Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Robin v. The Insurance Company

So, you know, I've finally found an insurance company that isn't going to burn me at the stake for being a cancer patient.

They won't let me pay them.

Mom helps me out w/ these types of things. You know... b/c I'm a poor unemployed bum. Seeing as she has sort of a vested interest in keeping me alive and healthy, she pays my medical stuff (bills, insurance, etc.).

So she sets up a direct withdraw thing with the insurance company, then send a letter, say its all set... money never leaves the account. So she calls, and they say that the account number is wrong. Odd b/c we sent them a check. So she pays via check over the phone. More letters come saying no good. Bank says no claims have been made. So I call, again they tell me they have the wrong account number, they need to send a few e-mails to get it fixed, and call me in 48 hours. A week and half later, no phone calls, no money out of the bank. I had gone out of town during that time, mom just told me today that they never called. So I call again. They have all these notes written, but still no one bothered to tell me anything, and they only said what I already know, which is that they had the wrong account number written. So again, I have authorized paying another check, for 3 months worth of insurance. And now I wait, b/c god forbid they have a system where they can just process payments immediately.

So in dealing with this I made the mistake of doing some math.

Premiums are like $500+, deductable $3,000

Basically I'm paying about $10,000 a year... so if i don't get really awesome health coverage from my job, I'm going to need to be paid enough to put in an extra 10 grand a year.

Health insurance is remarkably like legalized gambling.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Where's da Robin?

So if you are one of my regulars you may have noticed a sharp decrease in my blogging. This is happening for any number of reasons. 1) I over blogged for like 2 months... when i should have saved posts to talk about later on 2) I have a limited attention span that isn't always great for writing and 3) I'm going on life rebound, where I wasn't able to do anything fun for a long period of time and so now i'm doing lots of fun things that take up most of my life.

What sort of fun things, you ask? In no particular order (b/c i got way too frustrated w/ trying to rearrange the pictures):

Lumberjack Championship:

Shriner Parade:

Renaissance Fair:

The Beach (at night):

Happy Hour Clams:
Rock n' Roll Half Marathon (watching, not participating):


Wine tasting and Jazz at the Chrysler Museum:

So there, I've been busy. And this is just what i took pictures of. More updates later. Hope the end of your summer has been busy like mine!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

Yes, ladies and gents, its that special time of year, when the kiddies are headed back to school, the weather suddenly changes, and we make the world more aware about the ever increasing threat of thyroid cancer.

I'm not sure what you all like to do, but I usually post a note of facebook every year for all my friends. Its my third year doing it, and it always seems like a couple more people read every year. If you'd like to post something on your own wall, but don't know what to write or just don't feel like writing feel free to use mine, and let me know if you think there should be anything else in it for the average non-thycan to know:

" It's September once again, meaning it's time for me to make my yearly public announcement about thyroid cancer. So, here it is again, my thyca spiel:

First a bit about thyca… Currently its one of the few cancers in the world that is actually continues to increase. A record 37,340 people are expected to be diagnosed the U.S. alone over the next year. There are actually a few types of thyca, that vary in degrees of aggressiveness, etc. For me I have Papillary with a couple of other adjectives attached that I just tend not to pay attention to. It starts off as abnormalities in the thyroid, and can then spread to the lymph nodes, and if left untreated, the bones and lungs. Unlike every other cancer that spreads to lymph nodes, its not as vicious, nor does it spread as aggressively… its sort of a lazy cancer in the respect (I didn’t come up with that… that’s just how a doctor told it to me). No one is really sure what the cause of thyca is. It’s linked to nuclear radiation, and genetics, usually affecting woman over the age of about 45 (please note I really do tend to be more of a freak case diagnosed at 21 w/ no family history or any rhyme or reason for it).

The plus side: thyca is totally treatable and most of the time not deadly, unless it goes a long time w/ out diagnosis or you are really, really old… (like Judge Rehnquist)

The negative side: Its sort of a permanent thing. Most of what your everyday person thinks about cancer is that you have it, you get treatment, it goes into remission, and disappears forever. I’ve personally never even heard the term “remission” when it comes to thyca… you have it or you don’t, and you have to do blood work, etc. now until the end of time. And for most, but most likely all of us, we lose our thyroids. That’s an entire organ, gone… a rather important one at that… controls metabolism and all that’s tied in with it… but we take pills and more or less function “normally.”

Treatment is pretty basic. Surgery and Radiation. NOT CHEMO… that’s actually something entirely different… and generally doesn’t work on thyca. The radiation is done via I-131 (radioactive iodine) taken in a pill. There’s a rather frustrating diet that gets tacked along w/ it, called the Low Iodine Diet. Here is where, even in the past 4 years, there have been major improvements in treatment. The first couple of times I had to do the diet and radiation I had to also go off all meds, sending me into a state known as hypothyroidism… basically shutting down my metabolism. Hypo-hell, as it is commonly referred to as, is easily the worst experience you can go through… doctors have now developed a shot that, while for some people messes w/ their stomach, means you don’t have to go off of your meds, keeping you more or less normal. So those of you with income jobs looking for something to donate money to, might want to peruse the www.thyca.org page… trust me, the research is for a good cause.

So what do I want you to do:
Be ALERT. Check your neck, next time you go into your doctor make sure he just gives your neck a quick look. The signs of thyca include a lump on your throat, swollen lymph nodes, weight gain, hoarseness to your voice (or general voice changes), or just a general slow down. Now like I said, I’m not trying to promote paranoia… just awareness. Its not something we can prevent… at least not yet… but it is something that can be treated.

Thank you all for reading. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me a message or check out www.thyca.org or join the Thyroid Cancer Awareness group under the Causes application… where you can read stories from other young survivors.

So, pass along the word... Thanks!"

In other thyca related events, the annual thyca conference is in Boston this year, October 16-18. I'm slowly trying to figure out how to get myself there, and recommend, if you have the time and money, you also check it out.

Also my apologies for not posting lately. I've been uber busy... to such a point that I might even actually tell you about my real life.... ooooooooo

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Today I did something I haven't done in about 3 years. I played golf.

Well, not so much played, as I went out to the driving range. But the point is the same. I found my clubs, threw on some khakis, a polo shirt and a hat. Laced up my shoes, and slid on my glove. Chose the absolute hottest point of the day, and hit the hell out of some balls.

So why is this such a big deal? Enough so to make it to a blog post?

I started golfing about 4 years ago; just after the first surgery. Turns out, I was sort of a natural. Even took a class w/ my mom one day... the teacher told me that if I worked at it I could probably go pro... the same was not said to my mom. It was sort of cool to have something new that I was pretty good at.

So the following summer came along. This time, I had just had the neck dissection. I'm guessing this was more towards the end of the summer. Finally got a chance to get back out on the golf course. Took a swing... and it was awful. The whole game was the most painful experience ever. For the neck dissection, they had to slice through my neck/shoulder muscle. As the doctor explained, when it healed... it sort of developed a protective reflex. So when I went to swing, my neck/shoulder of my left arm would curl up, which pulls up the driver, and causes me to miss the ball. So disheartened and embarrassed, and afraid to actually golf w/ other people, I just haven't picked up a set of clubs in 3 years.

I only live about a mile from a driving range. I had the time today, and the weather had supposedly cooled down some. So i figured... fuck it. I'm just going and hitting some balls. I've never been out on my own. It was great. My swing still needs a hole lot of work, but it was looking significantly better than it did 3 years ago. It was really great to just be out there. I think that its something I will be doing relatively often. Maybe in about a month I'll work the confidence back up to even play a round of actual golf.