"Happiness is a Choice." quote taken from an interview of Drew Barrymore by Kevin Sessums

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Money Doesn't Grow on Trees

January 20th comes when I’m actually having a reasonable day pain-wise. I see Jeff first who continues to be the enthusiastic, positive and testosterone-filled man as before. He wants to check the alignment of both my pelvis and my hips and he wants to perform the laser treatment again. He and Elizabeth are both concerned that my pain is continuing and migrating with no STOP sign in sight. He is pleased that I rank my pain level today as a 4, but he also understands that there is no rhyme or reason why one day or moment my pain level is low and then the next day or moment it will be through the roof.

After I lay down, Jeff tells me that my pelvis is still misaligned and my range of motion at the pelvis is decreasing. The tone also continues to be abnormal and I tell him that I continue to have pain in that region. He notices that both legs now are very tender, particularly from the knee down and now the tone of my muscles in my lower extremities is abnormal. This is a huge step back from a month ago and we both know that if I continue to lose my muscle tone in my legs, it will become more and more difficult for me to walk. Once again my right hip is elevated despite wearing only tennis shoes that are at the same height as the Aircast. Jeff manipulates my right hip so that it is once again aligned with my left hip. Although the MRI on my back showed lumbar disc displacement, Jeff notices that I have thoracic disc displacement as well. Jeff repeats the laser treatment on my back only and once again the machine crackles and buzzes. Jeff tries it on himself to make sure that the machine is working correctly because it is making so much noise. Indeed the machine is working just fine because it is completely quiet on him, but when he puts the laser on my back again, the noise is incredibly loud. So despite my lower pain level, I am getting further and further behind the eight ball. Jeff thinks that I must embrace the spinal cord stimulator as my E-ticket to some real pain relief.

When I switch rooms to meet with Elizabeth, she too wants to discuss the spinal cord stimulator. When she first introduced the stimulator option to me, I was adamant that I wanted to try water therapy first. The problem is that none of the physical therapists in our area offer water therapy. I also had no idea the financial issues surrounding the therapy itself. I don’t know why, but I thought that because this was linked to an injury, I would be given a certain number of therapy sessions at little or no cost. I had no idea that the co-pay would be $20 each. That doesn’t sound like a lot of money until you realize that three sessions a week costs $60.00 for a monthly cost of $240.00. I have to be realistic about the financial burden my illness is now putting on my family. Not only am I not working, but I am literally spending money on something to do with my RSD every week. Since last July, I went from being the least medically treated person in our home to the most medically treated person in our home. I have had countless doctor appointments to attend, x-rays to endure, two MRIs to lie still for, and medications to be filled. All of this costs money, money, money and we do not have endless amounts of it to pay for all of these costs. Health insurance is wonderful, but those co-pays add up quite quickly.

I tell Elizabeth that all I can think to do is maybe try some water “therapy” of my own at the local athletic center and see if my insurance will pay part of my monthly membership. When our community pool opens in May, then I can continue the therapy literally in my own neighborhood from May to September, and then go back to the athletic center. It is the cheaper option and it gives me a chance to try water “therapy” before giving in to the stimulator. Elizabeth gives me two weeks to try to work something out before putting the stimulator front and center as the next step in treating my pain. In the meantime, I need to continue to take all my medications, including the newly prescribed Prozac. Again, if I am not properly taking my medication, my pain levels can’t be controlled.

Today I leave their office feeling like a child who has disappointed her parents, yet I can no longer ignore the financial burden my illness is now putting on my family. I’ve asked Elizabeth if I need to prepare myself for applying for permanent disability and she says that it is too early to say if we’ll cross that path. Michael says that obviously this money would help pay for all my medical expenses but that is not how this works. Last time I checked, money doesn’t grow on trees, it is illegal to rob a bank and I am not well enough to work. I know that both Jeff and Elizabeth are frustrated, but honestly, how do they think I feel?

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