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Starting January 1, 2014 I was free from Auschwitz. Still need to get the tattoo of my Kaiser “Member” number removed from my left inner forearm, but Blue Shield won’t cover that so it’ll have to wait.
Y’see, back on January 5, 2011 I woke up thoroughly unable to see in my left eye. All I can pick up on is maybe five per cent of my normal field of vision, very dim and extremely blurry. Like looking through the patterned, smoked glass they might use for shower doors.
I call to make an appointment with an Ophthalmologist as soon as possible, and the advice nurse on the phone decides it’s a stroke. Tells me to call an ambulance. Won’t take “no” for an answer. Says she’ll call one for me, so I promise her I’ll call myself.
Which I do.
Paramedics show up. Police show up. Firefighters show up. A shitload of ’em.
Without being asked, I do a field sobriety test, I do tongue-twisters, I smile, and I even play a few licks of “Stormy Monday” (Buddy Guy version, not the Allmans) on a keyboard.
They take me to the South Sacramento Kaiser where I’m hooked up to one of their little heart monitors. Seems alright. They tell me my blood pressure is high.
Well, what the fuck, people? You’re trying to tell me I had a stroke, for God’s sake.
They call the Ophthalmologist who I was trying to call, and he says it’s a Retinal Artery Occlusion.
ER doctors tell me it’s a Retinal Artery Occlusion.
Well thank God for that, but what the fuck is that anyway?
They tell me it’s like an “eye stroke”.
They unhook me, tell me to get dressed, get me to sign some more papers, tell me “That’s $100.00 co-pay ….”
“I have five dollars on me.”
“But we can bill you.”
Then they show me the door.
Lead me to the door, physically. Open it for me, point across the street, and tell me “Ophthalmology is in that building. You have an appointment at 3PM. Good luck.”
Great. Have to kill time, four hours of it, after ER throws me to the curb.
The Ophthalmologist is great. Runs some immediate tests, gives me a complete explanation of the blockage in the artery leading to the retina in my left eye. Likely happened in my sleep. No sense of pain, your retina essentially dies. No way to get the sight back. At all. At any time.
Sets me up for further tests on my eye at another location, then two follow-up appointments with him, AND he wants to see me monthly for a while.
So I figure if it’s a blockage in an artery in between my damned ears …
might need to see a cardiologist.
They DID put me on a heart monitor for almost a month.
Get the test results back, and my Primary Care Physician (the offensive tackle of Kaiser Permanente’s front line) tells me there’s no ventricular fibrillation (which they first expected) and that the ultrasound on my carotid artery showed no abnormalities, and oh yeah …
I have Congestive Heart Failure.
He says I have Congestive Heart Failure.
My father-in-law died from that. Lots of people do. Older than me, but younger also.
“Well, how bad is it, Doc?”
Christ, I sound like Ronald Regan in that Knute Rockne movie.
“Oh, it’s just a slight case.”
“What do you mean ‘slight?'”
“Oh, just a … a … just a mild case. Nothing to worry about.”
“Okay, Doc. Let’s say your fifteen-year-old daughter comes home one day, about a month after the prom, and tells you ‘Daddy, I’m slightly pregnant.’ You just gonna leave it at that?”
“Well, we’ll start you on some prescrip-….”
“I’m sure you will, but what about your daughter? I mean, even a slight pregnancy you know is gonna last, like, what? Forty weeks or so. You’ve got time to prepare and send her off and tell all the relatives she’s at a dance school in Zurich? You’ve got a time frame to work with. So what about me, now? Congestive Heart Failure. Do they measure those in trimesters, or what the f ….”
Again with the “mild, slight” pacification.
Never did get one from him. The Primary Care Physician. My “Partner in Prevention”.
No medical jargon, nothing past a third grade vocabulary.
“Slight”. “Mild.” “Prescriptions” and “I think they might be available in generic form.”
Took me almost a year to get an explanation, a real one, an honest one, running the numbers and standards and baselines and all to make a qualitative, quantitative assessment of whether it’s time to open Grandpa’s rib cage or just lay off the Cajun sausage.
And I got it, in its entirety, from my Psychiatrist.
Been three years now, over three years, and I still have never seen a cardiologist, even just for my peace of mind.
Then there was the time they didn’t tell my wife she had a cyst IN her liver the size of a grape until it had grown to the size of a grapefruit and they had to give her morphine for the pain …
… or the ruptured discs they found in her back and never followed up on till she needed surgery seven years later? Just kept giving her Motrin or Darvocet, which was subsequently taken off the market because of its addictive properties BUT THEY STILL PRESCRIBE MORPHINE AND OXY?????
… or when they opened up my brother-in-law for some routine prostate work and lacerated his bowel.
See what happens when you put cocksuckin’ MBA’s in charge of health care and let the cornholin’ government “regulate” them?