Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My take on Healthcare

   I am a product of the 60's. The year I was born (1963) was considered the last for the baby boomer generation.It is also considered the first for Genx. I was a teen during the 70's and came of age during the Reagan Era. I remember the labor disputes of the 70's as my dad, ( A Card Carrying Union Welder) went on strike in 1976 and again in 1978. '78 was rough. The strike lasted 6 months. The local went back to work after 6 months for basically the same offer they refused and walked out on. I remember when Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. In my mind, that day ended the power of unions to bargain a contract from a position of strength. Unions have been in decline ever since. Benefits my father and grandfather fought for are all but gone. When I was a kid, it would cost my parents $5 for us kids to see a doctor. We had $1500 a year in dental care. Flash forward 40 years and we have $2000.
   Growing up I was taught to fear the communists. The Russians, North Koreans, and Red Chinese among others were evil empires hell bent on world domination.   I assumed, wrongfully, that socialism and communism were the same thing. As it turns out, Greed and world domination are not a product of any particular political system. 
   I work at the same mill my dad worked at albeit with a different name. I started in '99. Ironically that is the year my dad retired. The year I hired on the company paid 100% of our health insurance premiums. That is no longer the case. Over the course of the last 18 years, we have paid more and more with each labor contract negotiated while our benifits have slowly eroded. Like all others, Obama-care took its toll on our health insurance. When Barack said if you like your insurance you can keep it he lied. Faced with penalties for Cadillac health insurance (penalties that never manifest) my employer stripped us of our HMO co-pay ($25 Dr. visits, $20.00 prescriptions, $5 injections, and free cancer medication) and replaced it with a high deductible 20/80 plan. No offense Mr. President but you missed the mark. My new health insurance doesn't SUCK but it is not what I had.

   We have adjusted. The one constant in life is "things change"! There are a ton of good things in Obama-care that I love. Obviously, the pre-existing condition clause is a favorite and having our daughter on our health plan until she is 26 is awesome. I love that preventative care is free. There are a few other things we like but most of it does not affect us. 
For at least a decade prior to the ACA being signed into law, I witnessed rising medical costs, rising insurance premiums, and an ever shrinking middle class wage. I use to get really angry when I went to the emergency room with my identification and insurance card and the room was filled with people who had no health insurance and in many instances had no intention of paying the bill. A close friend of my wife had 3 children. One of those children was a very bright wonderful little boy who happened to have special needs. My wife's friend was single and worked part time. She received food stamps, had to pay only $100 dollars a month rent. She received subsidized transportation in the form of a car, as well as subsidized utilities and cell phone. Meanwhile, my wife and I both were forced to work full time in order to make ends meet. Somehow it does not seem fair but it is the way it has always been.
   This week, the Senate is voting on various ways to repeal Obamacare (ACA) What a load of crap. They say that the ACA is failing and is basically a train wreck. It is a lie. Remember, these are the same people who call Social Security and Medicare, as entitlement programs. This confuses me! (Insert sarcasm) 
Do they not realize that for the last 40 years I have had 7-1/2% of my paycheck deducted for social security tax! 

Everything that every politician says is bullshit. Dem-Hypocrats want to give everything to the poor for free and the Repukes want to give everything away to corporations. Either way, the people who work for a living lose. We end up paying for everything. The American dream is no longer for hard working Americans who work hard, it for those who are better at taking than everyone else. Just my opinion.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Snake oil and the traveling medicine show

   Did you ever see the episode of Little House on the Prairie where the snake oil salesman came to town pedaling a tonic the cures everything? That used to be one of my favorite episodes. I couldn't believe people could be misled so easily!
   Cancer is a serious disease and it matters not which form rears its ugly head. Medical science is making huge advances in the treatment of cancer. I also believe that there are supplements out there that effectively aid in the fight against cancer. Still, it amazes me, that the traveling medicine show is still alive and well today. I read a book one time about A woman who had supposedly cured all types of cancer. She cited case studies of a number of patients she had claimed to have cured. The irony is that none of the patients that had been cured were ever diagnosed with cancer by an actual medical doctor. She diagnosed the disease and cured it. There were a couple of cases where the patient had actually been diagnosed cancer by a medical doctor prior to seeking out this woman and her alternative medicine but they left the study. I wonder why? Another book I once read claimed that eating 3 almonds a day could prevent cancer and often cure it. I would laugh but it's not funny. People believe this crap and die because of it. Another alternative theory claims that a vegan diet and coffee enemas will cure cancer. It seems people will believe anything!
    Little House on the Prairie was depicted in the mid-1800s and yet here we are today almost 200 years later and people are still playing the same old con game. Recently my blog has been inundated with so called testimonies of people who have sought out alternative medicine and have been miraculously cured of cancer, Hepititis C, HIV, and other serious health issues. I love it when people leave comments but these people (robots) are really starting to piss me off. This blog was created to share my story and provide hope to those who find it. It is not for con artists to prey on people who are at a vulnerable point in their life It does no good to ask them to leave. They don't care about people. They care only about profit.
    For those of you who find this blog please note that comments from others citing miracle cures are not endorsed by me.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sick in the pit

   My last PSA was midway through January. The last time I saw my doctor was mid-March.
I feel good I think.
  Yesterday I bought two tickets to the Matchbox 20, Counting Crows, concert. The concert is on July 19th. I just realized that is two days after my Oncology appointment and I have had a sick feeling in my stomach ever since. Why? I don't know. Maybe because it will be 6 months since my blood work has been done. Maybe because it has never been so long between PSA tests. Maybe because I am approaching 4 years on Zytiga. I am worried. I use to wish I could go longer without PSA tests. What I realize now however is that each good test result fed my confidence that the next blood test would also be good. It was also easier to rationalize that evennof it did go, there was no way it could go up very much.
     I have waited over 12 years to see matchbox 20. They are one of my favorite bands. Rob Thomas is a terrific writer. I guess you can say it a bucket list item. When the band broke up I thought it would never happen.

