Sunday, 21 May 2017

Trip!

I finally got my trip cancellation insurance money back! What a huge relief is it to not have to think about it anymore.

You're probably wondering "what trip?" My planned Aruba trip in November 2015. The one I had to cancel because I was in the hospital being diagnosed with cancer. The one that was suppose to be my one-year post-transplant celebration. The trip that the rest of my family still went on without me because it seemed ridiculous to ruin their vacation just because I was stuck in the hospital. That one.

It's been a long fight with the company that I wasn't expecting because when I had to cancel my trip to Spain in 2013 due to hospitalization, I had zero issues. I sent in my paperwork and receipts and got my money back in 6-8 weeks. No questions and one form for the doctor to fill out. And that was related to my pre-existing condition so I was expecting a fight. This time was very, very different.

The day I was given my diagnosis and was told not to go to Aruba, Isaiah called United (United really is the worst but it was the cheapest) to set up the claim. We thought if we didn't delay, it would be easier. United sent the information to their subsidiary Allianz, who told him where to send the appropriate paperwork. We had that paperwork filled out by a doctor and waited two months to find out the claim was rejected because they said my doctor's visit several months before the trip counted as "active treatment."

I was so upset. My doctor visits are regular and there are often slight medication changes but my doctor had still said I was okay to travel. I made Isaiah deal with them because every time I would get on the phone to explain to the representative that my cancer was not related to my general check-up, I would start crying. I'm one of those people who cry frustration-tears and it didn't help that I was also in the middle of chemo so was incredibly emotional at the time. I didn't have any emotional energy to fight with an insurance company.

We appealed their decisions with more paperwork from a different doctor. Waited many months. Denied again.

Appealed their decision again with even more paperwork from the doctor. Waited many more months. Denied again.

Six months ago my doctor wrote a even stronger letter to the company and we weren't immediately denied, they simply requested more information. They asked for my medical file to be mailed to them. My medical file. Isaiah called and asked "her entire medical file?!" The man clarified that they just wanted the information from the initial hospitalization when my trip was cancelled.

I filed a request to the medical records section of the hospital for all my paperwork from my November-December admission in 2015. The woman asked if I wanted to have it printed and mailed to me. The cost was simply 40$ for the first 100 pages plus 0.25 cents per additional page plus shipping. The file was over 1000 pages.

The man from Allianz said paper copy was better but they would accept electronic "if we must." At over 250$ and 12% of a tree, I decided "we must email." Also, we have the technology, why do they make things so much more difficult? (I know the answer to that question) I opted for the cheaper option of having it mailed to me on a CD as a PDF instead. Once it showed up, Isaiah decrypted it and emailed the file to the company.

We waited another few months and I received an email saying the medical staff had overturned my initial rejection. I finally have a cheque in my hands (it's in the bank). What a relief. The drama is over.

And so I've booked a trip to Vancouver!!! Yay!!!!! In less than a month Amy and I will be getting on a plane and zooming off to find some mountains and killer whales. I'm unbelievably excited. I love traveling and exploring new places so much. It gives me so much energy. Leaving Atlantic Canada and not going to Toronto for the first time in 5 years!

I picked Vancouver for my first trip because:
1) I've wanted to go back and explore more since I was there cycling with David 9(!) years ago
2) I want to see some killer whales since the last ones I saw were in 1997 when we were there as a family
3) I want to hike all over the mountains
4) it's still in Canada so I have a safety net with good hospitals nearby if something goes wrong.

Amy and I have visited so many places together that being able to travel together again is the final confirmation that I'm healthy. After sitting in the hospital getting texts while she went to London, Germany, and Aruba without me, planning trips together makes me feel like my pre-transplant healthy self. How else to explain it than to say "I'm unbelievably excitement" about a million times.

Amy and Alley Adventure Again!

Without travel insurance for me this time, because if it took a year and half to get it back for getting cancer randomly, I'm definitely not getting it back now.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Hiking

Happy Mother's Day! We went on our annual Mother's Day hike along the Dobson trail. I say annual hike but really I haven't been on it for many, many years. It was really nice, the bugs were pretty terrible but we moved faster than them so that was fine.  Mom picked May flowers and Isaiah picked mushrooms to practice identifying with his new mushroom book. He was looking only, the mushrooms did not go into the supper's risotto.

I'm on the end of a 10 day steroid boost to try and eliminate my annoying cough. The Easter cold is still haunting me but hopefully this will fix it. My cough is getting better but I still have deep coughing fits every once in awhile. It's a fun reminder of how long I take to recover from a mild head cold and how careful I need to be around people.

The first few days of extra steroids, I couldn't focus on much but that's gotten better. I still get a boost of energy in the afternoon and am ravenously hungry most of the time. Hiking yesterday helped burn off some of that energy.

It was our first hike of the year and it felt nice to be in the woods again. Hopefully the first of many hikes to happen this summer!


Sunday, 7 May 2017

Cancer update: Still no cancer!

I had my one year hematology appointment and *drum roll* I'm still cancer-free! Woohoo!!!!

