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The News is Pretty Terrible

November 24th, 2009 at 04:31 am

I am SO over 2009. My foundation has been rocked!

Dh went in for a MRI Friday and we knew it wasn't good. He was in there an hour (as opposed to 20 minutes). I asked if he had moved, etc. Wondered if he was just too fidgety or something. He said, no, that they had injected him with die mid-way through to look at something closer.

This put us in a tense mood. We still went away for the weekend and figured if they didn't call him to emergency before we left on Saturday, that maybe it isn't so bad.

They called him in yesterday for an appointment with his ear/nose/throat doctor - the one who ordered the MRI in the end. Neurologist didn't think the MRI was warranted. Fair enough, since his brain seemed totally fine. Even his hearing tests did not seem to warrant a brain tumor - though that seemed to be mostly what they were ruling out. This early follow up didn't sound very promising - he was supposed to go in Wednesday.

Of course, wires crossed, and before he met with his doctor, Neurosurgery called him for an appointment next week. We still had no idea what is going on, but that did NOT sound good! Should have called after he met with his doc, but they seemed eager, which was also scary.

I came home to watch the kids. I would have like to have gone with him, but it was so last minute. I am glad I didn't go - his ENT doctor is an IDIOT! She diagnosed this, sure, but her bedside manner is terrible. I am glad I wasn't there - hearing dh's rundown.

His appointment was short and he called me in an upbeat mood about 10 minutes after he was scheduled. I was relieved to be called so fast. Though, admittedly, his upbeatedness was probably just shock.

In the end, he does have a brain tumor. A large one. (1.5 inches or about 4cm)

There is a lot of good. They have said all along it is 100% benign due to his symptoms (if he had one). They still say it is 100% benign. It is a very slow growing tumor, etc., etc.

We don't know much at this point. Doctor said he is not necessarily being rushed to surgery - may try to shrink it first (radiation, drugs, etc.). Though perusing online, most people with tumors his size seemed to be RUSHED to surgery. It's overwhelming to think he may undergo brain surgery before the year is up.

But, who knows. We basically don't know much until we meet with the neurosurgeon next week.

Though I am extremely happy with our HMO, all I could think was I want the best damn neurosurgeon we can find. Talk about intense! In the end I looked up his doctor, and he looks excellent on paper. Hopefully we like him so much in person. So far, I am pleased. He performs all the tumor removals of this type, for our HMO, in Northern Cali. That sounds good to me. Plus he has been there 20 years. So many of the best doctors seem to come and go, so like I said, on paper I am pleased.

Anyway, what we gather is though the tumor is benign, it is a bit of a misnomer, because it can cause so many problems as it grows. & brain surgery is no easy fix. It is possible he will lose hearing in one ear - facial paralysis is another concern. The good thing is I didn't really see any other mention of any side affects, from surgery, etc. Though it would certainly suck to lose hearing in one ear, I am glad that more important brain functions seem to be preserved with this type of brain tumor. Heck, hearing technology is so advanced - who knows if "loss of hearing" means much in this day and age.

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It's a lot to digest. I am glad they called him in Monday so we had a few days to digest it, before Thanksgiving.

I do know we will have all the support we need from our crazy family. 4 of them are coming up Tuesday to watch the kids, so I can go to his appointment with the neurosurgeon. Overkill? Perhaps. But, gotta love family. I am not worried about what we will do if dh is out of commission for a while. Family will be there.

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I have always been particular about our health plan (Employer offered plans have always been crappy and expensive). This pickiness hopefully pays off. This is why I am PICKY!

I don't know if dh is insurable any longer. We have private insurance, and so as long as our HMO stays afloat, and we can afford the bills, insurance coverage is there. None of this switching jobs/losing coverage business.

Of course, I couldn't sleep and woke up around 3am. It occurred to me in all this mess that I never got our new premiums for 2010. I must have a rogue e-mail setup for the notification. I logged in and sure enough, the info has been there about a week.

All I can say, is Ugh! Our premiums are going up 20%. $100 per month increase.

Health insurance has been a nightmare for us the last decade. With the introductions of HDHPs, we had a calm couple of years, and is precisely why we had a couple of good financial years, recently.

All along I felt our HDHP was a little "too good to be true." That they were phasing it in to higher deductibles, etc.

I called it! It looks like our deductible will remain at $3k. BUT our out-of-pocket is increasing to $6k.

I've read through everything a million times in the past and I told dh I felt I understood our health plan. This will really put it to the test. I guess if all we pay is $6k for brain surgery, I shouldn't complain. I always feel wary that maybe I am missing something. Who trusts these insurers???

Anyway, not that we have used our deductible any given year. BUT, obviously we are heading to an expensive 2010. Which means we could end up paying $14k next year - for premiums and deductibles/out-of-pocket. But what else is new? We are used to double-digit increases, and large raises being eaten up by health insurance. I've got to find another $5k for next year. (There goes our ROTH? At face value, not sure where else I could cut $5k - is a pretty hefty sum).

