Friday, January 25, 2013


I know the five of you who read my blog are waiting at the edges of your collective seats for more news of my doctor dilemma. After stewing and pouting for an additional two weeks, I think it is time to face the changes.

The stream of warm impermanence...

I'm pondering that for a moment here. The stream of warm impermanence. Yes, my heart is still mourning the loss of my dear Dr. P. And no, I haven't talked to him. That seems to be the pattern for men I good-bye, no closure. I'm putting it in a box though, and tucking it up on a shelf. I have to move on.

I had a consult with the new oncologist. I don't know what a consult is supposed to be, this felt more like an appointment, but that's okay. The office in general feels far more patient-friendly. The nursing assistant (?) who conducted me to the exam room and took my vitals recognized me and turns out she used to work where I had my initial radiation done in 2006 and was the one who would call my name and conduct me to the torture. Very sweet that she recognized me. It took a minute for the synapses to connect, but I finally remembered her. She was the best part of that office and experience.

Side bar: the place where I did my initial radiation was an office of the corporation with which my first oncologist's practice merged, and for whom my new doctor used to work.

I say corporation rather than practice, because they are a business first, and doctors later.

Turns out this sentiment is shared at the new office. Let's code name it Flour Wings. The new doctor, a female doctor, Dr. O. (not Oz; many more letters) is very personable and nice. She spent quite a long time listening to my cancer story from the beginning, and listening to my current aches, and my gripes about the old office. She said go ahead and start the next Xeloda cycle (which I had on hand already) and they would get it all sorted out with the insurance and where I should fill it (Xeloda has been dropped from several insurance companies' prescription formularies this year. I know. Don't get me started.)

Then they drew my blood FROM MY PORT and will do so on a regular basis. I'm waiting for a call back with my tumor marker numbers today. The nurse who accessed my port was formerly with Banner Desert (the hospital in front of which I would rather die than be admitted again), and has been with Dr. O, through very serendipitous circumstances, for 8 years (I think that's how long she said). She's very kind also. ("If you've got a port, use it!" was her comment on blood work and ports.)

The office seemed to echo my feelings about my big issues; the machine of the other corporation (we'll call them Ironworks, and my old onc's office before the merger we'll call Dessert Onc, because let's face it, my onc was yummy), drawing blood in the office, patients being the reason they are there. I didn't ask the doctor some things that I wanted to, because I hadn't made a list and I am mentally very easily side-tracked. I have another blood draw in two weeks and will ask the nurse, and then ask the doctor when I see her again two weeks after that. PET scan probably after that.

I am just curious to hear their approach to metastatic cancer, stage IV, death in the cards from the reason for which they are treating me. I declined to see a doctor at the big Cancer Factory in town because I had met her previously at an event and found her to be very pink ribbon / cure / denial -ish. I suppose I should have met her and seen the set up also, but I was ticked that my new insurance's list of doctors online is not up to date, and I'm SURE that the Cancer Factory must have other doctors besides this one D.O. who treat breast cancer, possibly even someone with more experience in metastaticness. Metastaticity. 

I left the appointment at Flour Wings feeling like I had really found a good fit, that this was the place to embrace and feel cared for. And then another part of me piped up with how things that seem so good are often too good to be true, that the curtain comes down upon further investigation. All I can do is continue to have faith in the very high recommendation I received for them from a friend and current patient who is a retired nurse, and see how it goes. It's not like I signed a contract. It's just that after the emotional beating I've taken over the past year with the old office, my jury is hesitant to hand in the verdict just yet.

So I'm going backward through the alphabet of oncologists, from Dr. P to Dr. O. I don't know if there is a Dr. N out there, so I hope this fit holds up through the wash.

How do you "interview" a new doctor?

What questions should I have in mind to ask them next time?


The Sarcastic Boob said...

"Metastaticity." The interview always begins with a handshake. I'm glad you have also found some satisfaction.

The Dirty Pink Underbelly said...

It did! It did start with a handshake! Yea.

Carolyn Frayn said...

Great title, I sing a lot of mine too - in draft form. I'm also glad you found something that didn't get your hackles up. I hope this relationship works!

Anonymous said...

dear shelli,

i am soooo relieved for you, but i also understand how you feel somewhat guarded about your first experience - you got burned BAD! but i am glad for all the good stuff - using your port, time spent with you, being prepared, and the all important handshake.

love, XO,

karen, TC

Nancy's Point said...

I'm glad to hear you think you've found a "good fit." You deserve that and more. I hope it holds up too.

As for questions to ask, I'm not sure. I guess I'd come out and ask them about their approach to metastatic cancer. I'd also ask how much of your "file" she's read. How much a doctor has read (or has not read) before seeing you says a lot. Good luck, Shelli.

The Accidental Amazon said...

Shel, I'm so glad you met a decent new doc, that they used your port, that they weren't corporate wankers. Big sigh of relief. And hugs. Kathi