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sam_newyork
01-25-2007, 08:15 PM
Dear All-

I accidentally posted this message in the teen section (thank you, Linda, for catching that) so I am reposting it here hoping that some of you may have be able to advise me.

I am trying to understand and plan for the financial aspects of my daughter's surgery. I assume that the surgeon's fees are separate from the hospital fees. Does anyone have an estimate of what the various expenses are?

I suspect that the costs are contingent on the complexity of the surgery...and here's what I know about my daughter's surgery thus far. The plan that we recieved says that he plans to perform a "posterior spine fuson" of "L1-4" as well as a "Smith-Petersen-type posterior element osteotomy."

I know that Dr. Boachie's office doesn't accept insurance. Does this mean that the patient has to pay the surgeon's fees out-of-pocket after the surgery? Or, are there instances when one can submit the bills to one's insurance company without having to front the cash. Basically, I am trying to figure out how much money do I need to have available for the surgery. Someone else on the board estimated that I should plan on about $5k worth of out-of-pocket expenses but this did not include the surgeon's fees. Does anyone have additional information, particularly if you/your child has had a similar surgery with Dr. Boachie's? I appreciate any information that you may have. Many thanks.

Sam

lelc2002@yahoo
01-26-2007, 05:17 AM
sam----------I sent you a P.M.......Ly

sam_newyork
01-26-2007, 06:46 PM
Hi Lynne,

I got your message. Thanks a bunch! And I sent you one back. :)


Sam

Back-out
03-23-2010, 03:29 PM
I wish people wouldn't answer interesting questions privately!

I just consulted my first surgeons in NYC, Though my situation is very different from yours (I'm the patient and I'm 64; also, I only have one son to turn to for any assistance and he's a college student taking time off)

However, I'm very concerned about finances and would really love to know about estimated costs. If you write back, please let me know what was included - for example, nursing home/rehab care, PT, and follow-up.

If anyone else can share estimates (clearly insurance is variable) I'd be so grateful. I also wonder about the factors in having surgery near ones home or far, in terms of returning if/when there are problems and for routine follow-up.

How does one need to be transported and for how long.
All these questions are intended to reflect average experiences. I know everyone's circumstances vary. (I'm SO sorry for the Nth time I ever moved to this out of the way area in Central PA!)

Many thanks!

Amanda

LindaRacine
03-23-2010, 10:41 PM
Hi Sam...

You should talk to Dr. Boachie's office. They'll tell you what it will cost. I don't think your insurance will prepay, but again, Dr. Boachie's office should be able to help. Assuming that the hospital accepts your insurance, you probably won't have to come up with much in advance. If you call the finance office at HSS, they can probably give you a good estimate.

Good luck. Hope you can work it out.

Regards,
Linda

CHRIS WBS
03-24-2010, 02:55 PM
Hi Amanda,

I had surgery almost two years ago at age 59. I underwent a 12-hour posterior surgery. I was hospitalized for 5Ĺ days and then spent the next two weeks in a rehab center where I was given a private room and received excellent care. I live alone so rehab was very helpful. From rehab I spent the next several weeks recovering by my brother and sister-in-law who have a ranch house. Since I was using a walker for the first few weeks, my house with stairs was not walker friendly.

I live about 40 miles north of Chicago so I had access to some excellent surgeons associated with the major teaching hospitals in the city. I had considered a surgeon in St. Louis, Dr. Bridwell, but chose one closer to home. And Iím glad I did. Itís been much more convenient not having to deal with going out of town for follow-up visits, and at three months post-op I was driving myself to my appointments.

Knowing beforehand that I would most likely incur expenses from this surgery, I put money aside and planned accordingly. I still work and went on short-term disability. I returned to work at four months. My total out-of-pocket expenses were roughly $5,000.

Hope that helps.

Back-out
03-25-2010, 11:05 AM
Thank you ever so much!! I'm very heartened to hear of your ability to drive to your three month check-up, especially as your fusion was as long as what has been recommended to me (by two out of there deformity surgeons!) - i.e., T4 - to pelvis. Also, because your age is close to mine.

Of course, the bit about driving is a little like the old joke about tennis and surgery (pt: "Doc, will I be able to play tennis after my operation?" MD: "I don't see any reason why you shouldn't be able to play excellent tennis." Pt: "Wow, that's great! I never could hit the ball!").

Having lived overseas for many years where I relied on excellent public transportation, I never quite got the hang of city driving in the US when I moved as an adult.

