Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Update on me.

 Well, I have all I needed to know to change my health care option from TriCare to off-post. It all began yesterday.

I was overall pretty disturbed that the gynecologist wasn't interested in an ultrasound/sonogram with any expediency. She could tell me it was a large cyst but didn't want to know what kind or the size. I was told to make an ultrasound appointment through radiology, and if I went off post I needed to make sure she got the results. After the ultrasound, I could schedule another appointment with her office, so I'm looking at about a week to get everything to a point so it could be worked out. She prescribed me birth control and Flexeril, but only after I asked for pain medication. Motrin 800 (ranger candy) had not been cutting it for a few days. My back was hurting more than it ever had before. Also, an intern examined me first. He didn't even tell me he was an intern until he came back with the doc and nurse. It was like a party in my vagina, I guess, since he didn't know what he found (the cyst) and the doc needed to get a feel. And the nurse was looking over their shoulders the whole time. Weird but okay. I would've said yes if they had just asked!

I decided to go into the ER because the back pain (in the sciatic nerve area on the right side, same side as the cyst) had reached an unbearable point. I didn't know if it was from the cyst or something entirely different. I suspected it was something different, but without any knowledge on the cyst or the back pain a conclusion couldn't be made. I had to leave the ER after checking in to go get Aaron, since they didn't have a hospital phone book to look up the rehab desk number. Cell phones do not work in most of the hospital, especially the rehab area, so I knew it was fruitless to call him. Walking was utterly painful at this point.

I was triaged in the ER; blood pressure, temperature, and weight all accounted for. I then went back to a room and waited. And waited. Eventually, a "doctor" came in. I say this because i don't know if she was a med student or an actual doctor. This is a teaching hospital, so it's hard to tell. Anyway, she started asking me the exact same questions the triage nurse had. I asked her if she had my chart. She said yes, but that she liked to be thorough. I told her all my answers were the same since nothing had changed within the past hour. She then asked me a few questions about my leg, lifted it, asked more questions and then left. I had told her about the preliminary cyst diagnosis and lack of ultrasound. At this point, I WAS in tears. The pain was just awful. She told me that there won't be any tests run since it was clear to her my cyst had not ruptured. The back pain wasn't even addressed, probably because she was attributing it to the cyst. She offered intravenous medication but at that point I just wanted to leave. No one was going to make any attempt to find out just exactly what was wrong with me, and I was over it. She asked what medication I wanted and I told her I didn't care. Narcotics make me nauseous as all hell but I was in pain. She called in Tramadol to the pharmacy and that was that for the ER. No referral about the back pain, just told to follow-up with my primary. The ER does not act treat illness, but is only interested in pain management with medicine. Got it.

I was so upset at this point and I didn't know what to do. The appointment hotline was always busy and I didn't even know who my primary doctor was. I had not not needed medical care before, other than ER trip for a migraine (in which I was way over medicated, but no surprise there). A family member took me to a local civilian hospital (Sibley). I was put on a stretcher and told to relax. The doctor came in and ordered an ultrasound/sonogram and X-rays. The sonogram and ultrasound showed a hemorrhagic ovarian cyst, 4.5cm by 3.3cm. Anything over 5cm is an actual concern for torsion. I was referred to a gyno, and given stronger pain meds. The X-rays came back clean, meaning that I needed an MRI to find out what was wrong with my back. That couldn't be done there on an emergency basis, but I was referred to an orthopedist, as well. My cousin is a radiologist doc and is willing to help me out with whatever he can, too. Thank God.

I went to the good- no, great- gyno in question today, armed with the report and ultrasound disc. He confirmed the finding and we talked about what the plain of action should be. We also discussed the back pain, which he (and the Sibley ER doc) believes is a different issue, and then sent me to a very good orthopedist. I go see that office tomorrow.

I just don't understand how the gynecologist nor the ER doctor could just pass on trying to figure out what was really wrong with me. I made it pretty clear how much pain I was in and what type. It was just washed up to "cyst pain" but nothing was really getting done about that, either. I also find it hard to believe that a gyno's office doesn't have ultrasound machine and tech on hand. It was so disheartening and frustrating to feel as though no one was interested in figuring out what was going on. I have a husband to take care of, a wheelchair to lift, a household to tend to- and I need to do this without all of this unbearable pain.

The hospital here might be okay for other people, or maybe I'm a fluke (probably not). I don't know. We all know the statistics of military care, though. I really tried to appreciate the TriCare here at the hospital, I did. But they failed me at every turn. I'm changing to US Family Health Plan (John Hopkins for this region) tomorrow and not looking back.

Thanks for listening. Hope you're all well.


