Sunday, April 5, 2015

Seconds Please

One of my last attempts to make friends with the conventional medical world through my HMO was the decision to get a second opinion. My naturopathic doctor encouraged me in this regard. She told me to shop around within our three HMO covered hospitals in our city for a surgeon that might be more innovative. One that was up on the newest procedures and technology. One that would take the time to listen to me, and perhaps validate my decisions. I studied physician bios, both their education and personal pages. Then I sent three names and bios to Doctor Y for her perusal. I told her to read between the doctor speak and promos to see if one seemed doable.
We narrowed it down to one and I made the call. But unlike a page from a feel good novel, the news I received was real world time. This doctor didn't deal with my surgical needs (even though his bio said he did). The office recommended another surgeon.
Ah yes, Doctor S.
The exam was conducted with two medical students at his side (which I did give approval for - after all they need to learn their craft). I felt, however that I was being used as the specimen - the teaching cadaver. All conversation was around me. Dr. S slapped on the white glove and did his exam (I'll spare you details) followed by one med student's white glove. She wasn't practiced in the fine art of patient comfort. Don't ask me why med student #2 was there. Just observing, I guess. And then they discussed their "findings" above my head. I was instructed to meet them in another room for their assessment.  So I went from one examining room to another. I hopped on another exam table - which I always wonder - why do people in TV shows and movies get their results in posh offices with the Divine Doctor sitting at the big wood desk and patient sitting in a padded chair? The doctor and his entourage swept in, Dr. S sat on one of those fun little twirly chairs while Thing 1 and Thing 2 stood, back to the counter, arms folded and nodded as he gave his proclamation.
I now "probably" had stage 4 cancer and the tumor had "probably" invaded another part of my body by what they felt during the exam.
Well, that's a fine, "how-do-you-do."
I tried to show him my latest blood tests (which, by this time I'm well into my naturopathic treatments). It showed that the cancer had not spread. Because they were not done at sacred HMO labs, he gave them a 5 second glance and told me I needed chemo and radiation. He started to pull out the same pamphlet I was given by surgeon #1. Standard procedure, I guess. I declined, thanked him for his time and told him I would keep in touch.
He ordered me another CT scan, which I needed. After all, HMO will pay for this.
However, the contrast dye he ordered, is not even used anymore. I had to go through my GP to get the right one.
Skipping ahead in my story.
After the CT scan was complete, the results went to Dr. S. I received a phone call from him personally to give me the results. Thankfully my GP doctor sent me a copy of the written results before the phone call. And, thankfully, the results showed no significant changes except for the "suspicious" lymph node had gotten a little larger. Everything else looked good.
This is what Dr. S presented to me. I "probably" had stage 4 rectal cancer now and instead of the tumor invading the one area he mentioned in my initial 2nd opinion visit about 6 months before, he now decided it had "probably" invaded my groin. I needed chemo and radiation.
By now my blood pressure was pretty dang elevated and I tried to keep my voice steady and polite as I informed him that his interpretations and mine of the findings were quite different. When I told him I was in the care of a naturopathic doctor, and the treatments were helping me, he asked me when I was going to use "real medicine". Yup, his exact words.
Next: Real Medicine
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