Monday, May 4, 2015

Falling Apart. A Tip to Chemo Patients. Lessons Learned.

Falling Apart
As many of you know, I quite fell apart last week - really I did.  Here's is exactly what happened. 

We received a phone call from my oncologist's nurse saying that there was an insurance issue.  Oh. Oh. Yup, my husband and I were concerned - especially after all we had been through with our insurance company approving our trip to MD Anderson.  So, I returned the call immediately and left a message.  He called me back and left a message.  I called him back and left a message.  I'm sure youre beginning to see the pattern.  We played tag for two weeks. 

Thankfully we received the hard copy insurance approval for the next 3 months of chemo.  We took a deep breath and relaxed a bit. 

But the phone calls continued, so we were concerned.  Was there another issue?  Perhaps the awful early appointment I was scheduled for had been scheduled for a more decent hour?  Yea!   Well, I was going to be in El Paso anyway, so my hubby suggested I stop by the office and see what's going on.  Eeesh. 

I was able to speak to the nurse.  He told me two things. 
1)  Our insurance company has provided a nurse who specializes in cancer to call me about every two weeks to see how I'm doing - or so I thought.  I had shared with her that I was always stressed out, anxious and somewhat depressed the day before treatment.  Duh.  Of course I am - perfectly normal reaction. 

I also shared that I was dealing with the issue by inviting friends over on Wednesday nights for dinner and a movie or just conversation.  I had also contacted my PCP to see what she would suggest. 

Well, our "insurance issue" was that our nurse called my oncologist and let him know what I said and asked him to take care of this issue.  WHAT?  Really?  So is this nurse there to help me or be a watch dog with my oncologist?  I know, Polly, I talk too much.  I know, my dear sister-in-law, I give too much information.  Obviously so.  Well thank God, that was the "insurance issue."   

2)  Now to deal with my appointment.  I had to keep the upber early doctor appointment because my session would be 6 - 7 hours long.  WHAT?  ARE YOU SERIOUS?  I have seen patients who have those long sessions and God bless and strengthen them!  Those sessions are tough, awful, terrible!  These poor patients are fighting for their lives and left in such a weakened state!  As one friend said, "Chemo takes you to the brink of death to save your life." 

Clinical Psychologist
Panic.  Terror.  Shock.   Confused.

My oncologist had said the worst was over, the next round of chemo wouldn't be easy, but would be easier!  I cried.  I texted my prayer warriors.  I had to rest behind their shields of faith because I was frightened.  I forgot the God I serve. 

A Tip to Chemo Patients.
Instead of falling apart, I should have asked my nurse a very important question:  Is the infusion or the entire appointment going to take 6 - 7 hours?

Let me explain what happens when I go to chemo therapy.

  • I check in and pay my co-pay.
  • Then I go in for labs - blood work.
  • After I see my friendly vampires - and they are quite kind and gentle - I wait to see my oncologist.
  • After we visit, I go upstairs and wait to begin my chemo session.
  • The chemo nurses and I visit about how I'm doing and discuss changes, coping strategies, and such. 
  • Then I start my chemo.
Well, all of the above takes about 4 hours with the actual chemotherapy session taking about 2 1/2 hours. 

Being that I was going to start a new round of chemo, the doctor's visit and conversation with the nurses would be longer - obviously.  So, my entire appointment would be longer.  Again, I should have asked, "Is the infusion or the entire appointment going to take 6 - 7 hours?"  Or, the nurse should have explained that the entire appointment would be longer due to the changes in treatment.

Lesson I've learned?  

Never assume anything!  Ask how long the entire appointment will be and how long the actual infusion will be.  Doing so would have saved myself and loved ones so much pain and drama. 

- Remember the God I serve.  Even if I would have had to go through an all day infusion treatment, I need to remember the God I serve tells me this:
 Those patients whom I have witnessed going through those day long  - even week long - treatments need so much prayer - as do their loved ones.  Please remember them.  And remember the God I serve is there for you as well.  One more thing, please remind me when I face Panic.  Terror.  Shock.   Confusion. of the God I serve. 

For today, this is my truth. 

1 comment:

  1. It's a good thing you are covered in prayer....and, don't forget that co-pay!