My Cancer Journey

All posts in the My Cancer Journey category

Sutter Health – 9/25/18

Published September 25, 2018 by lynn k scott

It’s a sad reality when I have to document every phone call and issue because Sutter Health and its providers are fine with denying care to (cancer) patients.  If necessary, this will be a play by play for a lawyer.  I’m also throwing it out there, any lawyer who reads this has my permission to contact me.

  • Current oncologist knew they would not be under contract as of 9/1/18 – failed to notify patient in order to process a referral
    • Now have to see PCP and establish care just to get my referral
  • Try to establish care and the office sends a message and doesn’t make an appointment.
  • Call to follow-up and rude medical assistant claimed she made the call (she didn’t) and then said I swore at her (I didn’t) and disconnected my call.
  • Manage to make an appointment with another doctor in the office.
  • Received call to say appointment was cancelled because “the doctor reviewed your file and won’t see you)
  • Received a call this morning to reschedule with the doctor listed on my medical card.  *Note:  Insurance will let you see any doctor within the practice; this is a point of harassment by the PCP’s office
  • Site Supervisor calls me to tell me I cannot use an “unprofessional tone” with staff.  The tone he is referring to is a frustrated one of being harassed by his staff.
    • Surprisingly….he backed his staff
    • Accused me of being unprofessional with him; oh wait – I was frustrated at this nonsense
  • Threatened my appointment would be cut short if I was not 100% professional with his staff
  • I ended the call telling him my responses would be “yes” and “no”, said, “Good day, Sir” and hung up.

I have no rights.  Sutter Health and its providers should be embarrassed, ashamed and liable for what they are putting me (and no doubt other patients) through.  This is not acceptable and we have no recourse.  They can write anything they want in the chart.  Any complaints to the state, that’s supposed to govern them, only reads the chart and does not contact the patient for details and/or clarification.

I simply ask that people share this.  Silence is their success in being allowed to continue to mistreat, deny care and abuse patients.  Patients are allowed to say “no” and do what is in their best interest; not what’s easiest for the physician’s office.

 

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Cancer Update: September

Published September 19, 2018 by lynn k scott

Not a whole lot to report. I am experiencing issues of anemia again.  The same symptoms when I was diagnosed (almost exactly a year ago).

I called the oncologist’s office to find out what’s going on with my CT scan.  Well, it’s on hold because of their inadequate scan coordinator.  The facility, that’s in my city, can do the scan, but refuses to administer lidocaine to numb my arm for the IV.  I have collapsing and rolling veins.  Most IVs take two or three attempts (not to mention hurting like hell on each attempt).  They don’t do that on a “clinical level”.

Seems the scan coordinator is inept at calling the patient to update them or having someone else follow-up.   It would seem, the scan coordinator isn’t able to search other hospitals to see if they might be able to accommodate a very reasonable request.  Nah – let’s not do anything…we’re only talking cancer, right?

The receptionist was gracious enough to let me know that following up wasn’t in her job description.  She agrees someone should have called but couldn’t answer who would do that.  Let’s chalk that up to “no help”, shall we?  Then she told me to feel free to call back to check on the status.  I let her know I have been symptomatic.  Gave her all the symptoms.  Anyone with half a brain, working in a hematology office knows what anemia sounds like and should make sure the patient is called back.  Yea…not this office.

I almost passed out yesterday.  I was able to stay awake for 1.5 hours after work.  I slept after work and was in bed at 9:00 and went to sleep for the evening.  Their inept attitude is robbing me of my quality of life.

Am I demanding?  Yes.  I give them an opportunity to do their job and then I take off the “kid-gloves” and let them have it.  I will not apologize for being my own advocate; esp. when patient advocacy and the online help feature have also failed me.

I submitted a referral request for a doctor, who’s an hour away.  I asked for confirmation they received the fax and confirmation when it was processed.  The fax was sent over five hours ago.  Did the doctor’s office call:  Nope!  Now I have to follow-up with them; again.

There is no excuse I am receiving such horrendous treatment.  If I end up in the emergency room, I will not be paying a bill that could have been prevented by the doctor’s office simply doing their job.

Part of the blog is to show how (cancer) patients are being treated while facing a life-threatening illness as well as documenting issues should a lawsuit be necessary.

