Thursday, October 30, 2008


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?


steviewren said...

Time for a second opinion! And another doctor. Are you allowed to do that with your insurance? I'd get on the phone to the insurance company and keep asking questions until I found out my rights. Call the local professional medical association. Don't name names, but ask lots of questions about procedures. Talk to anyone you can think of talking to. Always remember, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Squeak and don't stop!

jeanie said...

Goodness - far more concerned with covering his ass than saving yours, methinks.

He gave you the file? And it still didn't have it?

He hasn't had the room cleaned before the last patient, remembers conversations that were not held and didn't even bloddy check on the other lump and he is thinking his little tapdance will make it magically go away?

I think he is a bit of what my word validation is today - "pessines" - second opinion required.

Is his word more valuable than your life? NO. Does he need to build a bridge and do what he is paid to do? YES. If he cannot see this, then he needs to not be your doctor.

Mary Paddock said...


Cut your ties with this doctor. It doesn't matter what information was relayed and when. He obviously doesn't communicate clearly on his best days. There are clearly trust issues involved in this relationship and, at this point, you aren't likely to be comfortable with any of his findings. He made an unacceptable sexist statement in response to your questions instead of treating you like your concerns were valid.

Redlefty said...

I'd fire his ass right now, that's what I'd do.

Portia said...

Time to talk to nurse Elaine and ask her who she would go to if she needed a surgeon. If not her, ask the medical people you know who work at that hospital. Nurses have doctors they would and wouldn't go to, just ask around.

Surgeons are not known for their bedside manner. Some of them are so skilled that it can be overlooked. That does not appear to be the case with your surgeon.

You need to feel like you can trust your surgeon. You deserve to be clearly told your status and have your questions answered in a professional and clear manner.

You have very valid concerns. Check into your options.

Bob said...

Definitely time for a different Doc.

And what Michael said.

Pencil Writer said...

Get a second opinion. I get very aggravated/disgusted with Dr.s who get that "I'm the guy with the credentials, and the years, and the experience, and you're only the lowly patient who really doesn't know enough to even ask the right questions; not to mention you're not going to win this argument" attitude. Is it call a "God Complex"? (No. I don't believe God is anything like that! But, some Dr.s act like they think they're the end-all.)

Those guys forget that if it weren't for all their (dumb) patients, they'd have no reason to practice medicine(since he's not practicing well, he'll probably never quite master it, either). And NO INCOME.

Fortunately there are some doctors still out there who really do care about patients and have the credentials and skills to make them worthy of being called Doctor.

He's a loser. Lose him.

What happened to the PET scan results, MRI's, and all the other tests they ran? Who's the pathologist? Can you check with them and get some "proof" of the condition or even existance of the lump in the other breast?

Phantom breast lumps? Maybe not. Doctors with phantom brains and compassion. Yeah. They're what we need more of.

Amen to the above commentators, too. (Now that I've read them!)

MuseSwings said...

New Doctor, darlin', second opinion, and what Stevie said.

Mary, sis of Muse Swings said...

Ditto what Portia said. Ask Elaine first, she may be a great help. Definitely ask nurses, although they may not be able to talk freely. Ask the Radiadtion Oncologist who he would recommend. I work in the surgical unit of a hospital and have gained immeasurable knowledge in this area. There are most definitely bad Doctors and I'm afraid, my dear survivor-sister, that you have found one of them. I'm SO sorry! RUN, do not walk, away from him. Find a 2nd and even a 3rd opinion. Then, tell all those you care about to avoid this damn man who thinks he's a Doctor. This is so not fair and it makes me sick. Not only are you in the fight for your life but you have to contend with an ass. God has got your back, and He'll give the Doc his dues!!
Mary, sis of Muse Swings

Hal Johnson said...

"What would YOU do?" After that "drama" comment, I think a kick to the nuts would have been appropriate, but I suppose I'm showing my redneck lineage there. Seriously, the guy sounds like a real yayhoo. It's time to find another doctor. And, make sure you've documented everything you remember about your history with the guy, in case a lawyer is called for later.

Scotty said...

I'd have probably punched his lights out, reported him, and then found myself a new doctor.

Lavinia said...

I think you've had some good advisement here. Some doctors can be so aggravatingly arrogant. I remember one late night visit to emergency with my young daughter who was just getting over a cold, and would not stop coughing. The attending physician tried to convince me that she had pneumonia and wanted to take a chest xray to confirm it. I told him that my perfectly healthy child did *not* have pneumonia, that I would not allow a chest xray and that what were the other possible things the persistent cough could be? He became very angry and said "well since you seem to be the one with all the answers then *you* come up with a diagnosis!" and walked out.

Can you believe that? I took my daughter home. She was better the next day. My point: Doctors should, but don't, have all the answers all the time, or even some of the answers some of the time. It's bewildering and frightening to stand inside a big city hospital and come face to face with incompetence when serious health issues are at stake.

You should not have the stress and uncertainty, groping in the dark, along with everything else you are coping with. Good grief, Debby, how your patience, faith, and strength are being tested!

Mikey said...

yep, get a second opinion. This is ridiculous. He's not listening.

PaintedPromise said...

you have GOT to be kidding me!!!!! i have half a mind to hop on the next plane up there and give him what for...

wait, after this week, i only HAVE half a mind... darn it. better keep it or things will go to pot around here...

hugs Deb!!!!! get after a second opinion for sure!!! a good friend here just had her horse diagnosed with EPM (which is BAD by the way for any non-horse folks) - after days of terror and crying she got a second opinion - the horse is TICKLISH. yup. ticklish. no EPM. thank God BUT that doesn't take away the bad days she just suffered through...

i definitely vote for a second opinion. and a third and a fourth if you need it...