Seeking the Bright Side

OK, this won’t be just a continuation of the rant that comprised my last post.

Not completely. First I want to write something positive.

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The, uh, weather has been quite pleasant lately in Mar Vista.

Uh, for a couple weeks we fostered a little brown bitch who is a good girl. We liked her, and hope she finds a good home. She was called Mini (Minnie by Brigitte), as she looks quite a bit like Suzy when she was a pup.IMG_0082She is still up for adoption. If you’re in West L.A. and want a good dog, send a mail or comment, or whatever it is.

 

The garden is coming in well.

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The tomatoes like it. I’m on a second planting of lettuce (see one, left of tomatoes, that has bolted – I’m saving seeds, like Monsanto hates). Herbs like it. I like the drip irrigation I put on the old lawn sprinkler circuits. And see my redwood fence I did a few months  back.

Oh, this blog is about cancer and one’s experiences. That definitely includes one’s experiences w/ the Medical/Pharmaceutical/Insurance Complex. But, dear reader, there are even positive things within that whole domain.

I had an MRI on 6/9/13. The radiologist at Beverly Tower Advanced Imaging Center reported it looked fine, but there was something somewhere about which he was not quite sure. My ENT, Dr. Finerman, later told me he “is even more compulsive than me,” but that I should probably get more pictures. Only these pix would not be of the non-radiation MRI kind; these would be of the radiation bomb PET/CT kind.

Great. To fight cancer we use radiation. To check up on how we’re doing, we use radiation. So much radiation that they put you in a small room before they blast you with radiation. That room is lined w/ lead, it appears about 1-2 mm thick. Why? Because before you go get blasted, they INJECT you w/ a fluid that is RADIOACTIVE. The lead contains this radioactivity so innocent passersby will not be harmed. You, the patient? Sit still. Don’t move. For about 1/2 hour. Then you are later lead to the Death Beam in a cold room, situated on the plank (w/ heated towels) and instructed to not move for about 30:00.That part was the goal toward which I was struggling for one month; a goal that I did not want. Some radiologist did. OK, I defer to the experts.

Unfortunately, an expert oncologist who helped me in the past has an office staff of humans who seem incompetent, careless, and lethargic. A scheduler who never answers her phone, returns voicemail 10% of the time, and seems not to be able to do her JOB by navigating the world of insurance, referrals, authorizations, and approvals.

Eventually, I decided to leave that doctor and his staff out of the loop; I went back to my ENT (Dr. Matthew Finerman in Century City)for the new scan scheduling, and even further back to my MD (Thomas Hascall at the Motion Picture Bob Hope Clinic) for the all-important referral so that I would have 100% payment for this very expensive procedure. Both good men w/ competent staffs.

But then, one has to deal w/ voices on a phone line. Over the course of one month I almost became phone pals w/ a couple people as I tried to connect the dots of referrals, imaging centers, schedules, authorizations, procedure codes, perceived lack of authorization, on-the-job training for kids in call centers, etc.

And I might still be waiting if not for the prodigious network wrangling and kickass phone skills of an old Motion Picture TV Fund friend, Lesli Leder. I met Lesli in ’95 on another little detour involving motorcycle racing and brain damage, but that was before the advent of blogs, so ……………………..As the imaging center found out they did not have ‘authorization’ (they did) only one day before I was to go in, they called me and rescheduled to 8/20/13. A couple days later I went to see Lesli regarding a photo assignment she had given me for her new office. While there I mentioned the latest snafu. Ah, it’s always a pleasure to watch someone do their job really well! Wrangling approvals, authorizations, doctors offices, and vendors is not even her job, but she’s good at it.

I was under the gun two days later.

For this scan there were many rules, including a lot of meat consumption the day before. I realized that I just don’t do that much anymore. I like meat; it’s just not as special as it was in the past.

Excuse me, I have to go attempt a tempeh lasagna w/ garden tomatoes and herbs. Stand by…………..