Sutter Health Plus, based out of Sacramento, California, should be ashamed at its inability to provide healthcare based on the needs of the patients.  I shouldn’t be forced to go to a subpar facility, even if they deem it ok.

Apparently, I have Schrodinger’s Cancer:  I either have it or I don’t.  Guess we’ll never know because my health isn’t a priority to anyone but myself.

 

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Not Subjecting Anyone Else

Published July 20, 2018 by lynn k scott

Another failed attempt by Sutter Health Plus to do their job; help patients get treatment.  My journey has taken me to the point that I no longer give a damn what I say or how I say it, because when it comes to dealing with doctors, their staff and the insurance agencies, they have little disregard (in my experience) to actually assisting the patient; in the manner that works best for the patient.

I filed a complaint against my current oncologist’s staff for failing to do their job.  Of course, every complaint is done the same way.  Patient complains, grievance department calls doctor’s practice, “file review” and then issues a form letter that ignores half of what the actual grievance was about, dismisses patient concerns (as if they have been handled) fails to contact patient for clarification on information obtained from doctor’s office and refers patient back to PCP (Primary Care Physician); which patient has never seen.  The PCP is supposed to help with the oncology referral.

The patient is being seen by someone and wants a different doctor.  I didn’t go to medical school, but I’m smart enough to realize that the existing doctor, who already has some knowledge of the patient, should be making (and can make) the referral.  Why should the patient pay more money in copays to see an unfamiliar doctor, have to recount (AGAIN) why they need a referral, to a doctor who has no vested interest in that patient?  I mean, as an HMO, the PCP already gets a monthly stipend for accepting to see that patient; if and when that ever happens.

I’m a ‘bad’ patient, so I have to speak with a “case manager”.  I was already told by Sutter Health Plus, last year, they don’t have those.  The “case manager” is merely a person in the grievance department, who is assigned to deal with me when I call customer service.  Why?  Because I’m not allowed to be upset at their half-assed attempt of treating my disease.  After all, we have to protect the fragile ears of customer service reps, from upset cancer patients, asking…no begging….for support.

The twist in all this, is this person is on the team that reviews my grievances.  They rule the same way, EVERY TIME!  I am not allowed to have someone else review my grievances.  I am only allowed to speak with Carla (my “case manager”) or her supervisor.  I have asked repeatedly to speak to the manager who is above Carla and her manager.

Today, Carla had the nerve to say, “we will not subject anyone else to you and your behavior”.  Hmmm….make me continually deal with people who are part of the problem instead of passing the issue to someone who  1) might have a different perspective on the situation, 2) someone who would be a fresh start and 3) someone who might have the ability to see that my issues are addressed.

I’m such a detriment to the medical community, that I’ve been blackballed by the insurance agency itself.  Could I be nicer?  Perhaps.  Am I going to….NOPE!  Why?  It’s simple, I have had to fight for my basic rights, that I PAY for, just to be treated.  I am holding people responsible and I will not be a doormat because I refuse to let them make any further money off of me because they think they are god in deciding if I live or die.

Sutter Health Plus is in need of major reform (as are most insurance carriers).  Carla in claims needs to be retrained (as does her manager -with whom I will not speak with again).

At this point, I will be utilizing the UC Davis emergency room going forward.  I’ll incur the annual maximum charge and then they can run every test they want, but I’ve hit the maximum.  No patient should ever feel like they are being dismissed or given up on.  Sutter Health Plus (Sacramento, CA) has done just that!

Falafels via the Air Fryer

Published July 18, 2018 by lynn k scott

I’ve seen and heard about falafels for years.  They are a Middle Eastern dish made up of chickpeas and a variety of herbs and spices.  After taking a rest for a couple hours (or overnight) in the fridge, the mixture is ready to be rolled into balls and dropped into hot oil and fried to perfection.

Hold up…that won’t work for me.  Frying is almost non-existent in my house.  I do however, use an air fryer, which has to be one of the best kitchen inventions…EVER!

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I followed a random falafel recipe.  Soaked my chickpeas overnight.  Some of you might be unfamiliar with chickpeas.  I know I was.  I had consumed them at my favorite Indian restaurant.  I even found them in the Indian spice shop I often go to.