   The longest anyone has been on Zytiga is 8 years. There are a bunch of guys who have been on it for 6 years. My understanding is that the average time on the drug is 1 year.  A good friend of mine was on it for 44 months and recently went to Xtandi. It has not been a smooth transition!  Will we be celebrating at the concert or wondering about the future? It all depends on my labs.
   I still feel really good but unfortunately, that doesn't mean much. These disease exhibits very few symptoms until it is widespread. 
I have been tired. I usually wake up before the alarm. Lately I wake up to the alarm and often hit snooze. Amanda is doing the same though and I am certain she does not have prostate cancer. I am 53. I work hard and on top of that we are painting the house, prepping for new carpet, and trying to get our winter firewood supply cut and put away.
   Lately my teeth have been failing. Mostly it is from crowns failing that I have had for many years but there are 2 in particular that have very little original tooth left and may need to be extracted and implants installed in their stead. I have been on Zometa for 4 years. Implants will have to wait a minimum of 3 more months. Today as I sit in this chair awaiting the dentist I am on the verge of tears. Quite frankly, this sucks!
   My tooth can't be saved. I need two implants and a 3 tooth bridge. Does anybody have 5K I can have. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

My wedding anniversary

This weekend Mandy and I celebrated 10 years as husband and wife. For those of you who have followed my journey this will be a recap but for you newbies, Amanda married me a year after my diagnosi. On our wedding day, I promised her 30 years.
   So, it has been 10 years. Hard to believe sometimes and yet it has flown by.
   Ten years ago I was blessed to marry my best friend. At the time, I was putting my life back together and living in my brothers trailer. The only thing I had to my name back then was a couple guitars, a wrecked truck and a job. My doctors told us I might not have a future but it didn't matter to us. Actually, it did matter but we both knew that no matter how much time was left, we wanted to spend it together.
Ten years has come and gone. They have been 10 wonderful amazing years. There have been challenges and days when the future was scary. There have been obstacles to overcome. They made us strong and shaped us into the person we have become. The Bible says "For this reason a man shall leave his parents and be joined to his wife and the Two shall become one flesh. I always thought that the
Verse was purely physical and talking about sex. I am only now after ten years beginning to realize the simple truth behind what the book was saying. I cannot imagine life without
Mandy. I no longer know where she stops and I begin. We are quite literally one person.
   To date, I have kept one third of my promise. 20 years to go. Not long. The last 10 years have flown by. The life we have today bears no resemblance to the life of the past. We live in a modest but beautiful home in a quiet neighborhood in the country. We have literally everything we have ever wanted and we have been blessed to travel to beautiful tropical places. Our life together is filled with friends family and fun balanced by hard work. Our children are grown. We will soon be Empry nesters.
   Friday the 9th was our anniversary. We celebrated by going to the open air market in Olympia, riding bicycles on a 15 mile rail trail, and having dinner at falls terrace restaurant at the foot of the shuttered Olympia brewery. Yesterday we drove south to the Willamette Estate Vinyard for lunch and on our way home stopped at a new Casino where we gambled, dined, had a drink, dances, and came home with a few dollars more than we had when we left. Life is good.
Live it loud!!

Friday, June 9, 2017

My channel

I have taken to video to show another side of who I am. This link has me singing a song! (Not very well)
Advanced Prostate cancer takes its toll on intimacy.The song I am singing is about the death of intimacy. Mandy and I only had 6 months before my diagnosis. They were amazingmonths! It has been hard but we will not allow this disease to steal our love. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Another Anniversary

   Today is the 11 year anniversary of my stage IV diagnosis. 11 years!!! 
  I am not sure how this post became public. It wasn't finished yet. 
   It is at times, hard to believe, 11 years has past. Today I am reflecting on those early days so many years ago. Those were the hard times.   Those were the days when the gravity of my condition came crashing down around me..
The problem is that it feels  like a distant dream. It doesn't seem real anymore. I am connected to those days only because I know that some day this Cancer could come back.
I have nothing to write about and I am good with that. Nothing to write about means cancer is not the focal point of our lives. Nothing to write about is a good thing. 
   I have adjusted to the new normal. I am happy. We live our life as though cancer was never a part of it. We plan for the future. We celebrate today. We look forward to retirement. We both know someday it can come back. Ignorance is bliss I guess. 
   One day I will have something to write about. I do not look forward to that day. I hope and pray that it never happens. Maybe I am the patient who received the right treatments at the right time. Maybe the cancer that wanted to kill me is dead. There is faith and there is doubt. It becomes mental masturbation. There are so many what if's.
I still lose friends. Children lose fathers. Wives lose husbands. Men die. I thrive. 

Two weeks ago I waterskied behind the new boat. I crashed and cracked a rib. I am in a lot of pain but it will heal and the pain will cease. For my friends the pain doesn't end. I carry them in my heart. They are never far from my thoughts and prayers. 
  I am selfish. I never want this remission to end.