On Thursday afternoon at about 4:50, I went to my oncologist's office to have my weekly blood draw. As I was leaving, I heard the women in the front office talking to each other about a patient's referral expiring and not having the extension approved. I asked the nurse who did my blood draw if they were talking about me. She said that it was a new patient. Turns out, it was me. While the initial referral was approved for the correct time period, additional visits needed to be added, probably because of my additional hydration visits. When they went to get the referral approved. it was flat out denied. The reason given was that I was receiving my treatments at the doctor's office, not at the hospital's cancer center. I don't go to the cancer center because they don't do IP infusions there! I was referred to this doctor by a doctor associated with my HMO (DuPage Medical Group) during my initial visit in December. The doctor at DMG's urgent care center was insistent about me seeing the particular doctor who I wound up choosing as my "cancer hero." By then it was after 5pm, and naturally there was no one to talk to at DMG. So I left a voicemail for my case manager at DMG, and a very terse message for the medical director at DMG who was responsible for denying my referral. I went home and had a glass of wine with my dinner, and posted the need for prayers and positive thoughts for the reinstatement of my referral so I could complete my treatment with the doctor I chose. I posted to DMG on Facebook and Twitter. I received a generic response to email them at the "info" email address, which I did. It's after 5pm a day later, and I still have not received a response from them.
At 8am this morning, I received a call from my case manager asking for some more information, and assuring me that everything was going to be alright. She advised me to head to the oncologist's office, so off we went. The referral was still denied when I arrived at the office, but I picked a seat (my "favorite" spot was already taken). All the office staff apologized for what happened and the women who is in charge of getting referrals approved assured me they were working on it and that everything was going to be ok.
The nurse took my blood pressure (118/71!!) and reviewed my blood work with me. Everything was fine, but my CA-125 was a bit elevated at 34.9. The nurse assured me that this was still in the "normal range" and it is likely that I have reached my baseline. After I complete my treatment I will have a scan and blood work every 3 months. She said that it is also likely that the marker went up because I am on the IP treatment, whichs tends to irritate the tissues and could cause an elevated marker.
Since this is the week I am supposed to see the doctor, I waited until it was my turn to head into the exam room. By the time my exam was finished and I returned to my seat, everything was resolved. Don't these medical administrators realize the stress they are putting us through will make us sicker???
My infusion was uneventful. It started with the usual pre-meds (benadryl, pepcid and steroids). After the pre-meds I received Taxol into my IV port. I was finished with my appointment by 2pm. My dear friend who came to visit with lunch, took me to Target to get some groceries, and then brought me home.
Tomorrow is day 5.2, which is the IP Cisplatin treatment. I am trying not to think about how sick this treatment makes me. I reminded the nurses that they need to make arrangements for me to go to Edwards Hospital on Saturday for hydration (and rest!). They also prescribed a patch that I need to put on before I go to bed tonight. Hopefully everything will work and I will be able to stay on schedule to complete my treatments on May 13!