  1. I'm so sorry. Like you don't have enough on your plate right now. :-(

    I'm jealous that you can access USFHP. I actually tried -- even told them I'd drive to all the appointments on my own dime -- but was denied since we're out of region. I'm glad that you're finally getting the care that you need & deserve.

  2. Yet another TriCare horror story. I am glad that you are FINALLY going to get the care that you obviously need.
    I had a similar issue when I was pregnant with my daughter. I had preclampsia and toxemia so bad that when I went to a civilian doc he just looked at me and said "We are admitting you now." This is after i had been in the ER on post at least twice a week for a month. I still believe that had I not gone to the civilian when I did neither Emily nor I would be here today. My blood pressure was through the roof - they were surprised I had not had a seizure. emily ended up being delivered 3 months early at a hospital in Houston, TX. The entire experience was a nightmare. We even had to get Tom's chain of command involved at one point and one of my docs took the phone from me once when I was talking to TriCare to give them a piece of his mind...that was priceless! Needless to say, after that experience I don't have much faith in military docs anymore.

  3. Oh my goodness. How horrible. I hope you feel better asap! If you need anything please let me know.

  4. Oh my gosh!!! That's ridiculous! You should be cared for so much better. I cannot blame you for doing whatever you can to receive care elsewhere. My sister had multiple ovarian cysts and which needed surgeries. And given my own experiences when things don't go right or when I'm shafted the way you were I go to the patient advocate or ask for the CO, or Floor Nurse. After doing one of these things I have had good results! I am so sorry you were treated so horrible, especially being in such terrible pain! It's inexcusable.

  5. Wow, that's horrible! :( Unfortunately, I'm not surprised. I've had some bad experiences with military medicine and Tricare, too. But you so did the right thing by seeing a civilian doc to get a second opinion and switching health insurance! Sending good vibes!!

    My sister recently had a large cyst on her uterus (I think she'd kill me if she knew I was telling anyone about it). She also had major back pain, which her initial doc attributed to the cyst. She got a second opinion, and it turned out to be a herniated disc. Moral of the story- always get a second opinion! :)

  6. I am no fan of MTFs and it sounds like they didn't do their due diligence here.
    Ovarian cysts can be enormously painful. I had a baseball sized cyst on my right ovary that left me pretty much unable to walk I was in so much pain, even with narcotics. It took a month to get the surgery scheduled, due to getting appointments for ultrasound and the like) and they surgically removed it. This was with a civilian provider.
    I know you are doing a lot of physical work and it is possible that you also have a back injury, so it is good that you are getting it checked out. My point is, if it all comes back as "just a cyst", that doesn't invalidate your pain. The inflammation caused by a cyst can cause horrible pain.
    Good luck. I hope they get it all straightened out soon. Oh, and FYI, the laproscopy to have a cyst removed is easy peasy, you'll just need a little help for a few during recovery (with the lifting, etc).

  7. I am so sorry. The pain and the experience are both things you do not need right now. I hope the new, good doctors help fix everything and get you on the right track fast. I haven't had an ovarian cyst before, but I have delt with terrible terrible back pain and I know just how awful that can feel, so I cannot imagine that AND something else. Good luck and feel better!

  8. Ugh ugh ugh. I can relate to multiple doctors doing little more than shrugging their shoulders at very real pain. I've heard nothing but awful things about Tricare. I will be looking into alternatives if I marry my sailor.

  9. Oh lady, you do have a lot going on! Hope you're able to resolve it all soon and feel better. Wish I was still in DC to help out...

  10. Oh my god, that is absolutely horrible! I'm so so glad you were finally able to get the medical care that you needed and I hope things continue to go well now that you're switching to civilian healthcare. I hope you're feeling like your old self soon! (After a recent poor experience at our military hospital here in Texas, my friend told me to file an ICE report--something I had never heard about before. Apparently it goes straight to the top and they take every report--negative or positive--very seriously. You should definitely file one--no one should be treated like that.

  11. I'm so sorry you had the kind of experience we usually have at the MTF. I have chronic pain, and I've found Tricare doesn't want to treat the actual cause. They just want to throw pain pills at you until it's a condition so bad that you need something drastic like surgery, when some preventative care much earlier would've been cheaper and avoided all of that. It's a seriously effed up system. I'm glad you found a better doc, and have other options. I hope they can figure out what's causing your back pain and get that all fixed up for you soon.

  12. i was just diagnosed with a cyst on my right ovarie 3.3cm and i was trying to read all i could about it, hoping to find something here as with the dr and er's i am still clueless, i am sorry for ur situation but u are not alone and my prayers are with u