Ice Storms, Insurance and Medical Bills

Declan...four years old

Declan…four years old

First, there were two Ginley birthdays this week.  Sean was on Thursday. His “twin”, Declan was four on Wednesday.  He had a great day and loved every single one of his toys, especially the  toy fishing pole and fish that Uncle Sean and Aunt Carly sent.  Erin and Brent heated up the hot tub so the kids could fish that evening.

Ice storm in Houston yesterday…schools closed, businesses closed, some roads were closed.  I had an appointment with Dr. Ho, my medical oncologist, at 9:00 and left it up to Jerry (the driver) to decide if we should try to make it.  The answer was no and I cancelled.  Good move.  Took care of the whole thing over the phone.  I had a few questions about an adjustment they made to my chemo meds on Monday based on some kidney function thing.  I wasn’t overly concerned.  I figured if my kidneys were in trouble they’d tell me, not just wait for the pharmacy to get in touch with the doctor to adjust the dosage of one of the drugs.  Sure enough…not a problem.  It’s some kind of calculation based on kidney function and weight (which, I might add, is remaining steady).  I also have had a bit of problem swallowing this week…also assumed that didn’t mean the tumor was getting bigger again but wanted to check.  Guess that the proton irritates the esophagus and can cause some swelling…okay, I’m good to go for another week.  And all without risking a fender bender by a trip to the hospital for a ten minute talk with the doc.

We did go out last night for proton…a 9:00 pm appointment.  Thank God we didn’t have our usual 6:00 am (ice).  No ice at 9:00 pm.  But so glad my proton is not usually at 9:00.  I’m in bed by 9:00 most days.  This was an exercise in endurance to stay awake for it all.  We were home by 10:00 and Anne and Clark were waiting for us…sat up and gabbed for another half hour.  I think that was the latest I’ve been to bed since we got to Houston.

I got an email from a good friend wanting to know if we were doing okay financially…Did we need someone to organize a fund raiser?  The answer (although we’re so grateful for the thought) is we are fine.  Medicare and my supplement seem to be covering everything except a little $10.00 copay every now and then (all from work done in Venice)  We get the bills for thousands of dollars…every chemo treatment seems to be about $10,000 …with a column that says “Due from patient”  $0.00.  Incredible.  But I go over everything and rant and rave about the high cost of it all.  $615 for the nurse at Venice Oncology to disconnect my port and do a blood test back when I was there in December.  $1000 for recovery room when I had the port put in (I was there for 30 minutes maybe…hooked up to a heart monitor) No wonder everyone is so worried about Medicare breaking our bank.  Health care is costing entirely too much these days.  (this from someone who insisted on Proton ever though it was three times the cost of regular radiation)

And the waste…For someone who saves everything that I might be able to reuse (a plastic straw??) watching them clean up after the needle is put into the port before chemo or they’re cleaning up from chemo…miles of plastic tubing in the trash, syringes, and a perfectly good pair of scissors (I did ask for the scissors..they’re great)  I cannot even imagine how much trash a hospital must have each day.  Nothing is reused, nothing is recycled.  Maybe it’s more cost effective to throw it away than to clean and sterilize things and use them again. Seems to me they could at least save the scissors…or give them to schools for their art classes.  But what do I know?  I’m beginning to think if we have money to invest we ought to invest in medical supply companies.  With cancer on the rise, plastic tubing may be a big money maker.

Fun day today.  We’re going hot tub shopping with Anne and Clark…plan on trying out a few while we’re at it.  Tomorrow we have another session at the Apple Store…focus is itunes which I have kind of learned by hit or miss and figure there are things they can teach us.

And then on Monday our usual proton, out to breakfast, bloodwork, chemo and back to Anne’s by mid-afternoon where my sweet sister, Kim, will be here from Massachusetts for the week.  Kim is one of the “littles” in our family…born when I was fourteen…Her kids were our “practice grandchildren”.  Clark is heading out for a week to see his dad in Florida so Jerry will have to hold down the fort with three sisters who never stop talking (well I never stop talking anyway)

Have a good weekend, my friends.  All’s well here still…How did I get so lucky?


