Thursday, April 05, 2012

Sniff sniff

I have a cold.  It kind of sucks.

I mean, it's not all that bad; I guess not really worse than any other cold that I've had before.  Nevertheless, it's somewhat disappointing, as I've largely been living life on a day by day basis, and late this week is one of the few times that I had tried to make some advance plans.  As if it's the universe's way of saying no, your life still isn't normal.

Lorien and Dylan have also had (and continue to somewhat have) colds, so it's a pretty good assumption that I caught it from one or both of them.  Likely it won't be the last time that Dylan is a germ vector.

Yesterday was my weekly blood draw and visit with the oncologist.  Which means I'm now in week 3 of my cycle, which is when I'm supposed to be feeling best.  Oh well, there will be plenty of more cycles.

The visit was reasonably uneventful, which is good.  All of my blood work continues to look good.  Perhaps most importantly, my white blood count is fine -- if it were low I could be at risk of infection, which might make the cold more worrisome.

I have two options for where to receive care from my oncologist -- at his office in Oakland, or at the Alta Bates cancer center in Berkeley.  Up until now I had been receiving care in Oakland.  But Berkeley is *way* more convenient.  And I can realistically bike there -- I might have considered the Oakland office biking distance in the past, but not right now.  I was warned that it would be more bureaucratic and everything would take longer, because it's a large facility associated with a hospital, as opposed to a small doctor's office.  Nevertheless, I decided to give it a shot.  There were indeed a few annoyances, but I'm chalking those up more to the transfer of things from one facility to another, and hoping they don't happen next time.  I'm holding out final judgement until after my next actual receiving of chemo, which will be next Wednesday.  But unless it's way longer (and let's not discount the driving time to Oakland), I'm probably going to stay with Berkeley.

It's pretty much a requirement for me that I have net access during chemo.  The Oakland office is actually a little lame -- the office doesn't have wifi of its own, but there is an open access point (on an adjacent floor, maybe?) that is accessible from the chemo room (but not reliably from the waiting room).  So that's kind of good enough.  The Berkeley cancer center does have real wifi, but it has the same mildly annoying multi-stage login redirection that requires you to first agree via the web to their Terms of Service before it works that the hospital where I first got treatment did.  And during my hospital stay, that caused me problems that only miraculously were worked around when my oncologist was able to answer a question that I never dreamed he would be able to help with.  I'll spare repeating all of the details here, but I think I have finally worked it out (in *way* too roundabout of a debugging path).  I'll know for sure next Wednesday.  See here for anyone that actually cares about the details.

I had another transition this past week -- my employer-based health insurance switched from Health Net to Blue Shield.  Hopefully the new insurance will suck less -- so far in every way I've compared then, it has been at least as good, or better.  Mind you, I actually have pretty damn good health insurance compared to what many people in the US have -- it's the system as a whole that I think is totally broken.  We'll have to see what happens with the so-called health care reform.  My personal opinion is that the individual mandate as currently implemented is unconstitutional, and is a huge giveaway to a for profit industry.  Nevertheless, given past precedents with respect to the interstate commerce clause (like Gonzales v. Raich, which I strongly disagreed with at the time and continue to do so; and Wickard v. Filburn, which I had not heard of before and is summed up, along with the other case I mentioned, in this New York Times article), I see the merit of the analyses that it will be upheld.  As anyone who may follow my rantings on Facebook probably knows, what I want to see is a single payer system, where we talk about health care, not health insurance.  I definitely am the beneficiary of several changes in the upcoming laws -- including the banning of lifetime coverage limits, and all of the pre-existing condition bullshit -- and I could be pretty screwed if either of those return.  Thankfully we've got an out (moving to Canada) if all else fails, although that transition would not be without complications.

I was about to say enough with political rambling (for now), but I should probably also take the opportunity to point out yet another relevant (given my current circumstances) and timely (this week) example of the hypocrisy of the Obama administration, in continuing to cling to the federal regulatory falsehood that marijuana has "no currently accepted medical use", and to continue to prosecute people who are following state law, despite a promise not to do so.

But back to my week...

After the oncologist appointment, I also had an initial consultation with the radiation oncologist.  The plan remains roughly the same as my initial understanding.  8 cycles of chemo, then likely followed by about a month of radiation treatment.

So that's what's up with me.  Hopefully I'll get over this cold soon so I can go back to doing stuff, as opposed to lying around complaining about how stuffy my head feels.

No comments: