Monday, February 23, 2009

Did it have to be Friday the 13th?

Lisa awakened me at 6:30 on a Tuesday morning complaining that she couldn't breath and had already been up for two hours fretting about it so she didn't want to wait until 8:30 when the clinic opened. I took her to the ER (at the hospital in Llano, 20 minutes from here). The doctor took a chest x-ray and sent her home with an antibiotic, cough suppressant and an anti-inflammatory. Thursday afternoon I came down with whatever-the-heck-it was so Friday (the 13th) she drove me to the ER (at the VA hospital in Temple, a little over 2 hours from here but substantially more affordable). The VA doctor had my chest x-rayed and sent me home with an antibiotic, cough suppressant and an anti-inflammatory. Neither doctor gave the condition a name but both appeared to have seen it before.

On the way home from Temple an idiot hauling a front end loader on a monstrous trailer pulled across the road in front of us, completely blocking the highway. Lisa, who was driving, managed to come to a full stop without hitting the trailer. The guy behind us was less fortunate. He rear-ended our car. The car is history, that's what the wrecker driver figured anyway. After calling 911 to report the accident we called our daughter Lily and, in relatively short order, our son-in-law, Kirk, arrived and drove us home (Thanks Kirk!).

As of tonight (Sunday) we've both got sore muscles in our necks but are otherwise alive, well and slowly recovering from our respiratory conditions. Tomorrow we'll go to the clinic and have our necks looked at.

It's all well and good to live in interesting times but, honestly, we'd much prefer having the words 'drama' and 'trauma' remain a little more abstract than they've been of late.


Friday, February 06, 2009

The Army is still changing my life (thanks uncle Sam).

About eighteen months ago I started having asthma-like symptoms. I thought my childhood asthma has decided to revisit me in my golden years. At first the symptoms were mild and non-threatening but they gradually became more intense. After a kilo-dollar trip to the ER where they gave me a fifty cent Albuterol treatment with a nebulizer (lets talk about the rising costs of medical care) I went to the clinic in Llano. She gave me a prescription for Albuterol (we already had a nebulizer machine at home) which is very inexpensive and a rescue inhaler (Albuterol in a very small aerosol can for $40 ostensibly due to an exotic but necessary propellant) and that worked just fine for a few months. I scrounged an extra nebulizer machine to wag around in the van in case I had an "attack" while I was playing a gig and wound up using it on several occasions but my symptoms continued to become more frequent and more intense. I made another visit to the clinic and asked my PA if I was going to wind up needing a nebulizer treatment every four hours for the rest of my life. She gave me some samples of Advair and made it clear that she couldn't treat me for long with samples. Advair worked great and I only had to use it twice a day but a quick trip to showed me that it was going to cost around $400 a month. That was going to be a serious monetary obstacle for us. A few years ago I needed a complete physical and when the local clinic explained that it would cost several hundred dollars, reasoning that it was bound to be at least somewhat less expensive, I drove to the VA hospital in Kerville and got the most thorough physical I've ever had in my life for a grand total of $25. So, I said to myself. "Self, it's time to go see the VA again". I was able to get the forms online and fill them out. We had to drive to Temple (a little over two hours from here) but I'm getting superlative treatment and, so far, it hasn't cost me anything at all. My asthma-like symptoms have been diagnosed as COPD, I've had some minor skin cancers removed and I'm soon to be fitted for a CPAP machine to treat my mild sleep apnea.