I’m Back… Where Are You?

OK, so I’ve decided I’m going to really make this blog happen, and I’m gonna start posting more often, starting with a few articles I’ve written lately relating to my most un-excellent medical adventures. I realize for now I’m pretty much talking to myself, but if you’re someone not named Billy Boloby, I encourage you to share my blog with others.

For my first post, I’ll republish an article I wrote for Purehoney magazine.

HEALTH ‘CARE’ JOKES

The healthcare industry is rife with irony. Oh, it’s got a sense of humor; just be prepared to be the butt of the joke. 

Here’s a good one: A patient in need of a liver transplant is told by his surgeon that he had lost too much weight to undergo such a rigorous procedure, that the patient looks like he could fall down at any minute, and that it was so serious that he would have to spend some time in a hospital receiving intravenous nutrition (total parenteral nutrition, or TPN), which would get him back to a manageable weight. The patient agrees and goes to the hospital, only to get the bait and switch. Instead of TPN, he gets put on a liquid diet, followed by fasting so he could undergo a colonoscopy (his fifth one in almost as many years). So not only did he not get the extra calories he needed; he got even fewer than normal — and the comfort of knowing there’s a nice big hospital bill on the way.

Funny-ha-ha, right? The joke’s not over yet. 

The hospital doctor calls the patient a week later and tells him the colonoscopy results reveal that the patient’s colon needs to be removed due to numerous “pre-cancerous” polyps. The doctor says he needs to confer with some other doctors before any more information is known. Talk about dropping a bombshell.

Finally, four days later, the patient gets some good news. The doctor says it’s possible to do both surgeries during the same hospital stay. Things are looking up. Not only that, but the patient will be getting TPN at home to get in shape for surgery. And he’ll be able to receive it at home — no more hospital stays until T-Day.

The patient receives a call from his local doctor’s office, which is arranging to have a home healthcare service handle the TPN. He is told that the insurance company authorized everything, and he just needs to go to an outpatient center to have a PICC line (catheter) for the IV installed in his arm; a nurse would come by the following day with the TPN. He gets the PICC line installed and is at home waiting for the nurse. The nurse calls and says she’ll call back to let him know when she’s coming. A second nurse calls and says she’ll call back. A “nurse coordinator” calls… yada, yada. They all leave him hanging. Then the pharmacy that has the TPN calls and tells him his insurance company won’t cover home infusion.

“But my doctor’s office already had this authorized.”
“Sorry.”
“What do I do?”
“Not my problem.”

OK, so she didn’t say that, but that’s what this conversation and the six or so others I had that night — yes, I’m the patient — amounted to. They were washing their hands of this problem and leaving me to solve it. Because, you know, I understand jack shit about home health infusion and can easily get in touch with anyone on a Friday night.

Though my gastroenterologist was out of town, I emailed her, and she replied within a half-hour, saying I should just go to the ER the next morning. So much for home service.

I went to JFK Medical Center, and while the staff was great, the entire first day there was frustrating as hell because I didn’t know what was going on — and I still wasn’t getting the TPN. But because I threw myself at the feet of the healthcare industry, I became a problem that had to be solved. I started TPN the following evening, and on Monday morning, straightened out my insurance company and now receive TPN at home.

Of course, the last laugh will once again be on me, the butt of the joke, when this hospital bill arrives. I always knew I’d be in for some financial strain because of the liver transplant, but since I’ve had these two unforeseen hospital visits — and now need a colectomy, which will require at least two surgeries — I think the only thing I can do at this point is to laugh along with the joke. Because when I get the bill for all of this, I’m going to have myself a good cry.

In the meantime, my good friend Devon Nelson set up the Billy Boloby Benefit event, set for 8 p.m. Saturday, April 20 at Little Munich (806 Lake Ave., Lake Worth, 561-932-0050). He also created a fundraising page at GiveForward.com (under “Jason Budjinski”). I’ve got a huge ordeal ahead of me, but this gives me some much-needed motivation to stay strong. Of course, TPN helps, too. ~Jason Budjinski

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This entry was posted in Crohn's Disease, General Disease, Liver Transplant, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis. Bookmark the permalink.

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