My Adventure at the Cardiology Clinic Begins, by JD Meyer #SOL15 Tuesday

Just when I was starting to really gloat over no COPD exacerbations since January 3, 2015, I started getting heart palpitations about 1 1/2 months ago. At first I was in denial, confused, or thought I was just tired. Finally, I got that fluttering feeling really bad on a Saturday morning. So I called my general doctor, and she found CVC, a cardiologist clinic, and my appointment was yesterday morning.

That building occupies a former furniture warehouse, and it is so big that they have ten doctors there; furthermore, CVC is affiliated with East TX Medical Center (ETMC), one of the two hospitals in Tyler, TX. The doctor was very pleasant, as was the rest of the staff. Getting there was easy on the Green South bus, as the nearest bus stop was quite near. Then I returned by using the same bus stop, as the Green line makes its curve North shortly after stopping at the University of Texas at Tyler (UTT) in the southeast.

My EKG was good; however, that’s not the end of the story. I have to wear a heart monitor for two weeks. That involves three electrodes, some cords, and my communicator. For example, when I get tired on my daily walk to the Beer Store &/or Dollar Store, I put a check mark next to medium activity and light tired. Remove cords before showering. A customer rep. called me this morning to make sure I knew how to use the equipment. I had just figured out how to charge the communicator, something to do overnight. Replace batteries on monitor every 3-4 days; glad they gave me a couple of extras.

I walked to Subway for lunch after the appointment and got their cheapest sub, a breakfast wrap with steak, egg whites, cheese, and my choice of fresh vegetables. I expressed being impressed with the difficulty in getting all those veggies on the wrap. I found myself not just ordering Sriracha hot sauce, but describing its origins and ingredients to the amused sandwich assembler. Yes, I took advantage of my brief teaching opportunity with a person physically present and not in cyberspace. Sriracha was started by a Vietnamese immigrant to California, but it’s a Thai sauce. Then I added Sriracha is made of red jalapenos, sugar, and garlic, but no tomatoes.

Two more cardiology tests soon and another cardiologist appointment in six weeks–right about the time I see a psychiatrist. More health stories to follow. I’m drinking some water. You know I’m going to tweet and post this story.

MY MEDICAID ADVENTURE by Joffre (“J.D.”) Meyer

I have had COPD since December 2005 and asthma since 1987. I got on SSDI in March 2010, Medicare in November 2011, and Medicaid in July 2012. Not everyone goes through the same sequence. I checked into a neighborhood nursing home once I got on Medicare, so I could get two long overdue surgeries: hernia since December 2007 and a bad big right toe (either broke or a bunion) since spring 2010. Can you imagine what it was like to hold one’s groin when a COPD sufferer with little medicine coughed for four years?
I made sure that I was affiliated with East Texas Council for Independent Living (ETCIL) when I committed myself. I got a wonderful social worker/relocation specialist, Suzan Chapman, who I still see at downtown art events because her hobby is jewelry, and she’s a fan of the arts and Downtown Tyler too.
Getting out of the nursing home was dependent on getting on Medicaid. Unlike many, I got on SSDI and Medicare on my first try. My last job was a nightmare, so I got lung and mental status testing to be safe, and not end up under a bridge; thus I call my SSDI monthly check, “a bad lung/crazy check.”
While in the nursing home, I went to Pulmonary Rehabilitation at Trinity Mother Francis. This led to attending monthly Better Breather luncheons on second Tuesdays at TMF. It’s a group for those with lung and/or heart diseases. There’s always a guest speaker at our free luncheons.
Turned down for Medicaid the first time, I caught a bus to the records building of East Texas Medical Center’s (ETMC) records department. I provided the records of astronomical E.R. bills from 2008-12 to the nursing home social workers and got out quickly.
I relocated within walking distance from the hospitals in the east-central part of my hometown, Tyler. It’s known as Midtown or the Hospital District. Before checking out, I made sure I was part of Neighborhood Services, so I could get a 2/3 discount on my efficiency. It was great to reunite with a favorite prominent alumnus, Andy Davis, of the HBCU, Texas College, where I’d taught from 2001-06.
Now that I was on the outside, I could have a G.P. and a pulmonologist. I’d always managed to keep my albuterol flowing through my nebulizer since ’97. Having a rescue inhaler is an obvious necessity, but probably tougher now for the strugglers after the end of Primatene, the over-the-counter inhaler that cratered and rising pulmonary illness medicine costs. I started on Advair, the purple disk, while still teaching for the HBCU, but its expense meant sporadic help through service organizations.
My new lung medicines were a tiny pill called Daliresp, and Spiriva, the medicine advertised on TV with an elephant on the actor’s chest. My first pulmonologist prescribed oxygen canula for sleeping. Then the new pulmonologist, Dr. Luis Destarac, noticed my condition was more severe and sent for sleep studies.
Sure enough, I have severe sleep apnea and got a C-PAP machine. The C-PAP helps the apnea condition of waking up off and on unknowingly in my sleep because I quit breathing repeatedly! I bet the C-PAP is also good for the inelasticity of my lungs due to emphysema. Dr. Destarac is also an allergist, so I get allergy shots for Bermuda and Johnson Grass primarily twice a month from his also very likable nurses, Esmeralda and Emily.
The G.P., Dr. Paula Bessonette, discovered that I have high cholesterol and require a Lipitor-type drug, as well as Vitamin D. Dr. Bessonette is so cool that she leaves some time open her day without appointments, so she can treat conditions like a COPD exacerbation to keep folks like me from automatically going to the expensive E.R . Later, I switched to magnesium after reading WebMD articles. A recent eye exam caught the onset of macular degeneration, and combination vitamin/mineral capsule is arresting that condition.
My health hasn’t been this good in years–no E.R. visits since early January 2015! I used to go to the E.R. on a monthly basis. I’ve been a volunteer with the East Texas Human Needs Network (ETHNN), starting in the education and health committees before changing to the new transportation committee because I’m an avid bus rider. Then I was invited to the Community Health Worker (CHW) coalition.
Now I’m going through a disability rights group to see if I can have a trial work period, so I can start publishing my Developmental English/Writing textbook–already copyrighted and illustrated. Thus my adventure with Medicaid is about to have a new chapter!

