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Another [Cancer] Anniversary Date July 17, 2012

Posted by Admin in Healthonymous.
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Today, I have completed 14 years since my last surgery. For some reason, I observe this date, instead of my diagnosis date, somewhere about 3 weeks earlier.  This is my first 14th anniversary-as my earlier time between cancer diagnoses was 13 years.

According to tradition, the gift for a 14th wedding anniversary is ivory (imitation ivory). I can’t imagine giving any ivory as a gift in this century, whether it is fake or real. Being a cancer survivor is living dangerously enough!

I have the gift of being alive to mark this day and this year. I love having birthdays, as it beats the alternative. So don’t bring me a gift, but another candle for the cake!

Health

Health (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

What am I doing differently than 14 years ago? I wear a prosthesis (except during exercise) , I have lymphedema, I exercise much more and I am happy with the body I have. My advice for 20 something young women, “body parts come and body parts go”. Get over it!

A few things you should know about long-term cancer survivors:

  1. We help support the economy: I have contributed many thousands of dollars to my health insurance companies over the years. We cancer survivors bring in a lot of revenue. The custom-made lymphedema sleeves are just the beginning. ($200 2-3 times per year, partly covered by insurance).
  2. We understand that politics shouldn’t play a role in health care for women: I don’t do pink fundraising any more. No pink T’s, socks, headbands or caps for me. No Komen fundraisers; I just support good legislation.  I am happy to have been in some terrific cancer studies, such as the one for single women with children. A nurse made house calls to my child and me for nine months to discern how we were both doing.
  3. Women have choices about prostheses, reconstruction etc. I chose the prosthesis route. Thanks to the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998, women have choices about breast reconstruction that are covered events. Wait a minute-don’t tell the House of Representatives that!
  4. Don’t call me a victim or a fighter: I am not a cancer victim, nor a warrior. I vehemently dislike the ‘fighting cancer language’. To me, that isn’t holistic, or realistic. Some things you cannot fight against-like whether your hair falls out during chemotherapy.

Sometimes it is better to be like swaying bamboo than the mighty oak.

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2010 Expenses-Update March 20, 2010

Posted by Admin in Cancer, Health Insurance, Healthonymous.
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Insurance changes are trickling in for 2010. First up, only 24 massages per year, or 2 per month from my employer-provided insurance. And this is with a prescription!

(This was, I heard to bring it in line with other “alternative therapies” in the market). Well then. I’ll have to tell my lymphatic system to get on an “alternative” schedule, I guess!

My first compression sleeve of the new year-not covered due to an improper procedure codes. I’ll call my “provider” and see if they need a new code. As far as I know my ICD9 code and prescription on file are sufficient. The cost listed on the “EOB” $194.00. (Explanation of benefits) I need between 2-4 of these per year-as the compression degrades with use. This is a tool to manage my lymphedema.

On the other hand, I just read my first dental EOB more carefully (cleaning, cavity spotting, good grades for flossing-finally and learned that I have orthodontia coverage $1000 of “lifetime” coverage. Hmmmmm. No one is too old for orthodontia anymore-check out your workplace!

In early 2010, I leapt back into the mental health department and found a new therapist.  This costs $90/hour. However, it has been worth it so far. I forgot how helpful just the right question can be-forcing me to consider an answer to a question I had not thought of myself.

Since my weekly out-of-pocket expenses last fall had averaged $90 per week, (see post called Goodbye to 2009 under Expenses) I had taken a holiday from appointments, save the massages, in order to catch up financially.

2010 to date: $150 massage co-pays; $180 for therapist; $194 pending for compression sleeve, $180.22 paid on fall medical bills; $33.80 for initial dental cleaning…..

Total: $738.02 or $67/week for $2010.

Goodbye to 2009 January 11, 2010

Posted by Admin in Blog Math, Health Insurance, Money.
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Now I see why calculating this total was hard for me.

I had an eventful year in 2009, including unanticipated dental work (a cracked tooth that could not be saved), an age related procedure (colonoscopy), a DNA test covered under GINA, and an infection that was treated as if it was MRSA. In contemplating this post, I realized that I have postponed the next visit to my physician, due to the expense.

My expenses  since I began the blog total $$1249.81, divided by 14 weeks. That is a daunting $89.27 per week.Annualized, that is $4,642 spent on health care appointments, premiums, co-pays and out of pocket expenses.

Are there any lessons from 2009?

  • I did a good job managing my lymphedema with exercise, massage and diligent use of my compression sleeve.
  • However, in the last six months, partly since I did not do the 2009 Danskin triathlon, I really fell off the exercise wagon. You won’t read my exercise intentions here for a while (as this is not a fitness blog!) , but I do realize that returning to a regular exercise plan will provide immediate benefits as well as potentially decrease expenses…
  • As far as managing my expenses, some of my out-of-pocket costs could not have been avoided. I look forward to decreasing the other ones in 2010!

Goodbye to 2009 January 5, 2010

Posted by Admin in Blog Math, Diary, Health Insurance.
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Now I see why calculating this total was hard for me.

I had an eventful year in 2009, including unanticipated dental work (a cracked tooth that could not be saved), an age related procedure (colonoscopy), a DNA test covered under GINA, and an infection that was treated as if it was MRSA. In contemplating this post, I realized that I have postponed the next visit to my physician, due to the expense.

