Friday, February 20, 2009

National Health Insurance Needed, Reason #247,342,589: desmoinesdem

“February Sucks”

February one year ago a writer named desmoinesdem made an appointment with a doctor for an issue which seemed minor.

Next thing you know, desmoinesdem was in the hospital on IVs.

Then multiple systems were involved. Mega pain killers were needed and even they weren't enough.

Her family was called in. Yeah.

Unlike Gilly, this February story has a happy ending... desmoinesdem lived and recovered. She wrote out not only what happened to her, but about the loss of Steve Gilliard. That cry of pain (slightly rewritten) was just reposted on MyDD a year later.

We make certain to talk of Gil on his birth and death days. Occasionally other days also seem right. February is the hardest month of winter, especially this year. No need to rip off the barely healing scar. No need to share your story unless you really need. Healing takes years, truly it takes years and years. For many people they're not even into let alone past the second stage of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. For others, it's over (or at least shut down for processing.) Wherever, whatever, however, suppress it if that's what you need right now.

It's fine to let others outside us speak. Just breathe...

Thank you desmoinesdem for beautiful writing, for reminding those of us inside The Group/News Blog family how much those outside cared and still do care. And for ripping your heart wide open by sharing your health, wellbeing and family with everyone.

Daily Kos (desmoinesdem)

My health insurance may have saved my life

I am a healthy woman in my late 30s who rarely sees a doctor outside of regularly scheduled checkups. I have had two uncomplicated pregnancies followed by easy, midwife-assisted births.

Most years we pay far more in premiums for our family's health insurance than our medical care would cost if we paid for everything out of pocket.

Not this year. Yesterday I returned home after spending seven days and six nights in the hospital. It might have been a lot worse if I were uninsured.

On Friday, February 15, I felt my left ear close up in the mid-afternoon. I soon realized that I was getting an ear infection, the first I'd had in approximately 30 years. I asked my husband to pick up some homeopathic ear drops (oil infused with garlic and other herbs) after he came home from work, and I got out the ibuprofen.

We try to avoid using antibiotics in our family, and the medical community has swung away from automatically recommending antibiotics for ear infections, because so many resolve within a couple of days on their own. The idea now is to use other methods to reduce the pain while waiting for your body to fight the infection.

By Friday evening I was miserable. The ear drops and ibuprofen did nothing to reduce the pain. Sitting upright was no more comfortable than lying down. I had no idea how I was going to make it through the night, but in the early hours of Saturday morning my eardrum ruptured. That released the pressure from the fluid building up in my ears and brought the pain level way down.

Saturday I called someone I know whose husband is a retired ear, nose and throat doctor. Her husband confirmed that many ear infections are viral, and it was prudent for me to wait it out. I used ibuprofen to control my fever and used tissues to wick out the fluid that was seeping out of my ear.

Sunday morning I noticed a slightly sore spot just below my right knee, on the outside part of my leg (around the top of the outer shin bone). I thought I slept funny, perhaps because of the ear infection. I also had a sore spot in my upper left arm, which I figured was from getting whacked by my two-year-old.

By Sunday afternoon I no longer had full mobility in my right knee. I take Pilates twice a week, so I called my teacher. I told him I couldn't think of how I would have injured my knee, since all I'd been doing was lying around getting over an ear infection. He said it was possible to strain a tendon by sleeping in an awkward position, and we'd need to keep an eye on it.

Sunday evening I started limping heavily, and Monday morning I could hardly put any weight on my right leg at all. I briefly considered toughing it out, but decided to make an appointment with our regular doctor, an internist. He was fully booked, but I got in with a nurse practitioner who called in my doctor when she saw my knee.

At that point it was painful and swollen, but not red or hot.

A blood test revealed a high white cell count, and my ear was still draining fluid, so they prescribed an antibiotic for my ear infection. I got the prescription filled right away and started taking the oral antibiotics around noon on Monday.

The big concern was that I might have a blood clot developing. The doctor and nurse were skeptical, given the location of the swelling. On the other hand, I had been lying around all weekend. Other possibilities included tendonitis, which didn't seem to fit, or some kind of inflammatory auto-immune reaction related to my ear infection.

Because I have health insurance, I spent all of Monday afternoon getting these possibilities checked out. First, to the imaging department for x-rays of my leg in various positions. Then, off to the vascular center, where a nurse used a doppler (ultrasound) to check for blood clots in my legs. Then, to a different imaging center where I had x-rays standing up and an MRI of my right knee.

