Bills, bills, bills

June 7, 2013

Well, I just got off the phone with Fairview in response to the multiple collections phone calls they’ve been making to me while I was in New York. It looks like I have a total Fairview bill of about $1,800. And I know I have like $500 due to The University of Minnesota Physicians. My, ah, bank account currently holds about $45. I almost choked when I logged into my account today and saw what my Visa bill is. Okay, the Visa bill isn’t a huge surprise since I’ve been spending like crazy on traveling lately and I’ve barely been working full-time. The medical bills are pretty daunting though – especially when I was only getting paid $9/hour for substitute teaching over the last month (ridiculous). Nobody likes to listen to other people whine and moan about money problems, I know, so I apologize for this venting. I just think it’s unfair that my health insurance costs so much in the first place, and then to have all of these other expensive medical bills on top of that. There are others out there who are in much worse shape than I am, I know, and I feel really awful for them. Dealing with the stress and worry of medical bills while you’re already trying to manage a painful chronic illness kind of stinks.

Okay, my venting is finished (for now). I have other positive, awesome things to write about, such as my New York trip, and plans for the future. Stay tuned!

NEW YORK

May 31, 2013

UPDATE: 

The Pfizer summit today was really excellent – professional, well-organized, interesting, FUN! It was exciting and inspiring having the chance to meet and talk with other bloggers as well as the people from Pfizer and Twist Marketing. Everyone has been so warm and welcoming and just really a pleasure to talk to and work with during this event. I’m impressed. This is obviously not a very long or detailed update, but I wanted to write something quick before I fall into a sleep coma (exhausted). I just got back to my hotel after taking a little stroll around Times Square tonight with two awesome young women bloggers from the summit. They’re both flying back home tomorrow which I’m bummed out about, but hopefully we will keep in touch and we can meet up again soon. I happily have a feeling that there’s a pretty good chance of that. SO –breakfast with the ladies tomorrow morning…maybe the MoMA with Britt, AKA The Hurt Blogger? I’m kind of just “winging it” while I’m out here, but that’s okay, and actually pretty fun.

More soon – I promise!

Goodnight!

________________________________________

Hello from NYC!
This is just a quick first post because I’m running late (as always). I arrived here yesterday for a rheumatoid arthritis blogging/social media summit organized by Pfizer. Today is the actual event (in five minutes!) and we’ll be heading over to Pfizer’s headquarters. Last night we had a really nice dinner and I got to meet some of the other people who are here for the summit – a group of fantastic ladies! I’m excited to talk with them again today and to hear more of their own arthritis stories and what they’re doing regarding arthritis advocacy and social media outreach.

So – now I have four minutes to run downstairs at my hotel to meet the group. Better go! I will definitely post again later today/tonight. If I don’t die from heat/sweat stroke. 90+ degrees again today?

I still can’t believe I’m finally here, seeing New York City for the first time.

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Angela

The bitter pill

May 2, 2013

billblog
I meant to post this last week but time got away from me, it seems. Funny thing, I received this “threatening” collections letter the day I had my last Remicade treatment – which is also the day I read a really fascinating Time magazine article titled, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills are Killing Us” by Steven Brill. It’s from Time’s March 4, 2013 issue and I luckily found a copy at the clinic so I snatched it up to read while being hooked up to my Remicade I.V. for three hours. Good decision! Although after reading the article (and in the middle of reading it), I became so infuriated and upset, because much of what Brill writes about has affected my life in similar ways. Unfortunately you have to pay to read the article online, but it’s really worth it. Everyone should read it – especially if you go to the doctor often, have a lot of medical expenses, or have any kind of health condition.

timemagblog
The article profiles several different patients and tells their stories about how they racked up huge medical bills, mostly from hospital expenses. Whether a cancer patient, an ER patient for heartburn thought to be a heart attack (and a $21,000 bill for that), the recipient of an overpriced implanted medical device, or a patient injured from a simple fall, one thing is constant in all of these stories – everyone was drowning in thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical bills. And the majority of the medical costs of these bills were grossly inflated and overpriced. Luckily I have managed to stay out of the hospital so far this year, but since January 1 I have accumulated a lot of medical debt due to doctor office visits, MRI and X-ray scans, prescription drugs, and expensive I.V. treatments for my RA. Let’s also add the bills for my psychologist appointments that I find necessary to help me stay sane trying to navigate all of this health crap on a daily basis. I feel like I’m going to the doctor all the time, even when I sometimes do cancel appointments (especially the therapy appointments) just to save money. Or I try to hold off on making appointments until after I’ve met my deductible and out-of-pocket maximum for the year. I’ve heard stories from many other people who also go without their medications, treatments, or doctor visits because they can’t afford it. This, I feel, is simply wrong. Nobody should have to sacrifice his or her health because of financial reasons. But the way our healthcare system is set up, that is exactly what patients are pressured to do if they can’t afford their medical bills. Go into massive debt? Declare bankruptcy? Lose your house? Risk your life? It’s such a racket, with your dollars lining the pockets of the CEOs and administrators of ¬†many health care and hospital systems – especially these so-called “nonprofit” hospitals that are actually making huge profits.

