(I apologize, this one is more of a rant.)
Many of you must have a lot of specific questions about exactly what chemotherapy is and what it does to your body. I know I did. Fortunately for all of us, about 1/2 hour before receiving your first chemo treatment, the nurse brings in a booklet called “Chemotherapy and You”.
I can only assume it is made by the same medical publishers who gave you “So You’re Going to Have a Baby in 30 Minutes” or “Brain Surgery – Ins and Outs” or “Has Anybody Seen My Limb?” or, my personal favorite, “What Is It? Where Did It Come From? And Where Did It End Up In My Body?”
Since the chemo process is different for every type of cancer and every type of person and body type, I imagine it is quite a challenge to develop a booklet that meets eceryone’s needs. In the beginning, it advises the reader to not read the booklet right through but to skip around to relevant parts. I imagine, in the end, that is what memories of my life will be like…and I probably won’t know what the relevant parts were until its all over. But I digress.
Getting handed this book right before you get on the chemo-coaster was, for me, part of a larger issue with how to handle health care in general. (Cue: rant) I think we all have the same goals – people get sick and they need help getting better. But, once you take a solid step through the door of a hospital room or doctor’s office, patients seem to spend a large part of their time trying not to step on any cracks in the floor – looking down at their feet when they should be looking up at the doctor.
Medical treatment seems to take on this schedule:
1. Feel sick.
2. Get diagnosed.
3. Consider treatment.
4. Argue, fight, plead, organize, discuss, chase, beg and bargain with the secretaries and health care advocates working to deny you any procedure deemed ‘not-necessary’ as evaluated by lawyers and other non-medical personnel.
5. Meet someone who can help (sympathetic doctor, social worker, friend on the medical board, C. Everett Coop, Robert the medic)
6. Hopefully, we receive necessary treatment and care by highly skilled professionals. Or whoever has an opening in their schedule. Or get treated by whoever the affore-mentioned non-medical certified personnel recommend. Or find a clinic in the back alley of K-town.
8. Medical marijana card.
9. Fight more about bills.
The point of this rant – health care is more about litigation, share holders and profit then it is about health.
We all have stories. We all have friends and families who have suffered through this process. Suffering through it right now. I know I am fortunate – the film industry gives me a decent support system and I have a strong companion to help me find my way through. But, like so many other systems that are meant to reinforce and improve society, I believe that the health care system has been created to tear down the very structure it is supposed to support.
Other examples: buying a house, purchasing airline tickets, financial advising, information from mainstream media, incarceration, tobacco industry, trying to eat healthy, trying to stay fit, etc.
Like the financial industry giants who sold out middle america to turn enourmous profits in the housing market. Like the auto industries who refused to look ahead and deliver products that were safe, reliable and efficient instead of SUV’s that gorged their bottom lines. Like the food industry who maintains substandard food processing systems hoping that they have enough money put away so they can get through the next, expected recall instead of investing the money in delivering safe food.
Ah, the health care industry. Hospitals and doctors provided to you by insurance companies who do not have your best interest in mind.
Which leads me back to Chemotherapy and You.
There is 1 page devoted to questions like “How much does chemotherapy cost?” and “How can I best work with my insurance plan?” A little late for that when they are prepping the IV, but a nice touch.
There are 35 pages that deal with side effects. Side effects that may occur include:
– Appetite change – Infertility
– Bleeding – Mouth and throat changes
– Constipation – Nausea and vomiting
– Diarrhea – Nervous system changes
– Fatigue – Pain
– Flu-like symptoms – Skin and nail changes
– Hair loss – Eye changes
– Urinary, kidney and bladder changes – Infection
I guess the book works, because I got the majority of these side effects sitting in my room flipping to the ‘relevant parts’.
End rant. Its good to be home. Plenty of time to catch up on my reading.