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The last 8 months have been a blur…

Hello, everyone. Welcome, newbies.

It’s been quite some time since I last sent an update. I guess I was distracted with getting married and what-not. Fear not, for you have not missed anything. I’m still alive and well, except for that cancer bit. Oh, and the alleged appendicitis. More on that later.

Last time I wrote, I was in the process of choosing a new doctor. Dr. Rosenberg retired, and I chose Dr. Antione Sayegh as my oncologist. Dr. Sayegh speaks English clearly, and his professional interests include leukemia and stem cell/bone marrow transplants. A solid choice, in my opinion. I’ve now seen Dr. Sayegh three times at his office, and once at the airport. Healthwise, my white count is still low–around 3500. It’s been a year since I last had the drip. All other cell types are healthy in number and function.

Speaking of appendicitis, I spent a night in the hospital recently. On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, I began experiencing intense, constant pain in my abdominal area. At first, my wife the nurse thought it was just gas. To her credit, we did have Mexican food for lunch, and it’s not irrational to suspect gas after such a meal. I informed her, however, that this pain was not gas. Long story short, after a few hours of pain, we decided to go the ER, where I was poked and prodded, and received a diagnosis of appendicitis. Thankfully, the ER doc consulted with a surgeon before making plans to cut me open, and they decided to do a CT scan to be sure. A couple hours later, I had the CT scan, and the results were inconclusive, or so they said at the time. They decided to keep me overnight for observation. I had a private room in the bone marrow transplant unit, of all places. The next morning, all my vital signs were normal, and I had an appetite after not eating since lunch on Sunday, so they fed me and sent me home. I had a follow-up CT scan last Wednesday, and everything came out normal. Whatever.

The HMO saga is possibly drawing to a close. You may recall that my HMO denied coverage of any treatment in Seattle because it’s out of their network. I preferred the Hutch in Seattle over Stanford because of the type of bone marrow transplant they recommended for me. In short, it has a lower mortality rate and higher success rate than the type of transplant Stanford recommended. Alas, my appeal of the HMO denial was also denied. I have two options now: appeal to an independent medical review board, or return to Stanford for another consultation to find out if they will do the type of transplant that the Hutch recommended. Both are excellent institutions, and are considered by many experts to be in the top five cancer treatment centers in the world. I have an appointment on January 9 at Stanford. If Stanford says they can’t or won’t do the preferred type of transplant, I’ll get that in writing from them, and continue with the appeal to the independent medical review board. If Stanford says they will do the preferred type of transplant, I’ll begin the process there with a Matched Unrelated Donor search. This is potentially the longest part of the process. Just because I’m starting the MUD search doesn’t mean I’m going to have the transplant as soon as a donor is found, though. I’m starting it now so there will hopefully be a donor ready if/when that time comes. As I said before, there is no medical reason at this time to think that a transplant will not be necessary in the future; however, I still believe that God is capable of healing me without it. Or healing anyone of anything, for that matter.

I guess that’s all for now. Merry Christmas, etc.


Why I love my HMO

Went to the doc on monday……all indicators look good…..white blood cells are at 3,100, platelets around 150,000….no treatment at this time, return for check-up in April.

BIG prayer need: my insurance company has rejected the request for service/treatment (bone marrow transplant) in Seattle. What does this mean? I’m still trying to figure it out, but so far it looks like they think I can get the same treatment within their so-called network of preferred providers. I talked to my oncologist about it, and he said that doesn’t make any sense. I’ve also contacted my primary care doc to get the info on how the insurance company’s determination was made. I will be appealing the determination as soon as I get enough information to understand how the decision was made. So, while I’m working through all this, the matched unrelated donor search is on hold, unless I agree to be financially responsible (yeah, right!) for all costs incurred in the event that the insurance company doesn’t uphold my appeal. As if I didn’t have enough to deal with already….

New Lifegroupers–By virtue of the fact that you are in my Lifegroup, you have been automatically added to this e-mail list. You had no idea what you were getting into, did you?!?!