Placement of Priorities

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Hello once again!

As the title implies, this post is about priorities and listening so they can be placed properly. I have been quite depressed as of late. My lupus is really ugly right now. I am having major issues with my gi tract from top to bottom. I am dealing with drama within my family. I am back on prednisone. Basically, I cannot eat well, cannot sleep well, and am a round moon face sicko.

I had a bright spot yesterday I thought. My rheumatologist wants me to start Benlysta infusions. I was in the drug trial with real drug and it helped me a lot. Once it was approved though, the drug trial ended. So, he wants to do these infusions to try for remission. Remission is a word I have not heard for years!

Back to the story. My rheumy’s nurse called and said she had done the legwork and for me, my insurance would only cover these at an 80/20 ratio. In other words they would pay 80% and I would pay 20%. Ok, what does that mean? It means it is cost prohibitive for me. However, she next tells me that my 20% equals $250 per transfusion. Still cost prohibitive for me. Now she tells me that there is this gateway program that will pay for the med itself. So, I only have to pay the office visit ($40) to begin infusions and as for the $250, I can be billed and pay as I can! Wow! That is great news! Finally it is looking like I might get some type of relief from this all pervasive pain!

So, I decided to share this good news with my husband. I didn’t even finish the details before he exploded and told me that there is no way we can afford this! He also told me to cancel finding out about any thing else related to this! He told me I was wrong to even consider it. Seriously! He said it would be another bill and that we cannot take this on.

He stormed out into his garage room. I was numb. I really was in pain emotionally now. I thought why try anymore? You know, if I had cancer would he do the same thing about a med? Is he really so self centered and blind that he cannot see or comprehend how insensitive he was? The answer, sadly, is yes. I saw a new side of him yesterday. It is a powerful revelation.

I have been here to help him overcome HIS issues and done whatever was necessary to make sure he gets care he needs. You know, the Golden Rule. I saw yesterday that no matter how much I give he will only take. He truly does not seem to care about any of my issues at all. He went so far today to say he didn’t want to hear anything about my call to another doctor regarding a different issue. Guess I know where I stand.

A friend of his passed away yesterday afternoon. (This was after our conversation above had occurred). Now today, he told me his friend isn’t having s funeral. His wishes were to be cremated and his wife was to hold a sort of wake. My husband, the recovering alcoholic, told me he was going and would have a drink for his friend! Wow! It is almost like he was waiting for an opportunity to drink. He assured me he was going to stay sober but only have that one drink. Uh huh, right. He might delude himself but I have seen this behavior before. I tried to reason with him about slippery slopes and how he was all but dead himself a month ago. He refuses to listen. Well, I tried.

I came back here with assurances of sobriety and caring for my well being. Bait and switch. Jokes on me. Bad day. Sorry to bring anyone down but this is my reality right now. I will survive. I will have to go on chemotherapy if Benlysta is off the table. Oh well, I actually want to live so we will see how this plays out. I am just so sad to see and hear how my issues do not matter to him. Actions speak louder than words so if his words match his actions then I am alone on this painful island. Well crap.

Rollercoaster (of lupus)and p.s.doctors

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Well, once again, here I am expounding the ups and downs of this disease called lupus. The big bad wolf (as it is also known) has taken a big bite out of me lately by keeping me close to my bed and not allowing me to have energy for but a few moments at once. All in all, it has been tough this last five days or so. In keeping with the promise to tell the good with the bad and ugly, I am writing this blog today to share some really good news!

Today was a decent day. I have been out of bed most of the day. Albeit, I have been on the couch for most of it, but I was out of bed! This is a considerable victory for me because a few days ago, it took all my energy just to get to the bathroom. I even babysat my grand Courtney Scarlett for two hours while her mom took my grandson to see the doctor. She is good medicine for me (as are all of my grands). She sat quietly on the couch and watched Dora and Team Umizoomi with Meemaw.

I have found that, contrary to popular belief, children are quite intuitive about adults. In my experience with my grandchildren, I have found that they know when I can or cannot be more active with them. My grandchildren have seen their grandmother in the hospital, taking many pills daily, in bed, on the couch, and basically flat on my back so many times that to them it is a normal thing that I am not able to do much physically with them. On the rare occassions when I am able to do more than my “normal”, they are astonished to see their Meemaw running or jumping or being silly. I have tried not to upset them by having them see me give myself injections of meds, or the pain when I move or walk, etc., but they have learned from infancy that this meemaw cannot do things and they accept me as I am.

It is an amazing thing that children can accept you as you are and love you still, yet most of the world at large seems to not be able to accept you as someone with a disease that doesn’t show. Most try to put you in a category of any of the following: fat/skinny, lazy, attention seeking, hypochondriac, doctor shopping, pill popping, all in your head, making it up, oh please; types of things so they can justify making fun of you or dismissing your illness altogether. We have all had this in some form or another in our disease process. It can even include doctors we are looking up to for help and healing.

I am going offtrack now but on to a rant of mine so here goes…

Ok, here is a tidbit about me. I love to watch the television showMystery Diagnosis“. Do you know why? It is because there are many more people out there who have serious and debilitating diseases that have been in the same boat as many of us lupies. They have been to many different doctors, who have told them any number of things and even dismissed them altogether, only to find that one rare gem of a doctor who listened and put it all together.