I had wanted to hoarde cash next year, to get to our long-term cash goals, etc. Guess I will be hoarding it for medical expenses instead.

This is why I feel like we have been spinning our wheels the last few years. For everyone who has put me down for being too stingy, it's time like these I feel we haven't been stingy enough! Does no one else have these large $$ surprises??? What others call "stingy," I call "keeping afloat!"

Oh, anyway, lower deductible plans all cost about twice as much, and I am not sure dh could switch plans at this point, with his newfound pre-existing condition. Still seems like we have the best option available.

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I actually had a client whose young spouse (close in age) had a brain tumor. Looking back, I always assumed it was cancer, and I really think it was, from the way they talked.

Talk about intense! He's been on disability a couple of years, at least. He was not well enough to watch their children.

Though they were well insured, at some point there was a mix up and they were sent over $1 million in bills. !!!! They felt very blessed to have such good insurance. They were on the hook for very few dollars.

I try to remind myself this is precisely why we pay for such catastrophic insurance. I need to keep my perspective in these times. $14k per year is a bargain compared to how financially devastated we could be right now, without health insurance.

36 Responses to “The News is Pretty Terrible”

  1. campfrugal Says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  2. John DeFlumeri jr Says:

    Monkey Mama, I am praying for all of you. The health insurance situation just adds to the catastrophe. May your Thanksgiving be the best ever.

    Sincerely, John DeFlumeri Jr

  3. CB in the City Says:

    I am so sorry to hear this, but I know from experience with friends that even though the diagnosis may sound horrible, it can be resolved happily in the end. Stay strong and know we are all with you.

  4. momcents Says:


    Boy, I wish we were friends in real-life. I'd come over with coffee and scones and take your kids to the park. Anyhow, the best we good do this morning was say a prayer for your DH (we referred to your DH as Mr. Monkey Mama - my kids wondered if that makes him Mr. Monkey Papa.

    Anyhow, sounds like there is relief to knowing what is going on - and it isn't all bad news. We are a Catholic praying family and you'll stay in our prayers.

  5. Caoineag Says:

    That's rough. Try to take it one day at a time so that it isn't so overwhelming. As to 5k surprise bills, I imagine alot of people get them, they just don't plan for them. Good luck with everything.

  6. miclason Says:

    ((hugs)) That is scary, but, yes, I always tell my friends, news like this are not AS catastrophic when you at least know somehow there will be money for treatments!
    I will pray for DH and for your family. We are all here for you.

  7. Broken Arrow Says:

    That is terrible, I am sorry to hear that.

    I am also relieved for you that at least it is benign and it was caught now when it could have somehow ended up much later.

  8. Ima saver Says:

    i am so sorry to hear the bad news. Stay strong and we are all praying for you.

  9. gamecock43 Says:

    OMG this is unbelievable. It really hits home. This sounds like you are about to get a major education in health care and body physiology (sp?). Rest up and just keep on top of everything. As you have noticed it can get out of control very quickly. And doing your own internet search is very helpful, Drs dont always tell you everything because they dont like to see people cry in front of them.

  10. skydivingchic Says:

    Monkeymama - I'm so sorry to hear this. My DBF of over 13 years recently lost his arm in an accident, so I completely understand the stress these things puts on your life. So far our health insurance has paid as I would expect them to and things out of pocket haven't been unreasonalble. I hope that you guys have a similar experience with your insurance company.

    I'll keep you guys in my thoughts. Take time to take care of yourself during this journey. I'm glad you guys have family to help. Our families, friends, and coworkers have been amazing support throughout our journey and it means so much to us. Keep moving forward and take one day at a time.

  11. Analise Says:

    I am so sorry to hear the news, but I'm happy you have family to give you support and that the tumor is benign. I will be praying for you and keeping you in my thoughts.

  12. creditcardfree Says:

    ((Hugs)) to you and your husband! I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Focus on what the positive outcome can be, imagine and expect it to be true. Miracles can happen!

  13. debtfreeme Says:

    Regardless of the diagnosis benign is good news! I and my family will be praying for your husband and family.

  14. dmontngrey Says:

    Holy crap! That was just my initial reaction. Wow, just scary. Take care and it sounds like you guys have a good handle on the situation.

  15. LuxLiving Says:

    God bless you and your family and the doctors and surgeons as you go thru this rough patch!

  16. Lisa Says:

    MM, I'm so sorry to hear the news! I am glad that your family is nearby and supportive, and I will be thinking of you and sending my positive energy for a speedy recovery.

    I was thinking the same as Momcents. I am nearby, though, and I'll be thinking of you across the causeway! (I'm swimgirl, but my blog just disappeared one day and I have been busy, so didn't investigate)

    The good news is that medicine is so advanced these days. My husband works in the field, and it's really pretty amazing. I will hope for the best possible outcome for Monkey Dada.

    Wishing the best for all of you!

  17. ceejay74 Says:

    MM, so sorry to hear about this! My boss's brand-new husband just got diagnosed with lymphoma and they are spending their honeymoon months in and out of clinic getting chemo, recovering from chemo, taking drugs to counteract the side effects, taking drugs to counteract the side effects of the side-effect drugs... it has temporarily taken over their lives. High hopes though; it sounds eminently curable without any super-scary risks, and I think you have a great attitude.

