Today’s task was to track down the person who would be making a decision about whether or not I am to receive rituxan. It sounds a simple task doesn’t it? Mmmm I thought it would be too but, I’ve been wrong before and I’m sure I will be again. My first problem was in navigating the menu with Cygna. It seems my ID doesn’t include the last two digits, but, of course I didn’t know that so it took several attempts to get through to a real person. Eventually I was put through to one lady who clearly failed to grasp what I was telling her – a request for an off-list drug, rituxan has been made by my oncologist, it won’t show on your system because the request is, or at least was, being evaluated, so can you transfer me to the people who will be making that decision please? No, that’s no good apparently. It seems that the system works if I have a battery of numbers which the doctor’s office provides to Cygna and without which the lady to whom I was speaking couldn’t help me, though she did tell me she would try to connect me with someone who could and then put me on hold. When she hadn’t come back to me after around 20 minutes I did the obvious thing and rang off, after all, she had my phone number so she could call me back, right? Wrong! No return phone call. I then phoned the doctor’s office where Sheena was able to tell me that they still hadn’t had approval and the request was still with “clinical review”. These two words were clearly magical and could convey in an instant the department to which I needed to speak – eternal optimist me!
So, armed with the phrase, “clinical review”, I called Cygna back but this time took a different menu option and spoke with Tammy (Tammi?) who was really helpful, understood what I was saying, what I wanted, and set out to put me through to the person I needed. Really helpfully, Tammy kept coming back to me to let me know that she was still there and still trying to help. (The downside is that the beeps I kept hearing on the phone and which I thought were Tammy trying other phones turned out to be my stepdaughter calling, but I didn’t find that out for a few hours!) Eventually Tammy was able to transfer me to Brandy who grasped things really quickly, knew that she wasn’t the correct person for me to speak to as I needed the “injectible department” (I kid you not), and transferred me to Angelina who was the correct person to talk to and who was able to resolve things for me very quickly by liaising with someone and asking me a couple of simple questions i.e. is this a new treatment or a continuation and is the treatment at a hospital or the doctor’s office? Such simple questions that you might have thought the paperwork would have covered them, but, clearly not. Anyway, armed with my two answers, Angelina was able to complete the liaison and came back after only a few minutes to tell me that the request had been approved for eight treatments and confirmation would be faxed to my doctor for me for Monday. Like my wife, I can’t help but wonder whether this would have happened had I not phoned. Anyway, thank you, Tammy, Brandy and Angelina – you really were very friendly and helpful.
That apart things seem to be going ok. I’ve had a couple of nights of good sleep without the night sweats and I feel much less tired which is great.
Last night my wife and I watched a documentary “Not as I Pictured: Lymphoma” a film by John Kaplan who is an award winning photographer. The film tells the story of John’s own journey and is very, very involving. There were quite a few things in it which struck home to me, but one of them jumped out today when I accidentally touched “my triangular lump” which John said he was reluctant to do. I think I can understand why – it just doesn’t feel natural! Well, obviously, you might think, but the skin just doesn’t feel natural over it either. The other things he said about the port were that although the doctor gives some cream to numb it there is still pain when what he described as “a meat hook” is pushed through the skin and into the port. Mmmm, now there’s something for me to look forward to on Tuesday!