Roatan’s Beauty, Truth & Wisdom

Guessing Games Doctors Play

Iknow I’m often told that attorneys speak a different language when we speak in our legal jargon. But medical terms and all the acronyms, test names and diseases trump legalese any day.

My recent foray into the Honduran medical system has been extremely edifying. I am one of the lucky small percentages of Hondurans who have private health insurance via my Association as an attorney and via co-pay with the Honduras Medical Center (HMC) in Tegucigalpa. In the past year, I’ve seen eight doctors total and had multiple expensive and unnecessary tests done: EKG, EEG, Holter, Doppler ultrasound, chest X-rays, nine pages of blood work results from a laboratory, a CT scan with contrast (allergic to the dye) and pulmonary stress test.

All this brought me is confusion. I was presented with a plethora of diagnosis: pulmonary embolism, cognitive heart failure, asthma, fibromyalgia, thrombosis, liver disease and when all else fails the standard diagnosis is stress and anxiety. Indeed, this process and false diagnosis has brought on plenty of stress and anxiety.

Having grown up in a small town with no medical doctor I have a very high regard for physicians. For the first seven years of my life I suffered at the hands of an overzealous nurse who enjoyed administering endless injections.

While there was a time once when doctors and physicians cared and listened, that time is long gone. Of the eight physicians I’ve visited: General Practitioner, internal medicine, cardiologist, radiologist, cardiovascular specialist, pulmonologist, rheumatologist, OBGY, No one has my full medical history as he took the time to collect the data and write it down.

Eventually I had the privilege of knowing the most caring, calm and compassionate doctor I’ve ever had the privileged to meet, Dr. Humphreys. He takes time with his patients, takes their clinical and family history and genuinely listens. I spent roughly 18 minutes with each of the specialist and honestly, I’ve filled out government forms that have more of my clinical history than they requested.

Now the insurance insanity was a whole other matter. You must pay upfront for the bar association insurance then send the receipts with a request for reimbursement. Not good if you don’t have a credit card or other means to pay up front and wait for the reimbursement. The co-pay system with the hospital means you pay cost price for the tests and “minimal” fees for the doctors’ appointments. In case you were counting there were four on my last visit.

Real culprit of all my maladies is quite surprising.

I was told when CEMESA hospital took over the second floor at the Mall in French Harbor that they would offer insurance locally, but as far as I know this hasn’t happened. As of last week Thursday, it takes 30 minutes for them to check you in if you’re paying cash and 40 minutes to check out if they don’t intern you. I’ve heard horror stories about insurance billing but haven’t used my coverage there.

The real culprit of all my maladies is quite surprising, if you are experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, vertigo, brain fog, fatigue, blurred vision, headache, joint pain, excessive thirst and a slew of other symptoms, please don’t let a doctor tell you it’s stress, or anxiety if you know different. I’ve been sent away with no clear diagnosis and what I am now inferring were guesses as to what ailed me.

Please don’t dismiss your concerns and write it off as stress or mental health, at one point I was called a hypochondriac. After this last bout with the doctors and insurance I was about to start seeing a mental health professional.

Turns out all you need is a friend and you can diagnose yourself better than any CT scan can. A friend with severe allergies sat and brainstormed with me. Another friend, a journalist, induced a non-medical epiphany over lunch.

The conclusion was I have mold! Yes, that’s right… mold. That type of mold that is the toxic kind and lives hidden in the walls. That mold can silently poison you. For many people mold disease is real and very serious.

Mold can make you very, very sick. So please check your home, office or a unventilated bathroom for its signs as the rainy season kicks into gear. An ounce of caution can save you a pound of cure. And if you find any traces of mold have a professional come remove it or move out till it’s all gone.

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