Anatomy of a Second Opinion

My HMO authorized a second opinion for my thyroid cancer two and a half months ago.  I went through my copies of my medical records and discovered many gaps, so I went about the business of contacting three different medical centers in an effort to fill them. I was about 90% successful. One of them I had to request twice before they sent me anything and part of what I needed they said they did not have, which I know is wrong. The other said they would respond to my request in five days. It took twenty-eight. My authorization runs out in two weeks. I can’t wait around any longer. Last week I faxed over 110 pages of medical records, per their request, and wait for them to call me, hoping I can still get in.

In the interim, I spent inordinate amounts of time scrutinizing the imaging tests that came to me on white-labeled CDs. I looked at pictures of malignant lymph nodes and compared them to my images. I calculated L/S ratios. I watched my last node biopsy, thinking, incredulously, “That lymph node looks totally benign!”

In June, I saw my primary care physician because my heart palpitations became terrible; I woke up more than a few times gasping for air and I suddenly can’t breath while I am working out. Dr. Overinvolved instructed me to never be afraid to make an appointment if I feel I have become hyperthyroid. That’s what I thought was occurring, so I went, and it was an awful, terrible, no-good appointment for reasons that will get their own blog post. My EKG is normal. My echo is normal. I started having panic attacks at the gym when I climb stairs and I don’t know what to do to make them stop.

Over Memorial Day weekend, my endo’s office called me to reschedule my three-month follow up. She only works one day a week and has decided to switch her one day from Tuesday to Wednesday. So now I am having a four month follow-up. My respect for her and any sense of trust I have in her expertise has dwindled further.

I had my blood drawn at the three-month mark anyway and my numbers are exactly the same. She has no comment in the interim, so I have to wait until late July to hear what she wants to do. I know what I want to do, and hope that the second opinion will agree with me.  There are two choices I find acceptable. Scan me. Or put me on yearly follow-up. I’m taking my life back.

If I fail to make the HMO’s deadline, I will go see Dr. Overinvolved and pay cash. He will tell me to take my life back; I know exactly how he thinks about thyroid cancer and there’s no question he will agree with me…and that’s why I would prefer to see someone else for that unbiased perspective!

I miss him. He is that safe person in my head, despite what he did. I have not yet found a way to reconcile what happened. I’ve read more books on the topic of transference and sexual abuse by health/helping professionals and it’s clear that when these things happen, the patient being wonderful or special has nothing to do with it. We are merely a vehicle and it’s all about them and their unmet needs. I keep trying to tell myself this, but I need the romanticism of the story to keep myself going. There was no one else, nothing else good to come from this and I need it to have a purpose. Without that storyline, I’m not sure how I would cope. Perhaps I would cope better.

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