Monday, January 31, 2011

Fla. judge strikes down Obama health care overhaul

By MELISSA NELSON, Associated Press

PENSACOLA, Fla. – A federal judge declared the Obama administration's health care overhaul unconstitutional Monday, siding with 26 states that argued people cannot be required to buy health insurance.

Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson agreed with the states that the new law violates people's rights by forcing them to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties. He went a step further than a previous ruling against the law, declaring the entire thing unconstitutional if the insurance requirement does not hold up.

Attorneys for the administration had argued that the states did not have standing to challenge the law and that the case should be dismissed.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said Monday the department strongly disagrees with Vinson's ruling and intends to appeal.

"There is clear and well-established legal precedent that Congress acted within its constitutional authority in passing this law and we are confident that we will ultimately prevail on appeal," she said in a statement.

The final step will almost certainly be the U.S. Supreme Court. Two other federal judges have already upheld the law and a federal judge in Virginia ruled the insurance mandate unconstitutional but stopped short of voiding the entire thing.

At issue was whether the government is reaching beyond its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce by requiring citizens to purchase health insurance or face tax penalties.

Vinson said it is, writing in his 78-page ruling that if the government can require people to buy health insurance, it could also regulate food the same way.

"Or, as discussed during oral argument, Congress could require that people buy and consume broccoli at regular intervals," he wrote, "Not only because the required purchases will positively impact interstate commerce, but also because people who eat healthier tend to be healthier, and are thus more productive and put less of a strain on the health care system."

Obama administration attorneys had argued that health care is part of the interstate commerce system. They said the government can levy a tax penalty on Americans who decide not to purchase health insurance because all Americans are consumers of medical care.

But attorneys for the states said the administration was essentially coercing the states into participating in the overhaul by holding billions of Medicaid dollars hostage. The states also said the federal government is violating the Constitution by forcing a mandate on the states without providing money to pay for it.

Opponents of the health overhaul praised the decision Monday afternoon. House Speaker John Boehner said it shows Senate Democrats should follow a House vote to repeal the law.

"Today's decision affirms the view, held by most of the states and a majority of the American people, that the federal government should not be in the business of forcing you to buy health insurance and punishing you if you don't," he said in a statement.

Democrats just as quickly slammed the decision.

"This lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt by those who want to raise taxes on small businesses, increase prescription prices for seniors and allow insurance companies to once again deny sick children medical care," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a prepared statement.

Former Florida Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum filed the lawsuit just minutes after President Barack Obama signed the 10-year, $938 billion health care bill into law in March. He chose a court in Pensacola, one of Florida's most conservative cities. The nation's most influential small business lobby, the National Federation of Independent Business, also joined.

Officials in the states that sued lauded Vinson's decision. Almost all of them have Republican governors, attorneys general or both.

"In making his ruling, the judge has confirmed what many of us knew from the start; ObamaCare is an unprecedented and unconstitutional infringement on the liberty of the American people," Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement.

Other states that joined the suit are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.


Associated Press Writer Curt Anderson in Miami contributed to this report.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cat Doors Galore

My dad, bless his heart, got two pieces of plexiglass and glued them together to put a cat door in so they could have an exit out my bedroom window.  I didn't want to use a piece of wood and block my whole window.

He also cut a hole in my bedroom door for me so I could put one in so I didn't have to play doorman for my cats... now I can sleep with my door closed.

And check this out... finally tolerating each other. The gray one is my mom's cat, Apollo (we tend to call him Pillow most the time); the black & white is my Simon.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cancer Recurrence: Biopsy/Surgery

Yesterday, Jan. 4th:

So... I got up at 4 am to be at the hospital at 5:15 am for my surgery scheduled at 7:15 am!  Why I had to be there two hours early?  I do not know... Mom & I spent a lot of time sitting and waiting.  Seems a little extreme, but... whatever.

I wasn't put completely under, not until he decided if he was able to take the whole mass out, so I was talking to him (felt kind of like in a dream state).  I remember, at one point, warning him that I was going to cough because I knew it was going to shake my body.  Wanted to make sure he wasn't cutting when it happened.  *LOL*

I drifted off a few times and woke myself up snoring... next thing I know they're rousing me and I had to scooch over off the table to the bed.  I went into recovery, they got me some water and brought mom in.  After about 15 minutes or so they were getting me on my way.  I was released around 8:45 am.

The doctor wasn't able to remove the mass, it had become a little bigger and harder and the doctor said it may cause too much nerve damage.  We'll have to shrink it first.

I was tired, but felt great.  I was ready to go to work, of course, mom wouldn't let me.  They had given me a prescription for pain killers, but I never end up using them; so mom & I decided, the pharmacy is right down the road, if we need them she could run down real quick and get them... but no sense spending the money for no reason.  Glad we didn't get them, I didn't even need Tylenol or Nuprin... I didn't have any pain what-so-ever.  Dr. Eddleman is a great surgeon!

My Incision

He put stitches inside and glued the outside.

Around 5 pm, mom and I noticed that the glue was splitting and my incision was pulling open.  One side was gaping and this orangish liquid was starting to drain out.  Kind of looked like betadine solution. 

Incision Starting to Open

**basically, my breast was too big and heavy and was pulling on the incision, I ended up having to hold my boob up to keep it from splitting completely open**

So we tried taping it up and I called the doctor's service... he quickly called back.  Told me he was going into a surgery so he would be at the hospital, but anyone working the ER could take care of it... and that he didn't put betadine in it.  *lol*  We really didn't want to run all the way to Raleigh so we decided to go to the Wakefield branch.  They wouldn't treat me... I had my surgery at Rex Hospital and this Rex branch wouldn't treat me.  They wouldn't even look at it before deciding... all they heard was 'surgery this morning, incision opening up' and they didn't want to touch it.  They were afraid something was wrong and didn't want a lawsuit!  Can you believe that shit!?

