Completing the "adventure".


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June 29th 2014
Published: July 7th 2014
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Annette and Bill at  Olive GardenAnnette and Bill at  Olive GardenAnnette and Bill at Olive Garden

To celebrate my cancer free pet scan and my good hemoglobin test I took my sister Annette and her husband Bill out to dinner at Olive Garden.
I am writing this blog mainly to round out this “trip”. I know it is strictly not a travel blog but in view of my other 400 blogs or so my “series” would be incomplete without entering this experience. It may even be tedious to some but I hope my past 3 blogs and this one are informative to someone who has never experienced time in an American hospital and give them some idea of what to expect. I can’t just leave my telling of these events “dangling” but need to complete the “trip”.

May 6 – Tuesday evening -I’ve been going over my insurance claim summery. As it stands now I owe $14,625.03 to the hospital and $1690.05 to other claims for services rendered. A total of $16,315.08.

So I will have to gnaw on that a bit. The hospital originally charged $99,378.21 and the insurance plan had it reduced to $69,813.14 and paid $55,188.11(80%), leaving $14,625.03(20%) for me to pay, plus the $1690 in other side bills.

May 7 - I sat out on the patio and enjoyed the cool breeze and nice weather and watched the hummingbirds for a bit. Then I went to taco
William June 2014William June 2014William June 2014

I'm full of energy again.
cabana for some beef fajitas and then to the doctors professional bldg. adjacent to the hospital.

It was pretty much a waste of time at the doctors. He pretty much just asked how I was and then told me he wanted to do a PET scan “to be sure that the nodules in my lungs aren’t cancerous”. He could have done that on the phone instead of me getting charged for a doctor visit. Earlier he had said he thought they were mold. So now I am set up for a very expensive PET scan. If I was a cynical man I would believe that they were just trying to justify all their expensive equipment.

They seem determined to find some cancer somewhere so they could make money on me doing Chemo. I’ve already told all of them I wasn’t going to do Chemo unless they could prove positively that I still had some cancer somewhere. None of that “to be safe” BS. And then I probably won’t do chemo even if they find something.

From what I have read on it this PET scan will determine that these spots on my lungs are not cancer for
Memorial Day breakfastMemorial Day breakfastMemorial Day breakfast

Restricted diet 24 hours before PET scan
sure so I guess the peace of mind will be worth it, although it will probably add another $2000 or so to my mounting share of the hospital bill.

I’m going to do this one more “to be safe” test and then that’s it other than a blood test or so in late June and early July.

Between doctor appointments I am being kept tied up till July, and being severely “financially challenged”. My trip to Colorado is being seriously delayed.

May 27 – Tuesday - I was hungry as all I had for breakfast yesterday was 2 eggs with 2 slices of bacon, and for supper yesterday was a couple of hamburger patties with Spinach which my sister had fixed up for me to comply with my restricted diet for the 24 hour period before the PET scan. And a small Caesar salad. All with water.

This morning all I could have was water. No food or other liquid.

I headed over to the Cancer Clinic for my PET scan. It wasn’t too bad. They had me sit in a little room while they injected some radioactive isotope into my veins. Then I had
Memorial Day dinnerMemorial Day dinnerMemorial Day dinner

Dinner for my restricted diet 24 hours before my PET scan.
to sit and wait about 45 minutes while the isotope circulated throughout my body. I had read about the procedure on the internet before I went so I had brought a reader’s digest my sister had given me which I read which made the time pass quickly.

After a bit they put me in the tube covered with a couple of blankets because the room was cold. I had to lie as still as possible with my arms up over my head braced by a pillow for about 35 minutes. Luckily I am well stocked with “things to think over” so the time passed fairly quickly.

Still…..I was happy to get out of that tube when I got finished.

After the bit of fasting yesterday and today I went straight home to get something to eat

The lung doctor will let me know what he found or didn't find on Monday.

The PET scan cost me $1415.62 as my share after the insurance had it reduced and then paid their share.

