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. 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!

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