Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Member of My Medical Team

When I was young, I made the foolish assumption that I would rarely, if ever need a doctor.

Give me a moment while I laugh like crazy.


So back in the early 80s, I found out through the school nurse that my blood pressure was always running pretty high and I needed to find a family doctor to monitor that. I finally found one who was taking new patients and saw him about every 3 months or so. Then he retired. I finally got in with another family doctor that I still see today, but I only see him twice a year, unless I get sick in between times (which as a teacher usually happens each October and March).

Of course, I had an OB-GYN, and spent some time with him until I basically released myself from his care, and moved on to another one. I think the world of my current OB-GYN, but don't see him hardly at all anymore because in 2002 he removed all my "female" parts. I did see him quite a bit while I was pregnant with our sons though. He wanted to monitor me closely and he did. I had appointments every 2-3 weeks until the last two months, and then moved up to weekly visits.

And during my hysterectomy, my heart went goofy, skipping beats, so they would not release me until I had a stress test. I have ventricular tachycardia and a mitral valve prolapse issue. Both are pretty mild and are easily taken care of with medication. HOWEVER, I now see a cardiologist once a year, just to check on things.

Then the big "C" hit. The surgeon who took such excellent care of me during my initial surgery and my colostomy take-down surgery is my absolute favorite doctor of all time. I still see him occasionally because he is the one who does my colonoscopies and orders my CT scans.

Of course I also have an oncologist now. I started out seeing him every two weeks, then when I finished chemo, it was once a month, then every two months, every three months, every four months and I am now on the six month visitation schedule, thank goodness. He's a great guy, very knowledgeable in the field of cancer and even has a personality! My sister-in-law Patty also sees him as she had a bout of cancer a year and a half ago (no chemo needed, thank the Lord). He gets a kick out of the fact that we both visit him...although I don't know why he would find that so amusing. We've even had appointments back to back a couple of times. His staff needed a little wake-up call though, when last summer they submitted paperwork to MY insurance company for a PET scan that PATTY was scheduled for! They apologized profusely when I called them and told them that they may have gotten a little confused.

Anyway, this past week I had a visit with my surgeon, Dr. P. This man is just fabulous, in my opinion. A few months after my initial cancer diagnosis and surgery I was having a particularly rough day emotionally and it happened to be the same day I had an appointment with him. We talked a lot that day, and he never once made me feel as though he was rushing me through. He answered all my questions, including the ones pertaining to the mental side of dealing with cancer. We even got into religion a little and how it plays such a part in the healing process. (We belong to the same church, but because there are so many masses, I've never seen him or his family there.) He's asked me about my family and how they were dealing with things, and it turned out that his third child is in Alex's class.

The other day he walked into the room and had this huge grin on his face and said, "Hi CYNTHIA!" He knows I loathe that name and I told him that he does that just because he knows I don't like it. He agreed completely, and started chuckling. He sat down to look at his computer, and commented that I was now three and a half years out (like I didn't have a clue?) and my CT scan results showed that......

I have NO sign of cancer in my abdominal or chest areas, HIP HIP HOORAY!!!!

What a relief! I had no reason to think that there was anything there, but it helps so much to find it out officially.

Then he told me that I am his largest referral base. He said that I've sent quite a few people to him for colonoscopies and they mention that they are there because of me. That made me feel really good. (I should have asked him to put me on the payroll, but I didn't think of it at the time!) I asked him if he'd found anything in any of them, and he said he had, and that he had to have a serious discussion with one woman the next day. I asked if she was a teacher, and he said she was.

In the course of our conversation I asked him when I would stop thinking about having cancer on a daily basis...maybe only think about it once a week or so. He looked at me and told me that he really didn't know, but that I'd been "burned" and we are always more aware of things after that.

Then I told him that I felt that my cancer was a fluke, because I was under 50 and had no family history and basically no symptoms, other than a 5 day stomach ache. I told him to please agree with me, even if my thoughts weren't valid. He said they WERE valid and that he definitely agreed with me. He used another term to describe it, but I don't remember it now.

He told me that we're in the same club now, age wise. I shot him a dirty look because I don't like to think about my age. He laughed at that. But then I told him that I thought he was a little younger than that.

He likes to tease, so I sort of gave it back to him...asking about his youngest child. Dr. P has boy-girl twins that are 21, a son who is 18, and another son who is....get this...THREE. All with the same mother too. Can we say "surprise" when the last one came along? On my last visit to see him he told me that one Sunday he had taken Joey (his youngest) along with him on rounds at the hospital. One patient's family told him that they thought it was so sweet that he was bringing his grandson with him to the hospital, hahaha! I asked if he told them that it was his son, not his grandson, and he said he did, and they were so embarrassed. He got a kick out of that.

He and his family live on a farm, just outside of town. They also raise Christmas trees and this past holiday season he told me they sold 140 trees! I was really surprised by that, as I thought more and more people were going with artificial trees. He said he couldn't figure it out either.

Before we got Pepina, I had mentioned to him that we were thinking about getting a cat and he said he had many on the farm that we could choose from. I asked if any were calicos and he said that they could be, with some spray paint. I passed on the offer and we both laughed.

His twins went away to college, but have both changed colleges and can now live at home while finishing their education. He said, and I quote...they came back. He laughed about that.

In between all this conversation, he examined my incisions and checked for swollen lymph nodes on my neck and armpits, as well as listening to me breathe, etc.

As my appointment finished, he said that I'm doing so well that this time we can go a year in between visits instead of six months.

I just stared at him at first.

He's been one of my "rocks" and I don't know if I can handle that long between visits. He's always made me feel so good mentally and emotionally...

But I agreed.

In two weeks I have an appointment with my oncologist. That should go fine.

In the midst of all the cancer stuff, there were several weeks during which I had three doctor's appointments and just planned my life around them. I'll never forget the first week that I had NO was like I had turned a corner. And now that they are so spread out, that's really good.

Except for Dr. P. He's a great man.


Jen said...

Hooray! Congratulations on the good tests!

Leeann said...

So glad that everythng came out free and clear.
What a relief!

Terre said...

Cindi I love your blog because I learn so much. I'm scheduled for the almighty colonoscopy on Feb. 9th and not looking forward to it but I'm doing it because of your compassionate plea for screening. Some things going on here I'll tell you about later which will explain why my blog isn't updated. Anyway, we are cheering for the clean report and longer intervals in your medical visits. Ter

PERBS said...

Glad all is well with you . . . and as for the name Cynthia . . . I LOVE IT! In fact, if we had had another girl, I wanted to name her Cynthis Lynn.

theArthurClan said...

What a wonderful difference that one man made in your life ~ that was really special to read about.

And woo-hoo for being cancer free. So completely happy for you right now!! :)

Anonymous said...

Woooo Whoooooo!!!!!! Great to hear your report!!!!

Mr. Anonymous