May 29 – The hospital charged me $99.378.14 for their services. My insurance had it reduced to $69,813 and paid $55,188.11(80%). This left the remaining $14,625.03(20%!)(MISSING) for my share to pay. I have a letter and check for $5000 lying on my desk which I will mail Monday the 2nd of June. My letter outlines a payment plan of $5000 enclosed with the letter and then I will send them $500 a month till it is paid off. That’s the payment plan which I hope they will go along with. $500 a month won’t affect my plans any but I believe is a reasonable monthly payment. I always said I wouldn’t ever go in debt unless it was go in debt or die and that was pretty much the case here. So that’s the plan.

June 2 – Monday – Today I will go to my doctor appointment with the lung doctor. Hopefully that hugely expensive PET scan will definitely determine that those dark spots on my lungs are not cancer but something else. If it is something else then I can go back to believing in the predicted life expectancy of my demographic which is 82.

The doctor said that those dark spots on my lungs weren't cancer. So now I guess I will just have to not get run over by a Mexican cab driver to make it to 82.

June 2- This morning I went to the Post Office to mail off those hospital bill payments. I mailed off a letter to SJRHC explaining my payment plan along with a $5000 check. I will pay them a minimum of $500 a month until it is paid off. I also paid $196.60 to the emergency room physicians and $185.22 to Bryan Radiology. All my “outside” hospital bills keep trickling in. These are bills separate from the hospital bill….gee.

I went to the Saint Joseph Professional Building to keep an appointment with Dr. W. He said that the PET scan did not detect cancer in my lungs and he didn’t know of a time when a colon cancer that had not spread to the lymph nodes or the liver had gotten to the lungs.

So that was a relief. So he set me up with some test and I went down to the lab where they drew 6 vials of blood to run test to determine what the dark spots on my lungs were.

I’m not really concerned anymore with what they are now that I know they aren’t cancer but I guess we may as well find out. One of my brother in laws who works in the oilfields said he has had spots on his lungs for years and his doctor told him not to worry about them.

I have an appt with Dr. W. on Thursday June 19 at 11:30 to get results of blood and urine test.

Test ordered: Anca Panel, Rheumatoid Factor, SED Rate, Histoplasma Vlnay Antigen, Fugal Antibody Pond, CBC – Complete Blood Count

June 3 - I really felt great when I got up this morning. So I figured my hemoglobin level must be good. I had had it checked yesterday and called the Dr’s office today to find out what it was. Normal is 14 - 18 and I am 14.1. So that’s great !

To celebrate my cancer free pet scan and my good hemoglobin test I took my sister Annette and her husband Bill out to dinner at Olive Garden.

June 6 – Friday - I got the bill for my PET scan today. The hospital charged $9,533. My insurance had it reduced to $6673 and paid $5,338 which left me with $1335 to pay plus a side bill of $81 on it, to Bryan Radiology, a total of $1416. Gee.

June 11 - It is amazing how much better I feel now that the Colon Cancer has been cut out and my Hemoglobin level has been restored. I feel Great and full of energy.

June 19 - Thursday I went to see Doctor W. who was the lung doctor. He had run a bunch of blood test on me after my last visit and they came back mostly negative. He said once again that he believed I had a fungus in my lungs and my good immune system should take care of it.

I told him that I had plans to go to the Rockies in the middle of July and August and come back in September. He told me I should go and we’ll check on things in September.

I have one more blood test next week called a CEA test. It’s another test looking to see if the cancer has tried to return.

He showed me how the CEA level had dropped right after my surgery. The test is to see if it has dropped all the way down to a normal level.

I would guess that I will have to take one of these test every few months from now on as a precaution.

In any case I feel great and things seem to be working out. I had called the hospital financial people Wednesday 18th June and discussed my plan to pay out the rest of the hospital bill at $500 a month after making a payment of $5000 already on the original bill of $14,625 which brought the amount due now down to $9,625. The hospital agreed to the plan.

Of course I have a side bill now of $1400 for the PET scan and some other side bills, which I will have to pay this month as well but I now know that they will let me pay the big bill out with a manageable payment plan. They treated me right and I want to do the same for them.

