Hospital’s Efforts for Serving Patients

“Would you like to have some tea?”

A young girl wearing a blue jacket came to my chemo ward with a cart of tea and crackers.

She said she had various kinds of juice, tea, crackers, as well as water.

It reminded me of a food cart in a bullet train in Japan. (In a long distance train in Japan, a food cart comes to your seat instead of you going to a food car.)

Receiving some cinnamon apple tea, I thought this was a nice caring service.

She is a student who wanted to be a nurse, and does volunteering once a week in the oncology department.

If you go to the surgery waiting room, there is also a free coffee service, and in an in-patient building, there is a live piano concert by volunteers, regularly.  They are so good that the beautiful piano sounds invite patients from here and there.

Hallways are decorated with nice pictures and photos like a gallery, and through big windows the warm sun beams come in with peaceful green outdoor views.

Comfort dogs’  pictures

A gift shop selling plants wrapped with pretty ribbons, accessories, stuffed animals, ceramics, stationary goods, purses, and even jackets is also tasteful to draw attention.

Before my father passed, I visited him as an in-patient in a hospital in Japan. His room window, facing north, had an old yellowing curtain; the wall was dingy and empty; on the ceiling was a bare light bulb; and the only entertainment was a small pay TV. From the hallway there smelled a strong disinfectant odor.

I felt sorry for my father who had to stay all alone for weeks in such a gloomy place.  Later I heard this hospital was renovated, so hopefully it is now bright and cozy like an American hospital.

On every Wednesday in front of the hospital I go for the infusion, a farmer’s market is held.  Among fresh vegetables, fruits, pastries, cheese, and flowers, there is a live music performance as well.  Some people have a hard time to find parking spots probably because it invites not only patients but also the neighbors, but I like this vivid atmosphere and shopping there after the infusion is my routine.

Because treatments of  illness or injuries at a hospital is far from fun,  I appreciate hospitals making a great effort to provide a pleasant, comfortable environment like a hotel.

If I can ask one more thing, I would like them to upgrade the meals.  If that happens, I would never mind to be admitted.  Currently three hospitals in Torrance have been expanding their facilities.  I hope they will hire good chefs and make good restaurants! 🙂


You Look Beautiful

Golden earrings on a nurse who was preparing for my infusion caught my eye.

Even while I was answering her routine questions, the cute one-of-a kind round earrings shining on her earlobes kept drawing my attention.
“ Your earrings are very pretty!”
As I said, she brightened up and said, “Thank you. Yesterday I bought them at Polo.”

“ When you, nurses, wear colorful clothes and nice accessories, it makes me happy. I know we, patients, have a rough time, so seeing something beautiful is important to lift up the spirit.”

“ Is that so? Then I am going to wear brighter clothes from tomorrow,” said she.

She, who looked Asian in her early forties with dark skin wearing dark clothes, must look healthier and more beautiful in the bright color.

Even caps the nurses have to wear in the chemo wards, look cute if they are colorful and have animals or cartoon characters on them – though they are like plain shower caps. Actually I like them so much that I ordered two of them on line.

nurse cap cap pink

I don’t think red long nails or tattoos are proper for a nurse, but they are women, and it is comforting to be surrounded by beautiful nurses.

Listening to me, she said,
“ My mother-in-law takes care of my kids and she always asks how my day was. It is difficult to find something positive because lots of patients are depressed and our job is tough, but today I can tell her a good story.” and she grinned.

I see. I appreciated my medical staff, who welcomes me with nice smiles and treats me kindly, but they take lots of burdens from the patients and are drained out by the end of the day. They also need lots of support, encouragement, and confirmation of good work. I need to tell them how much I am thankful, or cheered, and pray for their strength more from now on. Then, their smiles would be more radiant, provoking me to smile back, and it will become contagious.

I didn’t tell her today, but I also noticed she was wearing a cross. Next time when I see her again, I am going to say, “ Are you a Christian also? So am I. GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!”