12 thoughts on “Ice Storms, Insurance and Medical Bills

  1. Have a great time with your sisters! I bet Jerry will enjoy every minute of it, really. It’ll be fun. So glad that crazy weather was short lived. I think I saw that Houston would get back into the sixties. It was 12 this morning when I walked. I’ m getting used to it! Hugs to you,Friend.

  2. Deirdre Christman

    What an adorable child Declan is! I love that age; that’s how old Charlotte is.

    Thank God you have good insurance and are getting the treatment you need. Don’t get me started on the state of health care in America. I think it’s a disgrace that people have to hold bake sales and raffles to pay for a child’s leukemia treatment. Did you see the expose in Time a year or so ago about how there are three tiers of payment: Medicare, Insurance, and out of pocket for those with no insurance. Unbelievable – and MD Anderson was cited as being one of the worst offenders. Why on earth we don’t all have a form of Medicare – or a national health service – I don’t know. Don’t worry; Medicare is not actually paying the sticker price for everything on your bill. The hospital has to accept what Medicare is willing to pay and the formula your insurance has for paying the rest. Cold comfort, of course.

    Love you.

  3. Dear Mary, You’re lucky in faith, family, friends and a great attitude! How can I ever complain again? I tell Joe that ” he’s only right when I tell him he is.” Well, we have to keep these guys in line! Happy healing; praying for you, love Jane

  4. Just a totally delicious kiddo! Really should get him and our Sadie together, wouldn’t that be just too cute for words. So, so glad you’re clicking along – oh please, may it continue. Sensible, steady Jerry. You’re lucky, he’s lucky, we’re all lucky to have you both. love, Shirley

  5. Love reading your experiences ! You really have a talent for writing. I feel like I have gotten to know your family.

  6. Wendie Highsmith

    Mary-That Declon is about as cute as they get. He just lights up the room! I totally agree about the healthcare costs and waste. I am hopeful that our society will wake up one day before everyone is literally buried in the waste. Every now and then there’s something on TV about the garbage that is floating around in the ocean–mostly from the tsunamis in Asia and China. Our grandkids and those who come after them will have alot to figure out on this score, because we’re not doing such a great job. The weather here has been idealic. A little snow, a little wind, a little ice. No complaints. Sometimes it’s been colder in FL than here. And then, there’s climate change. So glad you get to be with your sisters, I get to be with my one and only in Feb when we go to FL ( Feb 5-19). You and Jerry have a great week…it’s all moving you closer and closer to regaining your good health. Love, Wendie


  7. The cost of health care is astronomical with unexplainable waste, which makes me wonder why anyone wouldn’t want to support universal health care reform since much of the high costs are to pay for those who do not have insurance and certainly can’t pay the bills, along with duplication and waste. With every reform there are adjustments and corrections to be made, but moving forward is the only option in my opinion. Actually, I’d like a single payer system with stipends for those who can document need. Health care should be considered a right, not a privilege.

  8. When I grow up Mary, I want to be just like you!

  9. Is Declan not the spitting image of Erin?
    Gab sessions, i-tunes, and hot tubs – Sounds like a good treatment plan to me!

  10. I think your kids all look like the first time I saw Erin in fifth grade when we first moved to Longmeadow and Erin was in Kate’s fifth grade class in Jamie Rowe’s class! Time has flown.

    I think they throw all that stuff away because there are too many weird germs floating around and they don’t want to spread them but then….of course they all go into a landfill and the germs will go into the Earth…hmmmmmm? maybe they should sterilize??

    Hope your ice has melted. Ours can’t…it’s 10 degrees – can’t wait to see you in Venice in 3 weeks!

  11. Thanks for the update, the photo of that delicious Declan and the good news that you are financially sound. You certainly don’t need that added pressure. Hot tub sounds really good about now. Ah….

  12. May the sisters enjoy the best time ever…..and may Jerry find quiet peace somewhere in the house!

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