RE: Jean Hammel "To John Clark"
I thank you and Babs for welcoming me to "The Club."
I happen to work in the medical field and I have known many a patient who has been doing quite well with only one kidney. I have many more patients who are on a long slide leading to kidney failure due to a problem such as diabetes, medications or hypertension. I also watched my mother whither away over a four-month period in obvious kidney failure, and her specialists and others would do nothing. Finally she was placed on dialysis and endured many complications and incompetencies. So the idea of losing that "backup kidney", in a man who is over 60 years old, is definitely a thought on the mind.
Just prior to the surgery, there were some things going on with my insurance company which would put in doubt whether or not the surgery would be paid for. And I was already riding a rapid train to possible bankruptcy. So naturally, I prayed that the Lord would cancel the surgery if it was not within his will, but will give me perfect peace if I am walking the path that he has chosen for me.
Here's a copy of the "surgical report" I sent out to friends on my e-mail list. Judge for yourself the Lord's answer.
God bless you Jean.
(I have continued to make multiple changes in my diet with supplementation as seems appropriate. I will also take a look at "Catherine's Choice.").
At this point, it appears as if the surgery, and so far the recovery, has gone
perfectly. I greatly appreciate all of your prayers and support. With all the
turmoil I have been through this year, I was in tremendous peace and was
confident that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. It seems as if all
things are blessings.
Since early February my resting pulse rate has been 110 to 135. This rate
continued even on three separate cardiac medications. It wasn't until late
April, when I believe a pulmonary embolism "disolved", that my heart rate began
to slowly drop. Occasionally it would be as low as 88, but usually around 100.
A week before my surgery while laying down at least five minutes having my preop
EKG, my heart rate was 101.
The night before the surgery I stayed at a hotel near the hospital and had
extremely poor sleep. I had been 24 hours on only liquids and had a mild
headache. I would have to be up before 4:30 AM, and just couldn't fall asleep.
That was a blessing because the alarm clock never went off, and the "wake-up
call" was late.
One major thing that was heavily on my mind, since the month of May, when my
tumor and goiter were found, was actually finances. I am just beginning to
recover from being unemployed for well over a year and enduring the cost of
moving over three states. I "pride myself" at never being late paying my bills,
and avoiding paying interest. But now I had doctors and medical organizations
sending me bills for thousands of dollars that my insurance company was not
paying. Now I had started work on December 20, my insurance became active on
February 1, but then I presented myself to the emergency room on February 8.
Without any evidence, my insurance company was claiming that I had a "prior
condition." Their reasoning, "you had no medical insurance that we could check
the previous six months." Therefore, I am guilty and must prove my innocence.
I sent them copies of the emergency room doctors diagnosis: new onset atrial
fibrillation. His own words within the history of my medical condition, along
with his diagnosis alone indicates that this is not a prior condition. The
insurance companies response: "we don't look at the medical records." So I send
them a copy of my employment physical performed on December 20. It shows no
prior history of cardiac disease, and with a normal cardiac exam, heart rate and
rhythm, and blood pressure. No response. I'm getting bills from the
cardiologist for over $1000, and the insurance company is claiming that the
cardiologist is not providing all of the information that they are requesting.
I send them copies of a benign echocardiogram, and normal cardiac stress tests.
This proves that I do not have coronary artery disease or a prior cardiac
condition. What do I get in return? Bills for the echocardiogram and well over
a $3000 bill from the hospital for the stress test.
The day before my surgery I received a letter from the insurance company stating
that they have approved my "one day hospital stay, for elective surgery.
Naturally they mentioned that they have the right to still not pay for the
services. Having the complete removal of a kidney, which is half tumor, is
elective surgery? Am I doing this for cosmetic reasons? And what about the
doctor stating that I will be in at 5:30 AM Wednesday, and will be discharged
around lunchtime on Friday? Is that only one day? And after I rack up all the
bills, will they make the declaration that it was a "prior condition"? I am
certain that it has been with me for some time. (The Lord may be indicating
that this began in 2002.). Not to mention that I am on "medical leave" for
almost a month, which actually means, "without pay."
