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Lisa Guest Headshot

'I Like My Skin Thin, Thank You'

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Alamy
Alamy

I've been told I over-analyze things too much. I've been told I'm too sensitive about little things. I've been told I should grow a thicker skin. I like my skin thin. It feels the delicious feelings of touch, of care, of erotic delight. Why should I harden against a world that is cold, methodical, and unsympathetic? Why should I just learn to take the discomfort when there are other options available?

Every month, I have to give blood to make sure my disease is not rapidly accelerating. I'd had a port inserted into my chest a full fifteen months before I really needed it, because I didn't know I had the option of telling my first oncologist I didn't want to get it before my second opinion. Ports have to be flushed once a month. I struggled for months to find where and how to get my port flushed and my blood drawn so it is not a huge hassle and expense for me. One highly respected doctor actually said, "No oncologist is going to flush your port unless they are giving you chemotherapy. There's not enough money in it and too much risk." When I discovered I could get the job done at an Urgent Care facility I was thrilled. The doctor there said, "The insurance companies are happy to get bills from Urgent Care because they cost less than oncology offices or major medical centers." It was fascinating to me that doctors and patients don't know these facts. Every person when faced with cancer, has to learn these steps while coping with the worst anxiety and stress ever experienced.

Recently, I discovered that the medical center that was processing my blood was very unwilling to make my experience better. Every bill had a different account number. I couldn't pay online without going into the inner workings of the system and changing the account number each time. I called to complain. Then I asked for the supervisor. "We've been doing it this way for 40 years and we aren't going to change now." Never mind 40 years ago there was no internet, much less online banking. This was the same medical center advertising how family friendly they were. When my dad was in their hospital last year and the nurse gave him a medication she was warned he was allergic to, there was no family friendly treatment in play and no concern that they didn't uphold their word or listen to the patient or his family -- or even attend to the written complaint that was filed.

I know getting riled up causes my stress levels to rise and that shoots adrenaline and cortisol into my system, which is unhealthy for my condition. I called the Urgent Care to ask if I could have my blood sent elsewhere. I found out I did have a second option. I no longer needed to give my money to an organization that lies and doesn't uphold all their very expensive television advertising. Then I discovered that instead of sitting in the Urgent Care waiting room for half an hour while they get my room and the tray ready for my procedure, I can call ahead, say I'm coming, and when I get there be ushered in for my monthly treatment. My great grandmother was known to say, "The squeaky wheel gets the oil."

Oh, the highs and lows of emotional processing. To be so frustrated with red tape and entrenched traditional systems, only to happily discover that with some research, new ways can be found to streamline the experience. Thank you, I'll keep my thin skin and focus that extra half hour on pleasing my internal electrical switches instead of sitting in a waiting room with lots of sick kids and a very loud Pixar movie that no one is watching.