So a few months ago I had a bit of a scare, one that involved my heart and an abnormal EKG. Last week I divulged my saga in part 1 of this story. Ready to pick up where we left off?
“And in my brain of brains, even through the chemo brain fog, I’m sure it’s not. I know it’s fine. But this is life after chemo, and this is just how your brain works.”
After a night of tossing, turning, and uncomfortable sleep, I began the next day by searching for a cardiologist that would be approved by my insurance. A simple exercise one would think, right?
Wrong! First, the major hospital/cardiology department in the area was not approved by my insurance (though for some reason they accepted my insurance). Second, the insurance couldn’t tell me who they did approve, and where to go. They said they could not give me any information and that wasn’t their job.
Which I understand. It should be on me to find the information – which I would be happy to do and did. However, the providers listed on the site didn’t include specialists, and from past experience I already knew most of their listings were out of date and either they no longer approved the doctor or the doctor no longer accepted their insurance.
So rather than waste the better part of my work day combing through cardiologists in my area, I figured I would ask. Previous insurers have been able to look up local doctors in my area that accept my insurance, and that my insurance approves of. This wacky bunch wasn’t able to do that. They weren’t able to tell me anything.
So I broke down, which I have a hard time letting myself do. I have awful anxiety when it comes to insurance and fighting through this messy health care system. I feel like I should be able to walk through this without any trouble, but I can’t. I get stuck and afraid, and I have a panic attack. Luckily my fiance (a.k.a. my knight in shining armor) was able to deal with this sh*t show. And after 30 calls, I had an appointment.
It turned out, though, that getting the appointment was only half the battle.
At this point in the story, you should know that I hadn’t stepped foot in a hospital since my last clinic appointment. And, of course, this test would be done in a hospital.
To get to the cardiology wing, I had to journey through a labyrinth. Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but it was a lot of different colored hallways that I’m sure even the nurses and doctors got lost in.
One of those hallways was a cancer treatment wing.
I’m pretty connected to the cancer community – I read stories of current patients all the time and reach out as often as I can. But I wasn’t ready to walk the halls that closely resembled where my treatment went down. I wasn’t ready to walk past hallways leading to people who were just hearing the news for the first time or getting their first shot of Neupogen. I wasn’t even ready to see the word “CANCER” in a hospital setting. It hadn’t even occurred to me that I would end up in this area.
I quickened my pace and just kept my eyes on the walls ahead of me and walked forward while trying to catch my breath. And without warning, I started to cry. Relapsing is one of my biggest fears, and I want to be as far away from cancer wards as humanly possible for the rest of my life. To even come this close to one and not be a patient was terrifying. A part of me was nervous a nurse would somehow recognize me as a cancer survivor and put me in the section I belonged.
Of course, that didn’t happen. And of course, that wouldn’t happen. And what’s funny, is a part of me was longing for this to be the hallway of my floor in Boston, with my nurses and my oncologist. I think the fact that it was filled with strange faces made me even more scared. Because finding a new team, and facing doctors who don’t know how I reacted to every medicine, treatment, or feeling, is terrifying.
Thankfully, it was one hallway, and by the time I reached the cardiology floor my heart rate had slowed and I had stopped shaking. Which was perfect timing, because in 20 minutes I would start my bra-less, johnny-clad run on a treadmill with four medical professionals staring at me.
Ready for the results? Come back next week to find out just how awkward it is to have an echo stress test.