Belated Slice of Life Tuesday: Scattered but Busy

Sorry I haven’t written anything for Slice of Life since my account of our June Better Breathers luncheon on COPD Diet. Two days ago was our July Better Breather luncheon; we had burgers, and a health machines supplier answered questions about replacing C-PAP masks and tubes. That’s for sleep apnea, my most recently diagnosed illness, and something that wouldn’t have been noticed before I got a pulmonologist, Dr. Luis Destarac, who sent me to a sleep specialist last year. That brings up another point. I started the rough draft for my road to Medicaid story yesterday.

Of course, I’m still tweeting on a wide range of topics, and I’m nearing 2900 followers after only 12.2K I recommend that teachers in general consider the wonderful world of Twitter–perhaps especially retired ones. Imagine having scholarly, prominent reading buddies all over the world! You can get used to clicking the translate button in the upper-right hand corner. A Twitter map shows that 2/3 of my followers are in the US, 8% are in England, and I know somebody on every continent. Yet only 1.5% are in my hometown of Tyler. See what I mean about how you can travel in cyberspace without leaving the house! I check my peak flow meter before I leave, in case I need to visit the nebulizer–a great friend since 1997.

After I finish writing this post, I’m going to call my Cigna rep back about trial work periods with not just SSDI, but Medicare. It’s very possible that I got over-confident about how much I could make because I just stated SSDI to the info man and Social Security and not Medicare with its cutoffs for how much you can make. I’m healthy enough to skip Medicare A and graduate to Medicare SLMB. My goal is to start publishing my copyrighted, illustrated Developmental English/Writing textbook slowly but surely, probably starting with grammar.

Early Monday afternoon will be the monthly meeting for the East Texas Human Needs Network (ETHNN). I’m on the transportation committee, but i used to be on the education and health committee. Dilapidated teachers who depend on the bus have such choices. The other two committees are employment and housing. I organized a couple of field trips for our transpo. committee; field trip to the high-dollar grocery store from the second bus hub followed by field trip from downtown to the new shopping center that is way south.

I went on a truly serious cleaning binge on the 4th and 5th. Some friends stopped by after some serious sweeping, mopping, dusting that encompassed 40% of the house. More cleaning followed, as I felt this was an omen of sorts. Generic Pine-Sol and new scrubbing bubbles along with Windex were used freely. Importantly, this computer desk got some much-needed scrubbing once old papers were either filed or trashed.

Sometimes extroverts talk in order to clarify their thoughts, and this blog is no exception. I multi-task and have been watching “The Cycle” on MSNBC at the same time, but I’m a little sad because the beautiful and talented Abby Huntsman has the day off. I got misty-eyed over the crying South Carolina representative, Jenny Horne, who pleaded for the Confederate flag to come down. My tears were largely because she admitted to being a descendant of Jefferson Davis! I guess I’ve said enough, but what are my tags going to be?