I see from The Sarcastic Boob's latest post that I am not the only one suffering at the hands of medical politics right now, but I usually stew about a bad situation and cry it out and pout for a while before getting mad enough to finally blog it out.
And I could still have a few days of stewing left in me, so I thought I ought get at least the basics down on blog.
Last year, my oncologist's office merged with another oncology business (I say business, not practice, because it is clear after a year where their focus lies), then six months later broke with the MAJOR insurance/hospital group in our area (over money). I had a "continuation of care" to continue seeing him until the end of the year, at which time I would have to change insurance companies or change oncologists.
I worked very hard (or rather, my insurance broker did) to find a Medicare plan for me for 2013 that my oncologist now accepted, which also included my primary care doctor, without whom I would be lost. We felt certain that (in November, during open enrollment) we had found a very good solution for me.
Friday, midday, I saw my oncologist. My oncologist of SEVEN YEARS. I thought all was fine, we had a nice visit, I left my new insurance card info with the front desk. I had my blood drawn through my port in the infusion room, at which time the nurses informed me that as of 01/01/13, they would no longer be drawing any blood through ports in the office. Not even on an exception basis, the basis on which I had been getting my blood drawn there still since the new business tried to nix it. I had JUST seen my doctor, who surely KNEW of this change, who definitely KNEW I was one of the exceptions he had cleared and he said nothing. I told the nurse that I would no longer be getting weekly blood draws then, Xeloda protocol be damned. I have bad veins in the one arm not at lymphodema risk, and frankly I doubt I could even do MONTHLY blood draws in the traditional way without serious mental and physical pain. (long story there) She told me they could set me up to be able to the infusion center on an out-patient basis at the hospital. I asked if she would arrange it at the hospital nearer my home, rather than the one nearer to the oncology office, since obviously, why would I make the weekly drive to the further facility. I also have vowed never again to go into that particular hospital.
Needless to say, I was crying. I was crying on my way out of the building, where I ran into my oncologist. In my tears I said to him, in accusation, that he hadn't told me I would no longer be able to get my blood drawn there. He indicated that the decision had been taken out of his hands this time. I told him I could not use my veins, and that the nurses said they would set me up at the hospital. He assured me that he understood that I needed to use my port.
He KNEW how I am about needles, and KNEW of the policy change, and KNEW that after seeing him I was headed to the infusion room for a blood draw, where surely he KNEW the nurses would inform me of the change in policy.
Frankly, I think he WIMPED OUT (if someone is a woosie, what is the past tense of that? Woosed out?) He WOOSED out on being the one to tell me about it.
I sat on a bench in the building and cried while texting someone for a few minutes, then made my way to my car and sat sobbing for at least 30 minutes. When I was regrouped enough to drive, I headed home, and on the way decided that I needed to drown my sorrows in chow mein.
But wait, this isn't even the BAD part.
About a half an hour later, in the Chinese restaurant, the Oncologist's office calls to tell me that my new insurance, the one I so carefully chose, would not be accepted by them for the new year. Doctor is not on my plan. Oh yes he is! I insisted.
This is where it gets bad, and I haven't sufficiently stewed to be able to tell this part of the story without sending myself back to the sobs in which I spent the rest of Friday.
I have involved my broker, but it is looking like my doctor had a last minute dispute with this carrier and pulled out...AFTER the open enrollment period. (Dirty Pool! Foul! NOT Cool!) They have been messing with patients lives for a year now, ever since the merger.
SEVEN years I've been with this man. That's longer than my marriage lasted. Seven years I've adored him and depended upon him. In those seven years, I think the longest that I've gone without seeing him was 4 months, when we had just barely started lengthening out the period of time between exams, before my Stage IV diagnosis when I started seeing him monthly again.
And now it looks like I will indeed be interviewing new Oncologists. Something I've dreaded and never wanted to have to do, thinking I would be with this doctor to the end of my days. I made an appointment to see my Primary Care Physician next Monday to try and sort some of this out.
Goal for now? Not to fall into the sobbing dark place again.