A Bump in the Road

Yesterday morning I realized I had a bad constipation problem. It felt like I had a lacrosse ball stuck in my butt! Fortunately, I look Nurse Jenny’s advice, and got things moving again around noon today. I was also very tired yesterday. It seems I’m starting to lose my appetite as well.

This afternoon, Jen and I spent several hours trying to figure out how to get Humana to pay for an out-of-network surgeon, since there doesn’t seem to be anyone in-network qualified to do the special surgery I require. In the end, someone at Humana assured us that there is a simple process for getting that approved, so we’ve heaved a big sigh of relief (but will believe it when we see it).

My petition to Ivanka has creeped-up to 258 signatures. I sent out a tweet late last week, but it hasn’t had much effect. I’ll try one more, but I’m nearly out of ideas on how to move it along more.

Tomorrow will be radiation treatment #5, followed by a consultation with my radiation oncologist.

Ruminating

My son Brian is a massage therapist in Seattle. For about 10 years now, he’s rented a fairly-affordable room in Ballard from a woman my age. She was diagnosed with wide-spread Stage IV cancer less than a year ago. Brian called yesterday to say that Cheryl passed-away on Friday among family and friends. For her, it was a blessing, since there was no quality left in her life. For Brian and his girlfriend, the long ordeal of living with a terminally-ill housemate is over. However, they face new uncertainty in their lives, since they likely will have a hard time finding acceptable housing they can afford. Live is hard for Millennials.

My daughter Natalie is in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands on a four-month sabbatical. She’s working three jobs and writing like crazy. Last night, she sang “Angie” as a tribute to Cheryl. You can view an excerpt here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BQ7Dij-AmQG/.

Natalie has lived in Chicago for more than 10 years. She quit her day job three years ago to devote herself to stand-up comedy. She performs almost every night. She formed a well-regarded Patsy Cline cover band about eight years ago. There’s not much money in either of those vocations, but she patches together a meager living with odd jobs. Here’s another video from last weekend; she’s apparently moving beyond Patsy: https://instagram.com/p/BQwozrCA2Sv/.

I had my third radiation treatment on Friday. So far, the worst symptom I’m having is recurring bouts of hiccups. The area where they installed the port is also tender and sore, but getting better. I should start feeling effects of the radiation by next week. I’m told the symptoms will worsen until week four, and then gradually subside.

It appears that there is no surgeon in my HMO Network that is qualified to perform my surgery. I have strong guidance from Dr. Safdi on how to file an “expedited external appeal” to get Humana to agree to pay for an out-of-network surgeon. That process should start next week.

My petition to Ivanka appears to have stalled at close to 250 signatures. I need to figure out how to use Twitter to kick-up more action.

11 Hours at the Hospital Today!

Treatments are beginning in earnest.It took four hours to surgically implant a “port”, an hour for my radiation treatment, and six hours for my first chemo treatment! There were three bags of pre-treatment drugs to make me drowsy, prevent convulsions, and help fight possible infections. Then two bags of chemo: Taxol and Carboplatin. Door-to-door it was 12 hours!

My Petition to Ivanka now has 218 signatures. Please help kick it into high gear!

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Treatment Begins…after Hassles

Yesterday I spent more than two hours on the phone trying to expedite approval of my treatment plan. Most of it was spent on hold with my insurance company, without getting much info other than a case number and word that my case had been sent to Clinical Review after failing to “meet clinical criteria.”

I eventually found out that meant that they preferred the less-expensive type of radiation, instead of the newer type that would protect my heart and liver from permanent damage. That might have taken several days (or longer) to resolve. Acting as my own “patient advocate”, I was able to get approval within 24 hours, thanks to some responsive people at Christ Hospital.

So, I was able to receive my first radiation treatment today at 3:15. Tomorrow I get a chemo “port” installed 5:30-8:30 a.m., a 2nd radiation treatment at 9:30, and my first chemo treatment at 10:30.

Meanwhile, my Petition to Ivanka is up to 196 signatures! Please consider supporting my effort to Save the Planet by spreading the word and/or spending $10 to “promote” the petition to 1,000 more like-minded people (I did again today). Note that so far, half the signatures are from people in Europe! Are Americans afraid to perturb Donald Trump? 

