Unraveling Complexity of Being a Chronically ill patient: by Maria De Leon


 

A decade ago, I would have sworn I was the healthiest person; sure I had minor inconveniences like thyroid cancer at young age and migraines since childhood. But my life on the whole was great! Not that is not great now just different…I took one medication for my thyroid and every so often I needed a migraine abortive medication. I rarely set foot on the premises of a pharmacy. I would take my thyroid mediation like clock work without much fuzz. I NEVER heard from insurance, pharmacist, or other doctors regarding myself. of course, I spent countless hours dealing with all of these regarding my patients. each year, the number of hours I spent on phone and written letters on behalf of my patients steadily increased by now most doctors with a busy practice like mine spend a great deal more time trying to get around the bureaucracy and paper work involved just to get patients what they need to get better. the most frustrating thing besides arguing with insurances about approval of much needed medications was arguing with them about approving benefits to cover their care especially in terminal cases. Too often the help came too late.

Now, I am a walking, breathing, veritable pharmacy – my purse has grown over the years just to accommodate the ever growing number of medications I require to function; which invariably keeps expanding. Each time I think I have stabilized, there pops something new to throw a wrench in the system. Just the other day, I spent the morning at yet another unforeseen doctor’s visit due to acute labyrinthitis from an ear infection and guess what? More meds were thrown in the mix. Now, I have been assigned both a nurse and a pharmacy specialist to my case.

First, where were these people when I needed them to help out with my patients care? Secondly, in theory having a past medical illness or chronic disease  is not supposed to matter in the coverage of an individual by any insurance. Yet, in reality all of us who live with a chronic disease is being analyzed by some committee somewhere as to how much “resources” we are using. These resources which include medical, laboratory, ancillary, and pharmaceutical services are precious commodities which yearly are contracted to the lowest bidder. While, the premiums and out of pocket expenses continue to go higher as the coverage for those commodities continue to go lower for those of us who happen to have the misfortune of having a serious medical problem. Everyone who lives with PD and other chronic illness can testify to this fact.

After laughing out loud in disbelief for having NOT one BUT two specialized people dedicated to help with my care, I began to shake my head regarding the absurdity of our medical system. After speaking with these well meaning individuals who did not realized, I was a doctor, neither one had any answers to my REAL problems or concerns. No! I DON’T NEED SPECIAL EQUIPMENT, TRANSPORTATION, OR HOME SERVICES- ALL I NEED IS APPROVAL OF MY EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE MEDICATIONS AND TESTS so I don’t require ANY of the above and won’t end-up in the hospital as many of my patients have in the past due to poor coverage of medications and frequent changes dictated NOT by real medicine rather by pure economics!

So, after an hour each, they both politely stated they could NOT help with my problems. They could not convince the people they work for that these medicines are keeping me functioning and that perhaps might even help me return to gainful employment and at minimum are keeping me out of the hospital and getting worse medical problems if they were only able to approve the PET scan my physician ordered to make sure my cancer has not returned. But, to no avail. The answer was ALWAYS NO! But, will call you again next month at the same time. No wonder I like that new song of Meghan Trainor ” No.” “My number is no!, my name is no!, my {everything} is NO!” when I talk to the insurance companies…so do we need to let it go?

I hope we DON’T let it go otherwise we as a society will continue to hurt and suffer the consequences and end-up in a state not very dissimilar to the one in Mexico and other countries where socialized medicine has taken root.

I still cringe at the terrible experience my family underwent while my grandfather was hospitalized for a GI bleed in my hometown in Mexico. First, after having to transfer him to a “private” hospital because there were no medicines or even much staff at the government owned facility-the specialist he needed, not unlike what is already happening here in many smaller communities, was 5 hours away in another state and could not come for several days. So, he continued to bleed for which he required 14 pints of blood which by the way the family had to procure on their own because the government has no money to maintain a blood bank. He ended with 2 mayor strokes subsequently- which of course I witnessed personally and was helpless to do anything about since there was no treatment available for what he needed.

I am afraid that as the population continues to age and incidence of dementia, Parkinson’s, strokes and other chronic debilitating diseases begin to rise the quality of life for each individual will steadily decline in this country despite all the major medical and technological advances this country has unless we step up and demand change. please contact PAN/MJfox  @ http://www.parkinsonsaction.org  and after June 1st @ http://www.michaeljfox.org/policy

-let them know its not ok to have a monthly struggle just to get the medicines your doctor prescribed or have to choose between basic necessities and affording expensive medications which now include many popular generic brands which in some cases cost the same or more than the brand! and remember to just say No!

 

 

 

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One thought on “Unraveling Complexity of Being a Chronically ill patient: by Maria De Leon

  1. What a hellacious account, Dr. Maria! I am endlessly appalled at the horrors of trying to manage such a dilating, chronic disease and STILL have to fight every single step just to get the basics of what you need. It’s heart-breaking, demeaning and WRONG on so many levels.
    In truth, I don’t know how this can change….unless they man-up and decide to issue free ‘suicide-pills’ – their collective conscience must be dead.

    Like

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