Or, "Surprise! You've got cancer."
Yes, that's the news I heard today when I went to a second doctor. Luckily, it's not a serious cancer. The name is some ridiculously long medical mumbo-jumo for thyroid cancer. Am I scared? Not really. Every person I know in the medical field assures me that this is the "best" cancer you can have. It's basically 100% curable. I just have to have my thyroid removed, take a radioactive iodine pill, and then take thyroid supplements for the rest of my life. Simple enough.
For my last surgery, yes, I was scared. Everything was unknown. I had never had surgery before. I had never been put under before. I wasn't even sure I trusted the doctor. I was scared. Luckily, his colleague was there to assist with the surgery, and was greeted warmly when we went into the OR. This made me go under with a nice warm fuzzy feeling, not entirely brought on by the medications they were pumping through my system.
This time. I know what's going to happen. I already have the experience of being put under, and I already trust this doctor who will be performing the surgery. Let me explain this whole big trust thing going on here a little more. I'll start from the beginning. First off, right when I meet the first doctor, Dr. Douglas Smith, he's got a smile that belongs on a used car salesman. A bit creepy. But he seems to know his shit. He checks the lump, looks down my throat with a scope, says it's most likely just a cyst but we're going to get a CT to check it out and then proceed with surgery to get it removed. We are also going to try, as another possible route, some antibiotics... according to Dr. Smith, cysts will sometimes react to antibiotics because they can be just large infections. Sounds good to me.
So, head from the doctor's office, off to the pharmacy to pick up that antibiotic. May as well get it taken care of right away. Get to the pharmacy, give the script to the pharmacist.... he pulls up my medical records... looks at the script... looks back at my medical records... looks at me... and asks, "What doctor gave you this prescription?"
A bit confused, I tell him, "Dr. Douglas Smith."
After which he asks me for Dr. Smith's phone number. Still confused, I give him the phone number for the doctor and inquire as to why he might need it. "Your records state that you are allergic to amoxicillin." I confirm with a nod. "What kind of reaction do you get when you take it?"
Getting even more confused, since I know the doctor didn't prescribe me amoxicillin, I simply tell him "Hives."
"That's one step in allergic reaction before anaphylactic shock. This prescription is for a derivative of amoxicillin and could possibly kill you if you have the same reaction to it."
This was quite shocking. Obviously. A major screwup which could have been potentially very disastrous. At this point, I should have gotten a clue.
I never claimed to be very bright.
So we got my prescription fixed and, being that it was only a far outside chance that it would have any effect anyhow, it did nothing. A week later, I got a phone call telling me that a surgery date had been set and I needed to come in and finalize some paperwork. "Well," I figure, "he specializes in surgery... not medicine." Stupid rationalization, I know. I managed to convince myself with it though, because I wanted this over with. Plus I was scared out of my wits... that may have had something to do with it. I need to get somebody to go along with me for these types of things and smack me with a billy club when I do something stupid. But I digress...
On the morning of Wednesday, August 29, 2007, I go in for surgery. Dr. Smith comes in with his far-too-toothy smile to greet me before surgery. I'm bodily shaking... only in part because of my reaction to needles... what with a large IV needle sticking out of my arm now and all. However, when we get into the OR, I hear a friendly "Ah, Dr. Bartell, it's good to see you!" (Dr. Thad Bartell is Dr. Smith's aforementioned associate.) Next thing I knew, I was waking up 2 hours later in the recovery room, receiving several doses of morphine and demerol. I was happy.
About a week later, Dr. Smith calls me up to tell me that I need to speak with a Dr. Glenn Rothman. He's rather vague about why. All he tells me is that there was "a growth" in the middle of the cyst that was removed, and it is likely "a common thyroid problem," which is "easily curable." Well, that doesn't sound so bad. I set up an appointment with the new doctor and go about my business, figuring it's something caused from hyperthyroidism. That's not so bad. I can deal with that.
Today, I went in for my appointment, and after talking for less than a minute, Dr. Rothman asks me, "Wait, what exactly did Dr. Smith tell you about why you were coming here?" So I tell him what Dr. Smith told me. The next words out of his mouth, I could never hear again from a doctor and be live perfectly happy. "I'm so sorry," he told me. He then proceeds to tell me what Dr. Smith should have. That this growth was in fact cancerous, although it is easily treatable. Amazingly I maintained my cool through this whole thing... I think. Next step, Dr. Rothman is ordering the results of my CT scan and scheduling a chest x-ray and ultrasound just to be absolutely certain that nothing is missed. He's thorough. I like that. He's candid, he's kind, to the point, sincere. This guy, I feel I can trust. I hope. At least I can be more analytical with this one. I've already looked into his credentials. They seem impressive enough. I don't know anybody who knows of him, but I'm going to keep asking around.
I just want this all over with.
Then, no more doctors. For a long, long time.