Thursday, February 19, 2009

Collateral Damage. Part III Cancer Story

One of the tests spoken about by Dr. Crimm was the more intensive ultrasound where liquid was actually injected into the uterus, and then cancer looked for. There is the possibility that liquid and free-floating cells could backwash into the fallopian tubes, and into the pelvic cavity. Dr. Gosewehr assured me that studies were done in Israel with women there, and no cancer was spread in this type of uterine cancer testing. I felt sorry for the Israeli females used as guinea pigs. He couldn't assure me this wouldn't be the case, however, and even though my tubes had been cut and cauterized with my seventh baby, I didn't find this test to be worth the risk. By the time I got into the Pelvic Oncologist, my cervical cancer was beginning to wake me up at night. I felt a strange pain, especially when stressed.

The initial meeting with this doctor was important to me in information-gathering, and terribly stressful. I wasn't told how many minutes we had to discuss the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. Was it fifteen minutes to decide life and death issues? Was it 20? A young intern who was learning, was in the room. My months as a hospice volunteer gave me a different perspective, perhaps.

I had been dealing with death or the end of this life's journey through watching and interacting with others at an inpatient Hospice Care. 10% graduated from hospice and went home, and others not knowing why they were there, hating the bad food, arguing with nurses and doctors about their medications and continuing on with their bad eating habits of sugar and soda pop eventually succumbed to be covered with a 'special' quilt, followed by a few hours of family visiting, music and possible prayer. Many were in some level of denial. Most continued their own personality habits up until the end. I had tried to be as caring and positive, peaceful and comforting as I could, while I was quietly wanting to make them all fresh vegetable/fruit juice, take over the cooking in the kitchen because the food would literally make me want to die sooner if it were me, systematically reduce the medications that were absolutely toxifying them, and send more of them home with instructions for optimal health and healing. The problems included trusting doctors who 'gently' medicated them to death, certainly into acidosis, no healthy food or sunshine, nobody at home to research and follow natural healing protocols with nutrients, etc., and most times no funding for home health care. The institutions using medications had won the Tiddly Wink funding game. Tax payers were paying to disenfranchise themselves.

One man who fought for his life, went home briefly and returned, fought for an air mattress as laying on his back with fluid in his abdomen caused pain with old back injuries from a moving vehicle accident. He had an air mattress before coming to this Hospice House, but his communication attempts were seen as 'manipulation' by the social worker. I advocated for him saying that certainly we wanted to maintain the same level of care, especially when someone was dying. Not until his last few minutes was he given an air mattress. It was some economic/political situation, not in the best interest of this patient. I will never forget what I witnessed there. A nurse and I later had coffee together and agreed that if it were not for the needs of the people there, we would not volunteer. Hospice is a business. The hospitals didn't want statistics of people dying in their institutions, so they would often drug up the dying person and ship them off to Hospice. Without permission of the patient or families, the drugged sometimes were unable to have their last lucid moments with their loved ones. Paternalism or 'knowing best' was the costume, but Pharmaceutical profit was the unmasked partnership.

Though I digressed, (wow, did I) you can tell I have something to say about my hospice volunteer experience. Now, in this initial endocervical cancer visit, this Dr. Gosewehr immediately said he'd do radiation and then a radical hysterectomy. I immediately said, "No, I don't believe in radiation. There is too much collateral damage." "Collateral damage? I've never heard that before", he said. "What number was he in his graduating class?" I thought. I felt distrustful and irritated with this person's assumption that he could decide what was going to happen to my body, without even consulting me. What arrogance. No one seems to question these guys. I went to school with some of them, and toyed with becoming a medical doctor myself. Many students never read the books, or quickly forget after the testing. Too many medical doctors today are so narrowly trained, they are almost useless, especially in a more complicated situation. Too many depend on drugs, radiation and chemo, like Big Pharma Zombies. The Medical Monopoly needs revamping.

I used humor during that visit to defer my anxiety and impatience in getting the picture so I could make decisions. I was not the typical patient, turning myself over to this 'God'. He was no God to me. He was someone who decidedly would do a lot worse on the academic tests than I would. I wanted to hear what he had to say, but I had a lot of questions, and tried to fill him in on my personal history, talking quickly, as if he would actually do a good job at listening. Somewhere in the interview, he asked me if anyone in my family was manic.

I wondered if he was so used to "Sheeple" that someone who thought independently was intimidating. I also wondered if he understood how cognitive the Jewish culture was. I met another Jewish woman in the recent past who was some type of natural physician, and in talking about her health experiences, she could fill diaries. It was interesting to have met someone who talked more and faster than me. In any case, this oncologist did not seem to be a match. He didn't recognize humor and banter as a way to deal with a cancer diagnosis. I didn't expect him to be a social worker like myself, but his listening skills had given way to diagnosing beyond his scope. It was not until the next (and last) visit, that his agendas came forth, beyond the self-proclaimed "narrow training in pelvic oncology". He has never to this day sent the medical records produced in his office, nor online notes. Instead he sent a copy of the summary letter thanking the referring physician, Dr. Crimm. His office has been totally uncooperative in sending my complete medical records after multiple requests. A Medical Board Complaint is in process.

The next posting will detail what I had to tolerate while trying to get cancer care, and why I would never refer anyone to the next pelvic oncologist, either. The reason I share so explicitly, is to break the bond of silence in unearned trust of many doctors. I look forward to the day when medical doctors and hospitals and hospice institutions will be listed and rated, complete with accounts from everyday people.

To be continued...

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