timemagblog

Me, Remicade I.V. treatment, Maple Grove, MN, 2013

Read the rest of this entry »

Ft. Myers Beach, FL

Ft. Myers Beach, FL

Hello from Florida! I’m on a little family vacation now in Ft. Myers Beach with my parents, my sister, and her husband and their two year-old daughter. We just celebrated my mom’s birthday today; we had dinner in Naples and then watched the sunset from the Naples pier. It’s been wonderful to escape from cold (and SNOWY, still!) Minnesota. My family and I have been recently dealing with a very stressful and scary health situation – my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. We still don’t know the results from the last tests he had done to see if the cancer has spread. He wanted to wait to find out after this Florida trip, which is understandable I suppose. Although my mother, sister and I have been worrying like crazy. Relaxing on the beach and just getting away from “real life” for a little while has definitely helped to take our minds off things. So while the questions and fears and “what-ifs” are still nagging in the back of our minds, we are having fun being down here, enjoying the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and the sunny Florida weather. It’s been especially a joy to watch my little niece running around on the sand and getting so excited about being at the beach. She’s so adorable I almost can’t handle it – I just want to hug and kiss and squeeze her all the time. So cute.

In RA news, my arthritis is worse again, of course. Both ankles have been swelling up like balloons, especially my right foot and ankle. I’m not sure if it’s the humidity, the extra walking, or all of the Diet Coke I’ve been guzzling. It’s probably a mix of all three, I’m guessing. So I’ve started taking prednisone again, icing my ankle and I’ve cut way down on the Diet Coke consumption. Water just isn’t that satisfying when you’re lounging in the sun by the beach and you want something cold and zero calories to drink though. But Diet Coke is bad, I know that. Also pain-related, like the moron I am sometimes, I was careless and got terribly sunburnt our first full day here. I went and laid on the beach wearing a tank top and shorts for seemingly not that long – but apparently it was long enough to get fried. What was I thinking? Hello, pasty white Minnesota skin that hasn’t seen sunlight since last May/June! Stupid. My shoulders, upper arms, upper back and the backs of my legs are the worst. Trying to sleep Sunday night was torture. Luckily my sunburn is better today, but my shoulders and back are still pretty sore. You’d think by now that I would be used to being in pain constantly, right? No! I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. Physical pain, mental pain, emotional pain – I need a vacation from all of it.

More posts soon, I promise. I have a lot of new arthritis stuff to write about!

Goodnight,

Angela

Juvenile Arthritis March, Bloomington, MN, 2013

Juvenile Arthritis March, Bloomington, MN, 2013

Where has the time gone?! Seriously. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to post these JAM photos, but here you go! The annual Juvenile Arthritis March was held March 2, at the Mall of America, and it was a great success. It was the busiest I’ve ever seen it in the four years I’ve been photographing the event. And a record amount of money was raised this year – over $153,000! Anyway, here’s the link to the photos I took. Enjoy!

JAM 2013 Photos

Two days after JAM, I went to Washington, D.C. for the Arthritis Foundation’s Advocacy Summit. Once again that was a fantastic, inspiring experience. I’ll write an update post about D.C. and the Summit soon!

Happy Spring!

(there’s still snow here, ugh)

Angela

JAM 2013

March 2, 2013

JAM 2012, Mall of America, Bloomington, MN

JAM 2012, Mall of America, Bloomington, MN

Good morning! Why am I awake at 5:00 AM? The Juvenile Arthritis March (JAM) fundraising walk is this morning at the Mall of America! I’m taking photos again for the fourth year, I think? It’s always such a great, positive event – usually with a large turnout. I’ll post a link to the photos once I get them uploaded. Although I’m not sure if I’ll have time to do that before I leave for the Advocacy Summit in D.C. Monday morning. Yikes! I can’t believe I’m leaving so soon for that already.

More info about JAM can be found here, if you’re interested:

The Juvenile Arthritis March (JAM) 2013

Employment discrimination

February 21, 2013

I’ve been holding off on posting about this on here because, well, I didn’t know what was going to happen. And maybe I still shouldn’t write anything. But…who cares, I guess. So, almost TWO YEARS AGO I was terminated from a temp job because of something related to my RA. Since then I filed a charge of discrimination with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights – which was a long, tedious, annoying ordeal. Just a few days ago I got my answer – my charge was dismissed because there is “No Probable Cause” of discrimination. I’m very angry and frustrated by their decision, however I’ve been told by a couple of attorney friends that it’s not surprising (they probably didn’t do a very thorough investigation – short on staff, short on funds?). Now I only have about a week to appeal this decision and I don’t know what to do. Is it worth it to appeal it? To go to court? I’m beyond broke right now and I can’t afford to hire an attorney. But what this company did to me is so completely WRONG. It infuriates me to think of them being able to get away with it.

This has been a difficult winter so far. I’ve been sick since Christmas, basically, with either bad RA flares or this upper respiratory thing that keeps coming back. I feel really whiny lately, which I hate, but I do hope some good things will start to happen here soon. I’m ready.

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