Saturday, May 27, 2006

Going for Another Opinion

After a week of going back and forth between my surgeon and my chemo doctor, we came to an impasse, with neither of them sure of what’s causing all this bloody build-up in my chest. The surgeon said he could open me up again and investigate to see if there are blood clots he needs to scrape out, but he wasn’t sure if that was it, since I’m bleeding on both sides. So maybe it’s a systemic problem. The chemo doctor thought it was a systemic problem but couldn’t figure out why I kept bleeding when my PT/PTT (blood clotting) test came out normal.

So when I went to see the surgeon, he said he could do another surgery. Then I went to see the chemo doc and she said surgery might be dangerous now because we don’t know if my platelet adhesion is okay (implying, I guess, that I could bleed to death on the operating table). So we were stuck. I went to find another surgeon for another opinion.

But I’d run out of doctors to go to -- I’ve already been to every oncologist and breast surgeon in Singapore. So I went back to the surgeon I’d seen back in December when I was first diagnosed (Surgeon #2, actually). #2 immediately knew what the problem was -- same as what my mastectomy surgeon had suggested: blood clots. But unlike my mastectomy surgeon, this doctor had seen this happen with several of his patients who had neo-adjuvant chemo after a mastectomy. So he was sure this was the problem. Finally, some certainty and a course of action. Going in for surgery in two days.

There’s nothing more worrisome than seeing your doctors confounded and unsure. If THEY don’t know what’s going on, who do you turn to? I’m now a firm believer in second opinions. My advice -- when it comes to something serious, never ever go with just one doctor’s opinion. Doctors are human. They can make mistakes and have only their training and experience to draw from. Anything outside of that and they’re just as lost as we are.

I’ve now been to sixteen doctors since my diagnosis -- 15 in Singapore and one in the U.S. One doctor told me I’m famous among oncologists in Singapore. He said I’m known as the patient who tape-records doctor meetings and does research and asks lots of questions. I think ALL patients should do this and all doctors should expect this.

No comments: