Sunday, June 27, 2021

Back on the Therapy Couch

 Mood: Sedated

Listening to: The birds singing and the odd non-lockdown type traffic

I'm back for another round of self analysis and therapeutic writing. I know, I know; always another problem. But writing is my only hope these days now that I actually value a functioning liver. 

The past few weeks - and if we want to be completely honest, the past 6 months - have been a rough ride. COVID has marched back in to Fuck Up People's Lives once again,  I am back at home and not in the office, my kids are not in school, and work has turned into a 5 ring circus complete with flaming bowling pins I am supposed to be juggling. On top of that, my boyfriend has fucked off to his home state for a very long time and I'm dealing with some pretty tough issues with my elder daughter. I also have both my kids all the time now. Both my ex husband and my children have made it quite impossible for me to have them stay with him. 

I have pretty good stamina for treading water and keeping my head above - both physically and metaphorically. But as with anyone I suppose, I reach a point where it all just becomes too much. I'm at one of those points right now. They key is to keep kicking just enough so that you don't drown, because once you go under, it's 3 times as hard to kick your way back to the surface. I can't afford to go to bed for a few weeks and ignore everything that's bothering me. 

I've talked many times about how I very much strive to be good at things. ALL THE THINGS. As I've been thinking about what is going wrong recently, I've been questioning some of my goals. I have been known to bite off the wrong amount on occasion. Ahem Ahem. But I don't think that's the case in my current situation. I recently made a big mistake at work. The kind that make people wonder if they should actually fire you for. It's no secret, I'm handling way more than I should be or am qualified for. But I do my job well most of the time and do not drop much. I am vastly understaffed and the strategy I have been using thus far needs to be re-thought. I find myself struggling to keep up with a rapidly changing company and position. I have the same thoughts about my parenting skills. No one will ever mistake me for the world's best parent, but I feel like I'm doing it wrong. Very wrong.  

Now that I've thought about it, those are the two issues that are really bothering me at present - work, and the parenting issue. And my support system being in a village thousands of miles away. Not cool. The rest are irritating, but will pass eventually. I have this unfortunate tendency to let ALL THE THINGS overwhelm me rather than just sitting down and paying attention to the root cause of what's bothering me and then making changes. Blah blah blah, healthy self aware adult behaviors blah blah. My strategy once I do identify these things is to identify the root cause and then try to change procedure until the situation has to change in the way I want it to. It's mainly effective, but not always. 

Now that I've done this little exercise, I feel much better. Writing therapy successful.

On a brighter note, the gym has opened again, and I have quite a few sore muscles. Working out at home is not my cup of tea. 


Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Gallstones are Coming, The Gallstones are Coming!

 Listening to: Roseanna - Wheezer version

Mood:  Flighty

So yes, if anyone hasn't noticed, I like corny jokes. It's not red coats, it's gallstones. Ahem ahem. Never mind. 

Unfortunately, they aren't theoretical gallstones, they were real, and painful as fuck. There was a 6 am trip to the ER, a missing COVID test, a small surgery, more pain (oh so much more pain), and finally me sitting on my couch recovering. I have the remaining gallstones as a souvenir to gross out my kids and remind me that health is precious. In short, it's been a massive fuckery of a year since January. 

On a slightly separate note, while my bank account balance has disappeared after all this jumping around, my experience with Columbia Asia was dramatically and completely different (in an amazing way) than Motherhood. The hospital was organized, clean, and overall painless (mentally at least!). It also cost me less than I thought it would. For this, I'm immensely grateful.

I'm hoping I'm quite done with the health issues for a while - there have been more this year than I've had in my entire life, and I'm very committed to eating more healthy. 

Here's hoping the life finds you in better health than me!


Friday, April 2, 2021

What have you done in Life?

 Mood: Contemplative

Listening to: Jhoom Jhoom Ta Hua Main

I'll turn 40 this September. I'll hit midlife (not really, Im going to live to 140) around the time when Covid is hitting it's second stride properly. It sucks donkey balls folks. Office, gym and pool have again closed and I fucking hate it.

