Archive for the ‘Health-Care’ category

The Cancer Bus

July 8, 2018

This past Friday I finished my last radiation treatment at Kaiser in Hollywood. I know that most people relate Hollywood to the movie and TV industry, but there is a lot more to the city than that.

So for the past seven weeks or so, I rode the Kaiser bus every day from Harbor City (south of LA) up to the Kaiser Radiation Oncology facility in Hollywood. Bus leaves at about 11 AM and arrives in Hollywood at about Noon. Everyone piles out of the bus checks in and head down in the basement where all of the X-Ray machines are located.

When the last patient boards the bus at about 1 PM, we head back south to Harbor City. Nobody gets left behind. The driver has a count of the people on board. Sometimes patients are delayed by doctor visits or additional X-rays that are required.

For example, today I had to see the doctor and I was delayed. I finally board the bus at about 1:30 PM. No one complains. They have all been in that situation at some time or other.

So over my seven weeks I got to meet many people all of who are suffering from cancer of some sort or another. Some will survive and some will not. One lady told me that she was taking the bus a few years ago and the bus was much fuller than. Less people on the bus means people are surviving longer. A good sign.

A lot of people wear hats. Once Desmond took his hat off to show a nasty carcinoma on the top of his head. He finished his treatments a couple of weeks ago. Hope he does well.

2018-07-03 10.52.00So the group tends to be an unofficial support group. We tended to chat on the benches by the bus stop. It is good to get it out. It’s a bit tough to talk on the bus due to road noise.

I listened to the biography of Ulysses S Grant by Ron Chernow. I still  have a few hours to go. In seven weeks, I have learned more about the Civil War and Reconstruction than I ever knew.

2018-07-03 20.43.48Also, it seems that the length of treatment varies for each person. Some folks are up for only 5 treatments. Some like me are in for the long hall at 30.

So for now, I am done.  I have a follow-up scheduled for the end of August. For now, I am waiting for my wounds on my neck to heal and get my sense of taste back.

I hope to never have to ride the Cancer Bus ever again.

TTFN

Joe

Half Done

June 13, 2018

2018-06-12 13.33.52Today was 15th radiation treatment. 15 more to go. So far so good. Last treatment is on July 5.

The bus takes us from the Kaiser Harbor City facility up to the Kaiser facility in Hollywood. ( about an hour ride)

Today we didn’t have our regular bus. I guess the regular bus was out of service. In its stead we had one of those 12 passenger vans. What a pain. Just about every seat taken. No extra room to speak of.

Not only am I half done with treatments, I am also about half done with the book that I am listening to on Audible. I am listening to the biography of Ulysses S Grant by Ron Chernow. Very interesting. I have started watching the Ken Burns series on the Civil war. Also, interesting. It’s available on Netflix.

The bus is sort of a rolling support group. Everyone on the bus has some sort of cancer. I have had interesting conversations with many of the folks on the bus.

The treatments have some nasty side effects. My sense of taste is long gone. So is my appetite. I have a low grade sore throat. Though, some folks have it much worse. I can at least eat but I generally don’t want to. I am tired and grumpy. (more so than usual). Water has a metallic taste to it.

So I have lost about 4 pounds over the past three weeks. The doctor today told me “try not to lose too much weight”. What? I don’t think I have ever heard a doctor say those words. Hell of a diet.

Back on the bus tomorrow.

Joe

Radiation – Day 1

May 23, 2018

2018-05-23 09.41.18Today I had my first radiation treatment at Kaiser in Hollywood. It took a solid hour and a half to drive up there. The drive is worse than the treatment. My appointment was at 08:24, so I was driving at prime traffic time.

Starting tomorrow, I get to ride the shuttle from Harbor City. So I can catch up on my reading and podcasts.

The first appointment was different because they had to do some X-rays and fine tuning of the set up.

They have a mask that locks my head into one place while the X-ray machine does its thing.