But your fitness at that stage of recuperation and age, are great news for me. Truth is, I've been in a state of shock since returning from NYC after hearing from all three MDs (and reading similar on revision threads here) that the average stats for my demographic - say the probability is nearly 100% that I'll need a revision surgery of some sort within ~7 years (will post thread about this soon too.). I've died a thousand deaths since learning that! (What do they say about cowards? :o)

The financial news is excellent too, though I wonder about your insurance coverage for post-op care. Mine is pretty lousy. Also abt family back-up. Will send a PM, unless you think your answer would be of general interest (nb. my comment about helping everyone with replies).

Again, many, many thanks!! Anyone else's input about expenses, would be much appreciated - in line with the original query, that is. Though it was about Dr, Boachie, I think it had relevance to many of us. Besides, I've considered consulting him despite the out of pocket issue. That's re quality of care. (again, another thread is in order - about impact of choice of surgeon on outcome, especially re risks of re-operation.).

Amanda

Karen Ocker
03-25-2010, 02:50 PM
Try to have your surgery before Medicare. It's reimbursements are too low for many scoliosis surgeons.

CHRIS WBS
03-25-2010, 04:51 PM
Amanda,

Not one surgeon of the several I consulted said anything to me about requiring a revision surgery within seven years of my original surgery. My surgeon in fact told me that he wanted to make this a one-time surgery for me. There are occasional instances of an unsuccessful surgery where the patient is faced with the possibility of a revision (two such instances currently being discussed here), but that truly is not the norm.

Once I left the rehab, I did not require any post-op care other than what help I received from family members. If you do not have a good support system, Iím sure arrangements can be made for some in-home care before leaving the hospital. There are some here who recovered solo, but I would not recommend it for us older folks. Thereís a safety factor that has to be considered. For instance, I was very weak the first few times I showered on my own, and it was reassuring having a sister-in-law ready to assist if the need arose. At two months I was perfectly fine on my own. I was driving and grocery shopping with no problem. I just took it easy. Almost two years post-op, Iím doing great.

Back-out
03-25-2010, 07:13 PM
Karen: Re remarks about Medicare. I'd thought (and inquired) about this and it is indeed a major consideration. Your highlighting this reality concern is very welcome. Thank you.

Some "good" doctors accept Medicare, but it seems to be a minority, and I can't help wondering if many don't quite put out their utmost (it's SUCH a strenuous surgery) if that's their reimburser.

Also, maybe they'd be less apt to "leave no stone unturned" if the patient calling about problems after surgery is a Medicare pt (much less Medicaid). Sad but true (thinking of a case under discussion on these forums)

Chris WBS, FWIW I consulted Federico Girardi (HSS) and Errico (WHAT a sweetheart!) - he'd be operating together with Frank Schwab - who would accept my insurance as a courtesy to him (Errico). Lastly, Michael Neuwirth. Lonner was out of town, or I'd have seen him too. Debated about Cunningham (HSS) but he was only JUST certified (he's only been in practice for six years). Considering it was far from clear how he'd "work with me about fees" (staff) - from his $500+ out of pocket consult on up, I decided against.

And as mentioned, I'm still debating about Boachie (even though it would bankrupt me) if it would significantly reduce my risk of repeat surgery....My idea of hell.

It was Errico and Neuwirth who said repeat surgery was expectable. Errico said "something always goes wrong, small or large", and Neuwirth said the bit about <7years. Of course (lest the rest of you panic, unneccessarily), it's VERY much a function of age and length of fusion.

The longitudinal studies reproduced here (at least in abstract) said much the same and they're pretty hard to argue with. Only the Lenke study which had markedly better stats on re-operation = even by age demographic. As I recall, Karen Racine commented on it, saying she wanted to look into it.

I do too! MO is from me, but what the hey, if they're really doing something different (and better) which results in better long term results?

BTW I do NOT think Dr. Girardi was more sanguine, but rather than he didn't want to scare me.

I guess I should add my spinal specs as my signature. Let's see if I can figure out HOW (technoklutz :o) .

A. (fearing surgeons or their reps might glance around this site)

LindaRacine
03-25-2010, 10:05 PM
Amanda,

Not one surgeon of the several I consulted said anything to me about requiring a revision surgery within seven years of my original surgery.

I agree. I suspect Amanda misunderstood something. The reoperation rate is WAY under that, even for very high risk populations.

