Tag Archives: psoriasis

I’m Afraid to Touch My Boobs

I lost my job on March 19,2013. While I rustled up about 6 jobs to replace it, I wasn’t able to get health insurance. My health insurance ran out April 1st and since then I have applied for a single policy with every insurance provider I could think of. The thing is, I have psoriasis and migraines. At certain points, doctors have petitioned insurance companies to get medication they thought I needed. From what I understand, the medication that has rendered me uninsurable is Enbrel, an injectable biologic drug that suppresses the immune system. You can read about my psoriasis situation in older posts about my dermie to learn more about what it is and how it impacts my daily life.

Anywhoo, the last time a doctor prescribed Enbrel I was going through a divorce, had just moved, was way stressed out at work, and a mess. The medicine arrived, I took one dose, read about it on the internet and decided not to take it anymore. The side effects are too dangerous, it didn’t work for everyone, and it wasn’t worth the risk. I’d rather be scaly.

Little did I know the decision to take one dose would impact my life so much. After being turned down for individual policies I talked to yet another insurance broker who attempted to get me Anthem Short Option policy. She said she’d only known one person to be denied, and they were actively on the expensive medication. But because Obamacare is coming I DID get denied. There was the option Virginia Assured insurance, but it was about $1000 per month, which is impossible.

I can sign up for the new health insurance, which is great, and I’m going to do that any day now, I swear. The insurance broker told me it didn’t matter when I registered. From what I’ve been reading it is way more expensive than people anticipated, so I’m kind of afraid to go through with it.

Which brings me back to my boobs. I never used to do a self breast exam, mainly because my doctor told me that I’m such a hypochondriac that I’d drive myself batty, but when my cousin Lori got diagnosed with breast cancer at such a young age, I started.

Every month now, though, I am terrified to touch my boobs. Because what if I found something?

Note: I tried to put a picture of a metal bra right here because I thought that would be funny but for some reason WordPress won’t let me. So, look here: http://www.coloribus.com/adsarchive/tv-commercials/charlie-bras-iron-bra-2132255/

I did some research to see how much it would cost me if I DID find something during a self breast exam. The answer? A lot. A really lot. Here’s the breakdown:

Cost for initial doctor exam: $145
Cost for mammogram: $80 – $120 with a two week wait for results. A place here in Richmond does them for $200 and gives instant results, but I don’t know if that’s with or without insurance. (It’s the Paredes Institute, in case you need to contact them).
Cost for BRCA1 or BRCA2 tests : $3000, but in all fairness not usually covered by insurance anyway. To learn more about those tests visit the National Cancer Institute Website.
Cost for a partial mastectomy, not including breast reconstruction: $15,000 to $55,000
Cost for a radical mastectomy plus pathology costs: $39,000 – $65,000
Please note that a money.msn article stated that RealSelf says the costs for a mastectomy, anesthesia and reconstruction “can exceed $20,000.” I got those other numbers from costperhealth.com. Either way, it’s expensive, yeah?

Those costs don’t even touch the total cost of trying to treat breast cancer. Some chemotherapy drugs, without insurance, can cost way more than $10,000 per treatment. There are programs in place for people without insurance, and a lot of the charities can help raise money for treatment.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and out of respect for my dear Lori, who died at the insanely young age of almost-36, I wanted to put this information out there. For once, a post that started about me turned into be something more informative.

As for me, I’m still afraid to touch my boobs, but I do it anyway, and I’ll pay out of pocket for a yearly checkup because I’m due for an appointment before my shiny new insurance kicks in.  I guess I could rant and rave about how it’s hard to get good (or any) healthcare and how everybody is out for money and nobody cares and blah blah blah but maybe things are going to get better.

I was going to try to make this funny but it didn’t work. Sorry.



