As you probably read on another post, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and the first opinion I got was that I was pretty much going to die in a matter of months if I didn’t undergo surgery pronto. Scary tactics I guess.
It was a long name with a HER2 in it that I couldn’t have cared less about. Why bother memorizing a name when the important thing here is what you’ll do about it?!
Three doctors would only take one breast instead of the two as I wanted. You see, I figured I couldn’t go through life wondering if I’d be experiencing the exact same thing in the future; therefore, I wanted them both gone! One of the doctors even asked why with a you-couldn’t-be-stupider look on his face. My answer was simple: because it’s my body and I will decide the what, the when and the how.
I was living in Aguascalientes, Mexico, at the time I was diagnosed where I met a dying breed: a doctor that treats his patients as human beings and really seems to care for them and how they feel both inside and out. I will never thank him enough for having made the experience a better one. He’s such a sweet guy.
But then I had to move to San Luis Potosi, a couple of hours from Aguascalientes, due to work, which forced me to go back and forth to finish the chemo treatment.
And that’s where I met the jerk.
After chemo was over, I was referred to a surgeon who needs a couple of lessons be learned. He is the kind of person who you don’t ever want to see again. Ever! Not even crossing paths at the supermarket! He could not care less, or maybe he could, about the patient he’s got in front of him. To him, you’re just another file on his desk that he has to fill out with information, decide on that file’s future and forget the file ever existed. He’s insensitive and inconsiderate.
He answers all questions starting with “the problem is…”, but, you see, that wouldn’t be a problem if he were a mechanic, but he’s an oncologist for crying out loud! Does he not realize that those words are powerful and that they ALWAYS have a negative statement right after it? You don’t do that to cancer patients… to no one if you’re a doctor!
Everyone told me that I could not be in better hands as he’s supposed to be a great surgeon but that he, indeed, was a jerk. Oh, how I’d love to put his name here. Although, I can tell you that he has his morning practice at a teaching hospital in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
There, that made me feel so much better!
So after months of treatment, while promising myself that I wouldn’t go through this again, it was time to see the jerk of a doctor. Three weeks had passed since the last chemo; therefore, I was still worried about getting a cold or something, especially since it was January and flu season was getting to be a big deal in town.
My worries almost became real when I stepped into his office as one of the residents was sneezing! I froze at the door, turned to her and politely asked her to leave the room if she was sick. Well, the doctor dismissed what I said and told her to go get a mask for both her and me. She and her germ-filled hands stayed.
When he started asking questions he made me repeat everything I said because the freaking mask was on the way and he said he couldn’t hear or understand me… I don’t know, but it was exhausting.
Twenty minutes later (yes, fastest appointment ever), I left that room with a piece of paper on my hand that stated the date and instructions for the bilateral mastectomy. It was to take place on January 31st at 8am. However, I just couldn’t leave that office without telling him that I didn’t want any pain killers as I was very good with pain. He sort of smiled -more of a smirk than a smile- and said that I didn’t know what pain meant.
Who on earth was he to tell me that? He’d never met me before so how could he know how much pain I could bear?
The surgery had been set up for 8am, as I said before, but was pushed to 1pm as some emergency came up. I was nervous and the delay wasn’t making me feel any better so I tried to sleep to not count the minutes and seconds. Those five hours felt like forever.
I woke up after surgery feeling so very sick. I threw up every five minutes and couldn’t even sit up as I thought I’d fall and break a bone. I’d never felt so dizzy in my life. And I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. This was the first time I had come back from anesthesia feeling like that.
It was the middle of the night when I realized, in my drowsiness, that I had two machines connected to my IV. One with a bag with clear fluid and another with a yellow bottle. What is that? I wondered.
I had to check it out so I forced myself to sit up and try to reach it to be able to read the label. Morphine. Morphine!!!!! Was he deaf? I had said no drugs yet he had administered freaking morphine??!! I had some sort of adrenaline rush and felt better for a minute, enough to figure out which of the IV lines was coming from there to squeeze it so no drug would come into my system while I called out the nurse to order her to take it off.
I felt like I couldn’t put two words together but managed to say it. She said no. Excuse me? No?! That added furious to my feeling dizzy and sick and the whole throwing up thing. I ordered her to call the doctor while she was trying to get me to let go off the tube. It’s my body! I kept saying. It’s my body and I will decide what goes into it! She didn’t care.
While I was arguing with this woman, a resident walked by. He came into the room asking what the fuzz was about because the alarm in the machine had already gone off adding to the chaotic situation. It’s my body and I won’t have drugs in it, I repeated, pleading with the guy to take me off the morphine. He looked at me, really at me, and said: Of course, no one should decide for you.
I was relieved. I stopped throwing up a little after he disconnected it and, of course, started feeling better. Although I had severe withdrawal symptoms for a week after the hospital stay.
When I asked for help to pee, the nurse just stood there with the commode on her hand waiting for me to lift myself up. Does she not know I just had a BILATERAL mastectomy? She never helped. And those who’ve had a bilateral mastectomy know that one arm is just as weak as the other so it was very hard for me to do it. Plus there was pain. Not unbearable, but I was finding it hard to lift myself high enough for the woman to place the commode. She couldn’t have been more inconsiderate. You see, all nurses were mad as hell for my having decided I didn’t want any pain killer at all. For having a mind of my own.
The surgeon never came to see me while at the hospital. No surprise there. He just confirmed who he was… a jerk to whom patients have no say and are numbers on a file.
I was even referred to as “patient on 7” the entire time I was there.