Kaiser has about 7 machines in the basement of the building on Sunset Blvd. They gave each machine a name to help keep track of which is which. The one that I will be using is called “Megatron”. I am sure Jonathan will be amused.

If one looks carefully at the light above the machine you can see a picture of a leafy tree. I guess it’s to make one forget that you’re getting zapped with mega-watts of radiation to kill the cancer bugs.

They have a control center in another room with a bunch of computers with about 6 screens. They wouldn’t let me take a picture because another patient’s data was on the screen.

So I go back tomorrow and each weekday until the end of June. I get weekends and Memorial Day off for good behavior.

Next Steps

April 13, 2018
2018-04-09 21.34.41

Pic taken 4-10-2018

I had my followup appointment with my head and neck surgeon today. We found a friend of Paula’s to watch Mary, so that Paula could attend the meeting.

So here’s the deal. The surgery site on my neck is healing nicely. There is still some swelling and discomfort along the incision line, but that should go away eventually. The surgeon removed a 4 cm. tumor from my left parotid gland as well as some lymph node  glands in the area.

My surgeon believes that this is related to my squamous cell carcinoma from Jan 2016. Next appointment is scheduled for two weeks from today. My case will be presented to board of head and neck surgeons for review. He seems to feel that we will do radiation but not chemo. We will see what the collective medical brains from Kaiser have to say on the matter.

That’s enough for today. Have a nice weekend, everyone.

Joe

In Like a Lion

March 2, 2018

So it would seem that March is coming in like a lion, at least if you live in New England. Down here in LA, not so much. It was actually a bit warmer today than yesterday. Up in the 50’s.

Forecast here is for rain. Up in Santa Barbara along rte 101, they’re talking about heavy rains. That’s not a good thing. Back in January, they a real soaker that washed all of the mud down off of the hill sides.  So here is how this works. Last summer they had some nasty fires that removed all of the hillside vegetation and then there is nothing to hold the dirt in place.

Won’t be anything like that here in San Pedro.

They are just about got things cleaned up from the January storm and it looks like it will happen again. So they called a mandatory evacuation. this time I doubt that anyone will stay behind.

So my day today was spent seeing a Ear/Nose/Throat Doc about a cyst about the size of a quarter that has been growing  under my ear lobe. Scheduled blood work and a MRI scheduled for Sunday. The problem in cutting it out is that it’s right over the salivary gland. Also, many nerves that control facial muscles. Follow up in a couple of weeks.

Oh and by the way, I turn 70 on Saturday.

TTFN

Joe

 

Kaiser Permanente

September 17, 2015

Warning – Rant ahead

So last week I send an email to my Personal Care Doc at Kaiser. (For folks who don’t live in CA, Kaiser is a large HMO in CA). My request was for my doctor to help me get in touch with the Kaiser Sleep Study people in Bellflower, CA.

You see I have sleep apnea and I use a BiPAP to help me sleep. Last week my BiPAP died. Without my BiPAP I don’t sleep so well. I means that I wake up a lot during the night. It makes me just a tad bit grumpy.

So my Doctor (generally a good guy) gives me a phone number and tells me since I did a sleep study two years ago that they should replace it without any problem.

Okay, so far so good. So this morning, I call the number. I get a recording. Recording says “This phone number is no longer in use. Call 562-xxx-yyyy.

Okay I can handle that. I call the new number and punch the appropriate buttons. 1 for English, 2 for Espanol, etc. So in english, I get the message “Mailbox Full, for assistance stay on the line, blah, blah, blah”

So I am getting even more grumpy. Mailbox Full? Are you kidding me? Has anyone at Kaiser have any clue about customer service? No apparently not. By the way, staying on the line just gets into a loop repeating the message.

Here’s the good news. We are coming up on October which means that I can change health plans. I am oh so close to just logging into Amazon and buying a new BiPAP from them. All I want is a good night’s sleep. Is that too much to ask?