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Waiting…and trying to Save the Planet!

11:45 a.m.: Last night I found out my radiation plan was ready for QA (Quality Assurance), and they were still working on getting pre-certification from my insurance company. So, it looks like it’ll be tomorrow at the earliest before things get moving.

Meantime, I’ve spent most of the morning promoting my petition to Ivanka Trump. I’ve hit-up a bunch of Facebook friends, and pushed the signature total to 100! With a little help from you all, we can make this go VIRAL!

If you’re wondering how you could help me through this difficult time, please consider investing some time spreading the word about my petition. Your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will thank you!

I just changed the petition cover photo from a picture of Ivanka to this:

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Is that better?

Serendipity? + Tennis

Serendipity: About three years ago, I was at a local park playing Frisbee with my dog Winnie, when I saw a man doing some sort of Tai Chi-type exercises nearby. I stopped to chat with him. He said he was doing Qi Gong, which Tai Chi is an offshoot of. I told him I was interested in that, and a new mentoring relationship began. He also incorporates ideas from the bible, quantum theory, and other sources. It has been a source of wonder to me ever since.

About a year ago, I saw a post in mountlookout.nextdoor.com from a guy that hadn’t had any success meditating, and was looking for help with it. I offered to share my experiences, and we got together once. He seemed fascinated, but had declined follow-up, despite a couple reminders here and there – UNTIL YESTERDAY. Is that serendipity? Or something more? This time, I was in need.

We met yesterday for more than an hour, just talking and catching up on our lives. After two meetings, I know more about his inner world than just about anyone else on the planet! We met again this morning for an actual Qi Gong session. It went very well, and we both left refreshed and invigorated. If this is what my cancer is leading toward, I’m all-in.

Tennis: I had a second Rolfing session last Wednesday, focused on my lower legs and feet. Today I played the best tennis I’ve ever played, raising the high level that followed my first session. I highly recommend Rolfing to anyone. Basically, the therapist finds whatever is out of whack, and puts it back into whack! Heading into cancer treatment, I am in better shape than I have ever been!

Surprise! No Trip to Florida

Wednesday I had my second (of 10) “Rolfing” treatments, as suggested by my son the massage therapist. Since the first session, I have played better tennis than I have in years, perhaps better than ever. This session focused on the feet and lower legs. The therapist found numerous issues that she was able to correct; issues like these were never identified by the several massage therapists I’ve used over the years. If you’re having issues with your posture, muscles or joints, Google “Rolfing”.

Wednesday night, I had an excellent phone call with my Chemotherapy Oncologist. We discussed scheduling treatments around either a one or two-week vacation in Florida, depending on how soon the radiation folks would be ready. The latest estimate from them was that they needed 7-10 working days before treatment could begin.

Thursday I met with the Radiation Oncologist for the first time; she was very knowledgeable and thorough. Contrary to the expectations set by the Schedulers, she said treatment could begin in 2-3 business days. So, the Florida vacation is off! Radiation therapy will begin Tuesday or Wednesday. My first chemo treatment will be on Thursday.

Early-on, the scheduling of events was disjoint, and it was hard getting in touch with some of the people doing the scheduling. The only way to tell what was being scheduled when was by using MyChart.com, but some of the facilities used other systems instead. I realized after a while that I needed to take on the role of Project Manager for my case, since no one else seemed to be in charge. Frankly, it felt good to take an active role to ensure the schedules made sense and met my needs. Even though so far I’ve not sought any second opinions, already six doctors have been involved in one way or another, with surgeon(s) still to come!

How has all this affected me so far? Frankly, not much. The diagnosis was not expected, but did not put me into a panic or grip me with fear. I’m taking it as just another of life’s bumps in the road, and doing what I can to produce the best outcome. Neither am I “fighting” the cancer or “committed to beating it”. A good friend of mine believes “that which you resist, persists”. So, I’m doing the rights things, and am willing to live (or not) with whatever happens. Likely there are important life lessons to be learned along the way. Perhaps Alfie and I will discover “What’s it all about?”

Update on my petition to Ivanka Trump: 45 signatures so far. Please consider signing, and/or asking your friends to sign. This is the best method I can think of to get President Trump to stop denying that climate-change is real, and is caused by us burning fossil fuels!