A very frustrating couple of days for me…

No real drama, no real threat to my health, just a lot of niggling aggravations that added up to a whole lot of frustration.

First was the five hours on Monday when I thought my Invacare HomeFill II was on the fritz. I have had Oxygen condensers in the house since July of 2004 and never had a problem, not one.

 Well, there was that time I took the whole contraption with me to DC and broke off the nozzle for the tube that connected the HomeFill with the Oxygen condenser. But that was because of my oafishness and not anything related to the machine.

I have had the HomeFill attachment for the better part of five years with no drama. Just pop the little tank on the attachment to the condenser via a hose and let her rip.

So, when the little red warning light and the high-pitched wail from the machine signaled there was something wrong, I was surprised. Now I have explained in an earlier post how simple these machines were, how there were few moving parts.. You can read about it in the post-titled Getting Use to Being Disabled.

We had two invitations that day: one to lounge around in my sister and BIL’s pool and the other to lounge around with my best friend. He use to be my BIL, another story, and his girlfriend, another good friend only female. I collect pairs of everything.

When that light went on and would not go off, I knew I was going to have to break yet another few invitations. After awhile, I wonder if those invitations won’t stop coming.

I had two-day long appointment slots scheduled for the week, so I was resigned to lugging those huge tanks around all week. I simply wouldn’t have time until Friday to get out to Apria and change out the HomeFill II unit.

So I played my guitar for a couple of hours, ate some food left over from Sunday’s fun and then started to noodle around on the Internets. Then it dawned on me that I had at my fingertips the equivalent of the Alexandrian Library at my disposal. I searched and quickly found the manual for the machine.

See, it is good for more than chatting, porn and listening to Justin Beaber.

Turns out that there was just a pressure back up that was easy to fix. I ruined a day, but salvaged a week.

Tuesday morning I get up bright and early to the second of a string of 90 degree plus days here in the “Best Location in the Nation.’ I had three appointments scattered about on the west side of Cleveland. About 50 miles of city driving.

The thing is, when I woke up it was only bright, not early. In fact I had only about 45 minutes to shake off the night, eat something, do a few breathing treatments before my first appointment at Fairview Hospital.

This test is called a Quantitative VQ Scan. It involved injecting a small amount of radioactive material into the blood stream. (I wonder if I should duck and cover?). This has a lot to do with my mounting frustrations.

To complete the test, they do two 80 second scans of the chest. One from the top and one from the bottom.  This allows a full view of the lungs. What they are searching for is the amount of blood that is circulating around the lungs. They call this perfusion, which means abundance. So they are searching to measure the abundance of blood in my lungs.

You can read more about it here.  http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3451600992.html

I was already 15 minutes late by the time I made it to the check in desk. Now I had spent the better part of a half hour pre-registering for this test last week. When I arrived, I had to go through a lot of the same stuff again because the computers were down.

That meant a thirty-minute stop in radiology had morphed into an almost two-hour ordeal.

I had to call and cancel my second appointment because I had only allowed an hour between and I was still waiting. They had assured me that was enough time to get from Fairview Hospital down to the lower west side and Lutheran Hospital.

If you are not familiar with Cleveland, there are about 170 east west blocks between the hospitals and also about a mile of north south space between the two. A lot of surface roads, more than half and the rest an interstate that is being worked on.

Frustration mounts.

I had no place to go but back home. The last appointment was set for 1:00, so I had about an hour to kill. I was in a better mood but still laboring under the heat. I had insisted that Laurie take the air-conditioned Kia because I would only be out driving for a little while in the air conditionedless Dodge Van.

Bad mistake on a bad air day.

I cooled off at home and jumped into the Van and headed down to my next appointment that was at a Cleveland Clinic Satellite building located less than two miles from my house.

I was set to get a bone density scan. That scan was going to be done at the Ob-Gyn part of the clinic. I walked into an office filled with millions of pregnant women who were suffering from the late stages of pregnancy in this heat.

I cannot believe how pleasant they all were. Hell, if I were carrying around that much extra weight in this heat, I would be having dark thoughts about the man who did this to me. They were blissful.

So much for my maternal instincts.

When I got to the desk, the nurse saw that I had a pink card sticking out of my pocket. She asked me what was that and I said it was my radioactive card to let people know I was pinging because of an isotope coursing through my veins. And made a joke about terrorists.

She looked at me all askance.

“Didn’t anyone tell you that you couldn’t schedule this test after having a radiology related test?’

I said no, I had told the person when I signed up for the test about my long day.

She said, “Who did you talk too?”

I surely did not want anyone to get in trouble over this, so I quickly said I only live a mile or so away. I have no problem coming back.

“That’s beside the point, Mr. Green. Whoever scheduled that appointment should have known better.”

Then I turned on the charm and said to her, “But it gives me one more chance to see you.”

She looked up at me with those eyes and I knew I had said the wrong thing.

Anyway, two days of frustration came to an end.

Now if only the heat wave would get out of here by the weekend so I can enjoy my 35th High School reunion.

!!!Warning, Danger, Political talk coming up!!!

I am about to get a little political, so if you are not interested, please do not feel obligated. This is an issue that hits me right where I breathe and so I feel it is appropriate to bring this particular issue up at this time.

