Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mini update

Finally "caught a break" yesterday. I had been dreaded the financial impact of the cost of a drug that I must self-administer before my surgery.

Little background: I have an artificial heart valve, due to scar tissue on one of my heart valves from rheumatic fever and subsequent strep infections. My valve was not doing its job, so it was replaced in 1992. I must take daily doses of coumadin/warfarin, which keeps my blood a little "thinner" than most, so that the body will not respond to this artificial device by forming protective blood clots, in an attempt to "heal" around the valve. I always thought my valve would be an eventual health problem, but this time it is playing a significant challenge in my pre-op instead. I must give myself shots in my gut, twice a day, for 3 days prior to surgery (next Monday is day #1 of this "fun"), plus an unknown number of days after surgery. This drug will "bridge" me to a lower blood-thinning level, one that should protect my heart from blood clots. My poor gut will be sore post-surgery, and I have to stick needles in that post-surgical gut. I can hardly wait.

To top all of this off, the drug is VERY expensive, folks. I had been dreading the portion that I would have to pay for this drug, as my insurer seems to call everything a "deductible". This drug, 20 doses, runs over $1000. I do not have that much extra cash -- and truly, how many DO? Yesterday I stopped at Sam's Club and the pharmacist informed me that I would be paying only $20. Finally, a bit of a break.

Tomorrow, I will have a chest x-ray just before the nurse instructs me on how to do self-sticking. Oh, joy.

Apparently I have the "worst" option of artificial heart valves: the mitral valve can be harder to monitor (for blood thinning) and if the clotting factor is too low, I can throw a blood clot too easily (a stroke); but if the clotting is too high (or thin), I can have internal bleeding which is not a good thing. I had 11 units of blood due to internal bleeding post-surgery, when this valve was put in, 19 years ago.

So, my friends, I hope I have very few complications during or after this surgery. Ideally, I would prefer that the cancer is contained, and that the bleeding or clotting is controlled as much as is possible. I will try to update you following surgery, but that will probably not be for several days.

MORE GOOD NEWS: My surgery date has been moved up! I received a phone call about 30 minutes ago from M, who is the surgical scheduler at the U. Because the surgeon has SUCH a heavy schedule on the 17th (her last patient has a 7 pm surgery time!), one of those patients was offered an alternate, earlier date of the 15th. And bless M, she phoned ME first and gave me this option. I phoned my sis (who along with her guy R) who will be bringing me to Minneapolis for this surgery. Had to leave her a message (they were shopping) and was just starting to key in a text to her, when she returned my phone call and gave me the go-ahead for the earlier date. Can you imagine? TWO pieces of good news. Can I hope for more??!!

Thanks for putting up with my whining! I think I have two "faithful" readers -- or at least two who occasionally post comments. All comments welcome, and thanks to those who "lurk" but do not comment.


Kim said...

That's great news about the cost of your meds!! I hope it goes ok with the shots. I took medical assisting and had to learn how to give shots. We practiced on our selves!! It was HARD to stick myself in the leg. The first time I tried I kept sticking the needle in and pulling it back out! LOL

I think of you everyday and hope you are holding up ok. *hug*

jessica said...

@Kim -- I am doing pretty well, all things considered. Tomorrow I will begin the shots in the gut (ok, "abdomen"). So I might have some experiences to tell in the blog - or maybe not. Have been trying to figure out how to take a photo of myself, sticking myself. Someone suggested I might want to do the injection for real, then just "fake it" for the photo op. My attitude is probably as positive as it has been in a LONG time. No sense worrying about it, 'cuz that won't change what is (or is NOT) there. I am so grateful for your support! Can I "adopt" you? You are certainly a sweetie.