healthcare Tag

Want to start from the beginning? Start here: http://katie-garber.com/2017/03/levels-healing-part-1/

 

Meeting with the oncologist in October 2016 was one of the most tense times of my life. I knew there was nothing I could do at the time, but I just wanted to know what was happening inside my body. The day before my appointment, I had told the therapist at the Good Sam Free Clinic, that I didn’t feel up to fighting anything.

I feel like that’s the word always thrown out with cancer, this idea of fighting. But I was tired and not ready to put up some big battle. Plus, in my research and experience with healing, there’s another approach you can take to abnormalities in your body – making friends with them. This goes for emotions, shadow aspects of yourself, and more. So I was ready to find out what I was going to work to befriend.

The oncologist had a very kind and understanding demeanor. He mentioned ordering a biopsy but wanted to check in with a colleague of his who specializes in ovarian and bladder cancers. After talking with that surgeon, they set me up with an appointment with him to discuss my options. I went to meet him a couple days later.

This surgeon had reviewed my scan before I arrived and his thought was that it was not cancerous, but a severe case of endometriosis and that the large fibroids were actually chocolate cysts. This sounds much more pleasant than it is.

//Just a little bit of information for those that aren’t familiar (and this is my personal take on it). Endometriosis is most often found in women in their 30’s-40’s and occurs when the tissue of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, causing pain, scarring and the possibility of cysts collecting blood during menstruation but having no way to release it. This can result in large cysts filled with old blood that form on the ovaries, which is most likely my prognosis.//

The not cancerous part of this gave me a sigh of relief. Then during an uncomfortable pelvic and rectal exam he casually mentioned, “Well, you’re probably already infertile.” My heart sank. I tried to keep the tears from pooling in my eyes. After traveling in India, one thing had become very clear to me – I want to raise children. He left the room as I put my clothes back on. I met him and my dad in another room where he explained that as a cancer surgeon, his goal is to cut everything out of me that looks abnormal. This could mean my ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. Then he blatantly asked me, “Do you want to have children?” “Uhh… well.. Umm.. Yeh, I’d like to have that option” was all I could get out. Then he mentioned that he may have to preform a whole hysterectomy, but it would make at a challenge being menopausal at my age and then I’d have to take hormones.

Then he decided that I could possibly see his colleague who specializes in fertility and that she would have a different approach to the surgery, with a goal of living as much of my reproductive system intact to increase my likelihood of having children naturally. This immediately sounded better to me. And when I heard the word, ‘she’ I already felt more comfortable than being around this guy that seemed to be preparing me for menopause at age 31.

I met with the fertility specialist the next week. When I arrived at the center at Bethesda North hospital, I noticed all of the other patients were young women with their partners. I felt on edge as I walked in alone. The front desk manager asked for my insurance and I explained to her the one bright spot in this whole ordeal – the free clinic, who had assured me that anyone I was referred to within their system, would be free of charge to me. The front desk woman seemed to think I was making this up. She asked me to sit in a small room and wait for the office manager. When the office manager came in, she explained to me that I couldn’t see the doctor without insurance or paying for it out of pocket. I started to cry, not just for me, but for the frustration of this archaic system.

I’m already going through enough and I surely don’t want to go back to that guy that’s ready to cut out my uterus. Why does our healthcare system penalize people for having a lack of money? How can we as a first world country that think’s its the best country in the world have a healthcare system that only caters to people making a certain high figure income? 

I could tell she could sense my pain, frustration and sadness. She offered to go talk with the specialist and the resident doctor that was working with her that day.

She came back in and said I could see the resident doctor. I agreed as I just wanted to hear any better news than menopause at 31. He came in the room, introduced himself, and spoke with me more throughly about endometriosis and my options. Then he said the specialist I wanted to see would stop in and talk with me briefly. When she came in, I felt myself relax. She was smart, pretty and calm. She explained that she felt that the fibroids were not life-threatening and that I shouldn’t rush into anything until I was ready. Then she offered to preform a vaginal ultrasound for me, free of charge. I felt the gratitude welling up inside as so many of distrusts of Western medicine began to fade away. She was offering to help me, knowing that I didn’t have an insurance company to bill.

