Dr. Fancy Pants, the interventional radiologist who read my CT and Nuclear Bone Scan, called me this morning.
“Mrs. P?” (no, it’s Dr. P, but go on…I recognize from my new caller ID that it is someone from the huge facility where I am treated and I am anxious, so please, demean me even more. I know it is serious if you are calling.) A loyal subject of Dr. FP announces his call. “And also on the line is Nurse Good. Please hold.” Nurse Good is my medical oncologist’s subject. Why would she be on the line with Dr. Medical Oncologist on vacation? The answer will come to me too late for this call– I am overwhelmed with the fact that what I am about to hear will change the course of my life.
Suddenly, it is time for my audience with Dr. FP! A slightly accented voice introduces himself like he’s Jay-Z. “Mrs. P, this is Dr. FP.” He pauses, I guess because he is used to hearing applause after he says his name. I offer none. “Mrs. P, I’d like to talk to you about your biopsies.” It’s about f-ing time, don’t you think? Five days have passed since Dr. MO ordered my biopsies. Two different imaging says ‘metastasis’ and you’re going to just let me hang like you have? I really let him have it! Of course, that was after we had hung up, so he never heard my witticism. Instead, he droned on. “I know Dr. MO thinks it is wise to get a biopsy after two positive images, I disagree. I believe it is simply arthritis. We will get another set of images in three months. So it is written, so it shall be done.” I’m suddenly speechless. Nurse Good swoops in. “Mrs. P, are you OK with that? We will schedule your imaging today.” Dr. FP then confirms that his pronouncement has been received and will be followed, and says to me, “So you will agree to this plan?” Do I have a choice? And who am I to have to make this choice? Ok, I AM a doctor, but not that kind! How the Hell do I know if this plan is the best for me? And shouldn’t Dr. MO, the one who ordered the imaging, be the one to make the call?
What I am sensing is a bit of a pissing match between two of the medical street fighters on my team. However, what Dr. FP did was really a technical foul in the game of medicine. He should really speak with the doctor who ordered the biopsies, not the patient who just happens to be a doctor, if he feels important medical procedures are not warranted after two scans corroborated that something could not be Kosher. Now he can legally say the patient agreed to cancel the procedures, and even had Nurse Good as a witness! Nicely played, Fancy Pants, nicely played.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not crazy. Biopsies are not my idea of a fun time (although you would think it is at least a part-time job with the number I’ve had in the last year). But the word ‘suspected metastasis’ is emotionally cumbersome. Dr. MO chose an aggressive route because of other mitigating factors in my medical makeup to which Dr. FP is not privy. Who is he to cancel the orders of another doctor when she is on vacation after she and I decided to fight The Guys In The White Van head on? Doesn’t he know I am not such a fan of Cancer? Three months can be a lifetime.
I was too distracted with the ceremony of the conversation with The Great and Powerful Dr. Fancy Pants to be not only witty, but quick enough to recognize when I am in over my head, and perhaps even being bamboozled by BS a bit. However, I am not the type to roll over and take this type of medical paddling without a fight. Next week, when Dr. MO is back from her fabulous vacation and feeling refreshed, I will call her and ask, quite professionally, WTF. We will discuss how I was able to go from metastatic to “meh” in five days. We will also figure out a plan of attack that will allow me to feel that I am not having an offensive tactic played on me. Especially in an election year, do I really need more self-serving rhetoric in my life?
I’m sure Dr. Fancy Pants will go to bed tonight feeling that he has done good with me. Not only did he save the insurance company money, he will keep his ‘case’–the number of patients sent to his department–clean. Me and my Cancerific self can stay in the realm of the Breast Center for just a little while longer, and he has shown Dr. MO who wears the pants in their house.
However, Dr. FP’d better take note–if MY doctor disagrees with him I will be back. I might not be quick enough to figure out I’m being shunted when I’m being shunted, but now that I have, I can do something about it. The same goes for you–stand up for yourself to your medical professionals. Over and over I’ve demonstrated–the life you save will be your own.