So we ended up going all the way downtown Raleigh.  They took me quickly into Triage where I told them who my doctor was and that he told me he would be here and that they needed to call or page him, they coded me a 2 (yellow), then sent me into the waiting room.  There we sat and waited, and waited.  We had arrived around 6:30 pm.  I think it was about 8 pm when I went and tried to find out if they had called my doctor.  I couldn't get any help.  At 8:12 pm I called my doctor's service again to let him know that I was there and I didn't think they were telling him.  By 9 pm, I figured he was no longer there.  We sat waiting until 9:45 pm.  One lady started doing second passes because so many people were waiting for very long periods.  When she came across me and my situation... she was very angry that I had been coded yellow and had not been attended to.  She said I should have been sent over to Minor care immediately.  So she called over and told them to make room for me, then, apparently, she called my doctor... who was still there and getting ready to do an appendectomy.  He came over right away and took care of me himself.  Mom & I were so surprised to see him walk in.  Everybody kept apologizing to me.  By this time, half of the incision had split open and it had continued to drain quite a bit.  He put a stonger glue on and then (suture) strips for added support.  So I had to wear my bra to bed for extra support, which totally sucked!

There was this funny part... the girl was trying to have me sign the disclosures while the doctor was getting the glue and stuff... I was trying to hold my boob up, while trying to hold the chart with the papers to sign, plus trying to sign.  As I'm trying to juggle this, I finally look up at her and said, "You wanna hold my boob while I sign this?"  She started apologizing and said she would come back, so I ended up signing the paperwork AFTER I was treated.

We got home just after 11 pm.  I sent an email to my supervisor letting her know I wouldn't be in the next day.
So that was my day!  No... so that was my LONG day!

**Oh, my doctor had asked me in the morning if I had heard back about my PET scan, I told him I hadn't and I suspected they weren't going to call me but have my Oncologist let me know.  Well, when I saw him in the ER, he said he called about my scans and they didn't show any masses anywhere else.  (At least not to a point where the scan can pick it up... if it has just started to spread, whatever we do for this mass will most likely exterminate anything else that may be too small for the scan to pick up.)  So that is extremely good news! They are going to send my biopsy to the Mayo Clinic, which will take a little bit longer to get the results back... but he should have them by next Tuesday for my post-surgery follow-up appointment.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cancer Recurrence: Reason 2 (from last post)

Tuesday evening, December 14th, I found a large mass just below my right armpit.  I thought, "What the hell is that?, don't have one here (the left side).  It's pretty big and I couldn't believe I was just finding it.  I called the doctor from work on Wednesday and they set up an appointment for Thursday... which was going to be ugly weatherwise, but I didn't want to wait until the following Tuesday.  I didn't tell mom what I'd found, wanted to wait to see what the doctor said.  I was concerned because of it's position in the lymph area... I had a bad feeling.

Last December I went in with a swelling at my neck/shoulder area that turned out to be nothing.  My doctor wasn't impressed... said I'd have to do better than that.  *lol*  I was hoping this would be the same.

This time, he was impressed.  Actually seemed a little surprised and concerned.  I don't think he expected this.  He said it was definitely something and it has gone into the lymph system.  He mentioned possibly doing a bone marrow test, won't decide until my other tests come in and have a better idea of what we're dealing with.  I said, "I hear bone marrow tests hurt!?" He replied, "Well, you know, umm... yeah, it hurts."  That's what I love about Dr. Z, he tells me the truth... honest and up front.  I stopped at mom & dad's on the way home to let them know what was going on.

I always heard once it hits your lymph system, it's all over with... it spreads like wildfire through your body.

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Some of you are aware that I have Lymphoma (a form of Cancer), and that I have had it going on 12 years now. For those who didn't... It took five years to be diagnosed... it started in 1999, it first looked like ringworm or something akin to it. In 2000, I was treated for ringworm, they lanced it, treated for fungus, shot it with steroids... nothing seemed to clear it up. Then in 2004, Dec. 10, I was sent for a biopsy; on December 29th, I received the call. Cancerous.

At first I was diagnosed as stage 4 and treated with CHOP chemotherapy.  Pretty severe.  Turned out I was slightly misdiagnosed.  The doctor I started seeing down here in NC stopped the chemo and did more tests because things didn't seem right.  The original doctor saw spots on my lungs and presumed they were cancerous, turned out those spots were only scar tissue from when I had severe pneumonia in 1991.  My lymphoma is rare and indolent (slow-moving), it has stayed on my arm area, only moving from below the elbow to above the elbow over 11 years.  Other than the initial chemo, I have had two series of localized radiation a couple of years ago, but that's it.  It has been managable, I saw my oncologist once or twice a year, had bloodwork done, a scan once a year for the first three years... the usual "keep an eye on it" stuff.

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On 12/21/10, I had an initial consultation for a biopsy.  We want to make sure this is the same lymphoma or has it mutated, or is it something entirely different.

On 12/22/10, I had a PET scan.

On 12/30/10, I had pre-op testing and consultation.

Tuesday, 1/4/11, I have Biopsy/Surgery.  He couldn't do a simple biopsy because of where it is located.  He's going to go in to cut out a few chunks for analysis and if it looks fairly clear and easy to excise, he may just take the whole mass out.  My surgery is scheduled for 7:15am, but I have to be there at 5:15am... which means mom & I have to leave about 4:30 in the morning. Ugh!!

On 1/11/11, I have a post-op follow-up in the morning, then I meet with my oncologist, Dr. Z for test results and treatment options.

So extra prayers will be much appreciated.