My Bronchoscopy: Paying Out of Pocket for a Diagnosis

Kate Spencer avatar

by Kate Spencer |

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I spent months trying to schedule an appointment with a pulmonologist. Finally, I found one in another state. Unfortunately, I had to pay out of pocket for the visit. At this point, however, a potential answer seemed well worth the expense.

The pulmonologist listened to my breathing, took note of my cough, and asked about other symptoms. The specialist felt confident I had sarcoidosis; however, he advised me to have a bronchoscopy done for a formal diagnosis. He also mentioned the need to rule out cancer, which I had heard before.

While I was still at the visit, someone from the pulmonologist’s office called hospital scheduling. There was an unexpected opening in the doctor’s surgical schedule in two days. I immediately agreed to the appointment and made the necessary arrangements to be there.

This procedure was being done at a hospital that was out of my insurance network, so once again, I would have to pay cash. The medical bills were quickly adding up, but what other choice was there?

I didn’t have much time to think about the bronchoscopy. In some ways, this was probably a good thing. I was due at the hospital at 8 a.m. the day of the procedure. It took over an hour to get to the facility by car. As a result, my husband and I were up and en route bright and early.

During the entire trip, I was feeling relieved, optimistic even. We finally would have a solid answer. I was in a jovial mood during the entire journey. My husband and I conversed and joked around quite a bit during the drive.

Shortly after arriving at the hospital, I was dressed and ready in my hospital-issue blue gown. We waited in the prep room, as directed. The doctor came in to say hello as a nurse scrambled around, putting things in place. I was calm as they explained what would occur next.

But then they told my husband it was time for him to leave. I started crying uncontrollably. I thought I was pretty tough and had handled everything related to this medical crisis well, but I guess I was wrong.

The look on my husband’s face was one of surprise. I could see that the pulmonologist did not know what to say or do. Instead, he looked at the nurse, then pointed to me, and quickly left the room. The nurse immediately offered me tissues, patted me on the back, and attempted to console me.

I seriously thought I couldn’t go through with the procedure, but I eventually calmed down and the bronchoscopy was performed. In the next few days, the doctor called with a formal diagnosis of sarcoidosis. It was reassuring to hear that long-awaited conclusion.

I still can’t explain what happened to make me break down in tears prior to the procedure. It was probably the sense of being completely alone as my husband left the room. No matter how many people support you in dealing with a rare disease, ultimately you are alone with it. That aloneness can be scary.

The momentary flash of anxiety that overwhelmed me prior to the bronchoscopy was real and frightening. However, I’m glad I faced my fear in order to finally get that diagnosis.


Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.


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