Friday, February 22, 2013

Roller coaster awareness and a different doctor

Warning at Lands End
Thursday was a long, long day, so tired. It started at 10:30 at Kaiser, a super helpful meeting with the palliative care social worker, Carol Gerstein. One of the things we talked about was the shorter/longer life expectancy "roller coaster" and the fact that I want to get off of it. She suggested rather than trying to get off of it, trying to be aware of being on it. Very Buddhist advice I must say!

We also talked about financial power of attorney, and the advance health directive. Beware of language such as "do what is necessary to save someone's life." It is very misleading. (Several medical people I have talked to had read the useful article Drew sent a while ago, How Doctors Die.) Unless they're given other instructions, doctors have a legal obligation to keep someone alive (no matter how damaging, painful and ultimately pointless the methods of keeping them alive are.)

Carol saw on my medical record that I had sent an email to Dr. Nelson (re red worm-shaped thing I'd hacked up) and hadn't gotten a reply. She talked to Anna Dowling, Nelson's assistant, who suggested I go over to the GP and ask him if he thinks it'd be better to see him now rather than Monday. Which ended up meaning I was at Kaiser for about 5 hours (including the pharmacy.)(Also I had forgotten my purse! That caused some complications, most of which thankfully Tong bailed me out of.)

I like my GP, Dr. Herman, who I haven't seen in years. As I suspected, the red phlegm resembles worms because they are in the shape of the bronchial tubes they are ejected from. Since I have allergies and asthma in my family, he said my cough could be caused by either, or bronchitis. I am taking antibiotics for five days. If the cough goes away, it was bronchitis. If it doesn't, it would seem to be one of the other two, which I guess don't have a 'cure.' Dr. Herman questioned my oncologists' saying my cough was unrelated to cancer. How can they know that, he asked? (I wonder if they meant my cough is not directly caused by constriction in my lungs due to the tumors? Which is different from saying it's unrelated.) But I was tired and spaced out by the time I talked to Dr. H. and couldn't really answer some of his questions, or keep up with things in general.

So I'm taking antibiotics, which (I imagine, possibly) have already lessened my cough. This morning I met Teng How at the tennis court at 8am in Dolores Park for chi gung. It was sunny (though cold), it felt great.

Satyaloka arriving today from Montana; week two of MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course coming up on Weds (Bill is the main teacher); then Thursday head to my dad's and the train to New Orleans with Laura. (Po and Jules meeting us there.)


  1. Bet the worm was a mucous plug. Sounds like you got a Z-pack which probably is starting to maybe be noticeably working today but in two days you should feel more energy and less cough for sure! Sorry it was a long tough day there--sending love and ease!--XO

  2. i couldnt agree with this dr. more. how could they know if a cough is related to the cancer? I like his treatment, and it either works or it doesnt. sounds refreshingly realistic!

    see you soon, chica.