Over the last couple of weeks we’ve heard a lot of fighting over health care in the U.S. While all that was taking place, I was in a battle for my own health.
Since coming down with the H1N1 flu on Halloween, I’ve had an almost continuous bout of chest congestion and difficulty breathing. Initially I went to a nurse practitioner, who prescribed an antibiotic that didn’t take care of the problem, so she gave me a more powerful one. I felt better for a couple of weeks, but then it all came back stronger than ever, and by Christmas I was again very sick.
Over the holidays I was in the emergency room twice to get chest X-rays and breathing treatments. They said I had pneumonia and prescribed more antibiotics and some steroids.
That was followed up by a visit in January to my primary care physician, who ordered a chest CT scan. Everything looked normal, yet I was still no better. He referred me to a pulmonologist, whom I saw in late February, who diagnosed me with asthma and sent me for a pulmonary function test. That, too, was within normal ranges, but I was still getting sicker.
I had a follow-up appointment three weeks ago and, since I was still wheezing, he prescribed more steroids and ordered me a nebulizer, so I could do breathing treatments at home. He said I should call if I didn’t feel better in a couple of days.
By the end of that week I was getting worse, and that began my 10-day stay as a guest at one of our area’s finest hospitals. I now had a team of physicians trying to figure out exactly what was wrong with me. I had three more chest X-rays, a bronchoscopy, two EKGs, a chest ultrasound, multiple blood, urine and sputum cultures, as well as continued respiratory therapy, steroids and intravenous antibiotics.
All of this and still no diagnosis, other than a nonspecific infection. Thankfully, the antibiotics seemed to be making some headway, and they let me come home Saturday. I still have a catheter with antibiotics that will continue until the end of this week, but at least I can rest at home (as much as two small children will allow).
Now that I seem to be winning the war against the infection, a new battle is about to begin. While I was in the hospital, my insurance company sent me a letter informing me that my stay was denied because it wasn’t medically necessary.
Hmm . . . I didn’t know that breathing wasn’t covered by my health plan. I guess I should have read the fine print.
Get in touch SHARON RAGHAVACHARY is a former Crescenta Valley Town Council member and on the steering committee for Crescenta Valley Community Assn. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.