Without insurance, these diagnostics would have been prohibitively expensive. I would likely have stayed home, hoping my leg got less sore soon.

I went home Monday with no answers and an appointment to see an orthopedic doctor first thing Tuesday morning to get his interpretation of the MRI.

Monday night was miserable for me. I was told to take a double dose of ibuprofen to help with inflammation, but even so my leg was killing me. I still had a low-grade fever, which shot up whenever the ibuprofen was wearing off. My right calf started to get red and hot.

That was when I should have gone to the hospital, but I didn't realize it at the time.

There's more...
Go read the rest of the story. It's well worth it. We'll wait.

Told ya. National Health Insurance for everyone. We needs it.

Make sure you have a tissue handy. Or at least can sniffle discreetly if in public.
MyDD (desmoinesdem)

Two years without Steve Gilliard

One day in February 2007, Steve Gilliard wrote his last post for the News Blog and went to the doctor to get a prescription for a cold he couldn't shake. He was admitted to the hospital right away for treatment of an infection of unknown origin, and he never was able to get back on his computer. He died that June.

I know I'm not the only former News Blog addict who thinks of Steve every time Republican Party chairman Michael Steele says something ridiculous. Steve would have had a field day with the RNC leadership contest. Just imagine the post he might have written about this list of prominent conservatives who endorsed Ken Blackwell.

Further reflections on what Steve's blogging meant to me are after the jump.

I don't go as far back with Steve as many bloggers. I only discovered Daily Kos after he had moved on from the front page.

I "got to know" Steve by clicking through links I found on other blogs. I liked his voice. He was funny, even when angry. He seemed to be about my age. Although his life experiences as a black man from New York City were very different from mine, I could relate to his perspective on many issues.

I absolutely loved his rants. His writing flowed so freely, and was so full of emotion compared to my own style.

I also found his optimism refreshing. I can be a pessimist by nature. He was convinced that George W. Bush would not serve out his second term. I didn't believe him, but I enjoyed reading the case he made for it. Although Bush was not driven from office as Steve expected, he did set records for disapproval ratings by the end of his presidency.

Steve was knowledgeable about military history, and I learned a lot from his posts, though I admit that I never made it through every piece in the thoroughly researched "Colonial Warfare" series.

I started checking his blog once a week or so. By late 2004 or early 2005 I was checking every day. In 2006 I often checked two or three times a day.

I didn't know him "in real life" at all. We had a few e-mail exchanges when I sent him links to articles I thought he'd be interested in (like this one, this one and this one, all about people who had volunteered for military service).

Eventually, I started commenting at The News Blog. I liked the community there, especially "Mrs. Robinson," whom I respected for her insights at Steve's place long before I had heard of Sara Robinson or the Orcinus blog. I could always count on Mrs. Robinson to say something sensible on the threads below Steve's posts on parenting. (As much as I loved Steve's blog, if he ever wrote anything on parenting that I agreed with, I can't remember what it was.)

When Steve's health crisis began, I was shocked. I hadn't been reading long enough to know about his previous heart surgery, kidney failure, or other challenges. The News Blog community rallied to produce guest posts every day until Steve was able to return to his writing, and I even contributed a few recipes to the mix. After a couple of months of this, I began to fear the worst. Finally, on June 2, I saw the post I'd been dreading.

For weeks after Steve's death, I kept checking The News Blog every day. I don't know why. I think that on some subconscious level, I kept hoping that one time I would click and not find Steve's obituary on the front page.

Not long after Steve died, some of his friends and regular commentators on The News Blog formed the Group News Blog. I am not a regular commenter or even a frequent lurker at the Group News Blog. It's not that I don't appreciate the writers' talents--I think that going there just makes me miss Steve more.

If you feel like taking some time to remember Steve, here are links to many obituaries that bloggers wrote, the the New York Times obituary that ran in June, and Matt Bai's piece published in the New York Times Magazine at the end of 2007.

I learned from sardonyx that links to Steve's Daily Kos posts can be found on Steve's dKosopedia pages. Also, the Group News Blog created a more extensive archive of Steve's writing here.

There's more...
Thank you desmoinesdem. You're always welcome here.

That's how it works with family.