Before I decided to make the falafels, I had purchased a large bag of chickpeas.  Remember when I said I was unfamiliar with them?  I had it in my head, I would just grind up the chickpeas and make my own gluten-free, chickepea flour.  My food processor wasn’t up for the job.  My little spice grinder hates me now.  Who knew you had to soak the chickpeas first?  OOPS!!!!   Well, now I know and you should have gotten a chuckle from my culinary ignorance.

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Back to the new-to-me dish.  I looked up the cooking time for air fryer falafels.  It was just 12-minutes, on 370 degrees, turning halfway through the cooking process.

I will say, I could kick myself for not trying these earlier.  They were DELICIOUS!!!!!!  Perfectly crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside.  I guarantee, these are on my permanent menu.  They fall in line with my plant-based diet.

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Note:  depending on how many people will be eating these little crispy delights, you might want to halve the recipe if it’s just for a couple of you.

Just another cancer – related update

Published July 17, 2018 by lynn k scott

I have been steadily changing my diet over the last couple weeks.  I will have to say, I actually feel a lot better.  To some, the dietary changes may be extreme.  I believe it’s easier for me, from all the other attempts at dietary changes, because my life literally depends on me being successful.

There have been two times I have “cheated”.  They have been small cheats such as eating soy sauce (has gluten) and I forgot the other cheat.  Anyway, since my body has been eating healthier, it really didn’t care for my choice to upset its new-found balance.  I have done those cheats before, but this time the reaction was stronger.  I have dedicated myself to not doing that again.  I really don’t like the reactions I had and repeat performances won’t be necessary.

I am using my new juicer at least every other day.  I am loving the combinations.  I am using less fruit and even added a few new vegetables.  I’m not really a spinach fan, but am finding it’s pretty good mixed with carrots and ginger, among other vegetables.

I am trying new food combinations.  For example, made lentils for the first time the other day.  Yesterday, I made lentil tacos (no cheese or sour cream) and they were really good.  The more I go without dairy, the more I don’t miss it.

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I have been able to lend support to a friend who’s mother is Stage IV in her cancer battle.  It feels nice to be able to give back to a fellow cancer warrior.

I have also decided, I’m not putting off purchases because of “what ifs”.  I am taking back what the cancer tried to steal from me.  It will not be successful in making me second guess my life and its longevity.  As I have stated before, I have handed this over to God and he is in complete control.  He has brought such peace, that I can’t possibly fully describe the feeling.

I recently made a vehicle purchase.  It wasn’t the right time (credit wise), however, my other vehicle chose to push the envelope, so good-bye pickup, hello challenger.

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It’s almost been a year since I heard those horrible words, “you have cancer”.  Gone from sadness to anger to acceptance to fighting.  I will be successful.  I have cancer but it doesn’t have me!

Lentil Taco “Meat”

Published July 16, 2018 by lynn k scott

In an effort to stay on a (mostly) meat-free, cancer-fighting diet, I thought I would make some lentils in my Instant Pot.  I used this recipe as a guide, however, I halved the recipe because I was cooking just for me.

I did adjust the ingredients and used the following:

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • small red onion; diced
  • (2) cloves of garlic; minced
  • half a can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of black pepper

I did saute the onions in a bit of olive oil and added the garlic once the onions were just about done cooking.  Added the rest of the ingredients, gave it a stir and set the Instant Pot to 15 minutes.  Quick release when the time was up.

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The lentils were full of flavor.  Sadly, I was out of avocados and gluten-free tortillas, but I still plated and consumed them happily.  These definitely are a great substitution for meat.

I will note, the original recipe says it’s vegetarian, but that’s only if you use water and she uses chicken stock.  If you use water to cook the lentils, it actually becomes a great tasting, vegan dish.

Give it a try…I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

My Healing Team

Published July 13, 2018 by lynn k scott

I came across this today from someone in a cancer support group.  I have thought of this, but have not fully implemented it.  That’s about to change.  This will be my train of thought going forward.

“…we all need to build our healing team – anyone who doesn’t support your healing doesn’t get to be on your team. That can include family or friends or some in the medical field you don’t resonate with – if they show any negativity or bring your energy down – kick them off your team.”

Anyone is welcome to climb aboard, but if they fail to follow this simple premise, they will be let off at the next station!

 

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