I look around me and I see signs of success wherever I look. People can afford property, fancy vehicles, blah blah blah. It comes rather surprising to me that I'm actually looking around - I've never been one for comparisons. At 39, I'm well and truly separated from a marriage - and on to a serious relationship. I never wanted nor had any control over my personal finances. Big mistake.  "Boyfriend," or so he has come to be called by my children, has gone home and is renovating his childhood home. While I'm happy for him that his family can afford to do this, I can't help but wonder how it would be when 10 lakh ruppees (around 13.6k dollars) would be something that was within reach for me. It sounds ridiculous, both from what I should be able to afford, and what I definitely cannot. I have a commitment for half of that towards a car. Which I don't even have yet because of stupidity.

No doubt I'm proud of where I've come in terms of taking control of my own fate, and building my own savings. But I still feel I have so so far to go. I plan to buy a house (my own freestanding house) within 5 years. I'm not sure if I'll get there, but I plan to put up a damn good fight. The thing on my mind today, is how we define success. It was always easy to say that my husband would be successful one day and that it didn't bother me that it wasn't that specific day. Its not so easy to say that my success can come at it's own pace. Of course this leads to thoughts of my never getting out of a rented apartment - a very depressing thought indeed. 

Internets, I'm theoretically half way through my earning years. And all I have to show for it is a janky piano and a new car I don't have yet. Rest all I have household goods not worth much, 0 property in a land where property is king, and 0 gold. Not an enviable position to be in. True - I don't owe anyone anything, but for half my life, I have nothing to show. I somehow feel I have failed at life so far.  I know it's not rational, and I can account for my time. But when even laborers can claim land, what do I have?


Monday, March 1, 2021

For When You Earn Your Body's Compliance

Listening to: Ek Ladki Bhigi Bhigi Si Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi

Mood: A Pleasant Exhausted

I know I've been whining a lot and it's been a rough 3 - 4 months, so I decided to focus on positive things today. 

Since Lockdown (and indeed on and off before then) I have been focusing my attention on whipping my sadly out of shape body into a shape besides overweight potato. If you've ready my blog in the past, or know me, you know that my weight has been an issue for me since I had my kids. My youngest is 13, so this isn't a new story. 

I've had on and off success over the years and try and focus on health rather than the numbers on the scale. The best success I had was a few years back when I started distance swimming. I was doing 3.5k KM a day. I lost around 30 lbs and was fit as anything.  Then my marriage and sense of self esteem tanked and I undid all the good work. I had begun to put myself back together when COVID hit. And of course the pool became off limits for a long time. 

I did my best at home, bought weights and all. It was a good beginning, but not cutting it for fitness. When the gym in my complex opened, my partner encouraged me to go and started his own fitness journey. Since then, I've been weight lifting and doing cardio. It took a very long time to see changes. 

Well halle-fucking-lujia, the pool has opened again. And I have been at it like a fiend for a week. I have already lost 4 pounds and can see a difference in how my clothes fit and my body looks. I fucking love it. I was happy to find out that I was able to complete a whole 3.5k - I had my doubts because it had been so long. But I was able and I haven't looked back. Let me tell you internets, it's not a cake walk - it's fucking exhausting. But I'm never so proud of myself as when I climb out of the pool after a full set.

The biggest challenge ahead is just to keep moving the same direction exercise wise and control my diet. This is the hard one because I sure do love to eat. Especially stuff that's not good for me. Ahem. 

Another unpleasant discovery of mine is that my BP is going buck wild and is way too high. I'm hoping that exercise and a better diet can bring it down, but I may need medication. Let's see how it goes. 

There's a benefit to being stubborn and getting back up and working on things even if you fail. 


Saturday, February 6, 2021

When Principles make you an Idiot

Listening to: My birds taking a bath

Mood: Meh

I've always been a person who has been cursed with principles and firm ideas on fairness and what's right and not right. Like the rest of my family, woe to anyone who tries to take advantage of me or do the wrong thing. I know, it's annoying. 