--Linda

Back-out
04-25-2010, 08:49 PM
I sure hope so, Linda. :eek: Sometimes one really WANTS to be mistaken! :p

Wish I could find the studies (at least, one) you referenced on this site, along with your comments there...Was in a revision thread.

Perhaps. the misunderstanding is between the words "revision" (Meaning a total redo) and "re-operation" meaning ANY more spinal surgery, especially an operation related to the original one.

I'm quite sure (unless I read in a fugue state!:o ) that I saw something about the high rates of re-operation I posted, and even surer of what the surgeons told me. Note, that they weren't referring to my anatomy, in particular, though they may well have been considering my age (64) in the prognosis.

A. (name shortened, as I'm getting sensitive - paranoid? :rolleyes: - to the notion that surgeons may read this site)

LindaRacine
04-25-2010, 08:54 PM
I sure hope so, Linda. :eek: Sometimes one really WANTS to be mistaken! :p

Wish I could find the studies (at least, one) you referenced on this site, along with your comments there...Was in a revision thread.

Perhaps. the misunderstanding is between the words "revision" (Meaning a total redo) and "re-operation" meaning ANY more spinal surgery, especially an operation related to the original one.

I'm quite sure (unless I read in a fugue state!:o ) that I saw something about the high rates of re-operation I posted, and even surer of what the surgeons told me. Note, that they weren't referring to my anatomy, in particular, though they may well have been considering my age (64) in the prognosis.

A. (name shortened, as I'm getting sensitive - paranoid? :rolleyes: - to the notion that surgeons may read this site)
It's possible that you saw something posted by one of the anti-surgery folks. They often reference old studies that have little to do with the type of surgery being done today.

--Linda

jrnyc
04-26-2010, 02:43 AM
Sam....are you set on having Dr Boachie and not another scoli surgeon who does take your insurance...? just asking...

Amanda...no way is that usual...revision in 7 years...absolutely not expected and i find it strange that a doctor would say that!! it is something most patients ask about (myself included) and that was definitely not the answer i got from any of the 7 plus surgeons i've consulted with...

re: Medicare...i got it, but have kept my regular insurance...have not switched to a "Medicare advantage plan" as i know several doctors who wont touch that...

jess

Snoopy
04-26-2010, 05:40 AM
(I'm SO sorry for the Nth time I ever moved to this out of the way area in Central PA!)

Many thanks!

Amanda

Central PA--what area? I feel very fortunate to live in Central PA. We have so many hospitals and doctors to choose from and most are located in a relatively short driving distance. We have Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Danville (maybe), John Hopkins, Philly hospitals plus all the great ones mentioned in NY.

Mary Lou

Back-out
04-27-2010, 04:07 AM
Snoopy, I think the difference is that your children are affected and you are driving on their behalf. Indeed when mine were young I took them - the first anyhow - to doctors in NYC when special problems arose. I myself went to NYC or to the centers you mentioned when a) I was younger (and my scoliosis wasn't as bad) or b) someone drove me.

Now, though, I live alone and am unable to drive for more than an hour because of severe back pain. Even being a passenger is hard. And if I fly or take a bus (or train) - it's very difficult (and expensive!) to get around. I use a walker. Even changing trains is impossible without a companion and who can afford that?

Even the nearest train station is almost an hour away - an unmanned station with only one train daily departing and one returning . That means for a single appointment, I have to pay for two nights in a hotel and countless tips to maneuver at all - plus many cabs and, of course, hours of uncomfortable traveling to get there and return (public transportation is much slower than car).

I have a number of friends who perished because they relied on our sub-standard local hospital and our (mostly) sub-standard physicians. That was because they couldn't travel easily to a major medical center - even those with helpful extended families!

You are in a more privileged position and it also sounds like you are a lot further East than me! :(

Back-out
04-27-2010, 04:52 AM
Chris WBS,

Thanks again for you specific input about your recovery and what you needed. I do indeed have a helpful sister in law (if I catch her between jobs) and she has offered. I'm more concerned about what I'll do after three months if something goes wrong - especially if I've gone to a distant surgeon.

Thing is, they're ALL distant from me, not only in mileage but in actual transportation time as a) I can't drive that far b) I never mastered city driving and don't think that would be the time to try!:rolleyes:

Snoopy
04-27-2010, 05:44 AM
Snoopy, I think the difference is that your children are affected and you are driving on their behalf. Indeed when mine were young I took them - the first anyhow - to doctors in NYC when special problems arose. I myself went to NYC or to the centers you mentioned when a) I was younger (and my scoliosis wasn't as bad) or b) someone drove me.

