Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What's Going to Happen to Joe?

Every week, my husband has to go to The Johns Hopkins Hospital and have blood work done to keep track of the effects of his chemotherapy and keep an eye on the cancer, itself. Every three weeks, he goes to have a full day of his chemotherapy, taking usually around 8 hours total. Yesterday was a "chemo day," and we were actually gone for 13 hours due to some delays because of his blood results.

Going to Johns Hopkins gives us many opportunities to meet different people and going to the oncology department gives us even more.

Today, I want to talk about Joe, a man I met in the oncology waiting room.

Joe, not his real name (although it might be his name because I did not get his name), was sitting on the edge of his seat, his wife beside him. I would guess his age to be around 60. I tend to look people in the eye and greet random strangers wherever I go, so I caught Joe's eye, nodded and said, "Hello." He said hello back to me and I asked him how he was doing.

He said, "I could be better."
I said, "I guess that's why you're here. What's going on?"

And Joe told me his story. He has a skin disorder and while it's not cancer, it is treated with chemotherapy, thus landing him in oncology. Joe's skin is uncovered by itself; it has raw patches all over it, leaving him in constant, horrible pain. He has had this condition for several months and it has been getting progressively worse. He said that he can no longer work and had to stop working about a month ago.

I asked him what the doctors were doing about his pain. He said, "Nothing."
Stunned, I said, "Seriously? How can that be? Why not?"

Joe said his insurance company won't approve pain killing drugs, therefore the doctors won't prescribe them for him! He said he's only at Johns Hopkins now because, even though he has had his diagnosis for a while, the insurance company has not considered his case bad enough for him to see any specialists, until now.

Joe's arms, which I could see, had large, multiple, raw patches all over them. His wife said his back was 10 times worse, so he had to sit forward on his chair. He was wearing a plain, white undershirt and jeans; could not wear a regular shirt or anything binding or chafing.

His wife said, "Something's gotta give. We can't live like this any more!"
I agreed and told them about some essential oils that have given some people with skin conditions relief. I wrote down what oils they need and told them where to get them. I also gave them my writer's business card with my number and email on it. I really, really hope I hear from them. I am committed to praying for Joe every day, even though I don't know his real name.

Is this what the Affordable Care Act is all about? Is this what our country has come to? Joe cannot get help because some insurance professional in a comfortable office has to decide when he gets bad enough?

I am livid. Joe deserves better. Joe needs help.

Oh, and what kind of doctor listens to an insurance professional instead of their patient? What kind of doctor can possibly look at Joe's skin and not be moved with so much compassion that they would do whatever they possibly could to get Joe the help he needs? Are you kidding me?

Are there seriously doctors who can look at someone with Joe's pain and not do something about it?
How can these people sleep at night?
What happened to compassion?

This system is so messed up it's not funny.  Joe's life is ruined. I blame the Affordable Care Act, I blame the doctors who are not filled with compassion, but with fear.

My hope for Joe is that he's finally getting the help he needs now that he is "allowed" to go to Johns Hopkins. I am relieved that he was there and maybe we'll see him again on one of our trips. David has 3 more chemo days to go, so there's a chance we will.

As for David, his chemo yesterday hit him hard and he was late to work because he was so very sick this morning.

If you will, pray for "Joe." I will be praying for him every day.

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