Clarifications November 30, 2013Posted by Judy in Musings.
Tags: breast cancer, cancer, healthcare
Wow! I’m completely humbled by all of the amazing people in my life who I call my friends. Over the past few days, I’ve received an outpouring of love, support, advice. People have shared their own stories, offered up prayers and kept me in their thoughts. I’m so, so blessed to have all of you in my life!
Based on some of the commentary, I think I may need to clear a few things up.
– The biopsy will be a needle biopsy, not a surgical biopsy. So it’s less invasive and I think the recovery time is shorter/easier.
– I may have given the impression that I was saying “The heck with the biopsy.” That’s not really accurate. I WAS very annoyed with the very low quality of the care I received. But, I will likely go ahead with the biopsy. The further I get from the initial visit to the Breast Cancer Institute (hereafter known as the BCI), the more clarity I have, and I can see that my annoyance stemmed from two things.
1) The pressure tactics. It really felt like there was this huge pressure to take care of everything NOW! I felt like if I didn’t do the mammo the same day or take the soonest available biopsy appointment, all hell would break loose. You know those telemarketers that say “Well, you have to decide today, or the offer will no longer be available.”? Yep, that’s how I felt the healthcare professionals were behaving. I was given no time at all to think about what was happening to formulate my own opinions. I’m not cool with that.
2) The utter lack of information given to me. I get that many people are happy to do as the doctor says without asking questions. I’m not one of those people. You see, I am an informed consumer. I read alot. I ask questions. I like to know why. Case in point. During my sophomore year in college, I took a Theory II class. On a particular morning, we were given a handout and told we were starting to learn about part-leading/writing. And then, the teacher proceeded to give us a bunch of rules:
-you can’t have parallel fifths
-you can’t have parallel octaves
– tritones have to be resolved in one of two ways
– no crossing of voices
This all seemed out of the blue to me, so I asked “Who made up these rules?” “Why do these rules exist?” “So what if you have a parallel octave?” The teacher fumbled about and didn’t really give a good answer. I think it was something like “That’s just the way it is.” I crossed my arms and said, “Hrmph! That’s dumb!” And was pretty unreceptive to the rest of the rules given that day.
Extrapolate that to the current situation, and maybe you can see why I was annoyed. The only reasons I was given for the exams were “This is totally customary to do another test.” It was almost as if the employees were robots and they were simply spouting the party line, with no regard to whether or not it applied to my situation. Another case in point. From the time I made the phone call for the original appointment with the midwife until the meeting with the radiologist, almost every person I came into contact with said something to the effect of, “You’re not breastfeeding, are you?” Excuse me? Was this info not written in my chart? Have you people not READ the chart? Yes, I AM and have been breastfeeding for SIX YEARS! Can you see how the medical providers were losing points left and right?
The meeting with the radiologist was really the worst of all. As you can imagine, I wasn’t really thinking clearly, so when she asked if I had any questions, the only available answer was “No.” because my brain was so busy processing the information I’d just been given. Now that I’m several days out and able to think more clearly (i.e. not under duress), I have a whole pile of questions I’d like to have answered prior to the biopsy. I also wished that the radiologist would have given me something concrete to look at rather than just expecting me to take her word for it. How hard would it have been to pull up the images on the computer and say, “Here is the mass. This is why I’m concerned enough to have you get a biopsy. This is what a healthy breast should look like.” There are so many more things that she could have said in addition to, “Yes, there is a mass.” More points flying out the door.
So, the BCI will soon find out that I’m a question-asker, and frankly, they may come to be very annoyed with me and my questions. But you know what? It’s my health and if I don’t advocate for myself, I’m in trouble because they certainly don’t seem to be in the business of advocation!