Sunday, June 24, 2012

Big "C"

This week looks like the decision on Obamacare. The spin has drifted firmly against the plan with public opinion running more than 70% against the program and multiple predictions of Supreme Court opinions leaning toward strike down of the act either totally or in part. The key part, of course, is the individual mandate since without that financial dictate there is no way to pay for the rest.

I'm looking at my future and thanking my deities that I don't live in Canada, the UK or Cuba (Michael Moore and Hugo Chavez, notwithstanding.) I've gotten on the fast train and haven't had to experience a bit of obstruction from government bureaucrats in getting everything I need.

Yes, I'm fortunate to have healthcare coverage. It's a combination of Medicare which is universally available to older Americans supplemented by the modified guaranteed lifetime coverage promised with military retirement. That program is now called Tricare For Life, and it is an automatic earned benefit that comes at age 65 with Medicare.

There's been not the slightest hesitation in approvals or scheduling of everything the doctors have recommended. The speed is almost frightening, particularly when attached to the various attached side-effects and life-style changes. The important thing, though, is that I can access the best that the current state of the medical art has to offer.

The arguments about "fixing" America's healthcare system always bring up the number of uninsured that Obama will provide for. I've seen as high as 50 million American uncovered and last week in a reputable news source as low as 15 million. The most common number is around 30 million. Never noticed in that is the fact that there are about 320 million Americans today. That means that without government getting into the single-payer, bureaucratic mix there are 290 million Americans satisfactorily covered.

Why does healthcare cost so much today? Because we've got tools we never had before and we've got them in numbers that get patients the access almost immediately.

So far, I started three weeks ago with a routine esophageal endoscoping. I've gotten them every two years for the last twenty due to chronic reflux and heartburn. The scope showed a stomach ulcer and tumor. I immediately received a CT-scan. That was Monday and on Friday the doctor gave me the biopsy supported diagnosis, adenocarcinoma of the stomach not related to the reflux or heartburn.

The following Monday I was in Dallas consulting with the chief of oncological surgery at Dallas Methodist. Tuesday I was getting detailed blood work done and Friday I saw an oncologist in nearby Sherman to lay out a plan.

This week's schedule starts on Monday with a Muga-scan which is a nuclear radiology procedure to evaluate heart capacity and ventricle pumping adequacy, a prerequisite to chemo. Tuesday it will be back to Dallas for a consult with a cardiologist who will participate in the eventual surgery, a carotid Doppler test to check blood flow and a PET/CT scan to identify any additional tumor spots. Thursday next week a visit to the internist to insert a central port for chemo infusions. A week from Monday the first round of chemo starts. A portable pump will give me a five day supply so I don't need daily visits to the clinic.Three weeks on and three weeks off for three cycles.

That should take me into October at which time I anticipate another PET and surgery. Looks like it will be the ultimate gastric by-pass. Then another series of chemo.

Yeah, it's not a pretty road. But it is certainly smooth, well-paved and unobstructed with governmental interference. Would I prefer a different situation? Of course. But right now it looks like I'm getting the best healthcare available in the world today.


Pedro Chavez said...

A la chingada con los torpedos, full speed ahead. It must be tough and only you know. May the force be with you. Saludos.

immagikman said...

Ed, best wishes and prayers for you. I hope things go as well as possible.

juvat said...

Ed, Hang in there, we'll keep you in our prayers.

Just finished rereading your two books. Even better the second round. Thanks.

Pilgrim said...

As we haven't reached the stage of Soylent Green yet, I pray there is promise of a cure.


LauraB said...

Damnation...that is a lot to track. I am so glad your appts are fast and proper. If you have any surgery that = large incision, see if they will offer this handy item. Absolutely no pain at incision without all the dope.

Don't forget the chill-cap to keep whatever hair you have left. (GRIN)

Seriously - if you need anyone to aid w/ dogs, help out with driving, we're here for you.

Chris said...

I fully believe in the courage and toughness that took a young pilot from zero to an impossible one hundred despite a whirlwind of forces to the contrary.

No match for the "fighter" in that pilot. Positive thoughts, all the way.

Anonymous said...

My prayers for you.

Thomas said...

Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you start your treatment. To a successful, speedy, and smooth course of treatment!