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!

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.

Day 3,943 – Referral Ping-Pong

Well, that was disappointing.

UCLA did, in fact, receive the referral form from my doctor at San Diego VA Medical Center, but it was incomplete. They sent it back to be filled out correctly this time because they can’t schedule the scan without all the information.

You know me… Of course, I sent an email to my buddy at the VA informing him of the situation and asking him to advise me when the corrected, fully completed of the form is returned to UCLA. We’ll see how that goes.

The saga continues…

Have a great weekend and be well!

Day 3,941 – VA and UCLA

Progress. Slow, steady progress.

I received an email today confirming that the urologist had received, completed, and returned the referral form back to UCLA. They asked me to follow up with UCLA Department of Nuclear Medicine to confirm they received it. Gladly.

I called their scheduling office this afternoon to do just that but, unfortunately, my referral wasn’t in the system yet. I checked the time on the email I received, and it was only about two hours before I called UCLA, so that kind of makes sense. She said that it can take 24 to 48 hours to get the referral into the system.

The scheduler said that they’d review the referral, place the order for the 68Ga-PSMA-11 PET scan, and then call to schedule it. Right now, they’re scheduling in late October unless there’s a cancellation that I might be able to take advantage of.

On the one hand, I’m perfectly fine taking the ignorance-is-bliss mode of not rushing to this (considering my long PSA doubling time); but on the other, I want to get this going and find out what the next step will be. Right now, the primary thing on my mind is planning my next vacation.

I’ll call again on Friday to see if my referral landed in the system, and we’ll go from there.

That’s the latest in this odyssey.

Be well!

Day 3,939 – UCLA Referral Update 2

Just a quick update to yesterday’s post…

I called the UCLA scheduling office and explained the situation to the scheduler, and she thought that it was odd that the referral form wasn’t sent to my urologist for the referral. In any case, it took a whopping 5 minutes and 54 seconds—including navigating the phone menu tree, waiting for “the next available operator,” and the discussion—to hopefully break the logjam.

I called the doctor’s office and emailed him to let him know that he should be on the lookout for the faxed referral form. We’ll see what happens next—and when.

Be well!

Day 3,938 – UCLA Referral Update

I grew a little impatient with my team at the San Diego VA Medical Center not providing any information about the referral for the PSMA PET scan at UCLA since our consult on 3 August, so I sent them an email at the end of the week asking for an update.

This morning, the doctor that I had for the consult—the one who thought this was a good idea and who seemed eager to get it scheduled—reported that UCLA has yet to send him the form that he needs to do the referral. He didn’t exactly say when it was that he asked, but he did say that he would follow up with them tomorrow.

He gave me their fax number, so I, too, will give UCLA’s Department of Nuclear Medicine a call tomorrow to see what needs to be done to get them off the dime and to send the referral form.

That’s about it for now. More to come, I’m sure.


On an unrelated note, my bonkers incontinence issues have calmed considerably, but not quite back to where I can go without pads yet. Not sure what that was all about.

Be well!

Watch: Current Status of PSMA Diagnostics

Here’s a good overview of PSMA diagnostics by Dr. Calais, one of the UCLA doctors involved with getting 68Ga-PSMA-11 PET approved by the FDA. It’s a bit on the technical side, but it does show the strengths and limitations of the imaging technique.

Timing of initiation of ADT for men with biochemical progression after first-line surgery — THE “NEW” PROSTATE CANCER INFOLINK

An interesting study concerning the timing of Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT).

For many years your sitemaster has been advising patients that overly early use of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) in many men with progressive prostate cancer is not necessarily the best decision (for a number of possible reasons). The benefits of such early ADT — in terms of metastasis-free survival (MFS) and/or overall survival (OS) — […]

Timing of initiation of ADT for men with biochemical progression after first-line surgery — THE “NEW” PROSTATE CANCER INFOLINK