I just got back from the first appointment with John about his cancer (read more) and we got absolutely nothing done! I’m really pissed at the VA hospital, the surgeon we saw, and at John! Let me tell you why:
The VA doesn’t do a “team-based” approach to treatment, so the initial problem was that the oncologist needed a biopsy to confirm the type of cancer (understandble) but the surgeon didn’t want to operate on the groin lymph nodes because it would leave him with unpleasant side-effects (swelling in the legs, possible blood clots) and might delay his chemo treatment. This means that nothing got done today. No biopsy and we only revealed these problems with the VA.
Luckily a nurse (who’s name I didn’t get) worked for us in getting the oncologist and surgeon to talk about getting an ultrasound or C-T scan with a biopsy of the spots on his liver. This nurse was awesome, he was running back and forth between 3 different departments trying to get a staight answer from someone. For that I thank him. Also it makes me really proud that my sister is going to be doing that for other people.
The surgeon and his bedside manner left much to be desired. The VA has a super slick computer system that allows records and information to be accessed from anywhere. They can pull up records from any hospital. It gets rid of the paper medical records that I am used to from my growing up, which is excellent.
The problem with the electronic medical records is that the surgeon spent more time looking at a computer screen and typing than he did looking John in the eye and listening to what he was saying. It was really hard for me to put up with. I have finally found a use for the tablet PC. If the surgeon had a tablet, it would have allowed him to sit and look at his patient (my father-in-law) while still taking notes and accessing this electronic system. He was cold in the fact that sometimes he was concentrating more on what was on the screen that the person in the flesh. It has really shown me what I sometimes do to people. I am going to start working on that.
The last part that pisses me off was John himself. I don’t know if you can be pissed at cancer patients, but if you can’t, that sucks.
John pushed back the ultrasound appointment without even consulting with a doctor. It interfered with a trip to Maine. The thing that pissed me off was that it appears that his form of cancer is really aggresive and putting it off is not helping. If he wouldn’t have moved for a completely unnesseccary trip, he could have had his biopsy later this week and then July 5 could have started his treatment, but instead he’s in denial and doesn’t want to get the biopsy until July 5.
I know that he’s scared. I am to, but you have to manage your illness, the doctors won’t (that became apparent when talking to the surgeon). We have to keep ontop of everything that is happening to him, but he’s not willing to commit to beating this. It’s scary, but will a trip to Maine get you cured? No. Geting a biopsy will though… or it will put you on the path to recovery.