Monday, August 17, 2020

Adventure reflection

Four years ago today, I received a stent in a cardiac artery that was was 90% blocked. Now, that was an adventure. Back then, I wrote on my personal Facebook, “So, I’ll soon have back energy and stamina I’ve been missing for so long,” and it turned out that really did happen—up until the next year when it all went away because of heart rhythm problems.

In May of 2017, they put me on betablockers (which I talked about in a post in November of that year). It turned out, betablockers made feel much, much worse than before the stent.

I complained about how I was feeling, and the doctors changed me to a different betablocker which made me feel a little bit better, but not much. They fiddled with the dosage, and I kept complaining about how badly I felt, until the decided I should see a private cardiologist, which I did in June of 2018, and he put me on a totally different drug.

The rhythm problems returned in September 2018 when I was hospitalised for tachycardia, and they put me on different drugs. Things got worse in May of last year, when I was hospitalised again and had my heart shocked back into normal rhythm. They also adjusted my drugs and put me on another one “temporarily” because one of them is dangerous. I now feel pretty much as bad as I did before the stent (though probably better than on betablockers, which isn’t exactly a high bar…).

Because I moved from Auckland to Waikato, I started over on the waiting list (a HUGE flaw in New Zealand’s otherwise absolutely brilliant healthcare system), and there’s not even an estimate (yet) of how long I’ll be waiting. Meanwhile, that potentially dangerous drug I was supposed to be on for up to nine months? It’s now been around 15 months.

These delays happened because I had private health insurance, which meant I wasn’t a priority under the public system. Then, it took FOUR MONTHS for the insurance company to reject the claim, effectively raise the premiums, and exclude all conditions related to the cardiovascular system (which is like, you know, nearly everything). Having private health insurance meant I couldn’t get on the priority list through the public system, and that four month delay meant that by that time, I’d shifted to Hamilton, and that meant starting all over with a new GP and a new waiting list. At least I got the insurance company to refund months of premiums because I would’ve cancelled the policy way back then.

And then Covid-19 happened, and the lockdown, and everything stopped. It’s only been in the past month that the Waikato DHB was able to look at all the reports, and tell me, basically, they have no idea when I’ll get the procedure.

So: I've asked my new GP for a referral to a private cardiologist here in Hamilton. There are three possibilities: They may come up with a better drug combo that works and makes me feel not quite so much like shit. Second, they may be able to get the DHB to prioritise me (highly improbable, but you never know). Third, I may pay to have the procedure done privately (that’s what I’m actually looking to do).

When I was in hospital last year, I told the cardiology team, “I’m too young to feel this old,” and they got what I was saying. But now, 15 months later, I also have to deal with the fast and unexpected death of my soulmate, and it’s absolutely impossible for me to have ANY chance whatsoever of finding a life until and unless this is sorted. If Nigel was still with me, he would have moved mountains to get this done. That’s exactly what I’m going to do.

This post is a revised and expanded version of something I posted to my personal Facebook this morning.

Important note: This is about my own personal health journey. My experiences are my own, and shouldn’t be taken as indicative for anyone else. Similarly, other people may have completely different reactions to the same medications I take—better or worse. I share my experiences because others may have the same or similar experiences, and I want them to know that they’re not alone. But, as always, discuss your situation and how you’re feeling openly, honestly, and clearly with your own doctor, and always feel free to seek a second opinion from another doctor.


Roger Owen Green said...

I had my own little scare that I'll have to write about once I figure out what it was.

Arthur Schenck said...

Heh. Figuring things it is often the hardest part.