The doctor was fine with the lack of contrast dye on the CT scan so I don't have to go through all the stabbing until the next scan in a year. She called the lung spot from my last scan a "node" and not scarring like I had previously thought but didn't say that it had been cancerous. I assume it wasn't or else they would be doing more frequent scans. Either way, all the leftover little spots are gone and the big spot is practically gone now so that's all excellent news.

We went up to Halifax early so we could celebrate Isaiah's 34th birthday on Tuesday with a delicious sushi supper. Then we spent most of Wednesday wandering around Halifax which we usually don't have time to do. It was great.

Now that all the doctor appointments are over for another few months, Isaiah is starting the job applying/interview process which is stressful for both of us. But mostly for him. I'm trying to just be supportive by asking him a million practice interview questions. He's loving it.

Halifax!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Transplant Trot!

I finished the Transplant Trot! And I didn't even throw up at the end! I would not recommend doing a run (I say run but really I run 1 min, walk 1 min) while getting over a cold. Or I should've taken a sinus medication because my nose got very runny at the halfway mark. It was uncomfortable. I also thought I was no longer congested but *surprise!* I was.

At about 3km, I thought I was done. I decided I would wait until Mom and Dad caught up with me and then could just walk the rest of the way with them. But then I jogged one more minute and somehow I kept going. The way back was more downhill (although it was pretty much flat) with a tailwind so that did help a bit. There was a woman in a pink t-shirt that I really wanted to finish ahead of. I would pass her during my one minute run and then she would pass me when I walked. It was a fun game for both of us.

I finished in 38:30 minutes! I made my goal! Yay!

My legs were throbbing last night. It shouldn't be surprising that preparing on the treadmill and the indoor rubberized walking track did not translate well to an semi-paved outdoor trail along the river. Now I never have to exercise again! Just joking, I'll give myself a few days off and then keep going because it's too good for my lungs to be able to stop now.

Isaiah ran the 10km and didn't end up walking it all. He was feeling quite ill on Thursday and hadn't trained as much as he had planned so he didn't have a time goal in mind. He just wanted to finish. He says he'll be sticking to 5km runs in the future.

We had so much energy at the start.
Just after the turn around spot. I am not a happy jogger.
Finished! (Posed picture once I caught my breath again)
Mom and Dad power-walked the 5km.
Amy was given a medal for cheering us on.
Isaiah is done! And ignores the man handing out medals.
We're ready for a nap!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

CF clinic

It's prime cold season at the Watson/Jacques household. I'm finally at the tail end of my cold (hopefully) while Isaiah has started sniffling yesterday and is drinking liters of Cold Be Gone tea in an attempt to prevent it from become more. His colds never seem to last as long as mine and involve fewer naps so I'm not as sympathetic as I should be.

It was fairly good time to get an infection for me (as much as that's possible) because I had my CF clinic last Wednesday and they were able to test my lung function (down slightly) and listen to my lungs (clear). The doctor wasn't overly concerned but put me on a 10 day course of antibiotics just to play it safe. Sometimes I think I'm solely responsible for the antibiotic resistance problem.

The dietitian made a plan to try and fix my wonky sugars but wanted more numbers so I've been intensely recording everything I eat with my sugars for the past week. It'll help her try to recognize patterns even if I can't see them. Shockingly, I was quite high after I eating a Cadbury cream egg...perhaps the feedback will be to eat less pure sugar. Now that my weight is the highest it's ever been, I no longer have the "I have to gain weight" reason to eat all the candy. It's quite refreshing not to have to worry about my diet but it does mean fewer cookies.

I had a CT scan last week and the doctor said the early report showed no new nodules and shrinking in the one spot that had been on my lungs. I'll get the full report at my hematology appointment in May but everything looks great right now!

That stupid CT scan was so terrible. It was supposed to be done with the dye contrast which is usually not a problem. It becomes a problem when no one can get a IV into my arm so it can't be injected. Usually before an IV (when I know it's coming) I'll try to hydrate as much as possible to make my veins pop a bit and the process go smoother. However, with this scan I wasn't suppose to eat or drink for 4 hours before and seeing as it was at 830am, that meant no liquids for me that morning.

My veins were not happy. The nurses were not happy. The doctor they called in for backup with his ultrasound machine was not happy. Combined they tried 14 times to get an IV in. 14! Not just 14 regular stabs either. Most of them were the ones where they miss, dig around for a bit, think they get it, try to flush it, and nope. It was terrible. They kept asking me how the nurses got them in back in Dec when I was in emerg for Poopmas. I suggested maybe getting an emerg nurse to help but apparently they were all busy.

The doctor suggested he could put in a central line in my neck but that seemed like massive overkill for a CT scan. After all that, they did the scan without dye which meant not as much will show on the report. I was worried I would have to go back in a few weeks for a repeat but my CF doctor didn't think it would be necessary. I really hope she's right. It was slightly traumatic. I came out of the room all bandaged and bruised and yelled at the waiting Isaiah that they stabbed me 14 times. He just shrugged and said "Seems about right." No. Not the reaction I wanted. He's become immune to my "they stabbed me many times" stories. People with good veins just don't understand.

Now I just need to get over the end of this cold because the Transplant Trot is in less than a week and I really need to jog outside a few more times before it happens. 5 km jog (trot?)! Eeek!