There was a post that showed up in my news feed this week from http://www.themighty.com. Read The Secrets of People with Chronic Illness here
I can’t seem to shake some of the thoughts from my head.
As I write, school ended for the summer 9 days ago. In those 9 days we have seen 4 doctors between us. There are 9 more SCHEDULED in the month of July, including a biopsy for Meghan on the 22nd.
And, while I did take some time over the weekend to reconnect with some dear friends, and I have accomplished a few mundane tasks like routine car maintenance, the vast majority of every moment of those 9 days has been spent justifying my existence.
Fortunately, I have enrolled Meghan in a theater camp where she is from 10-4, spending some time with kids her age. Of course, the wear and tear on her body, even after only 3 days is evident. She struggles with pain so badly. On her feet, determined to fit in. Determined for me not to say too much. Sometimes I have to let her go. I have to let her try. I have to let her decide. But, it hurts. It hurts her, and it destroys me to watch her battle with her body. I watch her put that game face on in the AM, and not take it off until after swim practice follows camp. No one will ever tell me she is anything but driven. But, no one would ever know to watch her…
Usually by this point in the summer my work bag is unpacked, washed and tucked away. Often my lesson plans for September are mostly framed out. I am yet to take the list I frantically formed as I packed my room the last day of school out of the bag.
Instead, the yellow legal pad sits near my computer. I write, and cross out, and rewrite, as I call, obtain records, set appointments, and clarify tests required by various doctors. I rearrange schedules to allow for coverage for Meghan as I trek to my own appointments at the most inconvenient times.
On the 18th I will meet a new plastic surgeon, as the old one no longer accepts our insurance. I never imagined needing a new plastic surgeon only 4and 1/2 years post op from the mastectomy, but it seems I do. I’ll wait until I meet him to elaborate on that… Sometimes, although not often, I do feel like this…
I can often count on 4 hours minimum round trip for the 10 mile trek. Never mind the cost. We just don’t even add it up. Instead, we thank God for our jobs and the insurance we do have.
I received a phone call yesterday from a lab that was running insurance information to obtain testing for Meghan requested by one of her doctors. Except it’s not covered at all. $16,000 they said. I, who denies my child nothing politely said, “we’ll find another way”. And we will. Because that is just insane.
I’ve sent 3 emails to the office manager of the office doing her procedure on the 22nd. I simply want to know what date to leave free for the follow-up. I know there will be one, and I want to plan a few summer adventures in the time that my fish will have to be out of water. I also asked for the pathology from her December procedure. For about the 8th time. Just keep adding checks and dates to the list.
When things get really bad, like with the bills I’m fighting in collections, they get a folder of their own. The SUPER troubling places, like the mail-order pharmacy, have a notebook.
We do our best to stay upbeat. We count our blessings regularly. We know it could be worse. We know the anguish others suffer far surpasses our daily struggles. But, no matter how much we focus on a positive attitude, and believe me we do, it does not decrease the pain, both physical and emotional. The struggle is real. Whether we like to admit it or not.
I reached out to our genetecist this week. Darling man said he would always help, and didn’t want us to waste a trip on him. I told him I was having trouble with my voice. I’ve been getting very hoarse for 8 weeks or so. No infection. Three allergy meds on board. But, I do have Cowden’s Syndrome, that tumor growing thing I sometimes forget belongs to me too. And I have a history in the neck. A 3.5 pound lipoma in 1988, and multinodular goiter on the thyroid in 1993. Both removed. Both benign. But…
He referred me to a head and neck surgeon. I finally mustered up the courage to block out at least one more day of summer, and call for an appointment. I was met with the inquisition on the phone. I never got past the receptionist.
“This doctor is a head and neck SURGEON.”
“Yes, I know he’s a surgeon, I was referred for consulation.”
“Well, he doesn’t just SEE people, you need a diagnosis and a referring doctor.”
“I have both. C-O-W-D-E-N Syndrome. A mutation on the PTEN gene that causes benign and malignant tumor growth. I was referred by my genetecist, also a doctor at your hospital.”
“Well, what tests do you have? He will want a report, a CD, something…”
Sigh. I just don’t have the fight in me today. “Ok, you win. I’ll find someone else.”
“Come back to him when you have a diagnosis.”
Whatever. Just whatever. Sometimes I get a little tired.
Thats when I shake it off with a quick walk.
I emailed the genetecist back. I’ll wait. Again.
I have this pool in my backyard. And plenty of people I’d like to reconnect with. And some lessons I’d like off my plate. And a book I’d like to read.
I’ll get there. In the mean time, I’ll be at my computer. Emailing. Arguing. Advocating. Communicating. Researching. Justifying my existence, and