The Tab 5

BALANCE FORWARD from The Tab 4:$208,078.50

Complete blood panel, to make sure nothing has changed since poison party 4.

CBC Auto, with platelet count
An automated count of various kinds of blood cells, red, white, platelets etc. This is considered more precise than “manual-counting.” Price is up from $98.00 in The Tab 3
Bilirubin, total, This is a measure of liver and kidney function. When hemoglobin is broken down into smaller pieces, bilirubin is one of the major components. It is usually excreted in bile and urine. An elevated bilirubin count can tip off problems in the liver and kidneys. This price is unchanged.
Sodium serum. How much salt in my blood? Price also unchanged.
Potassium serum. How much potassium in my blood? Potassium also helps transmit nerve signals. It’s also key to kidney, muscle, and the digestive system function. Price unchanged.
AST (GOT) Aspartate Aminotransferase/Glutamic-Oxalacetic Transaminase, an enzyme found in the mitochondria (power source), and the “cytoplasm” (all the stuff in the cell that’s not an “organelle,” a membrane or a nucleus) of all cells. Elevated levels may signal liver disease or muscle disorders. Price unchanged.
Alkaline phosphatase. Elevated levels of this enzyme can signal liver disease, bone tumors (the most common metastasis of breast cancer) or other bone disorders such as Paget’s disease. Price unchanged.
ALT (GPT). “Alanine Aminotransferase,” another enzyme produced in the liver, another test of liver function. Price unchanged.
Chloride serum. How much chloride in my blood? Chloride is a type of electrolyte, substances that help transmit nerve signals. Chloride works with other electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and carbon dioxide (CO2) to help keep the proper balance of body fluids and maintain the body’s acid-base balance. An imbalance of chloride can be a tip off to sodium imbalances or kidney problems. Price unchanged.
Carbon dioxide. How much CO2 in my blood? CO2 is another electrolyte that is closely tied to kidney and liver function. Price unchanged.
Urea Nitrogen Serum. How much nitrogen in the form of the waste produce urea is in my blood? An indication of how well my kidneys are working. Price unchanged.
Creatinine serum. The urea test is often done with creatinine test. The ratio between the two can identify problems like dehydration. Price unchanged.
Blood draw, routine venopuncture. The charge for the phlebotomist getting the blood samples.

Subtotal for blood work:

RUNNING TOTAL: $208, 858.76

Then up to the infusion center:

Three-quarters of a liter of saline solution (a quarter of a liter more than last time, I must have been dehydrated)
Set IV pump, 1 port
Chemo administration, first hour
Chemo administration, second hour, with a price break
Two “IV pushes” after the first drug
8 mg. of Zofran, the anti-nausea drug
10 mg of Decadron, the steroid that combats the effects of chemo. I forgot to take the pills beforehand!
.49 grams of Herceptin, the monoclonal antibody
.9 grams of Carboplatin, This price is down$1,298.00, more than 10 percent below the price for the previous infusion, when it cost $9,522.00.
.14 grams of Taxotere, a member of the Taxol family

Subtotal for infusion center services: $1,624.00
Subtotal for drugs: 26,385.40
Subtotal for poison party number 5 (including blood work): $28,790.69

BALANCE FORWARD: $236,869.19

MRI, of my right shoulder. Docs were concerned that the chemo was causing “neuropathy” or that perhaps my right shoulder pain might signal a metastasis. Turns out the pain has a mechanical cause: I have a full tear in the rotator cuff tendon that is supposed to run over the top of my shoulder. Finding this out is pricey:

Last poison party, Number 6!
Cost for the all the blood tests outlined above, for poison party 5 on 1/20:
For some reason, the 2/10 infusion center bill hasn’t come through yet.

RUNNING TOTAL: $240,120.48

Infusion center bills, plus two echocardiograms, plus re-excision surgery still to come. Thank you, thank you Blue Cross. I will never be able to get health insurance anywhere else! (I know they say the federal health care bill fixes this, but I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m expecting that the legal wrangling will go on for years.)


About leftbreast

I have had breast cancer. I was diagnosed at 47, and am now 49. I have finished "active treatment," two surgeries, chemo, radiation, monoclonal antibodies. These days, I only take a drug to suppress my uptake of estrogen, since my tumor was highly reactive to that hormone. I have been married to my husband Pete for 21 years. I have a stepdaughter, Maureen, 30, and a daughter, Erin, 10. I've been a freelance magazine journalist for 20-plus years, covering everything from Chinese foreign policy to Catholic nuns to endangered species. I have had a great life. I have lived in Asia and all over the United States. I have spent nights with tree-sitters in Oregon and with astronomers at the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii. I've been to a cocktail party on the poopdeck of a British destroyer docked in Shanghai. I've taken the bus to Tibet, and tramped through the cloud forests of Panama with biologists. A magazine sent me on a raft trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon; another sent me to cooking school for a week. I have spent time with celebrities, presidents and heroin dealers. I love my work. I have a loving, supportive family and more friends than I probably deserve. I have had the space and time to camp, ski, cycle, garden, cook and spoil my pets (an Australian shepherd, a German shepherd and a tabby cat). If it all ended tomorrow, I would have to say that it has been a really, really good ride. When I was in thick of treatment, I was simply fighting for more time. Now, I'm trying to connect the experience of cancer with the rest of my life, with the time that's been won. I hope the cancer never comes back, but if it does, I'll be ready. That's what this blog is about.
This entry was posted in The Tab. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s