I totally diagree with that! Yes, my daughter was treated as a teenager, but that has nothing to do with where my thoughts are coming from. My daughter and I run a Scoliosis support group and we've helped several people in a similar situation to yours.


Even the nearest train station is almost an hour away - an unmanned station with only one train daily departing and one returning . That means for a single appointment, I have to pay for two nights in a hotel and countless tips to maneuver at all - plus many cabs and, of course, hours of uncomfortable traveling to get there and return (public transportation is much slower than car).
There has to be a better way. You just have to keep searching and talking to people to find that "better" way.

I have a number of friends who perished because they relied on our sub-standard local hospital and our (mostly) sub-standard physicians. That was because they couldn't travel easily to a major medical center - even those with helpful extended families!

May I ask if any of these people you are talking about had Scoliosis surgery? What hospitals are you talking about? Who were the doctors? I know an 80+ woman who recently had corrective surgery for Scoliosis in a Central PA hospital and a Central PA surgeon and she is doing very well! Not all doctors/hospitals in our area are bad; just a few like everywhere else.

You are in a more privileged position and it also sounds like you are a lot further East than me! :(

"More privileged position"? Again, what area are you in, maybe we can help you find that perfect doctor and/or hospital for you.

Mary Lou

Back-out
04-29-2010, 04:48 AM
I hope you received my multi-part PM, Mary Lou. Naturally, I don't want to precisely identify (publicly) the name of my town or (by extension) our hospital. I'm sure you'll respect that confidence on the public board. It's basically a "small town" here and easy to identify people, even online. I don't want to embarrass anyone in my family or myself.

As I said in my PM, I've lived here since 1981 - of necessity, owing to unfortunate family circumstances (much a function of health issues), and raised two special needs kids alone. I consider myself knowledgeable and ingenious. We would not be alive today otherwise. That is mostly a function of my medical background, acquired both in school and self-taught. I am not an MD, but by relying on my own research, I protected all three of us more than onc - rejecting incorrect diagnoses and treatment recommendations which would have killed us. The memories are still raw.

As for knowing our County resources, I was co-director for many years of our (parents of) ADD kids support group and - whew! I had to know the Blue Pages - and more - by heart!

If there were a "better way" to get around - of course, we are talking reality finances - I assure you, I would have found it. Not just for myself but for others.

People with far more fallback in every way than I, have perished here, as I said. That was by trusting incompetent local doctors and accepting sub-par treatment in our local hospital. I urged several of them to seek out of town expertise (they could have afforded it and made the journeys with minimal effort, compared to me) but they lacked confidence. Ironically, several ended their lives life-flighted to Hershey or elsewhere, when it was much too late to make a difference.

Don't forget that being essentially marooned in an under-served area, means being multiply restricted. Most complex medical problems involve protracted stays at Medical Centers, many trips to and fro for treatment and/or numerous consults to compare surgeons or diagnosticians.

That prospect is daunting even to those to whom a single trip might be doable. It was heart-breaking to see them die - usually of cancer. Missed diagnoses. Nasty oncologists. Second-rate treatment protocols. (And I am not a social queen bee who knows that many people locally!)

As for the many from outlying areas or living marginal existences in our relatively affluent town, they don't even have the choice to seek better services. They die from treatable illnesses l as if they were in a Third World country (which rural America increasingly resembles), too abashed even to know their rights.

No, none of them had anything to do with scoliosis treatment or care. For one thing, the nearest scoliosis doctor, to the best of my knowledge is at Hershey - several hours away (again, by car). As of a few years ago, anyhow. When my son needed to have a slight curve checked, that's where he had to go.

No one with any wherewithal or medical sense, would have a complex operation in town. It is revealing that all the dentists and doctors I know, go far away for even simple fusions - that includes orthopedists! They operate on others here, but when the need arises, away they go! :p

When I said you were "in a more privileged position" (relative to the issue of access to centers of medical excellence), I wasn't being snarky. I was only referring shorthand to many facts, your post indicated directly and by inference. Compared to me, you are much younger and healthier. This is especially relevant to your ability to drive long - to me - distances. I cannot. Even as a passenger, it's difficult for me, as indicated.

I don't know your finances but, without elaborating, it would be hard to be in worse straits than I am now. My sons' health problems cost me much of my savings at the same time that they prevented me from working.