My expenses  since I began the blog total $$1249.81, divided by 14 weeks. That is a daunting $89.27 per week. Annualized, that is $4,642 spent on health care appointments, premiums, co-pays and out of pocket expenses.

Are there any lessons from 2009?

  • I did a good job managing my lymphedema with exercise, massage and diligent use of my compression sleeve.
  • However, in the last six months, partly since I did not do the 2009 Danskin triathlon, I really fell off the exercise wagon. You won’t read my exercise intentions here for a while (as this is not a fitness blog!) , but I do realize that returning to a regular exercise plan will provide immediate benefits as well as potentially decrease expenses…
  • As far as managing my expenses, some of my out-of-pocket costs could not have been avoided. I look forward to decreasing the other ones in 2010!

Health Care “Providers” and the $30 Co-Pay December 13, 2009

Posted by Admin in Cancer, Diary, Healthonymous, Money.
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In my life, I have had many more health care “providers” than I ever dreamed that I would. In addition to the two excellent surgeons that I had for my cancer surgeries, I have seen people with titles such as dosimetrist, audiologist,  and a gynecological oncologist. I even see phlebotomists regularly (oops, just recalled I need to redo my latest CA 125 blood test-the number was slightly elevated last time).

But the health care job title of the person I enjoy visiting most is that of licensed massage therapist! Regular readers know that I have a prescription for massage to treat my lymphedema. My arm always feels better after and it is usually easier to put my compression sleeve back on too. Yes, after ten years, I still wear mine.

This week’s only expense was my $30 co-pay for my every other week massage. It is very helpful to have someone knowledgeable about manual lymphatic drainage look after me, plus they have two hands to minister with and I feel like a on-armed paper hanger sometimes trying to address my own needs. Ever try to kiss your elbow? Sometimes doing your own lymph massage is just that frustrating.

Tantalizing close, but definitely out of reach!

Expenses out of pocket for week ending December 12th: $30.00


Massage for Lymphedema November 29, 2009

Posted by Admin in Blog Math, Cancer, Diary, Humor, Money.
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[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=health+massage&iid=1134532″ src=”6/0/f/b/Massage_bfe8.jpg?adImageId=7903797&imageId=1134532″ width=”380″ height=”283″ /]

And that method did what?

I could ask my licensed massage therapist to hand me a glass now and then however!

Last week’s expenses: $30 co-pay for massage. Too bad my insurance coverage next year will not take my ICD9 code into consideration for treatment. Monthly totals tomorrow.

Total for Week ending November 27: $30.00

Weekly Expenses November 14, 2009

Posted by Admin in Blog Math, Cancer, Diary, Money.
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I have a doctor’s prescription that allows me to have insurance coverage for my every other weekly massages. Because I have lymphedema, as a result of my mastectomy and lymph node removal, the massage is extremely helpful.

Insurance coverage for anything to do with “complications from a mastectomy” is required by the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (see the Department of Labor website  for more information)

This week’s expenses: one $30 co-pay for a massage appointment.

Weekly total: $30

Month to date: $30

By the way, check your coverage changes this month: In 2010, my company coverage for massages and chiropractic care will decrease to 24 sessions a year (“in line with the market”). Never mind the diagnosis or the ICD9 code.

October Expenses-Scary! October 31, 2009

Posted by Admin in Blog Math, Cancer, Diary, Health Insurance, Money.
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  • ER visit week of 10-5-09:   co-pay before entering the treatment room $100, Dr. fee $266-my percentage of 20% after “negotiated adjustment” =  $34.02, IV drugs ?
  • Co-pays for 2 Office visits for cellulitis and 1 for DNA Test results: $60
  • Flu shot (regular)-no separate bill yet (I think)
  • Plus antibiotics (2 different types), extra pain meds (neither of which worked) $40
  • DNA test-not yet paid by insurance company $3100 (my maximum will be $350) but I haven’t been billed yet because the insurance company is hassling the lab that performed the service (the one that said they had my back). Classify this one as: “hanging over my head”
  • Regular Rx renewals $39.91 (for three months each)
  • Office visits for Ovarian Cancer research study: annual ultrasound of ovaries and CA 125 blood Test : FREE (classify this one to rule things out). More on the CA 125 test in a future post.
  • Bill for September dentist (annual exam, X-rays and cleaning) $45.40 out of pocket (insurance paid $181.60)
  • Co-pays for two therapeutic lymphedema massages: $60

Scary total: $513.00

Weekly Expenses October 30, 2009

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This week’s expenses were not as scary as Halloween week could be. I had a regular massage for my back and my lymphedema on Monday.  One side effect of blogging is that I spend more time in front of the computer. This causes my shoulders to hunch over and my chest muscles to contract. The massage helps to loosen them back up. (But I probably need to get back in the pool.)

Co-pays this week only $30.00 for the massage. I ordered a refill of the other prescription I take by mail. A three-month supply is around $19.00. But I overpaid the company last month so it won’t cost anything-they already have my money! Great for cash flow-but poor planning, nonetheless.

Weekly expenses: $30.00

Monthly total coming this weekend-that might be scary!

Weekly Expenses October 17, 2009

Posted by Admin in Blog Math, Diary, Money, Women.
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This has been low cost week, all things considered. On Monday, I had a lymphedema and back massage. The co-pay was $45.00 because it was 90 minutes instead of 60 minutes. Well worth it!

Still waiting for the bill from the emergency room last week-that will be interesting.

Weekly total: $45

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