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medical advice

so i'm trying to figure out whether or not it's worth it to have an MRI done to figure out what's wrong with me, which will cost me a good chunk of change out of pocket.

way back in november after a ping-pong tournament i ended up doing something to my back that twitched it out. color guard instructor speculated based on my symptoms that it could have been a herniated disc. The practical result was that i had moments in one of those days where i couldn't stand properly and sometimes while walking my back would collapse on me and i'd fall to the floor and have to rest there for a while until i could consider putting myself through a lot of pain and agony to get up. i have a pretty high tolerance for pain, so this is no small thing.

i went to the tulane sports medicine doctor and at the time he said, "you could spend a bunch of money to figure out what's going on, but we could also just give you some drugs based on theories and see if it goes away." I opted to just try to get some drugs, which ended up being some sort of steroid. My back showed signs of improvement, but the pain also shifted somewhat to my leg. After being on the steroid for a while, it didn't completely recover, but it had recovered enough that i didn't notice anything unless i tried to lift heavy objects which i only did twice.

Sometime about a month ago now, i woke up one day and had a sharp pain in my left upper thigh/ass where the pain had drifted from my back before. i don't know if i had slept on it wrong or what, but ever since then the pain hasn't gone away when triggered. The triggering is after i lie down for a while. After getting up from a nap or lying down for maybe a half hour or more, that area will hurt enough that walking is painful. after about twenty minutes of sitting or standing, the pain subsides from that level of severity to something more of a dull ache. this is pretty consistent; i don't come up from lying down for a period of time without it hurting to some degree of pain bordering on dehabilitating.

i made another appointment, and after explaining the symptoms, the doctor theorized that the disc could be getting agitated by something, a constant pressure from being in a lying down position. He again offered me the options of "just try to treat it based on symptoms" or "get an MRI so we know for sure." He said that getting an MRI might be a good idea since i've been dealing with a variant of this problem for a good six months now, just to be safe. I said that yes, this is what i wanted, but in my head i did it conditionally because before i went through with it i wanted to find out how much it would cost.

i called up the insurance company today and they told me that what i would have to pay out of pocket is roughly $750. Given how much i'm traveling over the summer, my poor showing in the WSOP this year, i don't really want to spend that money if i don't have to, and i'm trying to figure out the long term EV of the MRI vs. just trying to get general treatment based on his understanding of the symptoms which may not pull as exacting results but may be good enough if what i'm going through isn't too serious.

that's what i got. what's the better long term EV? paying for the MRI is good in one sense because they'll know exactly what's happening, but it could be like buying a new computer so you can figure out 2+2. given my recent financial tightness, what's the better choice?

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May. 19th, 2011 02:17 am (UTC)
May. 19th, 2011 02:22 am (UTC)
i dunno. chiropractors are more spine-based, and i don't think this is that. the doctor i'm seeing is a physical therapist sort for tulane athletics as opposed to a general doctor that specializes in this sort of deal, but in the more traditional western medical field.
(Deleted comment)
May. 19th, 2011 03:57 am (UTC)

you're adorable.

one of the bigger psychological reasons to get the MRI done now based on what you said is that i have a tendency to ignore my health and pain. like, i've already kind of adjusted to what's happening now so it doesn't seem like a big deal even though it kind of is. So if i try alternative things now and it gets better but still doesn't completely heal, it's a stronger likelihood that i'll just say, "oh it's close enough" and not get it dealt with for real which could come back and bite me x years later, esp. since i already have a bad back history.

but that's going under the assumption that what's going on is serious enough that theoretical and alternative treatments wouldn't be able to do the trick and solve it for real. ultimately if the problem is common and minor enough, getting some meds and going through physical therapy might be all that i need. i just don't know enough about the actual issue that i have to know whether or not that's the case.

i know myself too well to know that if i don't deal with it in some way in one swoop, i'll neglect it later. if i wasn't already going to be spending roughly $1000 on my trip out to san fran between my plane ticket, my performer's plane ticket, and the rental of the timpani, i'd probably just get the MRI done, but with the financial hit that that's going to bring already, i don't know how much i want to add to that.

Granted, i am also getting paid about $1.5k more from doing hermiston this year than last year, and i can hold out until then if need be i suppose. i dunno. i'm still thinking about it.
(Deleted comment)
May. 19th, 2011 02:12 pm (UTC)
out of pocket doesn't seem that high to me but i also know that my insurance here isn't nearly as good as what i had when i was working corporate at symantec. 'course, i never actually took advantage of that while at symantec because i've never been great about my health because i've never really had to be. i'm sure my corporate job would have covered 100%, here it only covers 80%.

i'm getting better about the whole health thing, but it's still difficult. i had a ten year spread of going to the dentist, a twenty year spread of going to the eye doctor, and i haven't really been in to see a doctor since my kidney failure ordeal. my high adaptability and tolerance for pain hurts me here. i had a couple severely broken teeth for years and adapted well enough to how i needed to chew that i would generally forget that there was a problem.
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