Another week has gone by, another slew of doctor appointments. Mom had an appointment with a podiatrist in Green Bay for a corn on her little toe. She had tried the corn pad route, but the situation was getting worse. The first visit went well, the doctor seems knowledgeable but the treatment was rather unexciting; apply antibiotic to a Bandaid and change it once a day. Mom was supplied with a Velcro closure shoe to wear to keep pressure off the toe. We go back to see the podiatrist next week.
|Mom waiting at the doctor's office|
"Do you have a tractor?" the stranger asked. "My truck is stuck in a snowbank across the road."
"I have to leave in fifteen minutes," I said, and though it sounded like an excuse, it was the truth.
"When will you be back?"
"My husband will be home in two hours," I said.
"If I come back then, will he help me?"
Now before you think I'd been very foolhardy telling a complete stranger the following:
1. I'm leaving and won't be back for several hours.
2. I'm home alone and my husband also won't be here for several hours.
3. You'd be right.
Luckily, this situation worked out well, though. I texted Joel to tell Carl to expect a visit from the man when he arrived home from work. I couldn't call Carl because I was in the exam room with Mom. And Carl doesn't text so I had to get Joel involved. I lead a complicated life, don't I? Again, thank goodness for cellphones.
By the time Mom and I arrived home from the podiatrist, Carl was way out in the neighboring field pulling the pickup out. The man offered to pay Carl, which was nice, but Carl told him to keep the money and pay it forward. We had a nice visit afterward.
On Wednesday we took FIL to the oncologist to hear the results of the bone marrow biopsy. The news was not good. FIL has multiple myeloma which is a cancer of the blood.
Carl's sister and I were taken aback by the diagnosis since no one had called from the hospital to set up a followup appointment. We'd thought due to the seeming lack of urgency maybe it had been a false alarm, but sadly, we were wrong.
The oncologist wants FIL to start chemotherapy. My heart sank. I asked if chemotherapy was really feasible for an 86 year old man, but the doctor said if FIL is vigorous enough, it is the only option.
Vigorous? Well, for the first time in his life, FIL had requested a wheelchair when we arrived at the hospital, so that says a lot about how he's feeling. We've been unsuccessful about acquiring new hearing aids, so once again, all of the doctor's comments had to be shouted at FIL.
I'm still stunned; when FIL was in the hospital with pneumonia the staff were all advocating for rehabilitation at a nursing home or an assisted living facility; now that he's got a cancer diagnosis and will be facing chemotherapy, they think he's 'vigorous' enough to withstand it? However, FIL doesn't seem to be as surprised as the rest of us and is willing to do whatever the doctor wants.
I did ask the oncologist if he were in my father-in-law's situation would he opt to go through with chemo?
"Without chemotherapy, he has less than a year left," the doctor answered. "I think he's a good candidate provided he can tolerate the treatment."
Another appointment is set for January 31 where we will learn all about the dosing requirements and side effects. The doctor said the medication has a complicated dosing routine to follow. Again, my FIL is 86 with poor hearing and MIL is not in good shape with her advancing forgetfulness, so I'm not sure what the doctor is thinking. I'm not against assisting with FIL's meds, too, but I'll have to see what the schedule looks like since I will not neglect Mom, either.
Back to Mom's situation; her hearing had taken a rapid downhill turn and we'd been dispensing ear drops for the past two weeks in an attempt to ready her for an ear flushing appointment. Needless to say, Mom wasn't happy with having her ears filled with the over-the-counter drops because it took away what little hearing she had left. She was a trooper though, and when I took her to the doctor on Thursday we had some success.
The doctor bid me hold the small bucket to Mom's head while she did the flushing with a huge plastic syringe and after several attempts one ear was cleared. The doctor then went to her better ear to flush it as well, but was unsuccessful. Mom now has another appointment with an ENT (ear, nose, throat) specialist in early February.
While Mom was seated on the exam table, without moving, I snapped my fingers and she looked at me immediately.
"Wow, I guess you can hear better now!" I said, and she agreed. We're both hoping the ENT will be able to steer us in the right direction in a few weeks. For now, we're keeping up the regimen of ear drops once or twice a week instead of twice a day. Mom is an avid Packer fan and I'm happy she'll be able to hear the game as well as watch it.
I was at a doctor's office four days in a row last week and two of the visits were for me, too. My IV therapy has started up again and with any luck, we hope for the best. On Friday I had a follow up with the gynecologist which went well. She was pleased to tell me the test results were good and prescribed some medication for ahem, vaginal atrophy. (Sorry, TMI once again.)
I was on the fence about the medication, but we decided to fill the prescription anyway. Unfortunately, the price was astounding; for a 30 day supply of Vagifem, the cost was, are you ready? $600.
I stood there with my HSA card in my hand and slowly put it back in my wallet.
"The cost is high because you haven't met your deductible," the pharmacy tech said. "Once your deductible is paid, your insurance will help with the cost. However, we can dispense eight of them for $171. As of today, your deductible balance is $9829.00."
Ok. Sure. Not a problem.
I asked for my prescription paperwork back and Carl and I went home. All a person can do is laugh; crying makes my eyes sore.
One good thing (or bad thing) I found out was Carl's work will reimburse us for some medical bills after we'd spent $2400 out of pocket. This was apparently in effect for some time, but I'd forgotten all about it. I spoke with the human resources advocate at Carl's employer and she said if I can turn in any 2016 bills before the end of March, we would be reimbursed up to $6000. Up to this point, I hadn't been submitting all of my medical bills because it didn't really pay when facing a $10,000 deductible. But this is a game changer.
Needless to say, I've spent the last two days wading through my paperwork and it's been stressful. I need to print out EOB's (explanation of benefits) and was right in the middle of the chore when the printer ran out of ink. (I had asked if we could electronically submit stuff, but we have to go with hard copies.)
After a frenzied search for the bottle of toner refill for the printer in our our 'computer room/glorified closet/used to be the nursery when the boys were little' area, Carl and I headed out for a big box store to buy a new cartridge refill for the printer. Sticker shock abounded once again; the refill we needed was $89. Hmmmm...a new printer was less than that.
Cellphones (and sons) to the rescue again; Joel steered us to the right store and sent me an image to show the cashier when we checked out, end cost? $34. Gotta love them cellphones.
Back home and a plethora of printing occurred. I've got receipts all over the house and have at least another day of phone calls requesting printouts from pharmacies and other mayhem to wade through yet.
So now it's almost noon on Sunday and my house looks as if a tornado touched down, got bored and left for a better neighborhood.
I'd like to leave, too, but all the snow is melting. Our weather has been appalling for January. This should be our coldest, somewhat snowy month, and instead we're in the upper 30's to low 40's with endless fog and drizzle. I know it could be much, much worse, but my skiing is suffering, I need snow! Driveways (like ours) that weren't shoveled clean are now ice skating rinks just daring me to fall on my ample backside. So far I've been lucky with my cleats on my shoes, but the ice is lurking everywhere. We can't afford to fall.
Remember that deductible.....