I was reading a post from a Citi friend, Brie Adams & her frustration in trying to get a brain MRI completed…in accordance with her preferences & the technicians’ rules.

(She was stricken with breast cancer, but has dealt head-on with that monster, showing incredible courage & fortitude.)

Oh, those damned rules!

With all my shit, I’ve undergone quite a number of different diagnostic procedures & treatment protocols over the years. Usually, stuff goes off without a hitch, but there have been exceptions (some of which I’ve shared with you)…

> > About 20 years ago, I was having a lot of problems with my neck. (Yeah, there’s a story in here somewhere about how my PCP, Dr. Sybil Morgan, upon reading the MRI, turned to me & said, “You have the neck of an 85 year-old man!” Of course, I responded, “Do I hafta give it back???”).

The neck issue was painful enough, but I was also feeling a lot of discomfort & pain in my shoulders & arms.

As it turned out, I was diagnosed with severe DDD/Degenerative Disk Disease. Apparently, all the cartilage in my neck (they serve as protective cushions for the discs themselves) is completely gone.

It was bone-on-bone…and it wasn’t fun.

And it still isn’t!

Throw in a couple of torn rotator cuffs on top, terrible arthritis & lemme tell ya, there isn’t a damned pillow in this world that provides a peaceful night’s sleep.

No wonder I regularly suffer from the absolutely-craziest nightmares ever!

I believe I actually caused this whole stupid neck problem myself by continuously “cracking my neck”, using my hands to push & pull my head, sometimes violently, in all different directions, until I could hear that very audible “Pop!”.

Or several of them.

That would put enormous pressure on the cartilage…until it all decided to crumble, piece by piece, until it finally disappeared altogether.

> > This little yarn, though, deals with my experience when I underwent an MRI procedure to see what was going on with the neck my Grandpa left for me.

While I had never before had an MRI taken, I was pretty familiar with the process.

Lie down on this flat surface that will slide you, head first, into this dungeon of doom! Well, not exactly, but it was a large cylinder, lying horizontally. I heard all the horror stories of the loud banging sound it makes when the machine is taking its images of the appropriate part of your body. And if you’re claustrophobic, there could be some issues.

(This was ~20 years ago so the technology was improved dramatically since!)

The technician will ask you if you’d like some earplugs…a blindfold…&/or a shot of Valium.

“Are you crazy? Me? Afraid of that thing? You gotta be kidding me!”

I lie down on the sliding surface in my oh so sexy paper gown, with my head closer to the MRI machine.

They start to slide Superman into the narrow opening of the MRI. I immediately start to perspire.

“Hold on there!” as I raise my hand & sit up.

“How ’bout you slide me in feet first?” The perspire thing has now become a full downpour.

“No can do! You must enter the machine this way!”

I quickly think to myself, “WTF are you doing, big guy? It’s just a stupid li’l machine!”

I lie back down & they start the slide again.

“THAT’S IT!!! Where’s that Valium & that mask?”

The gown has completely become one with my skin as I can physically feel myself sweating bullets!

I hop down off the table as the nurse administers the Valium & I go inside to change into a new gown.

The rest of the procedure went fairly smoothly. Well, not really, but at least I didn’t scream out, pleading for my Mommy to save me!

> > A few years later, I’m in Nebraska & another medical condition requires that I have an MRI performed.

I’m better prepared this go-round so I request the relaxant right upfront.

“Do you think I can get a double dose, pls?”

I must’ve still appeared quite nervous (er, scared to death?) and the nurse definitely Β noticed.

“Don’t worry! I’ll hold your hand.”

She was a very attractive woman so my mind kept wandering & apparently, my brain was way too distracted to worry.

Every MRI thereafter (and there were several) actually went off without a hitch as the newer MRI machines had a much wider opening (No, they weren’t, necessarily, the new “open MRI” models that you hear about, but still were a huge improvement). They had plastic surfaces, not metal, painted white & presented a much more “friendly picture” to the patient.