June 25 – I went to my appointment with Dr. M., my surgeon. He mostly asked me how I was doing, checked my stitches and asked if everything was OK. Dr M. also told me that unless I had a problem he was through with me and I wouldn’t need to come back to him again. He said to make sure I got another colonoscopy in a year. When I left I thanked him for literally saving my life.

June 27 – Friday - Dr W. looked at the results of the test and my CEA level had actually went up from about 7 right after the surgery to 9.1 but Dr. W. said that was not significant as 150 or more would be high and they don’t worry about it unless the level is 79 or more.

So that was a good deal. He called Dr. F. at the Cancer center to see what she thought and she concurred. He said there was no need to keep my appointment with Dr. F. on 26 July and it had been canceled.

He said that as I was taking a trip they would take a wait and see attitude on the spots on my lungs and see if my natural immune system dealt with it.

So Dr. W. got me an appointment for August 27th for another CAT scan at 9AM. After that I was to go to Dr.W.’s office for the scan results. I suppose he wants to see if the spots on my lungs have went down.

June 29 – Sunday – Hard to believe June is almost over already. It has definitely been an eventful month. I invested most of today going over my hospital “side bills” and coming to grips with them. So far the side bills that are not in the hospital regular bill have been $2665.10. So they were a pretty good hit in themselves.

So that’s about it for my last “adventure”. I have written it in detail so as to give someone who has never been to a hospital an idea of what the experience is like as well as the aftermath when the bills start coming in. I hope it has proven useful to someone on that account.

So now it’s time to move on and enjoy the nest 20 years or so with increased vigor!

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7th July 2014

Good to hear
Good to hear all is well and you can continue your adventures.
8th July 2014

much better
Thanks....now that I had my surgery and took care of the problem I feel much better. Also since I'm no longer anemic I feel Great.
7th July 2014

A different reality.
I must say that the whole experience is very different from what it would be like here in Sweden where healthcare is free. I'm glad though that you're healthy again, enjoy your future travels even more after this!
8th July 2014

much better
Thanks for your comment. I am feeling much better and am looking forward to my future travels.
7th July 2014

Keep smiling!
As one who spent a short while in hospital last year, it was interesting to read about your experience. I'm pleased you were well cared for and now on the road to full fitness - although your bank balance seems to have suffered badly. You might like to compare this with my own experience (my tongue-in-cheek blog is at: http://www.travelblog.org/Europe/United-Kingdom/England/Hertfordshire/Hertford/blog-808290.html). I too have had more than my fair share of tests, scans, drugs, cancer scares and on-going treatment and medication. While I may have paid contributions from salary during my working life, I certainly continue to get my money's worth from Britain's excellent - and free - healthcare system. Sorry if this makes you a bit jealous. :-(
8th July 2014

healthcare
Thanks for your comment. Except for this one little incident this is the first time in my life I required the services of a doctor. I have been very healthy and blessed all my life and thank God for that. Of course I take care of myself and avoid unhealthy habits. There is a tradeoff in the US not having universal health care. The majority of Americans have chosen to have lower taxes instead of universal health care. So that is the tradeoff. I have been single and with no dependents all my life and making what others consider a high income. This put me in one of the highest tax brackets which was 28% since I always just went straight form. England has universal health care but higher taxes (or so I have been told). For me personally I would rather pay lower taxes, and pay my 20% of my hospital bill that my insurance (paid for by my former employer) doesn't pay for this once in a lifetime hospitalization. Doing the math I am still coming off much, much cheaper than having to pay higher taxes for all of my working life. I opened the link to your blog and read of your experiences in an English Hospital. Then I checked your trips and looked at the trip you took to Banff. I am planning on going there later this summer so I thought it would be helpful for gathering info. It looked like you had a great trip.
7th July 2014

Hospital bills
The cost is daunting. I've email you a few articles to read. Do some research and renegotiate. You may want to pick up a small secondary insurance plan for the future.
8th July 2014

dealing with the bubble
I have dealt with the financial "bubble" now and am moving on. Since this is my first personal experience with a hospital it was quite a singular experience. The care I received was very polite, professional and excellent. Those people literally saved my life and I am grateful for that. I really never expected anything like this to happen to me....but......oh well....I guess it did. : )

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