Monday, February 8, 2010

Adventures in health care

I am very, very happy to report that I've finally discovered what's been making me sick lo these many months and I'm feeling dramatically better. I think I really did start out with a virus that wouldn't go away, and which the acupuncturist helped clear (I should write to him and let him know, as he fired me several weeks ago and sent me back to Western medicine. I'm sure he'd like to know the final outcome and that he did likely play a role in my improving.)

At some point, possibly aggravated by some bitter chinese herbs I was drinking at bedtime, I developed a pretty good case of acid reflux, the symptoms of which I either minimized or mis-attributed -- some felt like anxiety, some felt like the cough and lung inflammation of the earlier virus.

After $600 of blood work, lung x-rays, EKGs, lung function tests and urinalyses at the friendly, affordable urgent care place and a cardiologist consult ($280 for 10 minutes with the nurse and 10 minutes with the nice young cardiologist-- nothing like having your doctor looking like a college student to make you feel middle aged), I finally decided to go to a family practitioner, who listened interestedly, suggested I might have GERD and asked if I'd be willing to take an acid inhibitor for 10 days and see if I felt better. At home that evening I was utterly chagrinned to notice how obvious the symptoms were, once she'd suggested it.

So, I'm back to walking for exercise and more vigorous housecleaning and building up my stamina and if the roads would stay clear I'd start biking to errands again. The bed's propped up on several volumes of the encyclopedia I thought that we were least likely to reference until alternate blocking can be arranged, and I'll have to research and test out the best diet for me (apparently triggers can be different for everyone and will have to be tested once I'm off the meds).

I find it interesting that the urgent care clinic folks, apparently trained to eliminate the worst case scenarios first, uncovered a heart arhythmia (increasingly common in people as the decades accrete and harmless in and of itself, but potentially dangerous if heart disease is present) that they wanted to pursue with thousands of dollars of cardio stress tests just to be sure it was benign. Had I not found relief with the GERD avenue, I would have pursued the tests, but without health insurance or a family history of early heart disease or alarming cholesterol readings, I can't justify the expense.

I see, in my experience, several contributors to the high cost of health-care in our country. When we first moved here, I actually called this doctor's office to get an appointment and after hearing we were self-pay, the scheduler directed me to the urgent care clinic. Having been rebuffed as a new patient at another recommended doctor's office after being asked only two questions -- who referred you and who's your insurance provider -- I was beginning to think that physicians were unwilling to see self-pay clients. So I ended up getting treatment from the urgent care place, which worked fairly well, except for the worst-case-scenario glasses they wear, which ended up costing me a lot of money. If I'd had health insurance, I'm sure I'd have gone forward with the expensive cardio tests and found out I'm just fine, at a cost to the system of thousands of dollars.

I also spent hundreds of dollars at the acupuncturist, which probably helped but I can't swear to it (the only absolute example of the effectiveness of acupuncture I've had is the clearing up of my prolapse in Harry's pregnancy; that was dramatic and irrefutable and it's what draws me back to Chinese medicine when I can't find solutions in Western medicine, for better or for worse.)

All in all, an expensive but interesting experience and I'm tremendously grateful to feel mostly well again.


Aunt T said...

Here's what I do:

1 Swab my nasal passages with Ayr saline gel every morning and whenever I fly.
2 Wash hands often
3 Gargle when I come home from being out in public
4 Take a Pearl every single day

I've beaten my acid stomach, have not had a cold or flu, and feel not bad despite back and spine ailments and being almost 68.

I didn't do what the docs told me to do after one prescribed Boniva (wrecked me). Found my own cure and voila!!! It worked.

Sue Sullivan said...

What's a pearl? And would a neti pot do the same as swabbing? I'm thinking it would. I haven't used my neti pot much because I'm not prone to sinus infections, but it makes sense that it would be a good prophylactic move for any rhino virus.