I’m Responsible To Take Care of My Body

I’m thankful that the side effects seems to not be getting worse yet, though I ‘ve been on Taxol without break.
While this week would be a week off if the cycle is three weeks on followed by a week off, as I was told that the first week off would be 9/8 instead, that made me nervous and tempted to ask to give me the week off right away.
I had to pray for peace and patience.
The change was made, and God is with me. So why do I have to be afraid?
I accepted the new schedule the hospital gave me, and went for an infusion of Taxol today.
Decadron is a premed steroid and every infusion I have this before Taxol.
“ This is Decadron 10mg.” A nurse told me hanging the bag on the pole of an infusion machine.
10mg? That is not a half but the full dose, isn’t it?
I have requested to reduce the dose of steroid because of a concern of elevating glucose level, and fortunately I remembered the dose.
“ The dose has changed into a half since two weeks ago, right?”
I asked.
“ You asked that last week, too,” said the nurse with a smile and checking the instruction tapping the keys of a computer.
Next moment, staring at the computer, she said,
“ You are right. It should be 5mg. I will ask the doctor.”
I had to wait for a while, but I was glad that the mistake was avoided.
I am one of many patients for the hospital, but for me this is my only body. I am the one who rejoices or cries. Even if people think I am a pain in the neck, I should ask and search until I fully understand and know what is going on instead of leaving everything to the medical staff hands because I should own the final responsibility of the treatments and be the final decision maker.

Grace Time

Tardy is my bad habit. Even when I was a child, I was always late to school.
I could see the elementary school from my house, but I didn’t have a time to fix my bad hair, and making a box shape Japanese leather heavy back luggage, a sort of a backpack, toss up and down on my back, I would run in full speed.

Now I am almost 60, but still I am late to go everywhere, and this time I am speeding!

This morning was not the exception. It takes at least 15 minutes from home to Kaiser, but when I was ready to leave, it was already 5 minutes before the appointment. I don’t know where the two hours were gone, but if I am in harry, I become forgetful or careless, too.

In the car, first I noticed I didn’t have sunglasses and then I noticed that I didn’t take Zyertec, a premed for chemo infusion again! The clock in the car was showing 9:30, the appointment time. I felt so bad, shame, and guilty.

Thankfully Kaiser gives patients 30 minutes grace time. Grace means blessings or gifts from God, which we don’t deserve to receive, in the Bible. Indeed, without grace time, I would’ve missed or cancelled too many appointments. Kaiser also gave me Zyertec with a bottle of water and some crackers upon my request. (If I forgot ice packs to prevent peripheral neuropathy for my limbs, a nurse would give them to me, too.) This is also another grace. I have received countless graces in my life! Breaking this bad habit must be one of my bucket lists.

Lost Trust in Oral Surgeon

I made an appointment with a face plastic surgeon in order to ask him to prescribe the biopsy for the mandible, in which an oral surgeon told me about the possibility of cancer.

When I informed the oral surgeon about this appointment, he called me right away after more than three weeks of silence, and said, “ It’s not cancer. Don’t jump too ahead. .. The biopsy is necessary to see what is going on under the implant, but I don’t think the plastic surgeon can remove the implant…You have to go deep to get a specimen, and have to send it to the oral pathology. Kaiser’s pathology is too general and may misdiagnose.“

It’s not cancer? Don’t jump too ahead?
I am a stage IV breast cancer patient and cancer is growing.
Even if it’s rare, isn’t it reasonable to take it seriously if I hear the possibility of cancer?

I reacted in my mind, but asked him if he had said the biopsy would be invasive without removing the implant.

“ You have to remove the implant anyway whether it’s cancer or infection. I want to do everything at once. I can do the surgery on the 23rd, but if you miss that day, I don’t know when I can do it next. “

I felt pressure, so I made an appointment on the 23rd.

“ Would you give me the estimate of the cost including the biopsy?” I asked.

“ I don’t know. I can tell you after you sign the consent.”

After the consent? Then I won’t be able to cancel it even if I don’t like the price, would I?

I said, “ I am wondering if I should ask for the surgery from the dentist who did the implant. “

Then he said, “ He is not an oral surgeon, but a regular dentist, isn’t he? “

Yes, he is, but he did a great job with putting the implant in me.

Maybe the oral surgeon has an excellent skill, but I didn’t like that he didn’t contact me for more than three weeks after he scared me. I didn’t like how he communicated with me. I can’t trust him. I cancelled the appointment on the 23rd, and decided to ask the original dentist to treat the problem.

Oral Surgery is over with the Newest High Tech

After George’s vocal cord surgery, it was my turn to have an oral surgery removing a teeth implant.