On this show, I heard a comment from one of the doctors who had helped one of these people to find the correct diagnosis and was treating the patient for it. He made the statement that doctors should know the difference between lumping and sifting. He said doctors should always look at the overall picture (lumping) of the patient and how they present to the doctors versus the opposite by treating each small bit of the disease piece by pice by many different doctors (sifting). For example, if you have lupus, you may have gone to your primary care doctor first, who then referred you to another doctor who treated you for one thing, then sent to another doctor who treated you for another thing, but in the long run, none of them saw the overall picture of the lupus constellation of symptoms. It happens on almost every show on this tv series. It never ceases to amaze me that so many of our doctors out there are just skimming by on the first easy thing they can find to “take care of” the reason for your visits.

I know, there are many good doctors out there. I have several in fact. However, it is by trial and error that I have happened upon them. I really do trust my doctors and the main reason why is that they respect me as a person. If I call or come in to see them, there is a valid reason and they know it. As a former medical professional, I am not some one who is afraid to speak my mind. I have personally “fired” a couple of doctors in my time. I have moved to different states and kept my doctors here in Ohio because I could not find ones who were as qualified and competent as the ones I see here. I have tried to find some, but even if it starts out good, they always seem to let me down by assuming I am some ignorant female who is attention seeking. I have heard that one before. They fail to see that I am sick, truly sick, and only want to be well, or as well as I can be.

The thing I want to stress most emphatically is that we patients are the consumers here. We are the ones who pay the bills. If you are not satisfied with your care, find another doctor.   As frustrating as the process may be, in the long run, a doctor who respects you and your feelings is the one you will get the best care from.

One of my doctors that I know as a person as well as a doctor, always gives me hugs when she sees me, either in her office, or in public. She is a nurturing and caring person who believed me when I thought I was losing my mind. She knew that I was not making this stuff up and she kept on until we found out why. We all need and deserve a doctor like this one.

I know, many doctors are overworked and only have a few minutes to give to each patient, however, by being prepared and taking an active role in our medical care, we show them that we are as responsible for our care as they are and a true healer will appreciate us taking that active role. I say beware of those doctors who have a god complex. If they think your ideas or your research or your opinions are of no concern and act like you are silly for any of them, then leave at once and find someone who will take the time and give you their respect. After all, it is YOU who is sick, not them. It can be very enpowering to find where your doctor falls in this equation and enlightening to see how they feel about you and your feelings.

Now what has brought this on, this rant of mine? I read an article that many doctors think patients should not become empowered by researching their diseases and asking questions from this research. Hm… interesting indeed. I think I have made my point on this subject clear. In the meantime, I hope you all find doctors who are genuinely interested in your health and care and give you the respect you deserve. I now will step off my soapbox…

The Lupus Community

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Many of us have friends, some life long and others shorter term. One of the things that bind us as friends, is a commonality of something. Call it a community of sorts. I have several of these communites in my life. The one I am going to talk about today is the Lupus Community.

I have lupus. This can be a devastating thing that can overwhelm you when you are first diagnosed, and leave you shell shocked for some time. After the intial shock wears off, the knowledge phase kicks in, namely, where you research and learn more about this disease and its effects on your life and family.

It is during this phase that many of us have found a surprising community of folks who have been there, done that and now help others just like themselves. I call this the Lupus Community.

Now, to be certain, you would think that to be great friends would require seeing each other daily, talking on the phone, and sharing life’s events. Yes, that is true. In this community though, we do all of the above with tthe exception of seeing each other in person. We “see” each other online.

In this community, we can share things that we would not tell others. We can be honest, and discuss the way this disease has affected our life, warts and all. We can be brutal in our descriptions of certain manifestations of the disease and feel free to express our innermost feelings without fear of judgment or belittling that many “normals” sometimes do inadvertantly. If we are depressed, we can tell others and know that they will lift us up and help us to get through it. It is a community of others who are dealing with many of the same issues that are difficult to describe to those who are not ill. We laugh at our jokes and inadequacies, we cry when we lose a friend, we rejoice in remission, and we commiserate in our pain. We share links with information and discuss various clinical trials and developments as well as improvements in care and even good doctors versus bad doctors.

In the end, it is a community of caring, intelligent individuals who share a commonality of an incurable disease and who are living with it each and every day. When those closest to us get tired of hearing our complaints, this is the community that will help us and bolster us as we survive each day and keep the wolf at bay. It is a sounding board for us to vent and scream, to cry and laugh, to share and care. We cross all socioeconomic boundaries, all races and religions, and all countries across the world. We speak different languages and have different colors of skin. Underneath it all, though, we share the wolf. We fight it as one, and never give up on each other. We are men and women who share this unique bond. We are young and old, we are survivors one and all.

I am blessed to have found this community and to share it whenever I can. Yes, I may have in incurable disease called lupus, but, and here is the difference, lupus does not have me! I am a lupus survivor! I share this distinction with many millions earthwide! We will fight until our last breath each of us! If you are newly diagnosed, please join in the lupus family and you will feel the love and caring that I have experienced…

See, I am indeed blessed…