As the ultrasound started she exclaimed, “Oh you poor thing.” As they moved the wand around, neither of them could locate my uterus or ovaries. The screen was just filled with an image of a huge blob – the fibroid. She was surprised that I wasn’t having any pain. From her explanation my case seemed very rare in its size and had most likely been forming over many years. I met the resident doctor in a room after the session and he explained my options were for having a resident team lead my surgery. He seemed overly eager to present my case to his fellow residents, where they would decide the best course of action to take. I felt a little overwhelmed by his excitement. I thanked him for all of his help but told him I wanted time to explore some natural alternatives first.

He said that was fine and to let them know later on if I wanted to go forward with the surgery.

 

Read more here:

The Levels of Healing, Part 3

It’s been about 6 months since I’ve shared anything on here, but after traveling for a year, I discovered my love for writing and how healing the process is for me. Sharing my words, thoughts and feelings in an open way brings me more comfort than you could ever know. So here’s a bit about my absence and my inward journey of health since last fall.

Shortly after launching my coaching business in September 2016, I was laying down after doing a bit of yoga and noticed a lump in my lower abdomen. It felt like the size of a softball and was in the lower right side of stomach. I was kind of freaked out but also slightly awed that something this size could be there without my awareness. For the next couple of weeks, I fretted about what to do, since I didn’t have health insurance (and still do not). At this point it’s become a personal choice not to have insurance, but more on that later…

I decided to research some of my options, which turned out to be:

  1. Get a gap health insurance plan with huge deductible (like $10,000+) and then enroll in ObamaCare for 2017
  2. Go to a free clinic
  3. Ignore it and hope it went away

As much as I wanted to pick number three, I knew that this was serious. I wasn’t in any pain but this was not something you’d normally find in a healthy body.

Upon some more research, I found the Good Samaritan Free Health Care Clinic in Price Hill.

I was hesitant to go. I had a lot of resistance I felt with asking for help for free, coupled with the distrust I had in Western medicine.

I felt guilty about receiving something for free. I knew could rely on friends and family for financial support if I really needed it. And yes, I was capable of getting a full time job somewhere with health insurance, but I chose to pursue my own business (again). Some people don’t have these options, so it was a feeling that I was being selfish. I also had fears that if I went it would keep others from getting care that they most likely needed more than me. In short, I felt underserving of getting something for free. I am young, capable, talented and used to doing things myself, but eventually my ego gave up. I really did need help. This lump wasn’t disappearing and I had about $300 in my bank account.

So I drove to the clinic to register as a new patient, but wasn’t able to get an appointment for 3 weeks. After weeks of fretting, I calmed my nerves as much as possible and drove to the clinic. It was sunny, cool Saturday morning in early October. Arriving at the clinic was a humbling feeling, knowing that I was about to ask someone to help me for free. I knew that they would be offering me a lot more than I could offer them at the time.

As I walked into meet the nurse practitioner, I explained my symptoms to him, which was not much when it came to my abdomen. I had some some stomach issues in the previous months, for which I had been partaking in a parasite and candida cleanse. But I had been feeling that those issues were resolved. As the doctor came to meet me, we discussed my recent travels and as she did an abdominal exam, I could tell her concern was beginning to grow. The shear size of this lump and its protrusion from my belly was an abnormality that she felt needed urgent attention. So I did some blood work that day, put in request to have a CT scan, thanked the doctor and nurse for their helpfulness and went home.

I was trying my best to stay positive, the doctor had mentioned that maybe it was a tape worm in my large intestine. That seemed like something I could handle. However, the call I received from the doctor after my CT scan was not something I thought I’d be able to handle. I remember time slowing down as the woman on the phone explained to me that there was not just one, but two lumps, fibroids as she called them – one in my abdomen and one in my pelvis. Each one was about the size of a grapefruit. They were most likely connected to my ovaries but they couldn’t really tell from the scan. And just to be safe they set me up with an appointment to see an oncologist.

At that moment, it felt like the earth stopped moving, for my world definitely stopped moving. Tears started to stream down my face. She explained that they weren’t  sure that it was cancer but in the case that it was, then I’d be starting at the right place. I tried to say something, but nothing came out of my mouth. She asked if I wanted to come to the clinic to talk to a therapist. I instantly agreed. We set up a time for that afternoon.

When I hung up the phone, I just sat motionless. I definitely didn’t feel strong enough to go through this. I was just starting my coaching business, I was just getting adjusted to being back in Cincinnati, I was just starting to feel like I was finding my footing. And now this? I already felt out of place in my surroundings and now I was feeling out of place in my own body.

 

Read more here:

The Levels of Healing, Part 2