Archive for the ‘Medical’ category

Single Payer

September 23, 2018

So yesterday, I went to party for the Assistance League folks here in San Pedro. My job was tending bar. That’s a good place to get to know and talk to people.

I was talking to the husband (let’s call him Jim for the sake of the story) of one of Paula’s friends. He asked me to tell him about my cancer surgery and treatment. I told him about discovering a lump on my throat and having it seen by quickly by my Primary Care Doc. A week later I saw the surgeon. He did a needle biopsy on the growth. Surgeon says “inconclusive”. That’s a way of saying there are a lot of false negatives in the test.

So he schedules me for surgery a week later on Good Friday. I go through all of the pre-op testing and check in on Friday. Surgery went fine and I went home on Saturday. Then showed up at Easter Sunday services with a big white bandage on my neck. If you recall, Easter fell on April 1 this year.

Then I had appointment with the radiation oncologist. I had already planned a trip to Boston in May. Start treatment after I got back. Six weeks. X-Rays ended on July 6. That’s done and I am healing well.

Now back to the story. Jim told me that his daughter (26 years old) has a similar lump on her throat. Jim has been trying to get her to get it removed. The problem is that Jim’s daughter lost her health insurance because she had been laid off from her job. The $64,000 question is how does she/he pay for it? She might get it paid by COBRA insurance if she still had the coverage. I suggested that he look into “gofundme.com” as a possible funding source.

If she lived in Canada or the UK or Australia, this wouldn’t be a problem. You see those countries all have socialized medicine, which we in this country have been calling “Single Payer” or “Medicare for all”. That’s because the word “socialized” has a nasty stigma attached to it in this country.

I was lucky enough to have Medicare coverage as well as my private retirement coverage. I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to pay for it. I just had to worry about the outcome. I just had to pay the co-pays.

So Jim is worrying that his daughter might die because they will not be able to afford to pay for her care. One should not have to go to gofundme get healthcare. That is just wrong.

Senator Bernie Sanders and other Democrats have been urging our government to provide “Medicare for all” to the people of this country.

With Donald Trump in the White House and GOP in control of the US Congress, providing this care will never happen. They will be happy to let people die who cannot afford for their health care.

There will be an election coming up on November 6. We can’t vote Trump out of office yet, but we can vote out the GOP. Please VOTE out the GOP on Nov 6.

Thanks,

Joe

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

Oncology

April 20, 2018

2018-04-20 08.49.06I had an 8:30 AM appointment with the Radiation Oncology Dept at Kaiser. The appointment was up in Hollywood on Sunset Blvd. For all my friends on the East coast that is a long haul. Paula and I were out the door at 7:15 AM and arrived at 8:45 AM. Brutal Friday traffic. I’m glad I don’t have to do that every day.

So after the usual pleasantries of step on the scale, roll up your sleeve for the BP cuff and what’s your temp., we got to meet with an Oncology resident who talked about the plan. We talked about my history with respect to squamous cell carcinoma.

I am to do six weeks of radiation, five days a week for six weeks. The idea is to knock out any remaining squamous cells before they have a chance to settle in and get all comfy.

So then I told him that we were going to be traveling to Boston in May. Trip paid for and non-negotiable. He agreed to start the treatment on the day after we return on May 22. So far so good.2018-04-20 11.24.16

Here’s a pic of my oncologist. Actually, he is a resident. So even though he looks young, he’s got some supervision.

Two other visits were scheduled. First to see the Kaiser dentist to create some sort of gadget to keep me from moving my teeth during the treatment.

Second was a final get together with the oncologist to review the details.

One bit of good news is that Kaiser has a shuttle from their offices in South Bay and the medical center up in Hollywood. So I won’t have to do the driving myself. I wasn’t looking forward to doing 1 1/2 hour drive each way every day.

Treatment

April 19, 2018

2018-04-18 21.51.29So now that the surgery is behind me, it is time to look at treatment. I will be meeting with the Radiation Oncology Dept (aka the Tumor Board) at Kaiser on Friday. It is becoming a struggle to get Paula free to accompany me. The appointment is at 8:30 AM in downtown LA. So that means that I will probably have to be on the road by 7:00 AM. Ugh.

Well, we managed to get Dawn to watch over Mary tomorrow AM. So Paula will be coming with me. That also means that I can use the diamond lane.

Then next week I have an ultrasound scheduled on my thyroid. Did that last week but this time they need to do a dye. They were supposed to both last Friday, but the department that does the dye is a different group. sigh.

After the surgery, Dr K told me that he thought that he would be recommending just radiation and not chemo. I suppose I will find out on Friday.

I guess the assumption is that there are still some squamous cells on the lose up in my head somewhere. We’ll see.

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

Surgery – The End

April 1, 2018

2018-03-31 08.25.27.jpgWell I’m all done with the surgery. Paula came and fetched me at noon. I was feeling much better this morning. Strength beginning to return. By this afternoon, much of the swelling has gone down.

My surgeon came by and changed the bandage and removed one of the drains for one of  the lymph nodes. Second drain is scheduled to come out next Friday. Stitches come out two weeks hence.

The surgeon told me that he thought the squamous cell carcinoma from two year ago and this event were related. He removed the growth as well as two Lymph nodes. Surgery took about 5 hours.

Nurse brought all of the paperwork to sign. Other nurses and technicians came by for BP checks, blood sugar, etc. Blood sugar was running pretty high (unusual, for me), so I got a couple of hits of insulin.

I was watching the LA Dodgers game on the TV. (They won) Alas, no Red Sox on the hospital TV. Besides, I was on the table when the Sox game was on.

I had a nice RN named Deloite on the late night shift who had relocated from Chicago to LA. I asked her if she was a White Sox or Cubs fan? She said she was from the South Side, so White Sox. Sweet lady, did a heck of a job. All of the staff at Kaiser were great.

I had to wait for Paula to arrive. She couldn’t leave Mary until Mike and Theresa arrived to watch Mary. By the time Paula had arrived, I had finished all of the paper work and gotten dressed. So we could pretty much head out.

One stop at the pharmacy on the home for pain meds and antibiotic ointment. When we got home, I sat down with Jonathan to explain to him what had happened to Grandpa. He was very concerned about his grandpa. Paula hid the Easter Baskets for tomorrow. Theresa had brought take out from El Pollo Loco for lunch. I was hungry.

We’ll be doing brunch at our house tomorrow. It’s been a pretty hectic week. Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers.

Surgery part 2

March 31, 2018

Surgery all done. Woke up where was put to sleep. Surgeon said it was successful. Not much pain. Not sure if due to really good surgeon or really good drugs. Maybe both. Truth be told, I’m getting I twinge of pain on my neck

The plan is to keep me over until tomorrow. Then remove some of the drains. Paula will pick me up. No driving yet.

So they brought me some alleged hospital food. Hospital food still sucks.

Watching Dodger Giants game on the TV. 8th inning no score.

Oops. Top of ninth, SF hits solo shot. Bottom of ninth , two strikeouts and pop up behind home plate. That’s the ball game. LA 0 and 2 so far.

One more thing, cell coverage and WiFi at Kaiser sucks.

TTFN

Joe