(I'm now 30, 5'7", 130 lbs and was always athletic and in great health until my pregnancy in 2001: tremendously high BP, preeclampsia, temporary blindness due to BP after childbirth, lucky I didn't have a stroke, serious blood loss and such severe anemia that the doc ordered a blood transfusion (I didn't take it).
Four years ago (age 26) I had a cardiac work up. I went initially to the cardi because my general scheduled an ultrasound after hearing a murmur. Mitral sclerosis (hardening) was seen. The cardi had me wear the Holter monitor for a month and we did the stress test. He saw the irregular heart beats I had complained of. My stress test results were abnormal (that's all I know of the results). He had offered/suggested cardiac catheterization, but didn't seem to be pushing for it and since it's invasive and scared me at the time, I said no. I wish I had done it. He wanted a CT scan but my insurance wouldn't cover it.
Fast forward to now, four years later: My application for private insurance was denied based on my cardiac records. I called the cardi and had the nurse read notes from my chart. Mild mitral and tricuspid regurgitation, abnormal findings on montior and stress test results. Should follow up in six months.
I didn't follow up then. I've been having more and more problems since then. I didn't even consider it might be my heart, though. I was convinced I was anemic because I cannot do normal, everyday stuff without needing to rest. I get very out of breath doing menial tasks or even nothing at all. To carry the laundry basket from one room to another makes me breathless. My vision pulses, I get faint, have sudden severe spinning dizziness, my hands and legs swell off and on, my chest and left arm/collar hurt often (terribly if I try to go for a walk), my heart seems to 'fall off track' for hours at a time, everyday I feel odd beats--irregular pattern, my heart pounds just to cross the room, I always can feel my heart beating in my chest and throughout my body (I thought everybody did), I canNOT tolerate the heat, my circulation has gotten bad suddenly lately, and I have to urinate constantly at night--I mean I'll go pee and get back in bed and really just TWO minutes later, I'm up again with a full bladder. This goes on for hours. I've also had the head of my bed raised because I'm just more comfortable that way.
All of these things have been going on for a while now, about a year, but have been getting much worse. It just dawned on me about a week ago that it could be my heart. I was certain it was anemia or a thyroid problem or something. But numerous check ups with generals or internists turned out normal bloodwork.
I don't have insurance. I can get student insurance in Jan or Feb when I return to school. Til then, I'm out of luck. If I go consult with a cardi and pay for the visit privately, then the visit will constitute a pre-existing issue when I get the student policy in January.
I have a bad feeling. I'm scared and broke and am trying to weigh cost against health. Please, if you have any advice or thoughts or reassurances, I'd be so appreciative. I'm back and forth on it: "Nah, just wait til you have insurance.." "No! See someone now--you have a kid that needs you!" See, it's like the devil and the angel on opposite shoulders.
Thank you guys so much and great health to you!
Some reactions from my reading:
1) if you passed a stress test I think it unlikely that a cardiac cauterization would fond any problem(s) - in my experience I had a catheterization following a failed nuclear stress test. The catheter did not find any problem.
2) you body doesn't manufacture liquids, water/ pee... you must be drinking a lot of fluids late at night. Lots of water is good, but it may be best to stop a couple of hours before bedtime... try and see if that helps.
3) your story is a strong one for health insurance reform, sorry you're having so much trouble, you should be accepted somehow into the insurance "pool".
To give you any advice to not see a doctor is too high risk for me to give. Still, if you don't go see a doctor soon I think you have to get you mind around being positive and optimistic to reduce anxiety (this alone can cause some of your problems)... and I believe it a good idea to take an aspirin a day, maybe a low dose is fine. Like the doctor recommendation, the bottle of aspirin says do not take long term without a doctor's approval. I have a doctor's approval to take a reduced dose aspirin a day, and I do not know of anyone to be told not to take aspirin unless it gives them bleeding/stomach or other problems.
You are an important person, mom, so take care of yourself. A very strong mental state and health life style will go a long way to achieving a long life.
Thank you, Jerry, and I couldn't agree more about the need to keep strong mentally and lead a healthy lifestyle.
Well, I didn't find out whether my stress test results were given a 'pass' or a 'fail' -- just that they were abnormal and the doc didn't like it.
Strange enough, I'm not drinking lots of fluids in the evening. I made a conscious effort to avoid it so that maybe it would reduce my trips to the bathroom. The frequency is all day, it's just so very much more frequent at night.
Thanks again, Jerry, for your thoughts and encouragement!
Just in case you don't know, the main (only one I know of) purpose of a stress test is to determine if the heart is getting sufficient blood when stressed physically. If it is not, there is a possibility of an artery blockage. I'm sure you've heard of bypass heart surgery.
I think the likelihood of a person your age having an artery blockage is very, very small.
How is you cholesterol?
I too have to get up a couple of times a night, but that problem is common for men of my age. Still, I think consuming less fluids during the evening is a good idea, but I find it hard to follow this good advice... I'm a bit of a diet cola adic...bad but there are worse addictions :).
