Tuesday, February 12, 2013

January 17 through 29, 2013 - Not enough dialysis, not enough insurance

Today's post covers the remainder of January of 2013.

January 17, 2013 (Thursday): Mom’s insurance changed from Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan at the first of this year, and she's finding out she isn't very happy with this new plan, initially due to having to pay a copay. But the big question is whether or not the transplant group will accept this new plan.

So how did she end up on this new insurance plan? Well, she was mailed some material in October about this potential change and instead of asking people to do something if they wanted to switch to the new plan, they had to complete a bunch of paperwork if they wanted to stay with their new plan. You may recall that October 2012 was an exciting month for Mom, with a failed attempt at peritoneal dialysis, a six night stay in the hospital, and getting started on hemodialysis. Reading her mail closely wasn't at the top of her priority list, and the last thing she wanted to do was fill out a bunch more paperwork, so she ended up being put on the new plan. It's called Medicare Advantage, so shouldn't it be an advantage over Medicare alone? Sure, but it's an advantage to the insurance provider, not to the patient.

So Mom found out that she could switch back to her old plan if she acted before January 31. Eventually she learned the transplant group will take her Medicare Advantage plan, so she decided to stay with it since that was her major concern.
January 18: They had to use one needle in the fistula and one needle in the permacath today. Also, some bleeding under the skin on her right arm appeared on Thursday. Fortunately it's not nearly as bad as it was in December.

January 23: The tech had trouble with the second needle stick today, and had to start over with that one so Mom actually had three needle sticks today.

January 25 (Friday): Today was good news, bad news, worse news. The good news is that her hemoglobin is up to 9.3. The bad news is that at today's dialysis session they couldn't get either one of the needles in the fistula so they had to use just the permacath. The worse news is that Mom's blood work shows that she isn't getting enough dialysis, so they're going to increase her dialysis time from 3.5 to 4 hours each session. Unlike most dialysis patients, Mom is still producing urine so this extra half hour will make her even more uncomfortable near the end of sessions than she is now.

January 28: The tech who normally puts the needles in Mom’s fistula was not there today, and the other techs were not comfortable trying to do it so they used the permacath instead. This was also Mom’s first four-hour dialysis session and it went ok.

January 29: I finally have some good news to report, but it's for me and not for Mom. I had my annual physical today and everything was normal with my lab work. Creatinine = 1.13 (normal range is 0.70 - 1.33) and GFR = 75 (normal is over 60). So I'm still asymptomatic. I will admit to being a little more nervous about my lab results with each passing year, but at least I know it will be detected as early as possible and I do have somewhat of a plan on how to proceed.

Next up: Almost caught up!

[Minor edit 3-13-13]

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