Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Buffalo Springfield Kind of Day, For What it's Worth . . .

Tommy and I were talking the other day, and he mentioned a meeting where his then-boss said something about positions opening in D.C., and how he remembered thinking, “This is important. This is where it starts.” I knew exactly what he meant because, back on August 28th of 2011, I experienced the very same sensation. But not in a good way.

You see, I was flat on my back on an examining table, legs up in the stirrups, with someone’s hand inside me when it happened. It went from a happy “let’s get all these routine exams out of the way so we’re going into our insurance-less stretch with a clean bill of health” to “oh, shit, I’m in trouble and I won’t have insurance!” That quick—from all-clear to formerly-comforting voice saying “Hello—hang on. What’s this? Has this always been here?”

“This” is a 7 mm “mass” in the anterior vaginal wall. 7 mm. The size of a pencil eraser, give or take. But that was four months ago, almost to the day. Four months with no follow-up, no further care because we were caught in the limbo of “between insurance” and the new insurance, which took almost three months to kick in, only has one urogynecology office (the other plans had NONE), and that office couldn’t see me until tomorrow. Four months, and I can only hope that it’s still “only” a 7 mm lump. Yes, yes, I did try to see a run-of-the-mill gyno at the mid-way point. You saw how that turned out. Money talks. Broke gets shuffled out of the office sans care in a haze of shame and sadness.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow I'm a step closer to finding out if this is a urethral diverticulum, cancer, or both. Yes, it can be both—a malignancy could be found within a diverticulum, it’s not uncommon. And up there, where the vaginal wall and the urethra are in such close quarters? Even a small cancer can be a disaster. A life-altering, piss-into-a-bag-for-whatever-time-you-have-left kind of disaster. Could it be something totally benign in the truest sense of the word? It could, but I have urinary symptoms. A feeling of pressure, a sensation of something impinging. And that, my friends, takes “oh, it’s nothing” right off the table. It’s absolutely something.

In addition to the terror of what they might find (and it is terror, no matter how cool I might play it), there’s the competing horror of what they’re going to do to me to find out what this is. This is going to be beyond humiliating. Devastating is a more accurate term.

And then there’s the money. Copays, deductibles, the mad scrambling, trying to figure out what labs are covered and what procedures require prior approval in order to protect us from a massive, "we won't cover that" hit from the insurance. Stuff I never had to worry about with the old insurance. And we are so broke, this is not what we need right now. We need for this to be nothing. As stupid as this sounds, I find myself wishing that my old doc’s office had missed this “mass.” Because then I would have written the symptoms off to a touch of cystitis. Then I wouldn’t be worried until my next exam, which wouldn’t have been until next fall. Next fall, when the money starts flowing a little easier and we can better afford for me to be a disaster.

I’m 46 years old. I’ve pretty much lost hope that some Secret Santa-type is going to drop ten grand on our heads and save us. Even the 500 dollar pet deposit isn’t happening, and that breaks my heart. I want Sean to have a puppy. And more, I want to see Sean with a puppy. And I am very afraid of what’s going on with me, afraid that maybe I’m not going to get to see that. I’m fat, diabetic, and on heart meds for an arrhythmia—the almost certain surgery I’m facing is a terrifying prospect with potential to go very wrong for me.

That sensation that something small actually signifies the beginning of something very big, that a certain moment will prove to be the start of something life-altering? Yeah, I know that sensation. Too well.

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