I went to the biopsy appointment with my aunt. She has leukemia. She knows medical jargon. She knows doctors. She felt strongly that the second lump should have been biopsied at the same time that the other lump was removed. I figured that it would be good to have an ally. We were taken into a little room. The first thing that I noticed was that there was an open packet of neosporin on the counter along with some covered containers. It looked like it had not been cleaned up after the last patient. This surprised me. I told my aunt that this made me not comfortable. She agreed.
The nice surgeon came in. He began to explain that he had told me repeatedly the second lump was gone. Of all the things that I expected, this didn't even come in to the top 100. I could only gape. "You never said that. I told you prior to the first surgery that if you found that the lump and the lymph nodes were cancerous in the left breast, that I was requesting a mastectomy. I also requested that if you found cancer in the right breast as well, that my wishes were for a double mastectomy, and I assured you that if I woke up with nothing at all, I'd be okay with that, that I just wanted the cancer gone. You told me that you should have never told me about the second lump. I reminded you that I already knew it was there, and that as soon as your hands stopped, I knew that it wasn't my imagination, that you had found it too." He looked at me with an incredulous look on his face. "Women love their drama," he said. I called him on that right away. I am not a drama lover. His response was that he was trying to lighten the mood, and that he would be all business, since this is what I wanted. He went on to tell me that he had not only told me, multiple times in the recovery room, with nurse Trudy at his side (I remember nothing until I woke up in my own room, freezing, with Elaine putting a blanket over my head, like a hood, while my teeth chattered.) , but that he had told Tim this, post op. "No. You did not. Tim would have been overjoyed to tell me that. He would have remembered that."
Here's the thing, people. This thing I know for sure. The day before surgery, that lump was there. Do you want to know how I know? Because I laid for long hours in the dark, my hands wandering back and forth between the two lumps, wondering how I could have possibly missed them. I prayed about what was going to happen the next day, I wondered what I would be left with when it was done. I made up my mind that if I came home with no bust at all, I was okay with that. The lumps were both still there Sunday night. Monday, it was gone. Or Wednesday, if he made the discovery during the insertion of the mediport.
I commented that I had been told that I was coming for a core needle biopsy. He told me that I had never been told that. I know what was said. Tim begged not to come. He can't stand needles. The surgeon said that I had merely been brought in so that he could tell me, again, that there was no second lump. 'What do I need to do to make you happy?' he wanted to know. "Show me,' I answered. "Show me where you addressed the issue of the second lump. We have your initial report of a 2 cm lump in the right breast, pre-op. I want you to show me any documentation that the lump was not found. Anything." "I can do that," he said. He left the room and returned with a copy of the mediport insertion surgery. I left the office with my aunt. I retrieved my reading glasses and read the report. As expected, the second lump was not mentioned.
My aunt and I talked in the car. She is not impressed. 'He did not answer your questions. He talked over you. He was not listening.'
Tim met me at the door when I got home. I cried trying to tell him. He said, "He never talked to me at all after the mediport surgery. I was upset because they sent me out during the prep, and no one ever called me back in. I waited about an hour." I remembered the nice anaethesiologist, and our political discussion, and felt guilty. Poor Tim had been sitting out there waiting. I was pretty exhausted that morning. It hadn't even occurred to me. Tim continued, "I finally went out to the girl that had signed us in. She called back and said, "Oh, she's already gone to the OR." He said, "I went to the restroom, and to the snack bar and grabbed something to drink. I was coming back, and the girl said, "Your wife is back in her room. You can go right on back.'" Tim said, "I never saw the doctor at all Wednesday morning." Monday, after the original surgery, he and Trudy did come out. They talked to Tim, Mr. Feeny, Mary, and our pastor. There was no discussion at all about the second lump then according to Tim.
There are the facts. As presented by both sides.
I'm so flabbergasted, I can't even think.
Okay. I'm asking.
What would YOU do?