I’m alive!! I apologize for the months-long interval between posts. What can I say, life happened and on the bright side, I had less medical news to report! Not that there’s a dearth by any means, particularly compared to most other people. I’ll just run through a few highlights and then get to what you all really came here for… pictures of Polly. With due credit to Dave Barry’s annual news year in review (without fail, one of my favorite year end reads!), let us proceed.
- My cardiologist was once again thrilled with the state of my heart. I’ve never seen anyone so excited about a resting heart rate under 100! To be fair, until recently mine had been lingering around 120. No wonder I was so tired! She was also thrilled that I joined a gym at a deeply discounted rate through my health insurance, and I’m proud to report that as of December 2018, I can ride a stationary bike for 22 minutes without dying! Cheers to that!
- I had a bone density scan. More on that in December…
- I also had a prosthetics appointment that accomplished nothing to move us toward the goal of my getting a robot leg,
- tattooed my nipple back on, and
- had my annual pulmonary function tests (PFTs). According to my pulmonary doctor, they showed a decrease in lung capacity of about 20%, but he seemed unfazed by that… almost alarmingly so. Alarmingly unalarmed. “It sometimes looks like that,” he said. In other words, he didn’t think it was a real drop, so we’re re-PFTing in six months.
- I randomly got pink eye and overnight one night scratched my eye so badly I couldn’t handle almost any light, which made driving an adventure. I worked mostly with the lights off in my office, which made people think I wasn’t there, but I WAS! And I heard EVERYTHING! Just kidding, I had my music on to block out the hallway noise.
- The ID doc was pleased with the ever-dropping level of aspergillus in my blood. That having been said, we both walked in with the idea that fall and winter is when things seem to flare for me, so even though originally I was going to take the anti-fungal medicine for a year (which would have ended that month), maaaaaaaaaybe it would be a better idea to keep up the good fight for another few months. At that point, we’ll check levels again and also get a baseline CT for future comparison purposes.
- I had another prosthetics appointment that once again accomplished nothing to move us toward the goal of my getting a robot leg.
- The plastic surgeon was thrilled with how everything looked, and told me the tattoo would continue to fade, so my observation that it was as orange like the president wouldn’t always be true. I should wait a few more months before doing anything else to it. If it doesn’t fade, maybe this is a sign that it is supposed to be made into a giraffe. Eating a flower.
- I also saw the oncologist for my six-month follow-up and zometa infusion. She told me the bone density scan showed that my osteopenia had progressed to osteoporosis, at least in my left hip. Apparently the left hip is one of the standard areas scanned in bone density studies, but for some reason in my previous bone density study, they scanned my right hip. It’s possible that the density is lower in my left than right hip because I rely more heavily on my right leg and hip. So she wanted to keep me on the zometa and repeat the bone density scan in a year.
- I had another prosthetics appointment, during which they did the paperwork they could have done in September while I sat in the waiting room, only to have the request for approval be denied a day later by my insurance as a “non-covered service.” It makes total sense, right? Why would you cover a robot knee with stumble recovery built in to a person with a history of falls and osteopenia/osteoporosis? It makes much more sense to pay for medial services when said hypothetical person falls and breaks something. #WompWomp As a result, I am changing insurance companies for 2019 to one that does cover it, with the intention of changing back in 2020 because my 2018 plan really is better for everything else I need. However, the robot leg DOES mean it’s more probable than not that I will hit my annual health insurance catastrophic max for the fifth year in a row, wooooooooo! #WaitWhat
- There’s also the matter of the lengthy excuse the prosthetist offered me for the massive delay in submitting the paperwork. It involved an e.coli infection, a swollen testicle, a trip to the emergency room, and an oral missive on the inefficiencies of the U.S. medical system (from him, not me!), but that seems like a story for another time.
- In dental news, I got invisaligners! Way back in the day, I was supposed to get regular braces. I actually had a thing behind my lower teeth as the start of the process. Then osteosarcoma happened, and what with chemo being very hard on the soft tissues of the mouth, introducing more opportunities for infection through braces seemed like a bad idea. So the idea of braces was set to the side. But I still have an overbite, and I grind my teeth, both of which contribute to crowding of my front bottom teeth as well as some gum recession. Apparently I really did need braces. Alas, now I have invisaligners, and it’s totally messing with my strong preference of having one meal that lasts all day long!
OK, that’s all the medical news that’s fit to share. Other stuff happened, like a trip to North Carolina, an election, several doomed coffee dates, a number of birthdays, a lecture at GWU, Michelle Obama, a story at the Moth GrandSLAM, another visit from Jujubee, and my traditional Christmas drive from D.C. to the boro with one of my favorite boro-ians, but we’ll have to catch up about all that another time.
Circling back to the framing questions I posed in the beginning of the year (in fact the past several years!), the answers are YES, I hit my health insurance catastrophic max for the third straight year, and NO, I didn’t meet anyone who could compete with Polly’s soft ears. And once again, those seem like appropriate framing questions for the year ahead as well. While it would be nice if both answers reversed for 2019, it seems likely that the robot leg will ensure the first answer is once again yes. The second question is still a mystery, though!
You didn’t think I’d leave you without a song, did you? According to Spotify, the artist I listened to most last year was Anderson .Paak, so please enjoy his Tiny Desk Concert to kick off your weekend!