Thursday, April 2, 2009

Gas, Insurance, and Death Stares

Managing my health care has become a full-time job. I have four doctors, one fickle insurance company, and a real full-time job that often requires me to travel (mainly locally or just to NYC) and has night events, where you just have to be “on”. (By “on”, I mean a dazzling smile, a firm handshake, and chipper small talk. Matt thinks these work events I go to are “fun”. He says “You get a good dinner!” That’s when I shoot him a death stare and climb into bed. I do not want to talk to anyone – not even the dog - after those busy evenings.)

Yesterday was one of those such days. I worked in the morning, had a last minute CT Scan in the afternoon and missed several hours of work, and then drove an hour away for a night event that ended at 10 pm.

I had my CT Scan scheduled for this week at the same facility that conducted all my other CT Scans, and which my surgeon (well, one of them, ha ha) is affiliated. We wanted the same team of radiologists to look at this CT Scan, and of course have access to all my past records. Then my insurance company called yesterday morning and dictated I go to another facility (a cheaper facility) and have it done. It would take at least 48 hours for them to send the results to my doctor. So I had to move my surgical consult to next week (and thank god there was an opening – the next one was the last week of April!) and book it home to gather all of my past medical records and CT Scan CDs so I can make it to the facility in time to drink the barium, have the CT Scan done that day, and then book it 40 miles away to the work event.

I know I am complaining, and it’s awfully unbecoming. But that work event was tediously awful; my body was not responding well to the barium and my stomach was loudly gurgling during speakers’ presentations. Although not ladylike, I had gas like you couldn’t believe. My clothes were stretched tight and I spent 15 minutes in my car prior to walking in just trying to fart as much as possible. (Yes, I said fart.) These weren’t baby farts, either. They were eight second long ditties, I tell ya. Where did all of this air come from?! Throughout the night I sat squirming in my chair and at one point just had to escape to a private area to “relieve” myself (empty stairwells are very good for this).

When I climbed into my car to drive home, I removed my hosiery and undid my skirt so my big belly could breathe. I drove tilted on one butt cheek so the air could escape without restriction (this is not a fabrication).

Now, you may think this gross, but I’ve gotten over bodily anything over the past few years. Or you may think I’m embarrassing myself. Whatever. Everyone farts, everyone poops, and everyone has an anus! So there.

I didn’t mean for this post to be a diatribe on flatulence. I actually wanted to speak about this week’s Frontline, which detailed the vast shortcomings of America’s healthcare system. That’s why I started out about my (unnamed) health insurance company.

I am terrified if I lose my health coverage through work. I – like so many Americans – am not insurable through the private market. And I know, with my tests and doctor visits, I am raising my colleague’s insurance premiums for next year. Lovely.

Affordable healthcare for all Americans shouldn’t be a privilege, but a right.

My next post will have the link, and information, regarding “Sick Around America”, which aired Tuesday evening on PBS’s Frontline.

I would not say it’s an “enjoyable” program, but one that is essential to watch.


  1. I saw the program, it was sobering, particularly when they featured a 23 yr. old industrial chem major newly diagnosed with ulcerative colitis who took a job with a home improvement store just to have good medical insurance. For those of you who didn't see it, he was no longer eligible for health benefits on his parents' plan after college graduation, and took the job while trying to find work in his major.

    Will your team of radiologists read the CT scan that was taken at the other facility, or will it be read by the "new" facility's radiologists? That wasn't clear to me. Now, if you want a teeny tiny bit of good news, know that I had my first dexa scan and my bones are very good. It seems that us taller, big-boned women are less likely to have osteoporous, and there is a genetic link between mothers and daughters, so if my bones are healthy, you're starting out with a good baseline. Yes, I know, a lot of the meds you make take will leach calcium, but know that you're starting from a good place. Thinking of you all the time, love, Mom

  2. Hi Mom,

    No, the same radiologists will not read it. That's why I ran home to get all my CDs w/the other scans and the reports so they could compare and have them handy. And that's why I was so miffed!

    Re: bones: I guess that's one good thing about my big frame!!!


  3. Life would be less stressful if we didn't have to worry about farting in public.


  4. Wow, that was hilarious. I hate when my stomach is 'talking' during meetings! *laughs*