> > I’ve had countless injections, blood draws & IVs in my life…plus 15 operations…so getting a needle stuck into me really doesn’t bother me at all.

But then I started to develop serious problems with my eyes due to diabetic retinopathy & macular degeneration.

(I hadn’t been taking care of myself nor my diabetes for a few years while I lived in Columbus, OH. In addition, my primary care physician never once referred me to an eye specialist even though eye issues, especially bleeding vessels, are a common side effect of diabetes. In SA, Dr. Morgan continuously sent me to specialists as I received several laser treatments as the blood vessels kept leaking.)

Upon returning to SA in October 2015 (at my daughter Heather’s behest so she could take care of me…πŸ™πŸΌπŸ™πŸΌπŸ™πŸΌβ€οΈ), I visited our great friend, Dr. Steve Campbell, an optometrist who performed an examination & immediately referred me to Dr. Juan Rubio of Retina Associates of South Texas.

He quickly diagnosed my issue & began treatment immediately. (Soon thereafter, I was declared legally blind after a full examination by an eye specialist chosen by Social Security Disability.)

Times had changed so there were additional protocols available to follow (instead of just laser treatment). He would administer an injection of aflibercept from Eyelea.

These shots go for $4,495 per & they’re NOT covered by insurance.

(The first one I got was free as he had a sample left in his supply closet. He then had me apply for a grant from a macular degeneration charitable foundation. I got approved for a free year’s of shots.

The foundation then lost its funding so Eyelea had a special program where they actually negotiated with Blue Cross on my behalf. Another free year.

When I finally got Medicare coverage (2 1/2 yrs after being declared disabled), I was no longer eligible for Eyelea’s program. I also switched insurers to UniterHealthcare for their Medicare Advantage Plan (umbrella coverage that sits on top of Medicare).

Note: EVERY Medicare recipient should ALWAYS get a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare Supplemntal Plan. NO ONE…repeat, NO ONE…should have just “original Medicare”!!!

A Medicare Advantage Plan (often called Part C) is usually FREE & “sits atop” traditional Medicare to provide additional benefits & discounts.

Medicare Supplemental Plans (Plan F, G, N, etc.) provide even better umbrella coverage, but there’s a monthly premium (that differs by provider).

BTW, I’ll be happy to talk with you or your parents/grandparents about these offerings if you’d like.

Seriously.

Or they can speak with a LICENSED, INDEPENDENT health insurance agent who’ll analyze their situation & help them select the right product for their specific situation.

Note: Many people may be covered by a military health plan (e.g., Tricare) or a company’s plan for retirees, but pls make sure that your elderly relatives, friends & loved ones are NOT totally dependent upon traditional Medicare ALONE!!!

My medical group, WellMed, (under UnitedHealthCare) now covers 100% of all my eye-related treatments, including these Eyelea shots, my cataract surgeries @ $5.5K & my recent eye surgery to stop severe bleeding @ $50K!)

Anyway…

Oh, and plan guess where the ophthalmologist gives you the Eyelea injection (that helps combat “wet” Adult Macular Degeneration) and other injections designed to stop leaky vessels.

πŸ€”

No, not in your arm (nor your ass).

No, not near your eye.

Yes, directly into your eyeball!!! 😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱

There’s some contraption they use that physically keeps your eye open. You can’t even blink.

And you cannot move…at all…as there could be very dangerous consequences.

And, duh, you can’t turn your head & look away, either!

I’ve probably had ~20 of the shots in my eyes & trust me, you NEVER, EVER get used to them.

No matter how hard I try, it’s virtually impossible to not flinch, even slightly! (Nope, there’s no Valium nor holding nurses’ hands!)

There comes a quick “Hold still now!” as you actually see the needle approaching…then can “see” the medication enter your eye & spread itself around.

Very similar to watching oil get poured into oil, except it’s happening in your eyeball!

Lemme tell ya, you have not lived until…

 

As always, thanks so very much for listening!

 

 

 

 

 

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