UPDATE [For all those who expressed concern, here's the latest: all the scary stuff for me came back negative, hubby's stuff is still pending. But no matter the result, we need health care that leaves our families intact, without the dread of financial ruin as the result of something as mundane as a childhood sunburn. Hopefully, this won't return to the recent diaries list...]
A few months ago, my husband learned that he had very high cholesterol (you'd never guess it if you looked at him - he's the wiry muscular type). They put him on meds, and scheduled him for tests in July. He was laid off a couple of weeks ago, but insurance lasts until the end of July, so he can still get the tests done. In the mean time, my annual physical was already scheduled for June. I had considered canceling it, but decided to go ahead.
Well, they found a mole in a place where moles aren't supposed to be, and it was larger than it should be, so, biopsy time. Plus they decided it was high time for a mammogram. I'd had one years ago, after I finished nursing my little one (heh – who is now taller than I am), and my system decided that it really just wanted to keep on producing ... like forever. So they wanted to make sure there were no structural issues.
Anyway, at this hospital they schedule the mammograms while the radiologist is there, so he can read them right away and let you know the results within minutes. He read mine, and decided he wants to see the old films. I still don't know the results. We’re waiting for the films to be sent from Boston.
So, the last week has been ... tense. Besides the stitches where the sun doesn't shine, there was the uncertainty. We can't possibly afford to continue our insurance coverage, without some miracle (even with the 65% rate reduction under the ARRA). I can’t imagine we can get into the VT version of Medicaid that quickly, but maybe.
We'll barely make the payments on the car and credit cards after food – making the flat tire this week all that much more helpful.
So I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what we'd do if the mole turned out to be evil. What if it's melanoma? What would we do if it's Stage 1, or Stage 2, or... Why the mystery around the mammogram? The other woman got her answer within 10 minutes. It's been a week for me. We're still waiting for the old films to be found and sent. I've been walking on eggshells, stuffing all the fear into some deep recess, so the kids won't worry unduly.
My cousin died from skin cancer a few years ago. She was, at the time, the age I am now. She had melanoma. It was the second time. The first time, it was a stage 2 cancer, on her hip. They removed it, and did some aggressive chemo, and she was fine for a while. 5 years after that surgery, almost to the day, another suspicious mole. They biopsied – it was stage 4. More tests, discovered it was metastatic and had already made it to her lungs and her liver. She would die within weeks. She and I, our brothers, and some other cousins spent most of our childhood summers together. The parents would all rent a cottage for the summer, and park the kids there, rotating parents through on different weeks, so all the parents got some time alone at home, and some time immersed in children and beach sand. I remember laughing and joking over games like Clue, Monopoly, and miniature golf. I remember burying each other in sand, and building sand castles. I remember flying kites, stubbing toes, exploring the marshes and the tidal pools that formed among the coastal rocks at low tide. I remember Christmases when her children were born, and the years when the word "little" still applied. I remember funerals, though not hers, because I was recuperating from surgery when she died. I did get to send her a note full of memories after her second diagnosis, though. Word has it she loved reading it, and remembering those days. I wish we could have continued to build memories into our old age.
Another cousin, on the other side of the family, and much older, had skin cancer on his face a couple years before. He had been a very handsome man, and extremely funny. He was the one you could always count on for a good laugh - even at a funeral – and it would actually be funny, not crass. You'd get through the receiving line, and Jackie would be standing somewhere nearby, and the next thing you knew, you'd be laughing through your tears. He was the kind of person who brightened your day, no matter what kind of day you’d had. He also had most of his jaw removed in the cancer surgery for his first skin cancer. He also survived for several years before the recurrence. He also died soon after his second diagnosis.
All this ran through my head over the past week, waiting for the word from the pathology lab and the radiologist.
All that and "if I have cancer, my family will lose everything."
Because in this country, the richest nation on earth, we don't value our families.
Sure, there's the whole right wing lip-service thing, but when it comes to money vs families, money wins every time.
Every. Single. Time.
I got a call today, and the mole was not cancerous. It was "atypical" – which means it was thinking about turning to the dark side, so thank goodness I didn't cancel that appointment. It was removed in time to prevent it from becoming skin cancer.
[By the way – WEAR SUNSCREEN, that's an order.]
So here we are. We still don't know the condition of hubby's arteries, and mammogram results are hanging out in the ether somewhere.
And all of this presents the added fear of bankruptcy.
Because we don’t value our families. Well, maybe just those politicians who refuse to create a system of health care that protects us all from financial devastation should we fail to be obscenely wealthy while ill.
When you call constituents of those Senators who do not support, at the very least, a strong public option, be sure those constituents are ready to ask their Senators where their family values are, since they clearly don't value families.
Please read slinkerwinker's diaries every day for complete and comprehensive lists with all contact numbers.
Please use this Whip Count Tool, like your life depends on it, because it does.