Itchy, Scratchy, Socially Unacceptable

So, as I’ve referenced in the past, I have psoriasis.  It’s this skin disease like eczema, except it’s called psoriasis, and it’s, like, a totally different disease.  In both diseases, there are red splotches all over the affected human.  Or is it effected?  I always mess that up.  Affected.  I think it’s affected.  Anywhoo.  Psoriasis is an INTERNAL problem – my immune system (and the immune systems of my fellow flakers) is hyper and totally opposed to all this perfectly good skin that covers me.  It freaks out and goes, “Holy crap!  What’s all that skin doing there?  That’s not good skin!  That’s bad, bad, bad, super bad skin!  We need to grow NEW skin on top of that bad skin because we’ve had, like, seven hundred thousand immune system lattes and we are totally buzzed!”  Or something like that.

Continue reading Itchy, Scratchy, Socially Unacceptable

On Being Treated Like a Leper and/or Being Totally Oversensitive

I have psoriasis. I’m pretty sure I mentioned that before, but it showed up when I was about 21 and has been going strong ever since. I don’t write about it much, because I don’t want this to be an “oh woe is me my skin is all funky and gross don’t you feel bad for me” blog. Generally I don’t even care, except when it kinda hurts or itches sometimes. It is what it is, you know? Life could be a lot worse. It’s not life-threatening, the arthritis that is associated with it hasn’t hit me very hard yet. It could be lots worse.

Anywhoo, so I’m at Food Lion several weeks ago (as an aside, I just recently started shopping at Food Lion – it’s cheap and they’re all, “Welcome to Food Lion”, which is nice) when a checkout dude gave me the stink eye just for having red scaly patches on my hands. I mean, come on. It’s not like I spit on him or wiped a booger on the conveyor belt. Him: long fluffy dark hair and patchy facial hair. Little wire-framed glasses. Me: work clothes (slacks and shirt), arms exposed. He wrinkles his nose when he looks at my arms, and then when I go to hand him my MVP card he tosses it back to me (even though I had my hand out) and then vigorously squirts hand sanitizer all over his hands and rubs them for, like, a whole minute.

I casually take my receipt, pick up my bags, and leave. I think about touching him as much as possible – patting him on the hand to say thank you, etc. I think about peeling off a flake and flicking it at him. I think about going back and explaining that what I have is in no way contagious and that he shouldn’t worry himself into a frenzy tonight that he might catch LEPROSY or a SKIN EATING BACTERIA and that maybe the next time he should ASK what’s wrong with me, because that’s a lot more polite than TREATING ME LIKE I’M DIRTY.

So then yesterday, at the same Food Lion (hey, it’s on my way home and it sells jarred pimentos) I go to check out in someone else’s line (Mama didn’t raise no fools) and she tells me the line on the end is open. I go to the line on the end. The lady there is spraying down the conveyor belt with Windex and informs me she’s not ready yet. I appreciate her spraying down the conveyor belt so I just shrug and walk over to the next line, which is manned by Mr. Sneer and Look at You In Disgust. I should mention that I saw him when I first came in, and I had shorts on yesterday (the horror!) so my calves and knees were showing, and they have some of the worst spots on them. I saw him look down at my left calf, and then turn away real fast. I didn’t think any more of it. So anyway, here I am in his line again, and he says, “This here is the 12 item or less isle, you’ll have to go somewhere else.” I, flustered, inform him that the other lady sent me down to the end and the end wasn’t open yet, but I yank my cart out of the checkout isle and go back to the isle I was in orignially. As I put my items on the conveyor belt I count them. 15. I had 15 items.

So, am I being paranoid? Did this dude’s first reaction to me make me expect a second, shitty reaction, or was he just consistently rude to me? I tend to lean toward the latter, because I really felt persecuted for a minute there, and I don’t get persecuted very easily. Really I don’t.

So, if you’re ever in a situation like this guy, where someone has got some awful rash and you don’t know what it is, trust me when I tell you that most people will appreciate an upfront approach. Here are some good ice-breakers:

“Hey, did you get into some poison ivy?”
“Wow, that rash looks painful, what is it?”
“What is that all over you?”

That last one seems a little blunt, but it’s a helluva lot better than just treating someone like they’re infectious.

The End.

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