For starters, it was much easier to get to than Dr. Sweet’s office, where I had the ultrasound, in Sanford, which is slightly further north. That was good.
Secondly, everyone was super nice. The paperwork was only three pages. I was thankful for that. The paperwork I filled out for the gastroenterologist was a small book. I thought that simultaneously my hand would fall off and I would reach Medicare eligibility. Maybe that’s what they were going for. That last thing. I do really love it when doctors let you fill in the information on a tablet, especially, since my paw writing has devolved after so many years of college note taking and food ticket writing as a server. I used to get compliments on my handwriting. Today, not so much.
Once I got into an exam room I noticed that the table didn’t have obvious stirrups. They were the retractable kind but, at first, I wondered if this was going to mostly be a consultation kind of meeting.
The nurse came in first and entered my info into the computer. I was so tired when I got up today, I just crammed all my pill bottles into a ziplock bag and brought them with me. She copied the information off the bottles.
We chatted a little while she worked: family, schools, hometowns, home states, music. Who do we listen too. Zeppelin. I now knowingly know two healthcare professionals who love Motley Crue. Oh yay! I guess they are kind of a big hair version of The Ramones. Kind of.
I mentioned my dad hailed from Jersey but, as a child, was made a Pennsylvania transplant by his self-taught engineering father who got a job in a Pittsburgh steel mill. She admitted to her family having ties to NJ and PA. Her sister went to Pitt, like my dad. I told her I wanted to go explore the historical stuff in the city of my birth, Philadelphia. “Yeah, that stuff is really cool, like, the Liberty Bell. But, stay out of the bad parts.” I asked what were those. She said Temple. “Isn’t that where Temple University is?” I asked. “Yes.” Then we talked about how Pennsylvania has so many great colleges.
She asked more health history questions: smoking? Yes, 5-6 years. First quit in 1979; relapse during mom’s coma in 1985. Took a week each time I quit. Alcohol intake? Wine once in awhile; can’t do much more than that because of bi-polar meds. Recreational drug use? Umm, yes, but, not in an extremely long while. Last time? “Um, a hit of acid at a Dead show in Orlando. That was in the 90’s. Maybe a couple, it was multiple shows.” She held back a giggle as she entered the information. Great. Now, my medical history includes that I’ve done LSD.
The nurse left me and and the doctor entered with an assistant. Lorna Brudie DO turned out to be very personable. I really liked her. She took down some notes about me and my medical issues. Cancer? Yes, basal cell on right side of chest; squamous cell on my right hand. Both surgically removed in March and April of 2019. Dad died of bladder cancer; everyone on his side of family died of some form of cancer. No one in immediate family with colon or breast cancer. More alcohol and smoking questions.
She asked if I was working? Yes, Sprouts in Winter Park. “Oh, I know, Mary (not her real name). I shop in that store.” “Yes, Mary told me she’s your patient and she says she loves you. But, I forgot that she said you shop there.”
She double checked on any implants I have. “Yes, left knee replaced in December 2019.” Then she added, “He’s (meaning, Dr. Hudanich) is my orthopedic, too.” We agreed that he’s, um, slightly unusual, in a good way. She gets shots in her knees.
I’ve always been interested in how doctors feel about treating other doctors or how doctors feel about being treated by other doctors. I bet some arrogant doctors make pain in the ass patients.
After her note taking she left and the assistant pulled out a blanket and gave me the normal gynecological instructions: everything off from waist down, except socks.
When she returned she looked at my affected areas. “Yes, I can see it.” “What’s it look like?” “White area parts kind of dark.” Then told me she was going to put a vinegar solution on the spot and it might sting. It didn’t and I didn’t end up smelling like a salad. She said the vinegar helps make the abnormal cells more prominent. “Is it widespread?” “No, localized to left side.” “How bad?” “Not bad. I would call this pre-cancerous.”
Whew! Thank you, GOD.
Then we discussed treatment. Earlier, she said if surgery was needed that she could do the vulvar and polyp surgeries at the same time. I said, “I wondered about that. Right now, I do have the D&C scheduled with Dr. Bernal.”
It turned out that the best treatment was to begin as applying a cream. I have to apply it and keep it on for eight hours and then wash it off. At first I do this once a week, then go to twice a week and, finally, I reach three times a week. Oh, this is going to be fun scheduling this around work hours. A retail frigging schedule. Cause, God knows, retail is as important as brain surgery or ER medicine or so, some retail managers believe.
But, it’s not yet cancer. She assured me that it isn’t anything to be terrified over. I explained that the word, “oncology,” is scary. She nodded, “I understand.” She also explained that this could spread or return so it was very important to keep a regular eye on it. Thus, I am seeing her every month for six months and then getting reassessed.
The assistant came in after I got dressed and double checked on my pharmacy information. She said she’d send in the prescription.
Later at home, I got a text from my pharmacy that the filling of the prescription was being delayed so they could review my insurance info. I knew that meant I was being punished for not paying my premium for April yet. I called Florida Blue to see if they’d take a partial. They used to. I have very little cash until next Friday or when my 401(k) check gets here and, my phone bill is due on the 13th. I ended up asking Rose, roommate, if I could borrow 65 bucks. She said she could. Thank God, I’m grateful. So, I paid my premium while I was in the phone. When that check arrives, I’m planning on paying at least three months worth of premiums.
Then, I called Walgreens and spoke with someone in the pharmacy. “My insurance premium is paid. So, you can fill my prescription.” “Your co-pay is 49 dollars and nine cents.” That’s the real co-pay not, the “insurance purgatory co-pay.” “Your insurance is saving you over six-hundred dollars.”
It stuns me that people are still angered by the idea of universal healthcare. I absolutely would pay higher taxes if it led to everyone getting healthcare.
Sorry, docs, I know that y’all worked hard to get into and graduate from medical schools but, if you are as compassionate as you claim to be, you should be as appalled and disgusted by the fact that people DIE because they cannot afford to get medical treatment. Staying healthy is not a spectator sport but, it should not be limited to just the wealthy or the extremely poor. EVERYONE should have very affordable access to it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, I’m a liberal. GET OVER IT!!!!!!!!
As it stands now, I’m supposed to begin using the cream on Monday so that it ends up on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday routine. Dr. Brudie said it’s easier to keep track of when I need to apply it. I absolutely agree. However, I won’t have the money to get it till that check arrives. It’s supposed to take no more than ten days. It comes from a private business and does not need to go through a governmental maze so, I’m pretty sure it will be here by the 17th.
Gee, if we had universal healthcare, I wouldn’t have to wait. If any of y’all are having trouble being in favor of UHC, google how much The Brits generally love theirs and how well respected their system is, worldwide.
To sum up, I’m pretty ok in the girlie parts department. I still need the D&C and that is scheduled for May 5th. I was supposed to go to my orthopedic appointment then but, I had to use that day for the gynecological surgery. Dern, I was hoping my chef-orthopedic would be serving up some Mexican chow. Lol. I’m still facing the remainder of colon hurdle. I’m slightly concerned about what the colon polyps biopsies revealed but, the post colonoscopy report said my colon looked normal except for the two polyps that appeared to be benign. Thus, I’m not too freaked out.
I just want my normal life back. I want decent health, decent income-with savings, a car that’s in good running order, a safe, clean, pest-free, comfortable home in a safe neighborhood and access to affordable health and dental care.
For now, I’m happy my vulvar area doesn’t have cancer.
I am relieved and grateful and lucky.