Wally the Whale & A Second Opinion

Southern California has a problem. The rotting corpse of Wally the whale keeps washing ashore up and down the coast.  Wally first landed in Playa del Rey on July 1 and after coming ashore five times in Orange County, made her (yes, Wally is a female whale) debut in San Diego County on Grandview Beach in Encinitas on July 16.

So what does this have to do with thyroid cancer? Oh so much.

Over the last six years, I have tried to tow my cancer and all related experiences far enough out to sea that it would drift away and become part of the past. But that has never happened. Every six months or every three months it comes back around when I have those labs done and I see those tumor markers numbers I should not have…and nothing happens. It never goes away and I need it to go away. That’s why I put all that work into obtaining a second opinion.

The medical portion of the second opinion is not all that different than what’s been happening. This endocrinologist says he would not have done anything differently, however, he believes the three months follow up is not all that necessary for someone with such a favorable pathology report. He also performed his own ultrasound, an aspect of my follow-up that has been missing from my care since I moved away from Dr. Overinvolved. I did not realize how comforting it was to have the physician looking at and interpreting those images in front of me until it no longer happened.

There has simply been too much for me to question over the years.

The non-medical portion of the second opinion illustrated exactly why I needed one in the first place. None of the three endocrinologists I have consulted with since I moved have talked to me like an intelligent person. They have not explained anything. I read all the literature on my cancer; I can get in the weeds and that’s by design because I like to partner with my physicians. The only dictator over this body is me. My current endocrinologist, with her world-class education at the world-class medical center is a phony. She barely makes eye contact and has done nothing to establish trust with me. She does not explain anything or initiate any discussions with me. I am two-dimensional, just words on a piece of paper to her and that was never so obvious as it was when I met with the second opinion endocrinologist, who talked to me like he knew me and exactly how I operate. We waded into the weeds. It was like talking with Dr. Overinvolved, minus the sexual tension.  I felt completely reassured and I think I know what I need to do. I also really liked this endocrinologist and if I lived closer, I would absolutely hire him. He was genuine and invested, as was his staff, and no one is that way where I live now. He offered to do my care from afar but I don’t know how that will work with my HMO.

It seems a bit ridiculous that I ran away from my hometown and the only people who know how to take care of me the way I need to be taken care of are in…my hometown.  I keep washing ashore like Wally but not because of ocean currents; but because home seems to be where my heart is. How else can I explain going back there for a second opinion and being transported right back into the good part of what was an essential and healing relationship, but with someone completely new?  Perhaps it is not my world-class doctors at the world-class medical centers that are the problem, but me.



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