Day 3,993 – PSA Results

No surprises here. My PSA went up slightly again from 0.21 ng/mL to 0.22 ng/mL. The only surprise was that I was able to get the results online a day earlier than usual

This also dropped my PSA Doubling Time from 48.1 months to 45.3 months. Not a biggie there, either, but still moving in the wrong direction.

UCLA also required a basic metabolic panel be done in advance in of the PSMA PET scan, so I got that knocked out, too. I’m supposed to bring a copy of the results to the scan and now I can print them out and not rely on the administrative gremlins to get them to me.

My appointment with the urologist is on 9 November and we’ll see how that goes.

Month 131 – Biding Time

There’s really not much to report this month other that I’m simply biding time until the PSMA PET scan at UCLA on 30 November 2021.

I did receive confirmation that the doctor put in the order for the basic metabolic panel test and another PSA test, so I may get those knocked out this week to make sure they go well. I have to bring a hardcopy print out of the BMP test results to the scan, so better to get it done early to make sure that I can have a copy made available. If I can’t print it out on my own, then I’ll ask for it to be available during my appointment with the doctor on 9 November. (That was my next regularly scheduled appointment. I had hoped we would be discussing the PSMA PET scan results by then, but that’s not meant to be.)

Work will be keeping me extraordinarily busy through mid-December so, in a way, that’s a plus. It should keep my mind off of all of this. I just need to make sure that work takes a back seat to any appointments or tests.


On an unrelated note, I was able to get my seasonal flu shot and my Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot last week. I did take them together and felt a little wonky for about 36 hours (fatigued, felt as though I had a temperature but didn’t). Who knows whether it was the flu shot or the booster that caused that (or both), but it really doesn’t matter. I’m better and I’m better protected.

So that’s about it for this post. More to come…

Be well!

Day 3,976 – Success!!!

After some additional administrative shenanigans late last week, I was finally able to confirm that UCLA had everything they needed, and we scheduled the PSMA PET scan for 30 November 2021. It’s a bit further out than I would have liked, but it is what it is.

They still need to get pre-approval from my insurance company, and they were quick to remind me that it’s $3,300 out-of-pocket if the insurance doesn’t approve it. “You can pay by credit card,” and she rattled off the list of cards that they didn’t accept.

At least it’s on the calendar for now.

It will be interesting because I go for my next PSA test the first week of November with the appointment with the urologist on 9 November. Having a fresh PSA number going into the scan may be helpful, or not.

There are some guidelines to follow in advance of the scan:

  • Fast for 6 hours in advance of the scan; only drink water.
  • No vigorous exercise 24 hours in advance.
  • Okay to take any medicine, but only with water.
  • I need to have a “Basic Metabolic Panel” done within 8 weeks of the scheduled date, and I must bring a printed copy of the results to the scan. The scan will not be done if I don’t have them.

I’ve already got my hotel reservation for the scan, as getting to UCLA from San Diego on the same day would be tricky given the uncertainty of traffic.

So that’s that. Finally. 😌

I’ll worry about what the scan results will show later.

Be well!

Day 3,968 – Logjam Broken?

The administrative logjam between VA Medical Center San Diego and UCLA may have been broken this morning.

Yesterday, I called UCLA to see if they could access my health record through the Veterans Health Information Exchange, and the short answer was “no.” While I had them on the phone, I asked if they would accept printouts of my medical records from me and, again, the short answer was “no.” They had to come from the doctor’s office. Ugh.

Not being one to always listen to what I’m told, I went ahead and sent my demographics and insurance information to UCLA on my own. I also hopped onto the VA website and submitted my official Request for Authorization to Release Health Information form so they could send my medical records to UCLA.

Within about an hour and a half of submitting the request, I had a call from the woman processing it. She had a couple of questions that I answered. “Great. I’ll fax this to them right now.” That was not the response I was expecting. I thought the VA would take 3-5 business days to pull the records and send them.

When I spoke with UCLA on Monday, they did mention how slammed they are with requests for PSMA PET scans, and that it may take a few days to process the paperwork on their end once it was received. I’ll give a call on Thursday or Friday to follow up and see if they have everything they need. With luck, they will and we’ll be able to get the scan on the calendar.

The scheduler said they were currently scheduling for late November right now.

Fingers crossed that everything will be in order and I’ll be able to get a scan on the calendar.

More to come…

Be well!

Day 3,963 – Let the Referral Battle Begin

One of the first things that I did after returning from my trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons was to call UCLA Department of Nuclear Medicine to check to see if they had all of the necessary paperwork from the San Diego VA Medical Center to schedule the PSMA PET scan.

They did not.

Apparently, they were still missing my demographic information, my insurance information, and at least a 6 month medical history for me. Grrrr. 🤬

I emailed the VA and got some mealy-mouthed response back saying that I should be the one providing the demographics and insurance information and, that if I wanted my medical records released, I had to complete and submit a form giving them permission to do so. They could have told me that weeks ago.

The medical records thing is particularly annoying because, according to the VA website, the Veterans Health Information Exchange is set up to electronically share medical records with certain community providers that are providing care. UCLA Health is one of the approved community providers.

The only quirk that I can see in this is that the community provider has to be providing me care and, technically, UCLA is not yet doing that, so I suspect the VA will claim that, because I’m not under active care there, they can’t share the records. A classic Catch-22. The kicker is that I don’t have to do anything to opt in to the sharing. It should automatically happen.

My plan going forward is to ask the VA about the VHIE and see what they say. But as a back-up plan, I’m going to print my VA health record for the last year, my insurance information, and provide them my demographic information, and send the entire packet to UCLA myself, VA be damned.

More to come, I’m sure. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to not let my vacation wear off too quickly.

Be well!

Cedar Breaks National Monument

And the final post from my vacation highlighting a side trip to Cedar Breaks National Monument in southwestern Utah.

Travelin' Dan

On the return from my recent trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks, I stopped by Cedar Breaks National Monument. You can think of it as a smaller scale Bryce Canyon, but with fewer hoodoos and no way (that I could tell) to hike down into the canyon.

One of the amazing things is that all of the observation points are above 10,000 feet / 3.048 meters above sea level. It was windy and cool at that elevation, even when temperatures in nearby Cedar City (where I would spend the night) were bordering on hot.

I drove in from the north on UT 143 and headed to Cedar City to the west on UT 14. Both drives require a bit of attention as you’re going up or down steep grades on twisting, two-lane mountain roads. It’s not really recommended for larger vehicles towing trailers.

It’s a hidden…

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Grand Teton National Park

The second post of my vacation, this one covering Grand Teton National Park.

Travelin' Dan

Prologue

In early September 2021, I journeyed by car from San Diego for my first visit to Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first national park. As a lover of mountains, I planned my trip so that I could bookend my visit to Yellowstone with time spent in Grand Teton National Park. Finally, on the way home, I detoured to Cedar Break National Monument just outside of Cedar City, Utah.

Rather than cram all three destinations into a single blog post, I’ve chosen to create three separate posts, one for each destination on this same trip. Please be sure to read each. (Or at least look at the photos from each.)

One final request. Please be patient if the photos are slow to load. I try to maximize quality and minimize file size, and I’m not so sure I’ve got that tweaked in yet. Oh. And please use a big screen…

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Yellowstone National Park

Here’s the first of three posts highlighting my vacation. This one focuses on my time spent in Yellowstone National Park. Enjoy!

Travelin' Dan

Prologue

On one of my many cross-country trips in the early 1980s, I took a considerable detour off of Interstate 80 and spent a few hours touring around Grand Teton National Park, just south of Yellowstone National Park. I knew that I didn’t have time to do Yellowstone justice, so I skipped it and vowed I would return at some point in the future.

Now, about 35 years later, I’ve made good on that promise. (Better late than never!)

Going into the trip, I was both excited and a little apprehensive. Excited because it was someplace new for me; apprehensive because I wasn’t sure that it was going to offer the sort of things that really appeal to me.

As with my story about the Grand Tetons National Park, please be patient as the photos load. Also, you may click on any photo to enlarge it.

Yellowstone National Park

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Month 130 – Enjoying Some R & R

I’m actually writing this post at the end of August and am scheduling it for an 11 September publication date because, as you’re reading this, I’m returning from my first trip to Yellowstone National Park. That, or a grizzly bear dragged my carcass off into the woods for a late evening snack, and this will be the last post you see from me. 🤣 With luck, you’ll be reading about my trip on my other blog, Travelin’ Dan in a few days.

On a more serious note, I had been planning this trip since March, but the timing could not have been more perfect. I really needed the break from some of the challenges at work plus, I view this as the calm before the prostate cancer storm. It would be good to go into that with a rested body and more relaxed mind.

The prostate cancer storm being, of course, being able to get the 68Ga-PSMA-11 PET scan scheduled, seeing the results, and then planning a course of action based on those results.

So that’s it for this relatively short post. I hope I had a great trip and I wished you were there!

Be well!

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

It’s that time of year again. Time to remind our friends, family, and coworkers that September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Even if you don’t think it can happen to you, it can. I’m a classic example of that. There was no family history and, at the ripe old age of 52, I was diagnosed without exhibiting any symptoms whatsoever. Surprise!

There’s a ton of really great organizations out there educating men and their spouses about prostate cancer. You can see many of them on my Resources page.

You don’t have to become an expert on prostate cancer, but you should take time to learn the risk factors, symptoms, different types of prostate cancer, and treatment options. Hopefully, you’ll never have to put any of that newfound knowledge to use, but if you are unfortunate enough to hear those three little words—”You have cancer”—you’ll have a little bit of a head start when it comes to making decisions.