The Impossible Dream

I’ve always said that Decatur is very lucky to have two hospitals. There are many rural locations without a hospital nearby for 50 miles. My cousin’s wife just lost her job in Iowa when the hospital she worked for completely shut down. You would think that a hospital would always have a steady stream of customers. People aren’t any healthier than they used to be. In fact, we’re one of the unhealthiest countries of the developed world. Unfortunately, access to care is lacking.

St Mary’s Hospital in Decatur recently announced their intention to cut many services due to funding. It’s not good. Most hospitals are operating in the red.

It seems like the only ones making money in healthcare are insurance companies. And boy, do I know.

I’ve been trying for three months to get an MRI. When I had insurance through my ex-husband’s employer, it was easy to get testing. I had two MRIs when I had his insurance and there was no delay. Now, with my insurance through my employer, I have to jump through hoops to get an MRI. In the meantime, my back hasn’t gotten any better. It’s worse.

So instead of an MRI, I’ve had an X-ray that was unhelpful, several doctor’s visits, a trip to the ER, and I’ll have to go through a month or two of physical therapy (which ain’t cheap), and then maybe, I’ll get the MRI I need. During all this time, I’ve had to work with the pain, and call off a few days because it was too much.

Now I know why one of my friends only chooses to marry men who work at Caterpillar. I don’t want to marry some man who works there, but I sure want to marry their insurance!

So, my story is just another example of what is wrong with American healthcare. It’s run by insurance companies and not doctors, and then of course, there are the lawyers. Almost nobody is being served well medically.

This past Monday, I wound up in the ER due to heart palpitations. They had been going on since the Thursday before. I had never experienced anything like them. At first, I thought it was just another glorious symptom of menopause, and brushed them off. But then they were non-stop and becoming more severe.

It felt like I had a fish flopping inside my chest. I watched my irregular heartbeat on the ECG of my Apple Watch. It would drop, thud, and flutter, though my heart never raced as is common with a panic attack. It just fluttered with occasional thuds. The watch finally gave me a warning that something might be wrong. It didn’t detect Afib, but it couldn’t say things were normal either.

I finally went to the ER thinking I really should get this checked out. I was expecting them to tell me it was all my head or anxiety or whatever. Instead, they suspected pulmonary embolism. I didn’t know this until later. I went through a CT scan, and they did an ultrasound on my legs to see if there were any clots. All of that came back good.

These tests were performed because my blood work showed that I either had had a blot clot or was prone to having one. The number was fairly high. So, now I have to find out why that number was so high and what I need to do to prevent clots. I’ve always had varicose veins in my legs, and I’ve had several surgeries because of them. It doesn’t surprise me that I could develop a blood clot. I’m lucky it didn’t travel to the wrong place, if I did have one. But that wasn’t the reason for my heart problems.

The ER didn’t give any instructions about the blood clotting issue, and sent me home. I’ve just been taking aspirin on my own since then. I figure it’s better than nothing until I can see a doctor about it. Mine is on vacation, so who knows when that will be.

It wasn’t until I got home and did some more Googling that I found out palpitations can be caused by a pinched nerve, either in the upper spine or neck. I’ve been having pain in my upper spine, which is why I’ve been requesting an MRI. X-rays don’t see nerves. Only an MRI can.

The article suggested doing a couple of things to stop the palpitations, such as splashing cold water on the face, or trying to blow out your breath with your mouth closed and nose pinched. It worked! It took a couple of times, but the palpitations stopped. So, it appears to be a pinched nerve that is causing them.

Now they come on once in a while and I have to do the same thing to stop them. I don’t know if I’ll ever get an MRI. MRIs seem to be the impossible dream for most of us with bargain-basement insurance plans. It’s ridiculous. How much can an MRI test cost? $40 billion dollars? I’d be paying for it anyway with my deductible, so I don’t know why the insurance company is having a cow over it. Maybe I should make a trip to Mexico. They might have affordable MRIs. [Insert frustrated scream here.]

Well, I guess something good came out of this. At least, I learned that I have a blood clotting issue. I wouldn’t have known this without the trip to the ER, since it’s not something that is routinely tested for.

This week I’m going to see a third doctor, so I’m hoping I’ll finally get the test I need to see what’s going on. I’m not holding my breath. Well, unless I have more palpitations.

You may also like...