More ranting on the Medical-Industrial Complex

OK, dear reader, I finally have something relevant to address here. As my diet and exercise regimen keep the tumors away, I don’t have much anymore to write on this blog.

But then things happen, and I find myself an unwilling customer of the medical racket once again. This is not SNUC-related, it’s motorcycle trauma-related. Getting on I-5 in Burbank – (start police report, as I have no recollection) – following a car too closely that  was merging – he moved left and slowed – I hit his left rear and was knocked over – I ended up on the road just clear of the outside lane – my riding suit did its job; no contusions – main blow was to my right shoulder; even with the armor in  the riding suit, I broke my scapula and collarbone – hairline fracture of right ankle – swollen right knee – I was conversing with people, but I only recall (end police report, resume my memory) being told that the ambulance was taking me to County-USC emergency because they are good at  trauma.

I spent the night there, and after a few days at home (2 in a wheelchair, 2 with a cane) I found myself back in a hospital (St. John’s in Santa Monica) due to an X-Ray that showed a pneumothorax that had grown in my chest. That was assessed and fixed, but I had to spend 4 nights due to monitoring and then surgery for the broken bones.

Yes, I am grateful to all the doctors and nurses who did their noble and righteous duties. Thank you all.

Now, almost two months after the injury here comes a statement from Motion Picture Industry Health Plan. If I haven’t made it clear before, MPIHP is very good. They used to be great, but even they have it hard up against the Medical-Industrial Complex.

This is not for the two days at County-USC emergency; this is for five days at St. John’s. Take a look:MPIHP E.O.B.

“You owe us sixty-three thousand dollars. We saved your, uh, we repaired some bones, and we might have saved your life.”

We’ll give you twenty-one K, and you’ll like it!”

“OK.”

“Now beat it!”

“OK. We’ll get it from the next sucker who doesn’t have such good insurance.”

I’m very glad to be a member of a union that represents free-lancers, and I’m ecstatic that my union has placed such a major emphasis on providing this great healthcare coverage.

Oh, BTW, I fixed up my bike (BMW F650) and it is now on sale. After 37 years my motorcycle riding is over. I really liked it, but I love my wife. You know the rest of this often-told story.

Keep the rubber side down, and the shiny side up.

Oh, I just viewed this page, and there is now a bonus; the audio file that I added a couple years ago now auto-plays. So take your time reading, at least 17:00. Then you will hear one  of the greater jams by the Grateful Dead. (5/8/77 at Cornell College)

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Humidity

It’s been a while, dear Reader.

But I now have some pertinent SNUC-related news and views.

It appears that I will not  be living in an area, ever, that is dry. We took a week-long trip to The Sierras last week. Beautiful, high, and dry. Most all places we stayed overnight were under 20% humidity. By the second night I was having trouble breathing through my nose. A few days later I became a mouth-breather. I even drooled a few times, always out of the right end of my mouth. Charming.

And so now I’m back in L.A. (right now it’s 79% humidity and 69º in Mar Vista), where I never knew I had it so good. I went to Dr. Finerman (super ENT that got this whole SNUC ball rolling) and he ‘cleaned up’ the mess as best as he could. Mess, you say? Propriety and my wife prevent me from showing you all the glorious blood and phlegm that I now produce. Just imagine a radiation-damaged and dryness-parched nostril putting out a big RED drop of blood at a rate of 1/second. Fortunately, we have wood and tile floors. Sinks too. Actually, notice that black spot on my nose; that’s dry blood. And the reddish tone to my right nostril ………….. you get it.

IMG_3595And I will henceforth be The Man in  the Big Hat whenever I go outside on a sunny day. Often w/ a collared shirt. B/c my neck and jaw have received 100% of allotted radiation for life. I have other hats, but I’m partial to  this Stetson Cattleman that was left by my Dad last year after he checked out (at age 92 -1  day).

To let Brigitte sleep just a little, I will be sleeping in ChuckSNUC HQ (aka office) for the next few nights. On Sat. I will remove that large chunk of cottonball that Dr. Finerman inserted into the right nostril, and maybe then I can return to a quiet nose-breather. So all you SNUC’ers out there may want to think about moving to Hawaii (good) or Houston (bad), but avoid Palm Springs and Sacramento. At least that is MY experience w/ head radiation. If you fellow SNUC ‘ers have a much different reaction, let me know.

And here’s a photo of a 54-year old SNUC’er almost 3 years after going through the meat grinder.

IMG_3604160 lbs. (the new normal – see pages on my eating habits) and not one who lays out in the sun. Arms are 100% Farmer’s Tan, but the head and neck less so. If I was more diligent the only tan would be the arms. FYI, that brown dot between my belly button and left nipple is the divot left from the gastrointestinal feeding tube back in the good ol’ days.

Chuck

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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.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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.

IMG_2610

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?

IMG_1881

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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