    And I bonded with every word about healthcare; I'm going through trying to figure out why I paid so much over my deductible this year, so I can make a smart decision for next year when I know I'm going to hit my deductible again with labor & delivery & other hospital costs. I too feel like I've gotten either stagnant pay or a small pay cut every year and it's all due to healthcare. NT's provider wants to raise their costs 18% so I feel your frustration there, too. Just like the CC companies, they fear Congress will take away their price-gouging abilities, so they're trying to stick us for as much as possible now. And they have the gall to post something on my healthcare home page about how they're all for reform, but we don't need a government option because that will actually cause people to become uninsured and everyone's costs to go up! Sure it will, temporarily, because they're taking us for all we're worth while they still can.

    Hang in there! I'll say the same thing about your DH as I did about my boss's--they could not be luckier in their choice of spouse to help them through this time. I can tell you're smart, determined, devoted and strong, and he couldn't do better for a mate in this situation.

  18. baselle Says:

    My thoughts are with you. Stay upbeat, but wary...the way you always seem to be. At least you'll have the 6K as a deductable and very good instincts.

  19. mjrube94 Says:

    I'm with everyone else here thinking about and praying for you guys.

    Do you have Flexible spending at work, where you can set aside $ for medical expenses so they come out pre-tax? It would really make a difference considering the bills ahead.

    Good luck and let us know how you're holding up!

  20. monkeymama Says:

    momcents - awwwww.... Mr. Monkey Papa is fine.

    Thanks, everyone! Very nice words said - it means a lot.

  21. monkeymama Says:

    mjrube - all our medical bills are pre-tax. We itemize them since our premiums are over 7.5% of income. medical expenses (premiums dental expenses are deductible as an itemized deduction, over 7.5% income). This puts medical/dental at a potential 20% of income.

    Of course, that being said, we don't have much taxable income to reduce. & our tax bracket is very low - but it does help a bit.

  22. wowitsawonderfullife Says:

    MM - you are in my thoughts. I'm sending you light.

  23. boomeyers Says:

    Wow! That is a lot to take in!! Praying for the best case scenario for you and your family. That is wonderful you will have so much support. I hope this doctor is kick butt! Keep us posted!

  24. NJDebbie Says:

    ((HUGS)) I'm so sorry, but I know that things will be okay.

  25. whitestripe Says:

    *bearhugs for you all* i nearly had tears in my eyes reading your entry MM, not only for your and your hubby's situation but your overwhelming strength and positive attitude. i thought the same thing as momcents when i was reading it, I just wanted to make you dinner or something. Smile we will be keeping you guys in our thoughts. good luck xoxo

  26. Susan Says:

    MonkeyMama,
    One of my work friends in San Jose had what sounds like exactly your husband's diagnosis - he had the tumor removed and is fine now, but he did a ton of research on the surgical methods available, got a second opinion from Stanford, talked with others who had the surgery etc. My email is sparkerscu@yahoo.com - if you would like to be in touch with him, he's a great person and I'm sure would be happy to share his experiences and research with your husband and maybe assuage some of your concerns.

  27. homebody Says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Keep us updated.

  28. daybyday Says:

    I'm so sorry. He and your family will be in my prayers.

  29. nmboone Says:

    Here's to hoping you can keep a positive outlook. It seems you already are when you mentioned the hearing loss. And you are right about that part. I wish for the best with his tumor and so glad you have the cash to get through the money part. It could be a whole lot worse. We'll all be thinking about you guys.

  30. FrugalFish Says:

    Our family will pray for yours, and you will continue to be in our thoughts. I'm so sorry this is the hand you were dealt to play. (((HUGS)))

  31. financeaholic Says:

    oh my goodness! my heart goes out to you and yours, hope your thanksgiving goes well.

  32. Petunia Says:

    My goodness, what a shock! It sounds like Papa Monkey has a good prognosis though and you're taking a lot of good steps to help yourselves. I'm sorry this is happening to you.

  33. lizajane Says:

    Wow! That's quite a mess to deal with. I hope all goes well. Benign is better than the alternative. Having family to help out will be a huge emotional life-saver. And hopefully the insurance turns out to be better than expected. Best of luck to you all. I'll be thinking of you.

  34. DeniseNTexas Says:

    MonkeyMama, I'm so sorry to read this entry. I'm still trying to catch up with the entries since I'm only 18 months behind but I'll try to really get caught up on yours tomorrow. You're in my thoughts and prayers.

  35. sharmanl Says:

    ((Hugs)) and ((prayers)) for you and your family. This is unexpected and a difficult time, but you seem so strong, level-headed, and focused. Your husband is blessed to have you. I'll pray for strength for both of you.

  36. sweetmama Says:

    Oh my! I am so sorry to read this! Good job getting the MRI quickly and not waiting. Take good care of you, the hubby and the family.

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