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Medical racket on the front page

Remember a few months back I was complaining about the medical/pharmaceutical industrial complex and the manipulation of charges? Seems that the LATimes has noticed this also; http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hospital-prices-20130509,0,484089.story

Read it (and my rant), and then start asking questions of your doctors, their staff, and your medical insurance company. We defer to our doctor’s knowledge regarding our medical treatment, and rightly so. In an emergency or life-threatening situation the response is usually, “OK doctor, let’s do whatever it takes.”

And that is the point at which we become candy for this whole racket.

My surgeries? I did as I was told, and have no regret. Those two quarterbacks threw the long bomb and won the game. Chemo and radiation? Same thing. It was all at UCLA and I was under the care of a ‘team’.

But now I am in the maintenance mode, and that will last a lifetime. I have declined antibiotics from various doctors a few times because the situations were not grave, and I know about the general over-use of these drugs in our society. Overuse that leads to unsavory consequences individually and as a community.

A few months ago I expressed concern about all the radiation I am enduring due to treatment and follow-up. Consequently, my oncologist told me that an MRI only would suffice for my subsequent scans. We could skip the PET scan radiation bomb. All I did was ask. Well, maybe complain and then ask.

And now the next time I have a scan (June ’13), I will also make a few calls around to various imaging clinics just to see what these pictures are going to cost. Or maybe I’ll just call Motion Picture Industry Health Plan and ask them if they pay the same rate no matter what the vendor may charge. And then ask what my co-pay would be w/ various charges. MPIHP used to be fantastic, but now it’s just very good; there are a lot more co-pays than in the past.

Keep your eyes open, dear reader, look for the big picture, and ask a few questions.

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Supplements for life?

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This is from a shop (Reflections) http://www.simmsmanncenter.ucla.edu/ at UCLA. They sell things for cancer folk, mainly hats, scarves, and wigs. But they have a cabinet of supplements for people like me who realize that the cancer is IN me, and I need to always strive to keep away the tumors.

So here are a couple new items that I’ve discovered, or realized was not consuming enough. (awkward syntax; sorry – at least I didn’t end a sentence w/ a preposition!)

Fish is for weight and something else. D is for bones and something real important. When in doubt, I’ll just figure it’s a good antioxidant. Wipe that smirk off your face, dear reader – I’m glad just to remember The List of what is Anti-cancer and what is Pro-cancer. Remembering, and first learning, the reasons is usually the result of a 6-year degree.

Time, and more education, will tell whether I need to consume these supplements from here on, or just for a while. This is in addition to turmeric (or curcumin) and resveratrol I take already. As such, I fit into a very large cohort; those who support the medical/pharmaceutical complex w/ their absurd belief in pills over nutrition.

Now git on out there to Whole Foods, pick up some organic vegetables and whole grains, fix your own dinner, and …………………….. Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

 

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Grateful Dead to cure cancer!

Perhaps this little blog CAN provide some healing power.
Here is 17 minutes of music to make you better. Matter of fact, I DID listen to precisely this show while I was being blasted w/ the Radiation Death Beam in Sept, Oct, and Nov of ’11.

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Hot chocolate!

No, it’s not for the coming bitter cold L.A. winter. It’s my latest anti-cancer chocolate.
See the previous post for the main recipe. This time I used FOUR tablespoons of Lucuma powder, SIX tablespoons of Agave syrup, and approx. 12 or 15 drops of Stevia. But the main difference was a good 5 or 6 shakes from the spice jar of cayenne pepper.
A little something as it is chewed, and I nice little kick as it is swallowed. Just like a glass of fine wine. Hmmmm, I might have to save a bit of my (almost) daily 8 ounces of red wine in order to chase down dessert!
See, once you get past the torture (aka treatment), this cancer thing ain’t so bad. Just gotta get your mind right. Now excuse me, I have to go read some Yelp reviews on local vegan restaurants.

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Diet

This posting was stuck in the ‘Drafts’ folder, and I just noticed it. Better late than never. Not that it’s breaking news or anything………..

 

It occurs to me that ‘diet’ has a few definitions. I tend to use the first. Many use the second.

diet 1 |ˈdī-it|
noun
1.the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats : a vegetarian diet | a specialist in diet.
2. a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons : I’m going on a diet.

Looking closely at the second, I guess I could say I’m in group #2, same as most every woman in America; I’m restricting my ‘diet’. I just want to prevent the tumors from returning. Most restrict in order to lose weight, but that ain’t me right now!