Although I chose the dentist, who had done the implant that other dentists or a specialist I consulted had said was difficult to do seven years ago, over the oral surgeon, I was nervous as I thought that he was not an oral surgeon as the oral surgeon told me, and not young like the oral surgeon, and also he has a bad eye; what if I coughs, mucus comes down my throat, or muscle cramps happen during the surgery?

Then as though he had known my concerns, when I arrived at his office, he said, “ I’d like to show you something. “ and introduced me to a device, which looked like a rice cooker.
“This is a newest technique called L-PRF (Leukocyte-Platelet Rich Fibrion) therapy, FDA approved last year. We will take a small sample of your blood and from that, this machine will makes a white cell clot. I will place it in your bone after I remove the implant, and then this concentrated antibody will fight against the infection, and help the bone heal quickly.”
He explained to me, and added with a victorious grin, “I don’t know if the oral surgeon knows this technique.”

I had no clue if the oral surgeon knew it or not, but became excited and felt better.

Next, he, who is a Seventh Day Adventist, said, “ Let’s start with a prayer.” As he, his wife as his assistant, and I put our hands together and closed eyes, he prayed, “ Please give me the skill and allow me to treat well. “
Now I was no more nervous but got the peace and confidence!

During the surgery, the leg cramps happened as I was afraid of and I had to stand up and step around, but the two hour surgery was done removing the implant, collecting the specimen, and placing the white cell clot in the treated area.
Now I need to wait to see if the newest high tech will work and heal me or not. GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!

Power of White Cells

The biopsy of the mandible where the dentist collected the specimen came back with no evidence of cancer.

I was confident 99%, but I am so thankful that I could rule out cancer, which the oral surgeon told me was a possibility.

The newest high tech, the white cell clot is also working so effectively that a picture of an x-ray taken at the dentist office last Friday, a week after the removal of the implant, showed already the new construction happening at the big hole on the mandible.

Seven years ago when the same dentist did the implant, he used pig’s stem cells to grow wider the mandible, which was too narrow for the implant. Back then I was very impressed and thankful for the technique he used, but the new therapy of the white cell clot, which was made from my own blood, looks much more powerful and effective.

Our immune system God designed is just amazing. What our white cells can do is utterly incredible. Looking at the x-ray, I was so fascinated that I asked the dentist if the same technique was used for the immunotherapy, which would be able to kill cancer cells.
“ The idea is the same, but I don’t know,” said he.
If the white cell can do such a powerful work, cancer vaccine, which enforces the immune system where the white cells take a major role, seems very promising.

I wonder how far the study of cancer vaccine has progressed, and felt very hopeful that someday soon I will find a news caption, “ Revolutional Success of Cancer Vaccine” or something like that!

I felt good and was thankful for God’s guidance of this dentist.

George Got Pneumonia, And I Went Back To ER

After I was discharged 18 days ago, George, who has asthma, started coughing and it was getting worse. Last Friday finally he went to see a doctor and then was told that he was also had pneumonia!

Every 3rd Sunday in a month he is given an opportunity to give a sermon, and since Ma, his mom, whose birthday was 4/10, was coming to listen to his sermon yesterday, we were planning to have a birthday lunch for her including our kids after the service.

“There will be no change.” Saying so to people who worried about him, he kept working on the sermon, though he looked horrible. I thought it was my turn to do the house work so I worked hard through the day, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, going to the grocery shopping, making the lunch, washing dishes, and teaching the piano. Then at night, I ran out energy completely and felt sick again. Coughing and with pink puffy eyes, George asked me, who had a shortness of breathing, ” Is there anything I can do for you?”

If I stay at home being this way, George will worry about me and he can’t rest. It’s better to go to ER, where I can get good medical attention and care. —–Thinking of so, I decided to go to ER preparing for the hospitalization again.

At ER, as an Xray showed no pneumonia sign, a doctor considered to let me go home, but after all, thankfully she took me as an inpatient to observe until Saturday afternoon.

I was discharged, but still had no energy until Sunday morning. George looked pale, also. We were far away from the best condition, but we made it to the service and the birthday lunch. (I appreciate the kids who did the most work to make a nice birthday lunch for Ma.)

This year I have been admitted to the hospital already three times. Yet the new inpatient rooms were clean, quiet, bright, the bed was comfortable, the food was good, and the staff were very professional and caring. I could rest so well without bothering George, or being bothered by a mess at home. Having such a good experience each time, now I feel like Kaiser hospital were my second house! I like there very much!:-)