Saturday, September 27, 2008

act two

had my first blood draw in L.A. yesterday. it was on the UCLA campus.
so here's the thing. since I'm in between full-time insurance companies, my plan is to have the blood draw in L.A. with the results to be faxed to my oncologist in Tucson.
I don't want to get an oncologist under Cobra then have to do it all over again once my new health-care coverage kicks. too much run around.
so we'll see if this interim plan works.

Friday, September 26, 2008

first blood test in California

Moving less than one year after completing chemotherapy is bound to be complicated and expensive.
Back in Tucson, I certainly had a routine that was well worn: every two months, go to the same clinic off Alvernon. check in. read whatever I brought with me. hear my name announced in the waiting room. small talk with nurses. prick of a needle. blue bandage for the wound and head to work. a week later, Check in with Dr. Ahmann and the clinic staff on Campbell.
Every four months, go to the new lab on campbell, across from the trader joes. arrive 45 minutes early. check in. drink that terrible filth they call contrast. disrobe in one room, put on the medical robes. ride the giant donut. feel the warmth of the iodine flush in my veins. blue bandage again. brush teeth to get rid of that taste and head to work.
a few weeks later, I'd get the typical bills -- depending on the cost, I could handle them, though thanks to some sage advice from a Lee Enterprises employee, i ended up having to pay more than i should of for CT scans.
that's another story: don't believe the H.R. people. like the insurance companies, all they care about is saving money.
but I'm in Los Angeles now. there are a ton of great resources here. and they are spread out all over this metropolis; from West L.A. to Loma Linda.
But before i can access those resources, i need to pay for insurance.
I'm in between companies. Not yet eligible for benefits as a Daily News employee, so i'm covered by cobra under Lee enterprises.
cobra should be called mosquito, 'cause it's a blood sucker.
In three months, I've paid cobra more than $1,200 - about $400 a month.
three weeks ago, I meant to get my first blood draw. but i work at a newspaper and sometimes you just can't plan your day. between the chatsworth crash and a project I've been assigned to, well, three weeks slipped by. like I was saying, three weeks ago, I got all my paperwork ready and decided I'd get my blood drawn at a UCLA clinic in Westwood.
three weeks ago.
the project is in its final throes and I'm finally taking a morning off from work to get my test taken care of.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

a friend is diagnosed

so it has been nearly one month since the last post. so much has happened.

i've been back in Los Angeles for more than two months now, working for the Los Angeles Daily News. It has been more than one year since I began chemotherapy. More than one year that Guadalupe and i have dated. Little Harley Rose Leonida is more than a year old now.

Elsewhere, changes abound. there's a female candidate for vice president and a black candidate to be president of the united states. Indymac doesn't exist. more folks have been laid off at the L.A. Times. Bolivia is on the verge of a civil war, again. the achievement played their last show in Riverside. Francisco is on tour with the Santa Cruz River Band. Manny Santana passed away. nearly all my Santa Cruz people have moved on... and on and on.

It hasn't been for lack of material that I haven't written. in fact, there's a plenty that I, as a cancer survivor, should be chronicling. The less glamorous stuff -- like switching insurance, paying more than $400 a month for cobra coverage to cover a blood test I have yet to take, and new life. yes. the feelings within.

I have to admit something.

I haven't told my co-workers that I'm a survivor. It hasn't come up. how could it. But when I arrived to Los Angeles, I was anxious to stop always talking about cancer.

Back in Tucson, there were memories everywhere. Co-workers and friends always asked. I was cool with it, but in some ways it had become a very focal part of my identity. it will always be, but I want some space. i know it will come up again. shoot, I showed a co-worker a photo of me bald. and at a union training this weekend, I know folks will ask.

this want of space all started with the final story for the Star, my farewell, cancer experience piece.

Actually, the moment it all changed was captured on video. You can see my face change.

in the name of journalism, i returned to he clinic and discussed my experience. at one point I climbed into the chair that i started chemotherapy in. I start explaining the experience. then I stumble. repeat the same thing about three times. and start crying.

I went home that night exhausted. the story and experience brought up much that i hadn't allowed myself to feel or reflect upon.

not long after that experience, I made a joke about my cancer. something about one nut or whatever. Guadalupe finally told me it was hard for her to keep hearing crack jokes about my cancer.

i never realized it would upset her. then I thought about my mom, what it was like for her to hear my joke about it., I really should've been writing all this earlier. it's a lot to process. i've much to catch up on.

anyway, so the point of today's title: a friend, a pretty young lady from Tucson has been diagnosed with cancer. Not quite sure what yet, but I'll call her tomorrow.

we'll talk one survivor to another.