Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Doctor Diva

Having cancer is stressful.   Even though I know the prognosis is good. I had a successful surgery and a great pathology report.   I still have this huge uncertainty hanging over my head.

That uncertainty is my overall treatment plan.

So, when I have one of those doctors who is supposed to be helping me through this somewhat stressful time adding to that stress, it's not a good thing.

Let me digress.   A few weeks ago my breast surgeon gave me the name of an oncologist.

Now the good news was that although my cancer was invasive, it was caught at a very early stage--stage 1A.   My surgeon's opinion was that she did not feel that chemotherapy was necessary.  Whether or not chemo was off the plate, however, had to be confirmed by an oncologist.

Needless to say I wanted to get into said oncologist's office ASAP to either confirm the good news (lifting a huge cloud of doubt over my head), or get the bad news and move forward.

Getting an appointment to see said oncologist, however, required more maneuvering than turning a cruise ship around in the high seas.  

First there was the problem with actually getting the doctor's peeps to pick up the phone.   I called the telephone number on the card my surgeon gave me, but was told that the oncologist my surgeon wanted me to see was in another office and was given Telephone Number 2 to call.

So I called Telephone Number 2 at 2 pm on a Wednesday afternoon.  Although the message indicated that office hours were 9-5:30 Monday through Friday, no one picked up the phone.  I tried several more times that day to get through to no avail. 

So Thursday morning I started to try again, and I couldn't get through.  Finally I called the Telephone Number 1, and informed them of my difficulties of getting any actual people to pick up the phone at Telephone Number 2.   I got a receptionist who asked me to hold while she tried to get someone in the office.

After holding for a few minutes the receptionist got back to me and indicated that while their were receptionists, nurses, etc. in the other office, since the doctor wasn't in they decided to not pick up the phones so that they could get paperwork done.

Looking back, I now realize that I should have right then and there hung up the phone, called my surgeon and demand the name of another oncologist.

But, I'm a woman, I have cancer and I didn't want to make any waves.

Instead, I was told that the oncologist's office would get back to me by the end of the day. 

I should of asked "Why not now?"

A few hours later the oncologist's office called. 

Hip, hip hooray!!!

A nurse asked me a bunch of questions and then said that they would request my records from my surgeon and get back to me by Tuesday to set up an appointment.

Tuesday at 4:45 I still hadn't heard back.  I called the office, and guess what?  

They didn't pick up the phone.

I once again called Telephone Number 1, got a person, and asked what was going on.

Quote "the doctor wasn't in, so they decided to leave early."

Huh???? I started to think that this was one office where I'd really like to get a job.

I'm already really irritated at this point, and emotionally distraught since I'm dealing with cancer, kids, autism, work and all the other daily stresses of a a modern day, 21st century working Mom.

The receptionist at Telephone Number 1, however, assured me that she would see that someone would get back to me first thing the next morning.

At 11 o'clock the next day they finally called me (that's first thing?).

"Dr. X will see you at 11 am Tuesday, October 25th," the receptionist told me in a tone that seemed to indicate that she was setting up an appointment to let me see the Queen or the Dali Lama.

"I can't make that time," I told her, "I have another appointment with another doctor at that time."

"That is the time the doctor will see you," I was told.

I booked the anointed appointment, and cancelled the other doctor.

Well, today was the appointed day to see the oncologist, and guess what?

I got a call this morning.   The appointment was canceled.

And, I was given a new appointment, Friday at 10.

"Um," I said, "I already have another appointment at that time.  I have already cancelled one appointment to accommodate the doctor's schedule and I'm not going to cancel another one."

At this point I got a tirade about how this doctor was the "number 1" breast oncologist and that he has a very busy schedule and that I was lucky he was willing to fit me in.

All I could think about was that scene from Sex in the City where Samantha Jones is trying to get in to see some fancy oncologist and she has to deal with the snitty receptionist.

Well, I am not Samantha Jones.   I'm not some single woman with no other responsibilities except satisfying my libido.   I can't just sit around some fucking doctor's office hoping that at some point they will look down favorably on me from their exalted positions and deign to favor me with an appointment (or at least a telephone call).

I've got cancer, dammit and I don't expect to treated like some peon by some diva doctor and his obsequious staff.

Jesus, fucking Christ, am I really supposed to beg and be grateful for treatment????

Who the hell does this doctor think he is???

So I told diva doctor's receptionist what she could do with the appointment, hung up the phone and called my surgeon. 

I got her nurse and explained that me and diva doctor were not going to cut it.   This ship was sailing, and diva wasn't going to be steering it.

The nurse told me that it was understood and that she would ask the surgeon for other recommendations.

Well, long story short, I think I found a new oncologist.   He's already deemed me worthy to speak to me directly on the phone, and his staff is working on getting me in for an initial consultation.


  1. I'm glad you found a doctor that you like. Never, ever, ever take that kind of behavior from a doctor or their staff. A doctor that would treat you that way before they've even seen you is not someone you want to deal with. Never worry about sticking up for yourself. It's your life we're talking about after all. Good luck with your appointment.

  2. Yeah, that doesn't sound like it was going to be a happy union. You were wise to switch. The doctor could be brilliant, but if your results/treatment plan/letters sit on someone's desk while no one is answering the phone,this is not a good thing. Not answering the phone is just inexcusable. If you are willing to spare the mental energy, I would write the doctor a letter let him know what your experience was in trying to reach his office. (It would be interesting to see if it ever gets to his desk!)

    Happy news about the staging and I hope the water get less choppy for you soon.

  3. I'm so glad you found a new Dr. I hate when staff treat patients like crap. You have a lot on your plate so hopefully the new Dr will see you soon