Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tooth Dilemma

The financial stress is causing an increase in symptoms (swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, increased fatigue, cognitive issues).

I saw the oral surgeon today. When he looked at my x-ray he said "how much pain are you in?" I said virtually none. I have intermittent pain but nothing substantial. Nothing like the back pain I experience daily.

He said he didn't see signs of a blatant infection in the x-ray but said "I know Dr. **** and he's very conservative. He wouldn't have referred you if he didn't have good reason". I said but he based his decision on the x-ray.

The surgeon said he must have had a clinical reason and said this tooth isn't viable.  I told him that what started this whole thing was my crown fell off. He said there must be decay or maybe the dentist suspected a cracked tooth. I said "he never mentioned a cracked tooth" and again repeated he based his decision on the x-ray and told me the tips of two roots were infected and it had gone into the bone to which the oral surgeon repeated "he wouldn't have referred you if he didn't think it were necessary". The dentist did mention he could see decay at the top of the tooth and suspected there was leakage into the canals which caused the infection.

Anyway we proceeded with the consult. The oral surgeon said one of the roots extends fairly far into the sinus which might mean that I end up with a hole in the sinus so I need to be careful not to blow my nose for two weeks after the surgery. My anxiety shot up at that point.  He also said because it's an old root canal that he would recommend I go under general anesthesia vs the light sedation because "we have to dig and there will be bone cracking" and more painful so best to be under. I asked what the general anesthesia included and he said "propofal, fentynal, versed" and a couple other things.

The oral surgeon had never heard of POTS so I had to explain it to him. He didn't look like he believed me. He said that makes more of a case to go under general anesthesia because otherwise I would feel it because the options without epinephrine aren't that effective for a procedure like this.

He recommended a bone graft because I don't have much bone there.  My options for what to do in place of the tooth are 1) implants which are ridiculously expensive at over $4000 2) a bridge which means filing the teeth on adjacent sides down. One of them has a crown so that isn't a good option and I'd be at risk for more decay because you can't floss with a bridge so it ultimately might be more expensive plus would last only 8-10 years. I don't think I will be around that long so that part doesn't matter but the discomfort of filing down two teeth doesn't sound fun. Plus I don't think the tooth with a crown has enough tooth left. It was close to needing a root canal about 18 months ago.

The third option is a retainer type device that has a tooth in it. For some reason the sound of it sort of creeps me out. Anyway he said people tend to have a hard time tolerating having a big device like that in the mouth all the time.

The fourth option is to do nothing but it would mean the back molar would start to lean in.  And the tooth that needs extracting a prime chewing tooth.

So I don't know. I contacted the dentist who referred me and said the oral surgeon didn't see the same infection so he reviewed the x-ray again and said "there is an infection and oral surgeon's tend to see very bad infections". But they are contacting the surgeon's office and will wait for their report and contact me so I know how to proceed. They also said I could go to an endodontist for confirmation of the infection. But that would cost more money.

I don't want to get a procedure done that isn't urgent but I also don't want to wait until it's bad enough to need antibiotics. I'm now allergic to Penicillin. I told them that I had a weird reaction to it about a year ago where my lips started tingling as well as my tongue and that I felt like passing out so they said "that's a clear allergic reaction".  Bummer.

The referring dentist said the infection will progress and that my immune system is already fighting it. Not having a very good immune system in the first place doesn't bode well.

The thing that was disturbing aside from the sinus issue is the financial part. It will cost $1385 which isn't as bad as the dentist had said but this doesn't include implants/bridge or follow up appointments.

I asked if I could use my Care Credit card. They said yes but they will only extend payments out for 6 months which means a monthly payment of $280.33. I can't pay that amount. That would mean having less than $75 per month for groceries.  If I don't have a bone graft it's about $400 less.

The other bummer was that I had to pay for the entire consult fee today which means my grocery budget for the next two weeks is down to $50 or less.  I was hoping I could put it on Care credit but they said they only allow that for over $300.  It's crazy.

