Jun 16, 2011

10 Days for 10 Years ... Day 3

Day 3
It’s funny, you’d think that once you've heard the word cancer the impact of the word would lessen each time you had to say … it.  After a marathon of tests, where I had to give my diagnosis of cancer over and over and over again –something I’d YET to do that day without welling up with tears— at a myriad of hospitals, I found myself in the waiting room of yet another doctor.  The only difference was this doctor was the specialist my primary care physician had arranged. He was supposed to be the one who could save my life …
As Mark and I waited in his lobby my mom joined us with a box of candy. 
I love her. 
She’s Italian and if there’s trouble then there’s food. 
The bigger the trouble the sweeter the food. 
A whole box of candy meant …
I was in some big trouble.   
She’d probably been on web MD like I had and figured out if I came through this it would be not a small miracle but a big water to wine, Lazarus from the dead miracle.
The nurse took us back to the doctor’s office where he proceeded to look down at us from behind his high and mighty desk.  He rambled on and on about the nature of my cancer, what famous people have had my cancer (yes, I have shared a disease with a Kennedy) and then he ended his pontification with, “Of course, I need to examine you now.”   
My momma and my husband sat in the doctor’s office with all of his accolades of what a marvelous doctor he was leering at them  and I was ushered down the hall to my first exam room with the first of many nasty exam robes to change into. 

I have since decided you can tell the quality of the doctor by the quality of his exam robes.  Some have the fabric ones that need to be washed after every use. They are usually worn, but soft … comforting. Then there are the doctors who have the exam robes that feel like fabric but ya can toss them after they’re used.  You know like the paper napkins that fool ya into thinking their linen napkins.  Finally, there are the doctors that have the scratchy, one-time-use robes that make you think you’re slipping on the bark of a tree instead of a discreet robe. 
This doctor had the bark robes. 

When he walked in there were no pleasantries.  
“Lay back.” 
I complied.
Now remember where I said my bump was?  Where my leg and my butt met.  Not the most comfortable place to have a doctor probing… I was already nervous from the diagnosis and petrified by the thoughts of chemo and this doctor wasn’t making me feel any more comfortable. 
Once he finished with my leg he said, “I’m going to check to see if there are any metastasis sites.”
“That’s bad, right?” Did I mention I'm a bit sarcastic when nervous ... okay, just over all sarcastic.
No answer just a grunt and shake as he checked my  groin, my arm pits and then my breasts.  He stopped over my right breast.  Sat me up straight. Eyes wide he then ripped my gown open. 
 I’m pretty sure I gasped and tried to pull it back together, I can’t remember.  I was still in shock that he had shredded my bark gown.  Not that I was fond of the bark, but it was covering, me! 
“You have a lump in your breast.”
“Um, yeah… I’ve had fibroids in that breast. It’s probably the same…”
“No.  It’s a metastasis site.  Get dressed and meet back in the office. “  He then walked out of the door leaving it wide open and me sitting on the table with a ripped robe and my maybe metastasized boobies hanging in the wind for the receptionist to take a gander. 

When I got back to his office, my mom was grilling the doctor like nobody’s business.  My husband, an EMT and Physician’s Assistant student, was holding my mom’s hand and also trying to ask the doctor a question. 
“Let’s understand our roles here.”  The doctor said.  “You,” He looked at my mom “are the mother. You act like the mother.”   He then looked at my husband.  “You are the husband and I am the doctor.”   He sat down and looked at me.  “I’m the one who’s going to heal her.” 
No kidding those were his words… “I’m the one who’s going to heal her.”  He then went on to tell me that I would have a port-a-catheter implanted in my chest. It would tie into my heart because the chemo, if we insisted, would be too strong and burn my veins.  He needed a direct line to my heart.  He had consulted with a specialist on the matter. 
When we finally were excused from his office, I knew there was a possibility I would lose my leg like one of the Kennedy boys had ... what I didn’t know was that the good and all mighty doctor had told my husband and mother that I had six months to live. 
Yeah... I'll let that one sink in on ya for a second or two. 
He was certain that the cancer had metastasized and that chemo was futile.  He also recommended to my family that my breast be removed at the same time the catheter was installed and, if they wanted me to live, so should my leg. 
I was scheduled for my surgery in two weeks …


  1. Oh good sweet Lord, I hope you send him a "hey, dumbass, look I'm still alive" card every year. (and yes, I cussed!). Sheesh! God complexes reaaaallly get on my nerves!

  2. I am sorry you had such an experience. First of all, your blog is really precious and raw at the same time... hits home. my sis....
    also, my husband is a doc, a real patient advocate.... this physician's manner is inappropriate.... I am so sorry.

    I want to thank you for your honest truth and sharing. I appreciate your strength, your courage, your mom...


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