Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Time For Your Checkup.

So. Let's catch up.

I had the biopsy. It sucked, but also wasn't as bad as I remembered. Honestly, the hardest part was that Justin was working out of town at the time, and I was alone with my thoughts and worries at night.

During the biopsy, the endocrinologist told me that she was almost certain that it would be benign, but that on the off chance that it came back as indeterminate, she had also taken a sample for genetic testing.The biopsy was on Monday. By Wednesday, she called and said that it was benign, and that the only thing we needed was to follow up in a year and make sure the nodule hadn't grown too much. We celebrated. I slept...hard, for the first time in MONTHS. And we seriously enjoyed the holidays.

A few weeks after Christmas, I saw my endocrinologist's office number pop up on my cell phone, and my heart dropped. As it turned out, the sample that she had taken for possible genetic testing was supposed to have been thrown away since my biopsy was benign. Somehow, someway, it was accidentally submitted. And it came back positive for a genetic mutation that predisposes me for thyroid cancer. She explained that the type of cancer that I'm predisposed to is the "best" kind to have, but also the hardest to detect via ultrasound or biopsy, so she was no longer comfortable leaving such a big nodule in my thyroid, and she recommended that I have surgery within the next 3 months to remove that lobe of my thyroid.

She then referred me to a surgeon, who I saw last week. The surgeon agreed that with the information that she had, coupled with the fact that my grandmother had to have a total thyroidectomy, that lobe needed to come out. She said that the goal is to remove only half, but that they will do some testing while I'm under, and they do have the option to remove the whole thing if needed. We set the surgery date for Jan 27th at the surgery center attached to the ENT's office. On my way out the door, the office lady said, "Be sure to bring a check--your portion of the surgery will be due in full that day."

I asked her how much that would be, and she said, "Oh, somewhere between a couple hundred and a couple thousand. We'll call you sometime between now and then to let you know."

Right. Because that's realistic for most people I know.

Anyway, they called later that day and said that I would have to pay about $3100 the day of the surgery in order to proceed. That was 12 days away, and I told them that just wasn't feasible for us, and asked about payment plans. The office said no, they don't offer them. That the surgeon considers everything that is not cancer to be an elective procedure, and that their office policy is that all elective procedures must be paid up front. After calling around, this seems to be the new norm for surgeons around here.

I asked what would happen if someone just didn't have that amount of money and couldn't come up with it, and they told me that they just couldn't have the surgery until they did. Period. Nice, right? 

It was a SUPER stressful couple of days for me. I mean, that is kind of a significant chunk of money to expect someone to have readily available within only a few days.

So, after a LOT of phone calls, we discovered that it is actually much less expensive up front (by about half) for me to have the surgery at the hospital instead of the surgery center. So, I'm set for surgery there on Feb 18th. We will end up paying a bit more in the long run, but the hospital will work with us on payments, and it's actually kind of nice because it's the same hospital that we already have a payment plan set up with for the biopsy and ultrasound. It's still a lot, especially since this is essentially the third time in 3 months that we've met our insurance deductible (I believe we had met it in 2014, then Justin's work changed insurances in December, we had a new deductible that we either met it or came close to meeting in December, and then it rolled over again on Jan 1st--hooray!), but it seems like it is probably doable.

I am ANNOYED about it all, because it drastically changes some plans we had for the next year financially, but it is what it is. I'm lucky that they caught this when they did. I totally know, understand, and appreciate that.

And I'm still really annoyed to be re-opening a chapter of my life that I thought was closed, you know?


  1. Such valid reasons to be frustrated. Our pastor gave a wonderful sermon hitting on the fact that it's OKAY to be frustrated with things. {I'm totally not a preachy type, but if you're looking for a little validation, you might want to check it out. http://www.ridgelife.org/ } Either way, I pray for nothing but the best. Tuesday can't come soon enough, I'm sure!
    PS...Insurance companies SUCK! :(

  2. That is very frustrating. I wouldn't necessarily consider it elective, more like preventative. Good luck with everything.

  3. Praying for easy surgery and quick recovery!


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