Sorry to hear you're going through this. Being black listed from private insurance is a very bad thing and I would appeal this and ask to see your records and why they made their decision in writing - that's your right as a patient.
From personal experience - it will be a pain to have this rating; things like life insurance - you can't get above a certain amount - I can only get a $99,999 policy because of medical problems since they ask for a health exam and personal history. Once you get "black listed" it stays for life and you're rated even in the commercial health circle.
Can you get insurance from your job or what about medicaid since you're a student?
"He saw the irregular heart beats I had complained of. My stress test results were abnormal" You definitely need to have them send you your records, don't wait until you go back to school. Get them and read them over to see their notes or readings, if nothing more for your peace of mind.
Like you, I went through years of thinking something else was wrong with me and would have never guessed my problems were my heart. I'm not sure who was more shocked my EP or me that I had a REALLY dangerous heart rhythm going on that could kill me.
If you can't get insurance and think you need to be seen, call a cardiologist's office and explain to them and ask if you can make payments on their consult.
It's a catch 22 after that, you may get a clean bill of health, a wait and see status or be told you have something serious wrong & need to be seen by another doctor. Right now I am thankful we got health insurance this year, not so long ago, I was in your shoes; thinking something was wrong and waiting.
My bill so far with surgery is $227,000 which would have devastated us financially - I agree with health reform; something needs to be done now.
Wow Lisa, you are lucky. I didn't realize you just got insurance last year. Having worked at an insurance company, I know that if anyone had an inkling of what was going on inside your body, they'd have dropped you like a hot potato.
Whichever agent sold you that policy is probably now on a blacklist of his own.... But good for you - I've seen too many really ugly things from the inside of an insurance company to have any sympathy for them.
yeah Jerry that's why I only agreed with your statement about reform LOL and didnt say anything more :P
We had blue cross blue shield HMO plan for years; we got tired of the run around with the plan and cancelled it. We were paying $1,200 a month and if they said no we aren't going to cover something; no amount of appealing would do it. We started looking around last year and found a great plan with United Healthcare.
I was blacklisted well before we started looking again, due to a few female surgeries and female problems that needed medicine monthly & constant care. I was denied a hysterectomy for Adenomyosis which is only curable that way.
I found out about being blacklisted this year by our new agent when they went into the MID (medical information database) isnt that what it's called? when we applied for our group plan, SHOP policy & life insurance.
I'm sure if they had known what was going on inside I would have been rated higher, and premiums through the roof. Of course, if I had known anything was wrong with me before, I would have never cancelled insurance, it's vital to have.
I just wanted to let MJB79 know what they were in for since it sounded like that's what was happening with them. [keeping on topic]
After reading this again I just wanted to clarify something.
The insurance I had before was private insurance; the insurance we have now is a group plan which doesn't have the pre-existing clauses like private plans do and I don't think they can get rid of you if you have health problems :)
They can - they just tend not to. Especially if the group is large. Or they can rider one family member out if they think the risk is too high. Like if someone's changing jobs and they have a spouse that's got cancer? I've seen the company I worked for exclude all coverage just for the spouse. Kids were ok as was the husband. Wife with cancer? SOL. Ugly, ugly business.
I guess plans, and group plans are all over the "map".
I worked for and retired from AT&T, and before the breakup of the Bell System in 1984 the plan covered about 1 million employees... so the company had a lot of clout.. in fact the company was/is self insured, the company just pays a health plan to manage the details and do the denials. I have never been denied, but then my family has had rather good health, except for me in the last 15 years. My AT&T retirement coverage is now my secondary to Medicare. My company provided plan was in the old days and is today as my secondary, just a catastrophic coverage plan. This was all I needed, I could afford to pay for office visits and simple lab work. In the last 20 years or so the plan changed to a co-payment plan after deductibles were met. So is one was healthy, just simple head-cold kinds of problems, the insurance paid nothing. If we had much sickness we and we paid out the deductible, then the insurance cuts in.
I agree with Lisa33167 that you should get copies of your records. I would also ask if they have copies of the actual stress test readings, etc. done in the past.
Sometimes people have congenital heart problems that they aren't aware of until they are adults; the body apparently can often compensate for quite a long time. The bottom line is something is causing you to feel lousy, but you really don't know what options you have to feel better without knowing what is causing it.
If this was happening to me, I would work to find a cardiologist that will work with my financial situation (or refer me to somewhere that will.)
Some mild or minor heart conditions are very stable and you can be fine for years--other times, things can change in as little as two or three years. I've known of a number of women in their 30s and 40s where this was the case. I'm not trying to scare you, but I strongly believe that when our bodies are trying to tell us something, we should listen.
I learned this the hard way. Over the years (I'm 51), I've ignored my own body's not-so-subtle messages (on noncardiac health issues), and I've been sorry. On the other hand, probably out of fear (my maternal grandmother died suddenly of a heart attack at a young age), I've not ignored my body's messages when it came to cardiac problems and gently insisted on further testing, and I have been very happy I did.
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