21 September 2007

What is a life worth, anyway?

I went to the Dr. Tuesday for a routine follow-up appointment because he had changed my blood pressure medication yet again. After all the pleasantries and finding out that my blood pressure is now down to normal, I mentioned that I still had that sound of blood pounding in my right ear. He got me an appointment with a Neurologist that same day.

I went to the Neurologist and after a thorough examination that included having me saunter down the hallway twice, he concluded that I needed an MRI with MRA and MRV. (MRI with angiogram and venogram) His secretary, Ashley called Aetna to get pre-authorization prior to making the appointment for me. While Ashley was talking to the representative for Aetna a very strange yet meaningful conversation took place. Ashley stated that she was calling to get pre-authorization for an MRI, MRV and MRA, with and without contrast. I heard the following statements being uttered by Ashley, “Well, Dr. Smith is wanting these tests because she has high blood pressure.” And “She has been having headaches, too” then later “She has been experiencing dizziness” then still later, “Well, her brother had two strokes in June and her father died of a stroke”.

It felt as if Ashley was being asked to justify why *I* was worthy (or rather, my symptoms were worthy) of these medical tests. It felt as if she was being asked to put a value on my life. I halfway expected to hear, “well, I don’t know how she makes her cookies”…. “Ma’am, when you bake chocolate chip cookies, do you make them chewy or crispy?......She said chewy,….Okay, you get the MRI.” OR “Her hair looks good, but she has pores you could drive a truck through. Okay, I understand, I’ll tell her she can’t have the MRI.” I kept wondering why the insurance company requires an order from a specialist if they second-guess the specialist's assessment that these tests are necessary?

It made me start thinking about what I have done with my life and what I have accomplished. I wondered if it all came down to one phone call with a stranger, how would I describe my life? What would I be proud of and what regrets would I have? Just a little pensive, way-too-introspective food for thought for this week.