My recent hospital adventures have left me feeling very drained and discouraged. I have heard from a couple of different directions that it's my expectations and ideas about fairness that are wrong in this situation - all insurance companies and hospitals are exactly the same. None of them give a fuck about consumers (ok this I knew), nor will anyone give any explanation about the charges that they have decided mysteriously they won't pay for. 

It's very deflating to hear that overall, people just accept such a shitty system. All while mouthing that of course I have the right to an explanation (which the hospital will never actually give), and to confront my insurance company (you will never get an answer, forget an explanation). 

The most irritating thing for me is that if they would have been less deceptive right from the get-go, I probably would have been fine with accepting the amount being asked of me. But not only was it not explained ahead of time (not giving actual facts), they hide the process behind so much bullshit it's astonishing. It's as if they are trying to actively manage a script so that people accept that the bullshit is normal. It's completely not. But if it was explained that way to me, I think I would have been more accepting. 

After hearing this, I wonder if it wouldn't just be better to pay and bear the loss as well as the behavior just so that I can have my own test results. Even my partner is saying the same thing.

Ugh. I fucking hate people some days.


Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Great Indian Medical Experience

Mood: Relaxed

Listening to: Traffic Outside

I wanted to post a follow up to my last blog as things have changed. After going through a few weeks of antibiotics and other treatments (and one random yeast infection!) the bleeding issue wasn't resolving. The doctor pushed for me to undergo a surgery where they will check out what is going on inside, take samples for a biopsy, and cauterize any areas that were still bleeding to help solve the problem. 

I put it off for a while, as I needed to investigate insurance and wanted to to go Goa before this happened. The doc got a bit pushy with me to get it done, but I thought this was just her personality. 

I'm going to pause a minute here and explain hospitals and how that works in India. There are 2 types - Government and Private. Government hospitals are cost subsidized and meant for the masses. They also are dirty and the health care can be questionable - to be avoided at all costs if possible.  Private hospitals on the other hand are too expensive to be accessible by the General Public. But they are overall clean and well organized with adequate medical equipment. It is mandatory for businesses to have medical insurance for their employees,  and our company has good medical insurance. 

When I was deciding if this was something I wanted to get done I did my due diligence on our insurance. It seemed to cover my procedure and there wasn't much I needed to do.  That's when the nonsense began dear reader, oh the nonsense. 

My doc informed me that I would need to visit the FRRO (basically how the government keeps tabs on foreigners) office and get a permission for surgery. Of course this is no where near my home, but I dutifully went. Upon arrival, I was looked at like I was crazy and informed that permission was not needed - go home. Upon confronting my doc, she said, oh, yes, you can leave then, go home. I was not impressed.

I got an update from the hospital that I had been pre-approved for insurance. I asked what that meant and they told pre-approval was required. Post approval would be given afterwards. Cost was given as Rs. 23,000.  I asked if they could withdraw approval afterwards and was told no.  I scheduled the surgery with my doctor. I was supposed to show up at 6:30 for surgery at 9. 

I arranged for someone to come with me and off I went. Registration went fine, and then the nonsense continued. The facility was deserted and very dirty. I was prepped for surgery in the most unprofessional way. Unnecessary procedures, nurses who didn't know how to start an IV, it was a mess.  The doctor was no where to be found at 9. The anesthesiologist then informed me that the person who came with me couldn't be in the room. This was in direct contrast to what I had asked the doctor previously. Oh well, you didn't ask me. Um what??

I had general anesthesia and woke up afterwards. There wasn't much pain, but a lot of pressure from packing, which I'll come to in a minute. I felt quite out of it, but otherwise fine. I was left alone with my friend to recuperate in a room. I was sitting up and talking, and we watched TV for a while. As the afternoon wore on, both my friend and I got restless. Then they sent a nurse in to remove the packing. This was the most uncomfortable, painful things to happen to me in quite some time. The packing was way up in my body, behind something they had just operated and cauterized, and the nurse had almost her whole hand inside me trying to dig it out. There was a smart ass helper too who asked me if it hurt. Nope, those grimaces, gasps, and squirming were for fun you donkey.  Blood was backing up into my IV, so they also unhooked my IV but left the needle in for some reason.

