cleaning it daily with alcohol and soaking it in peroxide and keeping it bandaged, and he said that I should stop the peroxide and the bandages unless they’re REAL loose.  He said to soak it instead in Epsom Salts solution.  He also prescribed 3 antibiotics in the form of a pill, a capsule and a cream to apply, all three to be done twice per day.  He said to get on that, and then come back in a week to see how it’s working out.

Off I went, got the prescriptions, and started taking them as prescribed, which was to last 10 days.  The capsules are Cephalexin, and every time I open the pill canister they came in, there’s a strong smell of farts, which is a bit disconcerting.  For that reason, I’ve taken to holding my breath when it’s time to open the bottle and take them.  I take two of them twice a day.

So, a week went by, and the situation with my thumb markedly improved by the time I went back to Quick Care for the progress assessment.  The doc agreed, but decided that I really should stay on the antibiotics a bit longer, and renewed the pills and capsules prescriptions, and said to come back in another week for another progress assessment.

So, I got the prescriptions, kept taking the pills, putting on the cream and soaking in Epsom Salt, and it got a lot better.  Not quite all the way healed yet, but almost.  And since I can see for myself that it’s nearly all healed, and the first visit was $95, and the follow up was $85, and the prescriptions so far totaled up to something like $80, and Medicaid won’t pay a dime of it, so it’s all cash out of pocket, and I’m on a fixed income here, I decided to cancel the last appointment, which would have been today.

I also got on the healthcare.gov web site to try to set up a health care plan that’s actually worth a spit, now that I read that the web site is working much better.  Casey called them a week or two ago, and said she had a really pleasant and easy conversation with a very helpful person who took her information and will be sending her a packet of information on the various plans she can sign up to, and that it was all a very positive experience.  She said that the woman on the phone gave her some idea of what she’d have to pay per month to cover her whole family, and it was very reasonable and affordable even on her limited income, which makes sense considering it’s called the AFFORDABLE care act.

So, anyway, I went on the web site, made an account, logged in, answered some basic questions, and it was really easy.  Just as I thought I was about to find out what plans I could actually sign up for, I got stopped though.  I clicked a button to tell me what was up, and a PDF document with a LOT of information popped up, but the gist of it was that they required me to show proof in the form of a release document that I was no longer in prison.

Well, that was pretty confusing, since I’ve never been to prison, so I called a help line, and a very nice woman listened to what I had to say, took some information, and escalated it to a level above her.  She said I’d get a call in between 2 to 5 business days from someone, and they’d be able to help me get through the roadblock and back on the way to affordable health care.

That was yesterday, so I’ll let you all know how it goes when I hear back from them.  So far though, I’m feeling very encouraged about it.  I really need some relief from the costs of all this medical stuff.  I need it to actually BE affordable!

With Medicaid, my spend down amount per month is so high, that it’s just crazy, and basically nothing gets paid for unless I exceed something like $1400 per month in medical expenses.  Then, I owe the $1400, and they pay for whatever is incurred beyond that.  Well, that’s great for the big ticket stuff, like chemo and hospital stays and all that jazz that I occasionally go through, but I still owe the $1400 per month, which I can’t afford, so it’s piling up.  Just do the math: $1400 per month times 12 months is $16,800.  I only bring in $22,440 per year.  My rent alone is $7200 per year, so my budget is already busted, and I haven’t even bought a can of cat food yet!

I budget another $100 in gas to get back and forth each month also, which the folks at Karmanos have forever said I can get reimbursed, but it’s never happened, and we’ve filled out all the paperwork multiple times and talked till we’re blue in the face on the phone, and it’s just a bunch of BS.

But at least most of it just gets billed and ends up in the hands of collection agencies, who’ll take any amount I send them, and damn the fact that the debt itself just continues to climb and that there’s no way I’ll ever be able to pay it off.  But for day to day med stuff like this thumb business, I’m just screwed because I have no choice but to open up my wallet to get it done.

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to a truly AFFORDABLE health care plan that actually covers my medical expenses in a reasonable way, and I’ll gladly pay an AFFORDABLE amount every month to have it.

So there ya go.  This month’s update!  Thumbs up, folks!  It WILL get better!

I’ll be back with another update when I hear back from the folks at healthcare.gov on how to get out of the health care prison I’m in!!  :)

Oh yes, and a happy Thanksgiving (tomorrow) to you all!