Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A medical update

On Tuesday February 20th I posted that I was home and recovering from a seizure.

After that I started having tight chest pain and at first thought it might be heartburn, which I hadn't had in years. But taking antacid didn't do a thing. Then I thought I had injured myself during the seizure or had been hurt being moved to or in the hospital. But I wasn't sure and I waited.

Then it started feeling like chest pain that could be coronary. That really scared me, and I took it especially seriously since my dad died of his 3rd or 4th (I think) heart attack at age 44 when I was 12 years old. I went to see my family doctor and he gave me a treadmill stress test in his office but wasn't satisfied with the results so he sent Alec and I to the hospital to see a cardiologist. We spent a couple of hours in the emergency room with tests, an x-ray and even taking a nitroglycerin tablet to see if that alleviated the pain (which it really didn't.) So they ruled out something going on with my heart. THAT's A RELIEF!!

Back at the doctors office - he figured out that I had the flu. Ugh. He didn't want to put me on antibiotics and said to take tylenol for fever, drink something like Gatoraid to rehydrate and keep electrolytes in balance. Also to take Oxycodone with acetaminophen if the pain was really bad. I cut the tabs in half and took them a very few times, but they scare me to take too often as they are quite addictive and I don't want to wind up like Rush Limbaugh! I know I have the potential to be an addict ~ proven from my first cigarette at age 16 (provided by my mother) to FINALLY quitting in early 2003 after Alec had open heart surgery in 2002. For anyone curious about that medical adventure in our lives, I kept a journal for family and friends called Alec's Heart and its still on my site.

By the way, mom was a "social smoker" who could smoke one or two cigarettes when out with smoking friends and then go days or weeks or even months before smoking again. She said she didn't inhale. Really she said that! She 'puffed'. But she did buy them by the carton and kept them on the living room mantle where I was welcome to help myself. Yikes! But that was when so many people smoked - in homes, cars, airplanes - even in hospitals! When my dad died he was smoking 3-4 packs of cigarettes a day.

Back to now ~ the chest pain didn't get better. And the dry cough I have had made it worse. It felt like I had pulled a muscle in my chest but I also was hearing a weird gurgling sound when I took deep breaths. So I called the doc back yesterday as they asked for an update and they told me to come right in. When he listened to my breath he said he heard it to. And so it turns out that I have pneumonia. He put me on an antibiotic and told me to call back if I am not feeling better by Friday.

By the way, we got the bill from the first hospital from the stay for that seizure. $8,888.05 (we have applied for charity at the hospital or at the very least a payment plan) and my dear friend Beth from the Safe Schools Coalition sent out an ask for donations to help us out as we have no insurance and even if the hospital writes off the main bill there is still the fee for the ambulance ride, emergency room doctor bills, meds after discharge etc. ~ I'll post Beth's sweet letter below.

The bill I recieved includes some interesting items. Okay, $1342.00 is a lot for a CT Head/Brain Scan (W/O Contrast) and $2,342.00 for an MRI Brain W/O/Contrast is more. Those seem like a lot to me but they are not something I have ever shopped for. But the bill also included $9.95 for Asperin 81mg Chew (thats for one tablet, folks!) and $19.70 each for two Acetominophen 325 mg tablets.

That doesn't take the cake though ... that goes to charging me $29.00 for a urine pregnancy test. A WHAT!?!? A pregnancy test ~ when I was there for a grand mal seizure. And while I know women my age can still get pregnant,
I'm 54 years old and haven't had a period for years. And they didn't tell me the results either. So let's just assume I'm not having a baby, right?

Okay here is the letter Beth sent on 3/1/2007:


Subject: Donations for Gabi Clayton

Dear friends and colleagues,

Apologies for cross-postings

Gabi Clayton, whom I know many of you know and love (and whom others appreciate as the Safe Schools Coalition's web spinner and longtime speakers' bureau volunteer) has been hospitalized twice in the past two weeks. She had another big seizure weekend before last and then chest pain a couple of days ago. She has missed a bunch of work -- she has a very part-time private counseling practice in addition to her contracts with SSC and others for web services. And she doesn't have health insurance, no less a full-time job. Neither does her wonderful partner, Alec. Alec's health has been up and down for a few years, as well.

Gabi and Alec lost their son Bill to suicide after a brutal gay bashing on school property in 1995 (see http://www.youth-guard.org/gabi/). Since that time, both have become very involved in PFLAG. And Gabi's also volunteered for the Safe Schools Coalition, Youth Guardian Services, Families United Against Hate, and Stonewall Youth. She created the Safe Schools Coalition web site out of love, long before we were able to pay her to work on it. And even now, she only has a very part-time contract with us. She's personally responded to scores of suicidal youth who are moved by Bill's story and email her for support. She's given so much of the last 12 years to the queer community.

It's time for everyone who cares about Gabi to step up. As much as you can. I just opened an account in her name at Bank of America. You can make a donation at any branch to the "Gabi Clayton Funds" account or mail your donation to Bank of America, 9019 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118 ... made out to "Gabi Clayton Funds". For those preferring to make an electronic transfer, it is account number 30657357 and the routing number is 125000024.

To send messages of support to Gabi, click here:
Gabi Clayton.

Please forward this to anyone you know who knows Gabi or Alec … or to anyone who appreciates allies who give much of their lives to The Movement for LGBT equality and justice.

Thanks,
Beth

Beth Reis
Co-Chair, Safe Schools Coalition
Ph: 206-296-4970
Mail: 10501 Meridian Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98133
E-mail: http://www.safeschoolscoalition.org/contact/?id=4
URL: www.safeschoolscoalition.org

I was almost speechless. Thank you Beth. And thank you to all who have written me since she sent that out.

Afterthought: As I explained just now to my friend Bud I'm not in a lot of pain this morning unless I cough or laugh or breathe hard. When he replied "All that's left is normal breathing !" I answered: I'm trying to do normal breathing. It maybe the first time I have tried to do 'normal' anything!

1 comment:

Elliot said...

Hi Gabi, Sorry to read about your pneumonia, sounds awful! Hopefully the antibiotics will take care of it. I was shocked at the medical expenses. I think we in the UK take for granted that our system is free, with free care and medicine. Some citizens moan about it if they have to wait around but I don't think they realise how tough it is for people in other countries, even a rich country like the US. Maybe you and Alec should move to the UK and leave behind those horrendous hospital bills.(just joking), $10 for an aspirin seems a little inflated, are you allowed to go in with a pack of your own in your bag? Or do they ban carrying your own supplies.

I am thinking of you and am sure you'll get over this, you're a tough cookie. :)

Love, Elliot xoxo