Increasing Cost of My Health Issues

I’m the type of person who avoids going to the doctor like the plague until I already have the worst case of the plague. But after having ongoing spells — fits of strange feelings of sudden sadness, deja vu, a surreal feeling and metallic taste in mouth lasting about 30 seconds to a minute, et al — I felt concerned. I assumed it was just a panic attack, but after doing a quick google search and finding that my strange seemingly disparate symptoms actually were all descriptive of temporal lobe seizures. That got me to a doctor.

Well, actually I went in for a physical and mentioned my symptoms. The doctor seemed concerned as well and referred me to a neurologist. The neurologist, who happens to be a specialist in epilepsy (that’s what you get living near world-renowned hospitals/universities) actually didn’t think I was crazy either. I was pretty sure she’d take one look at me and say – girl, you have mild migraines — take some tylenol — or you clearly are having panic attack, here is some xanax and have a nice day.

Instead, the neurologist said I might be having temporal lobe seizures. Or I might not be having them. But she seemed to think it was possible. More concerning is that if I am having seizures and they came on suddenly, the cause could be harmless or something not so harmless. So she had me sign up for a brain EKG and MRI just to make sure nothing weird is going on in my noggin. Other than the typical weirdness that goes on in there.

Ok, so I’m a little freaked out, but still feel like it’s nothing. The spells haven’t been as bad lately, so I feel they’re clearly tied to stress. These seizures aren’t what you might think of as a typical seizure. I don’t convulse on the floor. These are the types of seizures that another person can’t tell that I’m having. Apparently, people who get temporal lobe seizures sometimes never get the worse type. Other times they can be a sign of a worse seizure to come. But as far as I know I never had one where I was shaking uncontrollably or losing track of time. The neurologist said that if you already have a predisposition for seizures, stress can make them happen more often. Stress can not make you have seizures if your brain is wired correctly. So, who knows. Only the brain scans will tell.

The other worrisome bit is how much this is all going to cost, and how I can afford to take time off from a new job should it turn out to require any more testing. I’m squeezing in the 45-minute MRI and 1.5 hour EKG before I change jobs, but after that… I don’t have tons of time to get this looked into. I’m hoping its nothing. I’m hoping it’s just very visceral panic attacks. I’m hoping they fade as I start my new job, move into a new apartment, and don’t feel like I’m stuck in this transitory purgatory.

I really wish medical expenses could be more clear up front. Insurance covers some of them, but it’s scary to think that a test like an MRI or EKG could cost thousands. Even if insurance covers 70%, it depends how much the total cost is to determine if the remaining 30% is affordable. However, I’ve yet to find a way to uncover how much the total cost of a test would be prior to it actually getting done and insurance being billed. And – maybe that’s for the better – if I need a test to see if there’s some sort of tumor sitting on my brain causing the odd spells then I probably shouldn’t worry about how much it costs to find out what’s going on. Still, it’s hard to know what tests are really necessary, but I’m going to trust the doctors and pay what I have to pay. Hopefully it turns out to be nothing.


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