After she was done, we sat around for a while longer waiting. The nurse said something something to herself about beginning discharge. At 4 pm. We waited around a while before asking when discharge would be complete. We were told we had to wait for insurance approval, which would take 3 - 4 hours. Wait, what the what? I informed the nurse that certainly I would not be sitting around until 9 pm or later and asked for my iv to be removed. She did so and informed me that she would not give any discharge papers or post op instructions until after insurance had been sorted. We then went and had a useless conversation with the billing department and called the insurance company too. They were apathetic at best. I informed billing too that we would not be staying. We went back to find the nurse once more, but were told that she had gone outside. We then left.

When I had almost reached home, the hospital called me shouting about why I had left. The nurse straight up lied and said I hadn't said anything about leaving and that she never said she wouldn't give discharge instructions. They also called the doctor who started harassing me, then later the billing department. They did not give one fuck about my time and making me sit around and wait, but wanted their payment right that minute. I informed that I would not be coming back then and that I would have to reach out to my insurance company to see why there was an amount left to pay. The billing department refused to discuss it with me unless I came back to the hospital. I spoke to a few other people about this, and it seems they don't want you to leave because then they cannot bully you into paying right away. 

The hospital billed my insurance incorrectly for the procedure. In the end, they billed the insurance company for almost 60K. My insurance also has a list of "Consumables" that patients must pay for. Things like syringes, gauze, pads, etc. It's a complete scam as the patient cannot really say no to any of the items needed and the hospital or insurance company didn't even follow this list. As the hospital refused to give an explanation for anything billed - including things I refused - it seems to me like the hospitals and insurance companies are in on this scam. 

They continued to harass me the next two days. I stopped answering my phone. I got in touch with my insurance provider, who did absolutely nothing and didn't answer my question. I also raised a complaint with the policy aggregator and am supposed to hear back from them on Monday.  I have a huge nasty looking bruise where she couldn't get the IV in, and I found bruises inside myself from where she dug the packing out. 

Overall, I'd recommend never ever going near Motherhood Hospital in Kalyan Nagar. They only care about making money and do not operate fairly or give a fuck about a patient's time or well being. I also wouldn't count on ICICI Lombard to do things fairly either.  As I feared, going anywhere near a medical institution is to be avoided at all costs. I just hope that whatever she did solved my problem rather than just raise my blood pressure and put me through unnecessary nonsense. As for the result of the biopsies, we'll see if I ever see those. It depends on if I get a fair answer from the insurance company. 


Monday, October 26, 2020

For When Your Body Betrays You

Good afternoon intrepid readers. I hope you are all happy and healthy. Just a preface/fair warning - this post isn't about fucking COVID. I'm pretty tired of talking and hearing about COVID, and thankfully that isn't what I need to talk about this afternoon.

I have a love hate relationship with doctors. I've seen both excellent and terrible ones. As my youngest daughter has chronic and sometimes severe eczema, we are indeed exposed to many different levels of greatness and jackassery. It's quite the rare occasion that I have health problems. A few years back, I noticed that I was having quite a few symptoms of POCS. (hello facial hair!)  In this miraculous age of the Google Gods, I of course set about searching for answers. I know what doctors think of people who do this, but hey, at least it wasn't Web MD; I would have been pronounced dead long ago. Ahem. My mom is a nurse. I also happen to have the variety of nerdery that makes me read medical dictionaries/textbooks and remember quite a good deal just for giggles. My point is, I'm not completely ignorant. 

I also had random bleeding, which was quite alarming, and I knew it wasn't something I could ignore as it could indicate something more serious than a hormone disorder. So off I went to my doc, armed with what I had discovered, confident that she could take in all of the symptoms and help me sort it out. I got some meds and a green light from my doc that I was fine. Rather confused, I went home relieved but not entirely convinced. After all, my symptoms weren't imaginary and she hadn't even done a checkup.

