Eliminating Chris' Cancer: Phase 2
I want to start off by saying thank you to all those who have helped us out, your support is the only thing that has made it possible to keep going over the past two years.
There is light at the end of this tunnel though, and so it is time to switch gears. The next 60 days are the critical period, and the months to follow nearly so, but if we can push past this we may finally see some sunshine for once.
Chris (big Chris, not little Christopher) is continuing his war against the cancer that seeks to destroy him. What we thought was in remission back in 2012 turned out to be hiding in wait.
It struck after we completed a cross-country move. Between being the medical caregiver for an almost fully bed-ridden husband, and full-time Mom to a ball of energy and guile that is my darling little non-verbal, adhd, and possibly autism-spectrum escape artist Christopher (age 4), there has yet to be the breather needed to anchor in and attack this properly from a position of strength.
Here's the good:
- Prognosis is good. If we can get Chris into surgery/treatment without any further serious delays, there is a good chance of elminating the remaining cancer and returning to a somewhat normal household down the road.
- Chris is currently being seen by a rockstar group of physicians and surgeons, specializing in treating his Cancer. They are some of the best in their fields.
- We have all the specialized medical equipment needed to monitor and maintain Chris's health while waiting for surgery (providing the insurance decides to cover any of his medications!!
- As soon as Chris can work again (3 to 6 months, depending on speed of surgery), getting ahead of everything will become rather straightforward (Chris' professional experience is in Information Security, Forensic Analysis, and has done training in those and related fields for a couple decades).
- Derpwovles! A family friend has gifted us three Husky puppies to raise with our old pack leader dog, and the energy has been very uplifting on the spirits of everyone involved (when it hasn't been wrecking our sleep schedules) and they've integrated well into the home.
Here's the bad:
- The oncologist at this juncture wants to do targeted radiation and maybe injected alcohol, which is a multi week treatment that we don't know how Chris will tolerate.
- I need to pay rent, and other monthly bills which we currently have neither funds nor income for (like insurance), as well as fix Big Green (our vehicle) because I need to give the borrowed vehicle back to her owner. And prep for winter. And, and, and...
- We've finally gotten the insurance company to recognize Chris has hit his personal out of pocket max (see below). However, There's only a month and half until things reset, and the meds that currently keep him alive and me functional enough to care for him are around $4700 each month, some of which the insurance is still refusing to pay.
- Potential surgery dates (the oncologist is doing some final testing to see if that is even the most useful route) are in later November through December. While that is a huge delay with the stage of treatment we are in, it will still get covered under the insurance which is a distinct positive.
and The Ugly:
- The ACA and Harvard Pilgrim (first the one, then the other) have spent the last year finding any and every reason to cancel insurance whether they had any legal justification to do so or not.
- This latest time the cancellation was even done silently and then backdated (one of several reasons we won the fight to reinstate his insurance) to make the claim that he never hit his OOP maximum. They still owe us tens of thousands from out of pocket expenses we sustained from that, money I suspect we will never see despite it being promised in 90 to 180 days.
- It has been a hard won battle to get Chris' Insurance fully reinstated, but even after victory, they are refusing to pay for critical prescriptions that he's been taking for two years or more.
- Time is in a critical phase now, so I need to make sure that he gets exactly what the doctors say he needs to make it to surgery alive and arrive as the healthiest him possible.
So here we are.
I'm looking for operating costs for the next three months to keep a roof over our head, some heat through the winter, necessary medications, and transportation.
Don't have a surgery date yet BUT... Have clearance from the neurologist.
The "thing" that looks like a tumor in Chris's maxillary sinus? The neurologist thinks it's fluid retention and has cleared Chris for surgery.
Now just need to get the cardiologist to sign off (a way, WAY simpler procedure, let me tell you) and then on to surgery we go.
Which is good, because we're both exhausted and at the end of our ropes and barely hanging on.
In the meantime, just gotta keep a roof over our heads and pay the $1,869.56 insurance premium that's due by the 1st. And pay rent. And buy food. And all that good stuff.
But we're closer and the neurologist doesn't think Chris is dying. So there's that.
If it continues, off to the ER we go.
In the meantime, Friday I was informed by the neurologist that insurance won't approve the neurological studies (2 MRIs and 2 MRAs) necessary to get Chris cleared for surgery to remove the cancer in his neck. Insurance wants the surgeon to order them.
The surgeon doesn't have credentials to order them. He wants the PCP to order them. The same PCP who sent the entire issue to the neurologist. 5 weeks ago.
Let's repeat this for the people in the back. WHILE MY HUSBAND IS DYING FROM LIFE-THREATENING CANCER, THE INSURANCE COMPANY WASTED 5 WEEKS AND DELAYED NECESSARY TREATMENT.
I am watching my husband die inch by inch, sometimes foot by foot, while the insurance company introduces unnecessary delays.
And of course it's not like they're paying the bills or living expenses. Those never stop.
Several people have said it feels like they're waiting for him to die so they can avoid paying. I don't know if that's true, but it certainly seems like it.
In the meantime we are BOTH losing our minds, and I need to pay insurance, rent, utilities, and all of that other stuff necessary to life. Because life doesn't stop for cancer.
As an extra bonus it seems Facebook has changed their algorithm again, and these posts aren't reaching that many people.
So please, if anyone could help, please do. We are just trying to make it through enough treatment to work again or make it through the end without getting evicted.
It's doing horrible things to us, I know this for sure.
Chris is literally bedridden and my depression... Well I don't think it's ever been this bad.
There's nothing quite like the helplessness of having nothing to do to fix things but wait.
Right now we're waiting for insurance to approve 2 MRIs and 2 MRAs of Chris's head and neck, because the neurologist suspects brain cancer.
And I am an utter wreck. EVERYTHING is on hold. Cancer treatment. Getting Christopher back home. Getting back to work. EVERYTHING.
And it's killing me. So much so that I went back on an anti-depressant that was part of a combo that had really bad side effects because I need to do SOMETHING.
Because we're waiting to see if Chris will live or die, and waiting on the clearance to proceed with treatment.
In the meantime, it's not like bills stop. No, those never stop. Rent. Health insurance I need to pay by the end of the month. Electric. Internet. Getting the truck fixed. Meds. Eating. None of that can stop.
And currently there's exactly $7.57 in the bank account.
But we're still working on all of this. It's just really incredibly difficult.
We get Chris cleared by a neurologist and a cardiologist first.
Please excuse how long it's taken to get this written, I had to request medical records, radiology images (not part of the medical records), arrange for the PCP to get a referral to a neurologist, and try to get Chris scheduled to see the cardiologist because... Surgery won't happen until he's cleared by both.
The problem with surgery is, when they put you under anesthesia the surgeon would ideally like you to eventually wake up again. The more... Difficult and touchy the surgery (think near arteries and trachea) the more true this is.
So I'm trying to get that arranged. For within 2 weeks.
In the meantime Christopher turns 5 on Wednesday, we're going to see him for Easter, and I need to pay someone to replace the front cab mounts in the Avalanche so it will pass inspection.
There's also medical bills that drained our balance, insurance to pay, and a roof to keep over our heads.
But yay, progress?