Tonight is just one of those nights when I am frustrated by everything. Work has been stressful and and unfulfilling. There was a massive leak in our bedroom ceiling and they’ve cut a gaping hole in it and we’ve been sleeping on the mattress on the floor in the tiny second bedroom. Our apartment is messy. None of our pictures are hung up. I’ve been suffering from recurring and nasty UTI’s for the past month and a half and I don’t know why. My right breast, same area where the tumor was, has been aching on and off and it’s probably just my muscles getting used to the implants but it scares the s&%^ out of me. One of our male neighbors… can’t tell if it’s up or down… is singing Katy Perry at a volume and tone that’s inappropriate even for Katy Perry in the shower.
And then to top it all off I got a “FINAL NOTICE” bill from GWU for a charge that I don’t understand from my MRI back in FEBRUARY 2011 (which, mind you, my parents already dished out more than $1,000 for). Not only that, but I’m in the midst of writing an appeal to insurance for another $1,000 charge for the surgery I had at the end of April, which they won’t cover because, as the Explanation of Benefits explained, “a response to our request for information from the provider has not been received.” All fine and good – except why am I being penalized for the billing office’s incompetence?
I went to a “Living Well with Cancer” retreat this weekend at Smith Center here in DC and they were all about stress reduction because stress allegedly feeds cancer.
I think that’s a bit counter-intuitive because:
Cancer is stressful. Life after cancer is stressful. Dealing with insurance companies and medical billing departments is stressful. Heck, life even without cancer in the picture is stressful.
I’m going to go attempt to do some yoga and breathe.
Breast cancer is overwhelming. There are so many issues I’m thinking about right now:
Insurance.Yesterday I spent an agonizing amount of time on the phone with GWU hospital, my insurance company, and my
oncologist’s office trying to get rid of a $1,000 bill for an MRI that should have been pre-certified. I realize this should be a minor worry in my life right now, especially because we got final path reports and I am THRILLED to have finally confirmed that my cancer was Stage I. But I can’t help feelings of anger that dealing with insurance companies is almost a full-time job and no one can give me straight answers to my questions.
Fertility (and insurance). I have decided to go ahead with embryo freezing, along with my boyfriend who I lovingly referred to the other day as my “frozen-baby daddy”. The decision was tough – this is a complicated process that requires a lot of doctor visits, drugs, injections, a minor operation, etc, but the decision feels good because it gives me the best probability of having my own children in the future. I didn’t want to go through chemo, become infertile, look back and say “Why the hell didn’t I freeze my eggs?” Still, the process is already causing me stress and it hasn’t even started. I couldn’t get a straight answer from my insurance company as to whether they cover retrieval and IVF, so I’m applying for financial aid from Sharing Hope for Women program. I also just went off my birth control last month as advised by my radiologist, and I’ve been spotting for the past two days, but as it’s been a bajillion years since I’ve had a period while not on birth control, I have no idea if this is a period or not. Why is it important? Because if it is my period, I gotta get a jump on this egg retrieval process ASAP. TOO FAST, TOO FURIOUS.
The skin on my breasts. There are spots on both my breasts that the plastic surgeon “doesn’t like”. I don’t like it either. One very large spot under my nipple on my left breast was turning black and is now a weird brown, and there was a big blister that popped to the right of it. My incision (which is along the bottom fold of my breast) is also iffy. I am terrified of getting necrosis and needing revision surgeries and, if worse comes to worst, losing my expander. On the right side, the problem isn’t as bad but there are some very small areas of imperfection. Come on, skin, pull through!
Does this swirling tornado of crap that comes along with a breast cancer diagnosis ever die down? It doesn’t help that today is the first day in a long time that I’ve been alone. Both my parents, who have been amazing and taking care of me since my surgery, are working today. My boyfriend is back in DC, also working. And I am all by my lonesome, with my armageddon-worthy thoughts (well… and my JP drains, which feel like my new best buds).
It’s the economy, stupid! Well… now for me… it’s also the mutated genes. I am currently in the middle of a hard decision, and BRCA is NOT helping.
My boyfriend has accepted a transfer to his company’s DC office, but we currently live in Philadelphia. I’m happy for him, and want to follow him, but I’m not sure whether I should quit my job, move with him, and look for a job in DC, or stay here, look for jobs, and not move until I secure employment there. The first option seems most practical to me, as it would be so much easier to look for jobs full-time and actually be in the city where i’ll be networking and interviewing (not to mention we now share an apartment and only have one of everything). But… I’m worried about being out of work for a while. And consequently I am worried about not having affordable health insurance for a while.
I need an MRI. I need a breast doctor. I need a gynecologist. I need peace of mind that if I find a lump in my breast, I can call up a doctor and get an appointment without paying an arm and a leg (or a boob). If I didn’t have BRCA, I wouldn’t really care about going without health insurance for 5 to 6 months. But I don’t have that luxury. I’d be playing with fire, and I don’t want to get burnt.
Le sigh. BRCA cranks up the inconvenience level a little bit in this whole situation. Of course the nearly 10% unemployment rate doesn’t help, either. Anyone want to give me a job in DC?