The Anova Cancer Care office has an entrance opening onto an asphalt parking lot. It’s in the corner of a large commercial building and looks like all the other non-medical companies in the structure. Glass, aluminum, tan colored stone facades.
The waiting room has a small refrigerator with soda and bottled water, snacks, and a round table with Prostate Cancer books arranged neatly on it. Carmela, the receptionist, who knows everyone’s name, asks about Irish Wolfhounds. I have on my Great Lakes Irish Wolfhounds sweat shirt.
They’re the largest dogs, right? The tallest, yes. But not the heaviest. We had a lot of them. Do they eat a lot? No, not as much as you’d think. Carmela has gray hair, but looks to be in her early fifties. She’s wearing an unusual layered frilly top. She apologizes. This is considered an office visit so I’ll have to collect a co-pay. Of course.
Then we wait. Kate’s reading a Parker book, a mystery of sorts. I’m reading Pico Iyer’s book about living in Japan, Autumn Light.
Charles. It’s good Amanda. Go to your left, please. I turn to my right even though I heard her. Oops. A bit distracted, I guess. After all, I’m going to hear the results of the bone scan which is one component of the imaging work. Do I have metastases in the bone?
Dr. Gilroy, who likes shirts with plaid patterns, comes in. I’d noticed a scan image on his computer when I entered the room, wondering if that was my insides.
Well, the bone scan was clean as a whistle. No mets. I want to jump up and down, but I say, thank you. Following with, the CT has been approved.
Dr. Gilroy. The auths. We can order, but the insurance company. Well. He shakes his head. Frustrated. The authorizations part of our tangled web of a health care system disappoints all parties. The only exception? The small groups of office workers who enforce them and the companies that profit from denials.
I’ve prepared a folder filled with documents about how to mount an axumin scan appeal, ready to go toe to toe with New West authorizations. I think we can make this happen if we need to. Dr. Gilroy shakes his head.
Let’s wait. If the CT scan is negative, then we’ll know it’s a localized recurrence. If the CT shows a lymph node really lit up, we’ll know that’s a target. Only if the CT is indeterminate will we consider the axumin scan. It’s easier for us, because it’s one scan and done. I put the file back in my lap.
Later on a call from Centura Health and my CT goes on the calendar for May 30th, next Thursday. Gilroy’s out of town, but will be checking in. If, he says, the scan is negative, we’ll schedule another office visit to discuss radiation for the prostate fossa, the spot where that corrupted organ used to lie. He surprises me when he says, That’ll mean 35 visits here. Not the Cyber Knife, 3-5 visits. 35 sessions is the usual radiation protocol. My friend Dick Rice had it. Our house cleaner, Sandy, had it.
In three days it will be 8 months since Kate’s bleed. They’ve been difficult. With Kate’s feeding tube placement scheduled for June 3rd and my second, probably last, imaging work next Thursday, we may be emerging from the trenches.
Kate’s already back to some level of normalcy. Walking more, loading and unloading the dishwasher, cleaning up after I cook. In the most hopeful scenario for me, Dr. Gilroy’s talking cure. Maybe sometime this summer we can take a pause from medical interventions. Would be nice.