Yesterday I had an appointment with my reluctant surgeon to follow-up my consultation with the second opinion surgeon. She does not agree with his assessment. She said that she and the second opinion surgeon have “binary opinions” about how to proceed. She still does not believe there will be any positive outcomes to the surgery that has been identified as necessary to remove the growth in my pelvis and restore my health. While he believes the only way to improve my situation is to undergo that risky surgery.
As it usually goes, I walked into my appointment feeling hopeful and I walked out feeling deflated. The only time, since my first meeting with her, that I felt any hope is when she suggested that I meet with the second opinion surgeon to get more guidance about my condition and options for how to treat it. I see now that she expected him to support her position. She wanted him to say that I shouldn’t have the surgery because it would be too risky and could considerably reduce my quality of life. She wanted him to take responsibility for making the decision. She had even told me that he might decide to take over my case after reviewing my charts and meeting me and have her assist during surgery.
But the second opinion surgeon didn’t say or do any of that. So yesterday she offered up the possibility of getting a third opinion. She said I shouldn’t view it as a “tie breaker” – because this next doctor’s opinion would clearly fall on either side – but it would make sure that all perspectives had been considered. How many perspectives are there in a case like mine? I can either have the necessary surgery with good outcomes or I can’t. What more is there to investigate? And what happens if this third opinion surgeon’s views land on the same side as the second opinion surgeon? Will my reluctant surgeon still be reluctant to do surgery? Will she continue to seek out other opinions until she gets the support she wants? Had she even considered that she was sending me to see a doctor at the hospital where I was misdiagnosed to get this third opinion?
When I questioned the rationale behind seeking a third opinion, she offered up the option to move forward with another exploratory procedure. This time it would be a laparoscopy. I mentioned that the second opinion surgeon asked if I had had one. The laparoscopy would be done to take a look into my pelvis to see if the structure growing there could be seen with more clarity than from all the imaging and other procedures I’ve had over the last 21 months (countless abdominal and trans-vaginal ultrasounds, two CT scans, an MRI, a colonoscopy, and two failed fine needle aspirations), and to confirm the growths exact origin. The structure and the origin of this growth have been debated since I first became ill and I was under the impression, until yesterday, that these issues had been resolved. But clearly not, and now instead of moving forward to completely remove it from my body she wants to take another small diagnostic/exploratory step.
Although, I should make something clear. She wants me to consent to this small step – the laparoscopy – with the understanding that depending on what she sees she may go ahead with the more complicated resection. I cannot consent to that. I cannot consent to that because my pain specialists have developed a detailed pain management plan for during and after the resection, which if not followed could leave me even more f****d than I am now. The pain plan must be started before surgery for a successful outcome. So the thought of allowing my reluctant surgeon to do something that would put me at risk of having more pain than I have now scares me beyond words.
After the appointment, when I got home, I contacted my doctor that referred me to my reluctant surgeon. Even though he is not my family doctor/general practitioner – he’s the gynecologist I was sent to because of my misdiagnosis – he has managed all my referrals. He’s the only one I trust to help me make the right decisions about this situation. I’ve requested an appointment to see him within the next few weeks. Whatever he says I’m sure will be better than my reluctant surgeon telling me that if I was her sister she wouldn’t recommend I have the surgery, which amounts to I shouldn’t have anything done at all and continue living with this unbearable pain and taking the mountains of pain medication that barely make a dent. Or worse, that I should make the decisions and absolve her from her responsibilities as a surgeon because she might put on her best, god-like performance in the operating room and fail.
This morning a light went on. My reluctant surgeon is not reluctant. She just does not want to do my surgery. She has not only burst my bubbles she has become the fly in my ointment.
Miley Cyrus – The Climb