I'm already paying for medical bills plus the emergency dentist appointment I had last week to put the crown back in. They were clear the crown would last anywhere from 1-3 months.

If anyone out there knows anything about these things I sure could use some advice about what to do.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Unbelievable

I apologize for the tone of these posts but I'm so tired of trying to do the right thing or trying get things figured out only to be knocked back down again.

On April 30, 2012 I had a lumbar epidural for my spine. It helped my back but the doctor that performed it works for Northern CA Spine Institute. Good doctors but billing practices are questionable at best. I thought everything was had been worked out well over a year ago after receiving a bill for over $9000.  I spoke with the chief financial officer at the time and we worked out a compromise so I assumed everything was taken care of.

I received a phone call tonight from a COLLECTION agency saying I owed over $8000 for this same procedure and they'd been sending bills to my sisters' house where I was living at the time.  This bill was from the surgery center where the procedure was performed.

Not once did my sister or her husband forward the bills to me so I could have had a chance to get this resolved before reaching collections. Not to mention when I had the money in savings to pay the bill or what would be left of the bill if Medicare pays their share.

I'm so pissed off. This affects my credit. I have Care credit which will enable me to to make monthly payments on upcoming dental procedures. I need to ask for a higher credit limit so I can have the procedures but now I'm worried I'll be denied because I have such a big bill that will show on my credit report.

Do they have such little regard for me that they don't even bother to forward a bill? This is just not okay because it directly affects my credit which could also impact future housing as well as my ability to get a higher credit limit on the Care credit. Since I don't have dental coverage or eye coverage Care credit is what I need so I can see the dentist or get new glasses (which I also need).

Plus I had the money in my savings account at the time had those bills been forwarded to me so it wouldn't even be an issue now!

I'm also completely freaked out that I owe that much money. The guy said they didn't know I had Medicare so they will make a note to bill Medicare but Medicare will only pay 80% which means another medical bill for over $800.

This was from OVER TWO years ago. It's ridiculous. I don't understand. And I don't understand why the bills never got forwarded to me. The guy acted like he didn't believe me when I said I've never received any bills. I'm sure they hear that sort of thing all the time. I never got the damn bills.  I asked him what address they'd been sending the bills to then got pissed off when he told me and said "I haven't lived there in over two years"!

I just can't believe this is happening on the heels of feeling the most depressed I've ever felt while also dealing with other huge financial concerns.  There's simply no way I can pay all of this. Absolutely no way can I afford it. My food budget is about as low as it can go right now.  I don't even eat 3 full meals a day as it is. It's a freaking nightmare that never ends.

Like many ME patients I can't tolerate antidepressants. I've tried all of them. Ones I used to be able to tolerate I can't anymore. I'm on Lamictal but clearly it's not helping anymore. If I had the money I'd smoke pot. I've been reading about some good results some people have had with it on one of the message boards (Healclick--a good message board btw).  All I want is some relief from the depression (it's really, really bad) as well as from the financial burdens.

Last night I had another episode of feeling like I was going to pass out every time I stood up and walked a couple steps.  I don't understand why this is all happening--the money stuff, the wanting to pass out. With the tooth infection I could barely see anything on the x-ray so it can't be that bad to affect my functioning.  It wasn't there when I was at the dentist 18 months ago (different dentist).

I see the oral surgeon Tuesday and will ask him if I can postpone this. I emailed my ME doctor about it and he said I needed to get the tooth out. I know a lot of ME patients end up with this sort of thing--healthy people do too but it seems more rampant among people with problematic immune systems.

I've been beyond fatigued again today but now my nervous system is so riled up I can't get it calmed down. I feel like the only thing I can do is talk about what's going on in this blog because it's something only ME patients can understand. I'm just incredibly stressed out over all of this.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Keep Going?