As things oftentimes go, I got busy and didn't pursue it for quite some time. I finally thought that I should consult with an Endocrinologist, as they are the ones who will understand hormones and my BP had been fluctuating quite alarmingly. This doc took in my complaints, suggested weightlifting, eating less, and ordered some more tests. Which I dutifully did. My blood sugar came back startlingly high. Of course another thing Endocrinologists are concerned with is diabetes. Understandably, they tend to look at the most obvious symptoms and make a plan as such. So I ended up with through-the-roof anxiety, and a blood sugar monitor that I had to wear for a few weeks. In the end, it turns out that maybe I just had too much sugar in my coffee before the appointment. He also gave me a clean bill of health. I was confused, as high sugar and BP are both signs of PCOS, but I was again just given the advice of exercise, eating less, and for god's sake it's just stress.

I again trudged off home, relieved that I was not going to have to deal with diabetes at a relatively young age (the diabetus is no joke internets), but confused as to why he had not investigated any of the other symptoms I had told him about. As time tends to, it went by and I didn't pursue anything for a while.

The bleeding continued and I went back to the Google Gods to try to find things I could do to help it. I ended up taking quite a number of vitamins. While this did help the overall PCOS symptoms a great deal, it didn't deal with the bleeding. I chose a gynecologist in an international hospital, hoping that she would be a little more conscientious than the neighborhood doc I had seen before. She did do an exam, and wrote down some tests she wanted me to do. I dutifully got them done and was told that my pap smear was clean, my cervix was absolutely fine. I should of course relax and maybe try birth control or onion juice for my hair loss. Oh yes internets - someone who went to medical school suggested I relax and put onion juice in my hair. If there's one thing that irritates a woman more than hearing "calm down", it's "you need to relax".

I gave it a shot - the pills, not the onion juice - and tried for 6 months. As far as I know, I was protected from a pregnancy I could not possibly have had, but nothing else. It did zero for any other symptoms.  I went back to the doc and she gave another pill to try. I again dutifully tried for 6 months with the same results. By this point, I'm sure you can imagine I was quite fed up.

And then COVID happened. So there were no doctors that were seeing non-COVID or emergency/chronic patients at all. To be honest, I had given up a little by this point. I didn't care if doctors were available or not. I figured the bleeding was just going to be something that would plague me for some time to come.

Fast forward to a few weeks back. As we HAD to seek treatment for my daughter's skin (another day, another story), I was a bit surprised to see clinics open. I thought I will try again. I found a high rated doc on a doc rating website and scheduled an online consult. She listened well and did her best to suggest things online. At the end of our discussion, she told me she would like to examine me, so off to the clinic I went. We had a discussion and another exam. She was quite concerned by what she saw. There were definitely some physical reasons for my symptoms. 

Now this was both a deep sigh of relief and also one of deep concern. My symptoms were something, and there was a physical reason for them that was apparent. Unfortunately, it's cervical bleeding and the causes of this in general aren't good. 

The doctor told me that one of my test results had indicated an infection - and that I may still have one, possibly an STD. This could cause the problem, and she prescribed strong antibiotics along with a few other things. Obviously this was not good news for me and I'm still trying to figure out what to do with this information. I haven't gotten the PAP smear nor other test results yet, so I suppose I can decide what to do at that time. I am to take the antibiotics for a few weeks and then go back for a check up. If healing has occurred, then we know the cause. If not, then I will need to go for a cervical biopsy to see if I have cervical cancer. 

My anxiety has again shot up and I can't help but wonder why after all the things that have happened over the last few years weren't enough. I thought I was finally getting a grip on my life and letting myself relax and enjoy the new direction. I feel incredibly betrayed by my own body - to say nothing of other betrayals if the infection is an STD. I have been telling myself that I can't do anything about the future right now and that I have to just manage today, but for someone with anxiety, it doesn't really control the thoughts about what if nor the elaborate imaginary scenarios that play out in the head. Whew. It's been a rough one internets.