Katie & Briscoe

Katie & Briscoe

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"You'll scare yourself to death."

I was talking to the very nice nurse at my surgeon's office yesterday afternoon. I'd called to let them know the results of my biopsy. (This is the surgeon who is going to fix my hernia, and who I've asked to take care of the lumpectomy as well.) I mentioned to the nurse/receptionist that I was planning to do some research on the web about my cancer. Her reply, in a very nice & concerned tone, was, "oh, I wish you wouldn't do that. You'll scare yourself to death."

Turns out, the web research wasn't particularly scary. I'm that kind of person. I want to know all the details. I hit the web every time I, or anyone I care about, comes up against an illness I'm not familiar with. So, thank you ACS for all that in-depth info. Anyway, I went up to the hospital where my most recent mammogram was done to pick up the films & a copy of the radiologist's report for my surgeon. I got home this afternoon and got my first look at that report. First, I was mad that the OTHER surgeon didn't tell me what that report said. Namely, that I very likely had a primary cancerous tumor. He acted like he didn't know what I had. In fact, that's what he told my hubby when directly asked if they had ANY ideas about what it MIGHT be. No one was trying to ask for a definitive diagnosis, we just wanted some hint about what we might be facing. So, I get the report and low and behold, he knew good and well that I most likely had cancer but put me for more than a week until the biopsy results came in. Worse, he still didn't tell me that the mammogram revealed that my lymph nodes on that side are swollen and displaying signs of abnormalities. (This is where I started getting a little nervous.)

First, the biopsy revealed that my tumor was negative for hormone receptors, meaning my prognosis isn't as good & hormone therapy after the surgery is out. Second, the possible lymph node issue opens up a whole new area of concern. The size of the tumor alone is enough to push me into higher staging. If the lymph nodes are involved, then I'm looking at Stage III which has a significant impact on the survivability statistics. They hit the gutter if it's already metastasized.

I hate that he didn't lay all those cards on the table for me. As intimidating as it is, I would still rather know. I would much rather know I'm facing a tougher battle than to be coddled into thinking it's not so bad only to have my feet kicked out from under me when the ugly truth comes out.

But, this surgeon was not my kind of doctor. He didn't give me full disclosure, which is enough to make me not want to let him manage my care. As if I needed more convincing, though, on the day he did my biopsy, he walked into the room coughing. Have was kind enough to cover his mouth with his hand....the same hand he used to "clean" the area with, to inject the anesthetic with, to make the incision with and to operate the biopsy gun with. All without washing his hands, using antibacterial hand sanitized, or wearing gloves. That was one of the most unprofessional things I have ever seen. To top the whole thing off, after he gave me my diagnosis, I told him I wanted a second opinion, which he said he fully understood. He had recommended that I have a breast MRI, which I thought sounded like a good idea. My other surgeon's office said he ought to have no problem writing the order. We're talking about two different hospitals here, & the "non-quack" surgeon doesn't have privileges at the one that offers the breast MRI. So I called his office and asked if he would order the test for me. I got the call back this afternoon that he won't do it if I'm still planning to seek a second opinion, but he'll be happy to set it up if I agree to let him handle all my breast care.

Jerk. I wouldn't let him anywhere near me after that. Mark wants me to complain to his superiors, whoever that might be. I doubt it would do any good. We've been down that road before with his mom. On of her doctors put her on a high dose of an anti seizure med that I was already taking for migraines. I had plenty of experience at how hard it hit the body and how slow you had to go to reach the maintenance dosage. It took me weeks to get to my dosage and they started her off on a dose twice as high as mine. She was comatose. I kept telling them that they'd overdosed her. They ignored all our arguments, telling us, basically, that it was due to her brain cancer & we ought to just take her home to die. They were planning to kick her out the next morning so we called her neuro surgeon. He was livid. He called the department head. The surgeons words: "They overdosed her." They cut her dosage WAY down and low and behold, she woke up and started talking just fine. What happened to the doctor who started the whole thing? Nothing. It was all chalked up to a "miscommunication." Still ticked off about that. Moral of the story: doctors are not infallible. Only a complete idiot would trust them blindly. Which is why I do so much research.

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