So as I sign in for surgery at 5:30 in the morning, this pleasant little lady
presents me with the tabulation. The "estimated, negotiated" hospital cost will
be around $36,000. Take note, this does not include the anesthesiologist,
surgeon and his assistant. Just my first office visit with the surgeon was over
$400. (But the insurance company negotiated for $260, and my co-pay was only
$20. It's marvelous when it works.). And the pleasant little lady wanted to
know if I wanted to pay my portion of $1100 now, or they could send me a bill?
I paid for it then and there. She was a "pleasant little lady." What little
money I have might as well go to her employer (Catholic nuns), rather than my
"paperwork avoiding" grossly negligent cardiologists.
They then immediately take me to prepare for surgery. After I sign a half-dozen
consent forms, relinquish my coverings and dressed so that my butt hangs out the
back, they do vital signs and repeat the EKG. (The doctor's office never sent a
copy of the EKG to the hospital. And the copy I faxed directly to the hospital,
could not be read. Even with my taking multiple extra measures for things to
work out appropriately, they are hindered.).
So with all of these stressors, along with knowing that within the hour I will
be undergoing "major surgery," will awaken with only 50% of my future renal
function, and more probably with the new diagnosis of renal cancer, what was my
It hasn't been 77 all year.
I had so much peace, and was so relaxed that they couldn't believe it. I had
morphine available at the push of a button. They kept coming in and
re-explaining its use. Everybody would ask me to measure my pain between one
and 10. I didn't want to offend them, so I would exaggerate and say it was a
"3." I lied. There was no pain, only a little abdominal discomfort. That was,
if I didn't move my torso. With any movement I felt as if my gut was struck by
a Mack truck. As soon as I stopped moving, the truck stopped moving. So I used
a little morphine to please the nurses, but primarily to put myself to sleep so
that my body could heal itself. After a day and a half they realized that I
only pushed the button 14 times. So the doctor ordered the removal of the
morphine pump and ordered the nurses to force feed me one or two Norco 7.5 every
four hours by the clock. And they were punctual. I tried one Norco and found
that it would put me out for at least the next two hours. I would then get up
and take three laps around the two nurses stations, to be back in bed in time to
start the process all over again. I admit it, I was probably moving easier with
the Norco. The doctor discharged me Friday morning, after I had my 8 AM Norco.
I was discharged with 30 5mg Vicodin. I have been out for almost 5 days now,
and I've taken a total of five of these. I doubt if I will be taking any more.
Each day the belly gets markedly better. It's not only okay for me to sleep on
my belly but I can even slowly sit up now. (Feeling as if a 10 speed bike had
hit me in the gut.). Today was the first day that I felt as if I did not need a
nap at some time during the day. I did spend a couple of hours at work Saturday
evening, doing paperwork. I had no problems.
Thursday I will have my staples removed and will get the results of the
pathologists report. Cancer has never been my concern. Kidney cancer does not
respond to chemotherapy or radiation. That doesn't matter, I would never choose
either. 95% of the people with renal cancer survive. Mine was reportedly
contained within the kidney and did not have lymph node involvement. I never
underwent a biopsy, which could release cancer cells to other parts of the
body. I am somewhat concerned to see if some of the tumor is causing my cardiac
arrhythmia. I still have the atrial fibrillation but my metabolism has
definitely changed. For the first time in decades I would consider it
"normal." Possibly a simple cardioversion may do the trick. But of course, I
have been in this rhythm for over six months.
And what about that old evil insurance company? Yesterday, while opening three
or four separate letters each denying payments, I came to the last one. After
six months, they have finally determined that my cardiac situation was not a
prior condition. They will go back and reevaluate each one of those bills
(estimated at about $11,000.). But now they are having questions concerning the
CT Scans of my abdomen. And the beat goes on.