Thursday, April 21, 2011

For The Physicians That May Read This

Most of the physicians I've dealt with in my life have been caring, capable individuals.

And some are not.

I'm not talking about the 'touchy-feely hold my hand' crowd vs. the 'all business' crowd. I have both types of Doctors.

Take my Endocrinologist for example. It's taken me two years to even get the man to smile. When we have our visits every couple of months or so, he sits in a chair and studies the blood-work reports from the lab, barely glancing in my direction. I am a collection of numbers, a block of data to be fine tuned and adjusted into hormonal balance.

Some people look aghast when I tell them this, and state that 'they wouldn't put up with someone like that'. So why do I stay? Well, the man is a very, very good Endocrinologist. He may not be extremely comforting, but I know that he's doing his absolute best, and I have full confidence in his abilities. I went through other Endos before finding him. The other Docs were more personable, but . . . well, I'll get to that in a minute.

Plus I like a challenge. It makes my day when I get him to crack a smile. As he did the other day when I showed up in his office to tell him that "I have a touch of the Prostate Cancer".

Oh, Prostate Cancer is a rich vein of comedy just waiting to be mined.

And his staff are on the ball. From the front desk to the nurses, everyone is professional. Professional and competent.

Which brings me to the subject of the day. I'm thinking of firing my Urologist.

Why? Well, he's a nice enough guy, good with the cystoscopy and the prostate biopsy procedure, and seems to be intelligent. Yet there is a red-flag. I've ignored the first couple of warnings, but I think it's time to take this a bit more seriously.

It's his staff and the way they run the operation.

Calls not returned. There's confusion when I call the front desk. Medical records have been sent to the wrong place. Messages are missed or ignored.

I've dealt with this before but I'm getting to a point in my life where I am unwilling to go through this again.

In my experience, the problems that I see with the internal operations are symptomatic of one of two things: Either the Doc is overbooked and overworked - which is a recipe for disaster, that's how major mistakes are made - or worse, they just don't really give a shit. Take the medicine and shut the hell up.

I don't really care about the reason.

Imagine going to a restaurant with an acclaimed chef. A fantastic, world renowned, chef. As you walk in you have to wait 50 minutes because they lost the reservation, then the host misplaced you on the list, you have to wait some more, and they act like it is your fault. The waiters are surly, neglect to bring you drinks or silverware or any other basic service unless prodded. The tables are sticky, the chairs need washing, the windows are filthy, and when you finally get your food - wonderful as it is - it's cold and looks like it may have been dropped on the floor between the kitchen and the table.

Are you going to go back? Not me. No matter how good the cook, there are just too many things that can go wrong that are going to affect my dining experience. Possibly my health.

It is no different with a Doctor's practice.

Don't ever forget that you are in control of your health. We rarely think of it this way, but Doctors are hired by US to make us well. If you're not getting the level of care you need, or think you should be getting, then fire your Doc and find a new one. Pronto.

There are way too many competent medical practitioners out there to put up with the bad ones.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

That is some Sci-Fi right there

So, I've been looking into various treatments for my 'touch of cancer'.

I have to be honest . . . none of them look particularly pleasant. Who knew Prostate Cancer would be this ookie?

Yes, I said ookie. Deal with it.

There are two main methods of treatment: One is surgery - either robotic or the old-fashioned way by hand. And either 'open' surgery (ugh) or laproscopic. The other is some form of radiation.

Both have their pluses and minuses. The plus for the surgery is they cut the cancer out. The minus is, well, they cut. Take the entire prostate. Snip snip. Ouch ouch.

With radiation there is no cutting, but there potentially be 8 to 9 weeks of daily treatment.

Although surgeons and radiologists will disagree, both have serious side effects. The main being impotence and incontinence. Which, I think you'll agree, is just a barrel o' laughs. Of course there are many, many other potential side effects, but let's stick with the big two for now.

Now surgeons will tell you that you should cut first because if that doesn't work they can always try radiation. But if you go with radiation, they can't do surgery later.

I read somewhere - and I can't say where because I've been reading a lot - that the best way to describe the situation is this:

Imagine the prostate as a piece of cheese between two slices of bread.

With surgery, you lift up the top piece of bread, remove the cheese, and replace the bread.

With radiation, you put the sandwich in a microwave for 30 seconds. Now try to lift the bread and extract the cheese.

Well excuse me, but neither scenario exudes confidence in me. And my damn prostate is not a piece of cheese! At least I don't think it is. To be honest I've never looked.

The cure rate is about the same for each method.

One new advancement in surgery is the 'robotic surgeon'. Which I'm all for, because as any one of my friends can tell you, I've been planning for domination by our Robotic Overlords for quite some time now. All hail Klatu369!!

There are various robotic systems, but a popular brand is the Da Vinci Surgical System. (No hubris there, eh?)

Now you tell me that isn't some Sci-Fi shit right there. Six blades. I've had nightmares about similar beasts. I also may have commanded something along those lines in a video game.

So that's where I am. Weighing the pros and cons. I've also started looking at Proton Beam Therapy. Which would be cool, because . . . well Protons! Pew! Pew! Pew! Launch that torpedo straight at my prostate Captain, full shields and all ahead full!

More on that later.