As I emerged from the fog after my Friday morning colonoscopy, the doctor was telling my wife Carol that he saw some things he “did not like the look of”. It would take a few days to get the biopsy results. In the meantime, enjoy your weekend! Early the following week, I received a call at work and the woman on the line said “Doctor would like to speak with you. Can you hold for a moment?” I immediately thought: This has to be good news! We’ve all seen that movie, right? If it’s bad news, the nurse says, “Doctor would like to discuss your test results. Can you come to his office?” Well my doctor apparently had not seen any of those movies because he came on the line and said “Hey, I have some bad news for you.”. Even if your doctor delivers the bad news in person, don’t expect it to be in his nicely appointed, quiet office where you and your spouse sit on comfortable leather guest chairs and he’s behind his mahogany desk patiently going over the details of your case with
Showing posts with the label Medical Team
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Hand size matters. It’s a lesson I learned while having my colorectal cancer diagnosed and staged at the University of Chicago and the Mayo Clinic. Of course you want the knowledgeable doctor but, all other things being equal, go for the petite female not the Big-10 lineman with fingers like sausages. It’s more complicated at a teaching hospital like Chicago and Mayo because your doctor is trailed by a team of residents and fellows, all of whom want to “take a look”. I’m all for education and I know that new doctors must get hands-on (or fingers-in) experience so my default answer has always been “sure”. There are just two situations where I have insisted on the experienced doctor or nurse. First is when the surgery has been described as a complicated, one-shot procedure. Second is when the person in-training has made multiple unsuccessful attempts and now looks terrified or, as I experienced several times, is actually crying. I think that’s reasonable .
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Below are a few lessons that I’ve learned on this journey. Hopefully they are useful. Proper Cancer Staging and Correct Diagnosis are Critical at the Outset This basic information determines the game plan for your treatment. If it’s not accurate, you can solve the wrong problem or solve it incompletely. I mentor other cancer patients and have heard about treatments that turned out to be misguided by an inaccurate initial staging of the cancer. If you detect any crack in your doctor’s confidence ask them to explain how they arrived at your diagnosis, how certain they are, and whether additional testing could be helpful. You are setting off on a journey and you better make sure you know where you are going. Don’t be afraid to ask these questions: How many cases like mine have you seen? Is there another doctor who is more experienced than you are? What would you do if you were me? How hard you press on these questions is related to how serious and unusual your case is. My