Posted tagged ‘Kaiser’

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

20 Down, 10 More To Go

June 19, 2018

Okay, I’ve reached another plateau. I’ve finished 20 radiation treatments and I have 10 more to go. My sense of taste as left the building. Most everything is bland and tasteless with one exception. Chocolate! Specifically, chocolate ice cream. I particularly enjoy Ben & Jerry’s “Chocolate Fudge Brownie“. I’ve lost about 12 lbs since I started the treatments.

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2018-06-18 12.32.12I took a picture of our bus driver on Monday. She is so sweet and encouraging. Her name is Thelma. She greets everyone with a beautiful smile.

Right now we have about a dozen people riding the cancer bus. About 2/3 of the riders are women, mostly being treated for breast cancer.

I was talking with one lady who told me that she had been on the bus about 8 years ago when the ridership was at about 20 people. Ridership count is an interesting metric of cancer treatment success.

So on my ride up to Hollywood and back I have been listening to “Ulysses S Grant” by Ron Chernow on the Audible app on my phone. I am at chapter 24 out of 45 chapters. It’s a very interesting book.

Oh, and a couple more thing that still tastes good. Martinis and wine.

I’ll sure be glad when this is all done.

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.

Kaiser Part II

October 5, 2015

It sucks to get old. Let me repeat that. It sucks to get old. Every time I turn around something stops working right.

So this is an update to my saga with Kaiser. I finally got in touch with the sleep study people. Perhaps someone cleared the voice mails out of the system. Good news is that I have an appointment for a new sleep study, bad news it is on Nov 3.

After a few years, I am learning the tricks to deal with them. If one needs an appointment for a sick visit on any given day, call at 7:00 am and ask for an appointment with you  personal care doc. They hold his/her schedule clear to allow same day appointments. They are pretty good at answering emails within a day or so. Sometimes from the doctor, sometimes from his nurse.

I needed to do that last week to get him to look at my ankle swelling. My ankle edema has been under control with drugs the past few years, but has gotten noticeably worse of the last two weeks.

So I get in to see my doctor. Sends me for more blood tests and chest x-ray, His concern was for congestive heart failure. Tests showed no CGF. That’s good news. So Doctor suggests upping the dose of Furosimide to 120 mg/day. We’ll see how that works out.

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?