Most of all, health is wealth. It is very costly to be ill. FWIW I have other health problems besides my spine All require medical expertise unavailable within a radius of well over a hundred miles - at least. Some much more. By car. By public transportation, it's twice the time and money as driving, not counting hotels and cabs. Flying is almost the same as bus or train, all things considered.

Being disabled (hate that term, but I guess I'd better get used to it :mad:) is very expensive. Few rich people could afford the amount of help I need, even now. Things don't get done. I waste a lot of time chasing small savings. As for the future, it does not bear comfortable contemplation.

Lastly, you are blessed to have more social support. Even if you can only count somewhat on your nearly adult daughters (at least one of whom is cooperative and mature enough to help with your support group) - that's a lot! Meanwhile, my sons are still struggling, despite my best efforts.

It speaks well of you that you are trying to help scoliosis sufferers as you mentioned, and I appreciate your good intentions. I am only puzzled why you seemed to take umbrage over introvertible facts about a community whose name and location, you didn't even know before my PM. How could you be acquainted with its limitations, medically and geographically? Much less my situation. You literally didn't know where I was coming from! :rolleyes:

But then again, people can get their hackles up over anything. That must be why I'm writing at such length, over my own offended sensitivity. Dumb of me! :o Help and good wishes are always appreciated. Magic wand solutions are not, least of all the (felt) suggestion that I haven't been waving mine hard enough! I'll try anything I can afford and many I can't. My magic wand (I have one!:p) is broken. So is my back.

This is a lovely area. As far as I know, so is most of the state of Pennsylvania. But this town will kill me if I don't get out soon, because of the poor quality of care available within an easy - for me - drive. While I can drive! If I lived in a city like New York or near a major medical center, my life expectancy would be twenty years longer. And that's just the way it is. Not because I haven't tried or don't know the ropes! :confused:

Snoopy
04-29-2010, 06:37 AM
Back-out
Registered User Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 67

I hope you received my multi-part PM, Mary Lou. Naturally, I don't want to precisely identify (publicly) the name of my town or (by extension) our hospital. I'm sure you'll respect that confidence on the public board. It's basically a "small town" here and easy to identify people, even online. I don't want to embarrass anyone in my family or myself.

I did receive all of your private messages. And of course, I would never mention the name of your town on a public forum. I know the are you are talking about. And yes, it is a long drive to Hershey or any of the other hospitals I've menioned. As for treatment of Scoliosis in children, they are usually sent to Hershey because Hershey has the pediatric orthopedic surgeons these kids need.

As I said in my PM, I've lived here since 1981 - of necessity, owing to unfortunate family circumstances (much a function of health issues), and raised two special needs kids alone. I consider myself knowledgeable and ingenious. We would not be alive today otherwise. That is mostly a function of my medical background, acquired both in school and self-taught. I am not an MD, but by relying on my own research, I protected all three of us more than onc - rejecting incorrect diagnoses and treatment recommendations which would have killed us. The memories are still raw.
It is a shame that we have to be so self-taught about medical issues. Sometimes, though it is the only way to protect ourselves and our loved ones. I'm glad to hear that you fight for what you know is right. As parents it is our job to do what's best for our kids.

As for knowing our County resources, I was co-director for many years of our (parents of) ADD kids support group and - whew! I had to know the Blue Pages - and more - by heart!
Okay, so let's get some of those same resources to work for you. Someone, somewhere has to be able to help you get the care you need.


People with far more fallback in every way than I, have perished here, as I said. That was by trusting incompetent local doctors and accepting sub-par treatment in our local hospital. I urged several of them to seek out of town expertise (they could have afforded it and made the journeys with minimal effort, compared to me) but they lacked confidence. Ironically, several ended their lives life-flighted to Hershey or elsewhere, when it was much too late to make a difference.

You can't let other's decisions affect your way of thinking. You know you need to go outside your town to get the care you need and hopefully we'll find a way to make that happen. Some people just trust their doctors and never question what they say. That's sad. I've always questioned whatever didn't feel right to me. I once took Jamie for a follow-up visit to the ortho and the nurse said she needed x-rays. I told her I didn't want her x-rayed because she just had x-rays two weeks ago and she hadn't worn her back brace enough to make a difference, so no x-rays. She told me I couldn't do that and I told her I could do that. She then said she had to ask the doctor's permission and I said fine, but she is still my child and I have a right to say no. She said in all the years she worked as a nurse, she never had anyone refuse anything she said needed to be done. How sad. The doctor totally agreed with me and she didn't have x-rays that weren't needed.

