I guess this is a little awkward to announce publically that I have a bad heart. Anything announced publically on social media can be awkward though, but the point of this is more about my Health Care than it is about my personal medical issues.
Let's go back in time in my medical history, shall we? In 2020 I had a physical which revealed some farirly high cholesterol numbers. My doctor said that in the next ten years I would have a 10% chance of either a heart attack or a stroke. I didn't like those numbers. Medication was suggested, but I'm anti-medicine which might be prescribed indefinitely. So I decided to change my diet and do some other things. I even began to run---and was all in with it. My numbers went down in 2021 and by late 2021 I advocated for a follow-up lipid panel and the numbers were still good--up a little, but still good.
Fast forward to 2022. What had happened since my last physical was that my insurer, Harvard Pilgrim (part of Atrius Healt) was overtaken by a for profit company. When I scheduled my physical there was only one blood test, for my PSA level, but none for my cholestrol. In fact, there were no other blood tests. When I asked for the lipid panel, I was told that it wasn't due until 2026.
What? What? What??
Did they not want to pay? Probably.
I asked how could that possibly be---cholestrol was something I was monitoring, which I was so freely being prescribed a medication for just two years earlier---because of the 10% of something bad which could happen. I called the office, and advocated for the test and being in charge of my own health to the person at the doctor's office, who promptly hung up on me.
Finally, they "allowed" me to have a blood test, and the numbers were up---not alarmingly so, but up still. I had relapsed a little in my diet in the past year, mostly because of my running, I figured I could treat myself to some shit again. When the Nurse Practitioner informed me of my 2022 levels (certainly not my doctor because I saw her at the initial screening three years ago, and not since) she said that I could get a Calcium CT to see if there were blockages or plaque built up in my arteries. Totally optional, and I would have to pay out of pocket. I almost didn't, but thought, what the hell, why not go in there and have piece of mind. I was fully expecting to have a pretty clean scan, but unfortunately it wasn't. The Agatston calcium score, in order to be considered SEVERE was 100-300. Mine was 656. I was of HIGH RISK FOR HEART ATTACK. I got a call an hour after the scan, not a good sign, and immediately was prescribed Rosuvastatin, which I immediately filled.
NEWS FLASH: If I hadn't pushed so hard for the lipid panel, then decided on the optional Calcium CT, I probably would have had a heart attack before my next physical. Self-service medicine for the win.
But then there was a silence from my medical provider, and I had to email them the next day and ask if there was a plan to refer to a Cardiologist. As I have learned, I wasn't about to wait, so I spoke to a friend*, who recommended a Cardiologist covered by my insurer. and I did all the legwork calling Harvard Pilgrim at the Corporate Level and the office of the new Cardiologist---and I got an immediate appointment. Meanwhile while this was going on, there was no response from my GP's office. When they did respond in late afternoon they said,
"I could refer you to Cardiology, but they would not treat you differently, so there's no need for that"
Being denied a second treatment opinion and also the chance to talk about my medical issues with a Cardiac Specialist was extremely baffling---and angering.
Did they not want to pay? Probably.
Now all this negarive buzz in the past 6 or so years about "Evil" Socialism and medicine is such horse shit. I don't know anyone that would be against good treatment, scanning/testing for everything at a decent cost. But you know, GO USA, and GO Capitalism....the economic system we wave the flag at because it's good for all--it's apple pie///GO USA---Ha!
So what about Capitalistic Medicine? Here's the secret held tight by money grubbing corporations: It leads to cost saving, and bad health care by making the patient advocate for themselves at every point along the way, so you'd better know your shit about treatments in general. In addition, we all be trained to trust the medical profession at face value, but it's really money over care of people, again and again.
In December I'm having a colonoscopy, so I'm thinking how the health care system is going to want me to bend over.
*A little bit about friends and action plans. I belong to a fellowship called Alcholics Annoymous which encourages us to share our problems, which often I do. I didn't raise my hand and tell the full group, but I told one of my good and trusted friends--a person I decompress with after my Sunday meeting, nearly every week. She got it immediately and knew what I needed. My old drinking buddies would have either met me at a bar, or done something to avoid the subject, like drinking, for example. I am so lucky to have friends who understand what we need and are ready to go straight to an action plan.