So here are a few statements from a faithful reader/consultant/friend …………

 Thanks. And instead of faithful reader, it could be – confessed ‘white foods’ addict ;)
P.S. A lot of fat in chocolate, huh? Two cups for one batch! Good fats, I know. No judging, just more than I thought.  Also, no mention of savory or pungent chocolate –where’s that garlic? Actually, if you roasted the garlic first, it could get interesting.

I want to try it, and also wonder…………just how much did that homemade chocolate bar cost you? (as in dollars and cents) Wherein you could ask me………just how much did that traditional chocolate bar cost you?? (as in sugar, fat, unhealthful side effects) And you would be right. So, I am going to share something with you -
 
I am on a personal journey at the moment. Not trying to cut out/take away any thing garbage wise, junk food, fast food, white food. For someone like me, who was raised that food is love, that food is a coping mechanism, if you say anything that smacks of denial or depravation, ‘taking away’ a security blanket turns the panic sensors on high alert. Pathetic yes, but there you have it.
 
But, instead, I have turned it the other way around. I am giving myself all the powerful nutrient dense vegetables and fruits I can hold, a minimum of five-six full servings. After that, I can have all the crap I want. Cookies, ice cream, chocolate, fast food, etc. The trick is – I don’t want it any more, I’m too full to eat anything else. Not that I can’t have it, I just don’t want it.
 
Something good is happening. Having just completed the first full week of this (and I’m sorry to say that eating more veg/fruits was not my idea, there is an organizational/team competition going on right now) my taste buds are already changing. The natural taste of food is better. A small amount of sweetness is potent, fruit tastes like a treat. And this morning I woke up with a renewed energy level. I had always said I needed to face my demons and change my lifestyle before I hit 60. (I expect to live to a minimum of 90). Well, I just turned 58. Two years, to accomplish a lasting, permanent change. I feel like I’m trying to kick a drug habit.  
 
They say that if your share your goals and your journey, you have a higher likelihood of success. So, I’m putting it out there. Your blog actually helps me, as you live it and work it. Thanks for that. Now if you will excuse me, my broccoli & cauliflower are waiting.

Currently, my restrictions are for a different result, but I am realizing that we ALL should restrict ourselves to a HEALTHY diet. Lose fat, fight tumors, feel better, etc; w/ some variations it is the same diet for everyone over the age of 5.

Brigitte is allergic to garlic, so Chuckie’s Garlic Chocolate is way down on the list. But maybe some cayenne chocolate! I’m taking non-sugar/non-chemical suggestions, but only if you have the recipe, AND a testimonial.

Bon appetit!

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Work, not porn

Sorry, dear reader, but I’m making hay while the Hollywood sun is shining, and saving the chocolate for later. So no chocolate porn this time, as promised in the previous posting.

I went to have my annual checkup this week. I have LOST weight; now it is 147. Or just 147 on Monday; doc said it fluctuates a bit. Yes, I know that, but that is about a 5 lb. fluct that I don’t need. I feel fine. Whatever. Doc (Thomas Hascall – Bob Hope Clinic of the Motion Pucture TV Fund in Hollywood) takes a real interest, and one of his suggestions was 3 (THREE!) egg whites per day for protein.

I like Dr. Hascall. As I yelped ‘Whoa’ and proclaimed all of my diligent anti-cancer, good-boy diet w/ lots of ‘good’ protein, he just gave me a deadpan, pursed-lips, crooked-head stare. “Do I come to your sets and tell you how I think it would be best to set the lights?”

“No……… but I’ve got a few books on cancer diets and health, and ………….”

His look said all that was necessary. I like that guy.

So, got any egg-white recipes? Don’t bother me w/ omelet stuff; how about ways to incorporate them into various dishes? Think it would go well in sugar-free chocolate? 21 egg whites per week is a lot of damn egg whites.

And Tue > Fri? Working, baby! 4 days, 3 shows; “Ben & Kate”, PetSmart commercial, and “Body of Proof”. All these gaffers and Best Boys know my ‘situation’ and are still calling me. May they all have only good things betide them!

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