I've been aware for awhile now that there is a part of me that has wanted to avoid this blog because having regained some functioning I haven't wanted any reminders of how bad things can get. And this blog is a reminder for me of how bad things once were physically and then after the break up how bad things have been emotionally.

Lately I've been experiencing how bad things can be financially. They are beyond bad right now. I'm so close to homelessness at this point.

And then there is the re-experiencing of very, very bad fatigue.  As in I can't even make a phone call today bad. I've been on a downhill slide for over a month in part due to stress about my car and other things. Physically I'm not doing well at all anymore.

Whenever I start having an increase in symptoms I review the past few weeks or months to note any changes of activity levels, toxins, change of diet, new treatments, supplements, etc....

I've been out of Imunovir because something is going on at the manufacturer and there isn't any to be found. I've been out for over 2 months.

I've had repeated exposure to toxic car exhaust although I "retired" my car about 3 weeks ago.

There was a pesticide spraying for 2 nights last week. The pesticide was because there has been increased West Nile virus found in birds and mosquitos in the area.  It's called "Trumpet" but is, among other things, an organophosphate. I don't do well with organophospates.

There is also quite a bit of smoke residue from a couple fires.

I had a crown fall out Thursday afternoon about 4:50. Luckily it was on a previously root-canaled tooth so I didn't experience any pain. I did have quite a bit of bleeding when I brushed that night so I knew the gum was inflamed.

I saw the dentist today who said I it appeared as if there was leakage into the root canal leading to an infection in the tips of two roots as well as the bone. He said I have two choices. Another root canal or have it extracted and then said if it were him he would recommend having the tooth pulled.

He wasn't making any money off me because he said he'd refer me to an oral surgeon for the extraction. I asked if the infection would progress and he said yes and that it needed to be taken care of.

I'm so bummed about the money part as well as concerned about the impact of having an invasive dental procedure. I have MCS and dentists offices bother me. Today I had to pull my shirt over my nose and mouth because of some chemical.

Anyway, the money part frightens me. I ended up getting an 18 year old used car. It's a van. It needs new tires and front brakes. I paid a lot more than I could afford but had no choice given my financial restrictions. I had hoped that I could spend the minimal on food and go to food banks and hopefully qualify for food stamps which would mean I could repay my savings account.

Now I'm looking at over $2000 worth of dental work ($5000 if I have an implant).  Plus I have some medical bills.

It's freakin discouraging. My food budget is so low that I can't even afford orange juice or anything. I just buy the basics. My big luxury item is a tin of Peet's tea and every now and occasional Trader Joe's Vintage cola.

I applied for food stamps and had a phone interview. I qualify for $15!!!!!  But that's contingent upon sending in the medical bills. I said "but I have a student loan payment for $300 each month" to which she said "we only count rent, medical bills, and utilities".  Oh, so I just don't pay any other bills then. It's crazy but given the bad economy I guess those Republicans have to blame someone so might as well be the poor people who wouldn't be poor if they just tried hard enough.  Might as well cut back those expenses instead of unnecessary things like tax loopholes.

I'm at my wit's end and have been waking up so depressed every morning it's just not fun. If this is how the rest of my life is going to be, then no thanks.

I haven't been able to socialize in weeks. One of my housemates has a personality disorder and randomly decides to stop talking to me (he does this to his partner to so its not personal--just incredibly uncomfortable). I've tried talking to him about what's bothering him with no result. I feel stuck here. Right now I'm hating living here. Living with people who don't want you there is awful. I did it for awhile after the break up and told myself I'd rather be homeless than repeat that experience.

Things feel grim and pointless and hopeless.  I'm trying my hardest and doing my damnedness to make a good life but it's just not happening.

I so wish I could afford to live on my own. I may end up living in the van so I plan on taking the seats out and converting it so I can sleep in it.  Things are that grim.  I've been doing a lot of reading about life after death experiences. For some reason that keeps me going. Knowing at some point things will get better.

Just likely not in this lifetime.