A side note about the Oxygen Machine. As I was looking for that HomeFill manual I came across a lot of marketing material about purchasing a complete HomeFill package complete with O2 Condenser, the HomeFill device, all the hoses needed and two portable refillable tanks.

The price on this particular package was $3,995.

You can see the ad here http://www.portableoxygenconcentratorso2.com/Invacare_HomeFill_2.html

Now my insurance company pays out $200 plus a month to rent this machine. I have to rent this machine because Senators, such as one of mine here in Ohio, Senator George Voinovich, seem to be more concerned about the people who produce these machines than the people who need these machines.

Neither Insurance nor Medicare will buy these machines. The rules have been written into law by senators such as George Voinovich, a man who is supposedly so frugal that he is rumored to have once picked a penny from a public urinal.

However, when it comes to taxpayer’s money and a large contributor desires, (Invacare is a big supporter of George Voinovich), George lets common sense fly right out the window.

You can get the gist of George Voinovich’s concerns in this article from Fox News. Yes, that Fox News.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,179261,00.html

The one quote that struck me was this one by the senator.

Forcing a beneficiary to purchase medical equipment when they have no desire to is silly; it makes no sense,” she said. “And from our selfish industry perspective, our customers lose their inventory. It’s a rental industry and this puts the beneficiary at risk.”

My solution to this would have been to find a middle ground between the two sides. You should be able to buy that machine or have it bought for you. It is cheaper to do that than keep renting a machine year after year.

Here what I would have proposed to find a common ground between Invacare and the Medicare system. Purchase the equipment for probably $ 2,500 and then charge a $25 service fee. When the patient no longer needs the equipment, they sell it back to Invacare or better yet, donate it so people w/o insurance or Medicare can have access to life saving equipment.

Invacare makes money, Medicare saves money and the people have their medical needs fullfilled.

BTW, the $2,500 is far less than the $3,995 I quoted above. Remember, that was the price a retailer was charging for the package. He has probably built in a good profit.

Anyway, the needs of the all have to be considered and not always those who threaten to move their operation overseas if they do not get everything they want. To me that stinks of political extortion.

There, I said my piece. In addition, nowhere in this post did I once mention that Voinovich is a republican. Oops, let that slip. Sorry about that. I am sure there are democrats out there who take similar positions. This is one that George took willingly. He is supposed to be a stickler for budget matters. Well, unless it concerns a financial supporter.

Look here to see who gave him money in 2008.

http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=2008&type=I&cid=N00003583&newMem=N&recs=20

My question is this, why is he still raising money when he announced long ago that this was going to be his last term in office. This year, after announcing he was not going to run again, he still raised over $330k.

http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=2010&type=I&cid=N00003583&newMem=N&recs=20

Just curious.

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5 Responses to A very frustrating couple of days for me…

  1. Diane says:

    Chris the invitations will never stop! We completely understand your situation and anyone who stops inviting you to do anything….well lets just say they really aren’t worth you time.

  2. Mark W says:

    Interesting point that you make about the oxygen machine company. In the UK the people who supply our Oxygen are given their contract by the “government” after a process that is less than transparent my respiration nurse has asked me to keep a record of the times they don’t deliver my portable oxygen.They are rubbish and many patients have complained but the contract continues, they supply the whole of the South East region of England.I wonder who got a backhander to organise that.Air liquide are the company they are French.I have not had my machine go wrong yet I dread the day!
    Wish you all the best with the rest of the tests before you are listed hope the conclusion will be positive all the best Mark

    • I have had pretty good luck with the machines,all things considered. I just see that the way the are delivering the O2 to people here in the states is no practical from a budgetary point of view…

      BTW, I hope everything is going okay for you…

  3. Thom Kulesa says:

    Chris,

    I am so sorry that you had to go through so much inconvenience during all this heat. That heat just makes it all so much worse. 😦

    Scheduling you for a test they should have known you couldn’t have at that time is, unfortunately, not an uncommon a mistake. If there are conditions under which a test should not be done, we all hear stories of scheduling staff expecting PATIENTS to know this and arrange things accordingly even though we don’t have the medical knowledge about the tests.

    The whole issue of money for durable medical equipment is a nightmare. I’m glad that you got your Oxygen, even if it’s rented. But you’re right that they’ll only provide it on terms that guarantee corporations suck in the most government money into corporate coffers. Insurance companies AND equipment providers have to profit, and often middlemen too.

    In any situation where the government isn’t paying the tab insurance companies are refusing, more and more often, to pay for any durable medical equipment at all. In my case personally, despite repeated prescriptions and letters from doctors, my insurance carrier repeatedly denied my electric wheelchair. I had to pay for it out of pocket. (Thankfully I had the help of a fundraiser, or I never could have afforded it.)

    I hope you get out of the house later this week take advantage of some of those invitations. 🙂

    • Oh I plan on getting out and about as much as I can. Given how things are, this could very well be my last reunion. Hopefully it won’t be but I have to act as if everything is going to be the last time. It really heightens the experence and makes it all the more enjoyable.

      They brag about the great strives in medical research and medical devices but what does it matter if the regular people can not afford such things and the insurance companies refuse to pay.

      Glad you are able to get the Wheel chair you need. It would really suck not to be able to get around.

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