October 27, 2014
I’ve got scanxiety under control https://celpeggy.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/looking-forward-to-co-1686-scans-after-6-weeks/ but on this day, the eve of my first 9-week CTscans in the CO-1686 clinical trials, an anxiety of a different variety tried unsuccessfully to overpower me. The cause: I did not know where to go for the CTscans due less than 24 hours away! The UCLA Scheduler gave me the date and time but not the place. What was she thinking? Time was running out. I needed to know if my husband and I should make the arduous journey to LA first thing in the morning. So I emailed the Scheduler, cc Trial Coordinator and Good Doctor.
UCLA is so into emailing that they have rules in compliance with the California Healthcare Act. However, the rule makers forgot to specify how to form sentences for emails. So off I went with my own style of sentence construction. My email went like this:
“Tomorrow, I get my first scans at UCLA.
I would like to do my part in the advancement of science but I need to know where the scans are conducted in UCLA Santa Monica. I am a retired professional engineer and an awesome user of the GPS. An address will suffice to get me there. Thanks.
Soon after I hit the “Send” button, a response boomed in:
I have confirmed the authorization request that I submitted as URGENT was received and is currently pending the medical director’s review.
I hope to have an answer by the end of the day. I will keep everyone informed on the status.
Reimbursement Specialist? Where did this character come from? He or she was not in my email cc list. Then light dawned! It’s about insurance authorization. When did the Reimbursement Specialist submit the URGENT authorization request? At 3:15pm, the prospect of approval before 5:00pm from NM appeared dim. The situation would have rattled any other patient but not me. True to my character, I faced the crisis with aplomb. I calmly finished last Sunday’s LA Times Crossword Puzzle and did my routine yoga.
At 4:17pm came another email from Reimbursement Specialist, cc Scheduler, Trial Coordinator and Good Doctor:
“After speaking with ABQ Health Partners, no authorization will be required for office visits, labs, and scans while on clinical trial. We will bill Medicare directly and the patient will be responsible for 20% after Medicare pays.”
“So where do I go for the CTscans?” I Replied to All.
Finally, Scheduler emailed the directions to the Radiology clinic. It was 4:53pm. Talk about cutting it close!
Perhaps the devil-may-care attitude can be expected from somebody who, 100 years BC (before cancer), survived major life upheavals. What didn’t kill me toughened me. In addition, seeing my relatives’ first-hand mortality motions has turned me into a pragmatist. Which reminds me of my first husband – the one who widowed me after 35 years. We were in the same room 30 years ago when the doctor informed us that my father-in-law’s diagnosis was cancer. Horrified, my husband asked the doctor, “Is he terminal?” The doctor, who resembled Albert Einstein, narrowed his eyes at my husband and said, “We are all terminal.” The four of us – Dr. Einstein, my husband, my father-in-law, and I – broke out in laughter. A morbid sense of humor always delivers!
October 28, 2014: Day of the CTscans
The radiology technician said she was going to give me a barium milk shake to drink before the CTscan. She named three flavors from which I chose “Mochapuccino.” The barium drink is taken for the GastroIntestinal (GI) examination. When ingested, the solution makes every nook and cranny of every inch of the large intestines, rectum, and other innards transparent for the CTscan machine to take clear and telling images. The beverage is also called barium enema. It did live up to its name that evening!
Another preparation for the CTscan was inserting the stub-out for the contrast solution in my arm vein. Women populate the vein-tinkering trade. For the first time in my 26-month cancer journey, a male was going to perform it for me. I was curious if the human male’s DNA would make this mid-30’s Asian do the task differently. I watched him like a hawk. First he strangled my arm above the elbow with a flat elastic band, causing my arm to go limp. Then he cradled my elbow in the hollow of his left hand. He isolated his right pointer and middle finger and went “tap tap” on the front of my elbow as if to awaken a vein. Then he swirled the fingertips and massaged the wide-awake vein, then inserted the needle. Something in the way he swirled his fingers on my skin bordered on the erotic. Either that or I had become neurotic. I swore, One more swirl and I’d whisper in a breathy voice, “Do you like older women?” LOL!!
October 29, 2014: ECG, Bloods, etc.
The Mexican-born Med Tech chatted incessantly that morning. His talk ranged from chemo to bizarre ethnic foods. He zeroed in on a Mexican delicacy called “burrunates”, which consists of beef intestines stuffed with onions and spices. I love “burrunates” but it was not an appetizing topic after a memorable gastrointestinal CTscan.
AND THE RESULTS—-DRUM ROLL:
Scans – in the words of the Onc, “Super Stable.”
ECG – great
Glucose – under control
Cholesterol – ideal
Other bloods – within normal range except magnesium, a tad low. I need to load up on turnip greens. Soul food beckons me.
The Trial Coordinator gave me my CO-1686 pills for the next 21 days.
“See you in three weeks,” said the hottie Onc, a big grin plastered across his face.