Cedars-Sinai

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Practicing medicine

Tanya at Accesa Health

Tanya going for B7 shot

Sometimes clichés are just a little too accurate; for example, to say doctors are just practicing medicine is sad but true and that is what brought about my writing of this particular article. Since I expect that there are new readers here that do not know the back story to my adventure in medicine, I will give a quick review. If you would like more details, you can click the link to the RAD Caregiver category.

In a nutshell; my girlfriend Tanya was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) in 2004. In October of 2011 Tanya moved from Indiana to California and my life of living with RA began. One major change in my life was that I now had to start doing something I have most of my adult life avoiding; I started going on visits to various doctors. In case there is some confusion, I do not go to the doctor for myself. I tried it a few years ago but the experience was so frustrating that I said screw it. I admit, I was a little surprised when I first started going with Tanya on her visits to several doctors and specialists in Southern California. My initial impression with each doctor I was introduced to gave me the impression that each of these new doctors was a qualified, caring professional that was going to do their best to help Tanya. Unfortunately, as time went on, I came to the realization that there was one doctor that seemed to be basing his suggestions on kickbacks from a pharmaceutical company while the others seemed to be at a loss as to what Tanya’s problem is, because every “test” they ran seemed to come back normal; it was almost as if they were suggesting that she did not really have RA. Rheumatologists would send her to neurologists and thyroid doctors. Everyone that tested her said there was nothing wrong that they could see, and her complaints essentially were not typical RA symptoms. Various drug combinations were tried and only through Tanya’s insistence was a combination of drugs given to her that relieved her pain, quite significantly at that. The thing is, the new drug cocktail had side effects that required even more pills to be prescribed and some of the side effects got bad enough that she had to delay taking her primary pain relief cocktail. I started to notice Tanya experiencing the same frustrations that caused me to give up on doctors, but she does not have that luxury. Continue reading

Cimzia: Is it working?

As an RAD Lovegiver, the most frustrating thing is watching the woman I love be in so much pain and not being able to do a damned thing about it. On top of that, the medical professionals seem to be guessing at what drug combinations to use to alleviate that pain. I guess that is why they call it practicing medicine. This past week or two has truly sucked. As an outsider, it appears to me that the drug combination Tanya is currently on is doing very little to benefit her. I have been looking through old photos of trips Tanya and I have taken over the years and I long to have her back in remission, but my hopes are definitely waning.

Back in July, Tanya’s first LA rheumatologist (Dr. Forouzesh) put her on a new drug, Cimzia, because the Enbrel did not seem to be working. Dr. Forouzesh was pretty much gushing with praise on how well this drug worked. Just use it for a few months and feel better was the impression I was left with. As Tanya is prone to do, she investigated the drug and it appeared that many were having a lot of luck with it. We put our thoughts of stem cell therapy aside and placed our hopes on Cimzia. As it turned out, Dr. Forouzesh lost his free samples of Cimzia and with the loss of the free drugs, his enthusiasm seemed to dissipate. After a couple of weeks he decided it was not going to work; even though Tanya’s research suggested it might take a few months. We decided to find a new rheumatologist.

Cimzia injection

Tanya injecting Cimzia

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Tests, tests and more tests

When I last posted about meeting Tanya’s new rheumatologist, I mentioned that Tanya had been referred to an endocrinologist to investigate some breathing issues she has at times. Dr. Ishimori was concerned that perhaps there is more than just the Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease (RAD/RA)at work here. Naturally, they have to schedule all tests to be out at Cedars-Sinai, which means fighting traffic for an hour, then trying to find a parking spot followed up by trying to find out where to go to have the testing done.

Pulmonary exam

Buckle up

While we left the house with what should have been plenty of time, LA traffic was not going to cooperate and every parking lot at Cedar-Sinai was full. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to get upset at these situations so all I could do is drop Tanya off at the door, then drive around Beverly Hills looking for a parking spot. By the time I found one I was in no mood to carry my camera around plus I had no idea where I would find her or what would be photo worthy. As you can tell, I obviously found her again. The lab tech wanted me to stay in the waiting room, but eventually Tanya got it through to him that she wanted me there. When I came in the room I really wished I had my camera. I settled for using the one on her Android Xoom. The photos are not great, but you get the general idea. Continue reading

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