I understand having people die at Hershey would leave a bad taste in your mouth.


It was heart-breaking to see them die - usually of cancer. Missed diagnoses. Nasty oncologists. Second-rate treatment protocols. (And I am not a social queen bee who knows that many people locally!)

No need to tell me how heartbreaking it is to watch someone die from cancer-missed diagnoses or not.Tuesday was the 2 month anniversary of my dad's cancer-related death. Tuesday also came the news that my mom is losing her battle with cancer and now has "a few months to a year to live". I know how that works--my dad was given 6 months to a year and was gone 11 days after his doctor told him that.


No one with any wherewithal or medical sense, would have a complex operation in town. It is revealing that all the dentists and doctors I know, go far away for even simple fusions - that includes orthopedists! They operate on others here, but when the need arises, away they go!

Sounds like you have no choice but to travel elsewhere. We just need to figure out how to get you there. Have you contacted any of the doctor office mentioned on this forum? You might be surprised to find out that if you tell them your story, they might be able to help you in some way or another to make everything happen. You'd still have the long travel and discomfort, but at least you'd be seen by a reliable doctor or two.

When I said you were "in a more privileged position" (relative to the issue of access to centers of medical excellence), I wasn't being snarky. I was only referring shorthand to many facts, your post indicated directly and by inference. Compared to me, you are much younger and healthier. This is especially relevant to your ability to drive long - to me - distances. I cannot. Even as a passenger, it's difficult for me, as indicated.

Not trying to make a fuss here, but you know nothing about me. You don't know how old I am or what health concerns I might have. You only see that I do whatever it takes for my child to get the best care possible--no matter what.

I don't know your finances but, without elaborating, it would be hard to be in worse straits than I am now. My sons' health problems cost me much of my savings at the same time that they prevented me from working.

Are your sons eligible for Social Security Disabilitybecause of their health concerns? If so, that would provide some income to ease your financial trouble and they would also get health coverage. Have you checked into SSD for yourself since you are unable to work?

Most of all, health is wealth.

I agree. Most people don't value their health until they don't have it.


Being disabled (hate that term, but I guess I'd better get used to it ) is very expensive. Few rich people could afford the amount of help I need, even now. Things don't get done. I waste a lot of time chasing small savings. As for the future, it does not bear comfortable contemplation.

I already mentioned SSD. That would afford you some of the help you need. Have you checked into Hospice? Most people think that Hospice is only for people who are dying of cancer. You'd be surprised what you might learn. If they can't help you directly, they could recommend places that could help you.


It speaks well of you that you are trying to help scoliosis sufferers as you mentioned, and I appreciate your good intentions. I am only puzzled why you seemed to take umbrage over introvertible facts about a community whose name and location, you didn't even know before my PM. How could you be acquainted with its limitations, medically and geographically? Much less my situation. You literally didn't know where I was coming from!

That's the problem. You mentioned repeatedly that you had to travel elsewhere for treatment, but you never left anyone know more details! I never claimed to know your town's limitations, medically or geographically. I think if you've read this far, you know that I have a good idea where you are coming from. You've only heard a very small portion of my life. I'm sure you've figured out by now that I've been dealing with the health care system for some time and have had to figure my way around it many,many times.

But then again, people can get their hackles up over anything. That must be why I'm writing at such length, over my own offended sensitivity. Dumb of me! Help and good wishes are always appreciated. Magic wand solutions are not, least of all the (felt) suggestion that I haven't been waving mine hard enough! I'll try anything I can afford and many I can't. My magic wand (I have one!) is broken. So is my back.

If you find that magic wand, please get one for me. I could use one. LOL No, I didn't imply that you weren't waving your magic wand hard enough. I just truely believe that there has to be someone somewhere to help you and I'm trying to do that.

This is a lovely area. As far as I know, so is most of the state of Pennsylvania. But this town will kill me if I don't get out soon, because of the poor quality of care available within an easy - for me - drive. While I can drive! If I lived in a city like New York or near a major medical center, my life expectancy would be twenty years longer. And that's just the way it is. Not because I haven't tried or don't know the ropes!

I think between our posts, we both can come to the conclusion that 1) you aren't one who sits around and waits for help to come to you; 2) I'm not questioning you or your choices; 3) our health care in PA sucks; 4) we need to agree to disagree on some things; and 5) that boht of us have had to do a lot of fighting and self-educating (medically) to get to where we are today.

I'm sorry if I offended you in any way. I'm here to try to help.

Mary Lou