One of the less fun sides of both chronic illness AND ageing is all of the tests that we have to endure. Most of us with RA have to have blood work routinely. With Degenerative Disc and Rheumatoid Lung, it's X-rays/MRI's/ Breathing tests etc.
Then there's ageing. I turned 50 last month which means that in addition to routine blood work, the always pleasant Mammogram, and "female" testing I was given the gift of a Colonoscopy.
This week has been rough. I had an appointment on Sunday for a deep periodontal scaling -thanks lowered immune system! I haven't had a cavity since the 90's but even with taking care of my teeth, my lowered immune system opens me up to periodontal infections. I recently lost three back teeth due to this and we have to do whatever we can to keep the rest.
Tuesday I went to the Spine Center to follow up on the DDD. The x-rays show "multilevel degenerative disc disease." The C3-C7 show thinning, spurring and "subluxation" which essentially means that my neck is bending the opposite way that it should. The last MRI in 2014 showed that two of those discs were bulging. The lower back showed that the L4-S1 are thinning, have spurs and show signs of "Dextro scoliosis". In addition, both areas have lots and lots of hereditary (thanks Gran!) arthritis with the L5-S1 looking like cotton candy instead of nice and crisp. That explains a lot of the constant pain. I don't want to add more meds and still refuse narcotics so we are being conservative. That means it's back to PT for measurement for a cervical brace and dry needling and adding Lidocaine patches 12 hours a day. In two months, I go back and if we haven't seen any improvement it will be another MRI, a lower back brace and on from there.
Tomorrow is the dreaded Colonoscopy. This is my first and hopefully, I won't need one for a long time. Also hopefully, the prep is worse than the test. I am not going into the prep, I will just say that it's not fun. Fortunately, I have the time needed to take today off for the prep and tomorrow off for the test.
Next week- it's back to the Rheumy for routine blood work.
As I sit here and reflect on this week and psych myself up for tomorrow I have to think about the medical costs. I am so very grateful that Barnes & Noble Education takes good care of its employees in terms of the insurance it offers to us. I have a co-pay for visits, a reasonable deductible and then pay about 20% for the rest of the year. Even with good insurance, those costs add up! I just cannot imagine what someone who did not have insurance would have to pay out of pocket for all of these procedures and tests. I completely understand how medical bills can bankrupt a family. It makes me incredibly sad that in a nation such as ours, this can be allowed to happen. But that's a post for another time.
Be well, my friends. Be well and get whatever tests your doc feels is necessary. Though they are expensive and time-consuming, they will help head off any nasty surprises.