Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hard Lessons


February 20, 2009, Shannon and I both waited in the office of Dr. B. the dermatologist. When Dr. B. entered the exam room he began to prepare to excise the atypical spitzoid neoplasm. The very first thing I noticed about Dr. B is he did not like me there. I could actually feel him. And I promise you I was not enacting the Mason DNA or using the stink eye. I was being my most professional well behaved self. Dr B. would not look me in the eye. I introduced myself, forcing an introduction, making him look at me.

I asked Dr. B. if I could ask some questions. I had a small hand written note- which I still have to this day. I began by telling Dr. B. that I had research done for me and - he interrupted me- saying that I could ask the questions but most likely what I had read was not true. I found this an odd statement for any physician to make but went ahead and asked my questions. I told Dr. B. that I had read it was very difficult to differentiate between an atypical spitz and melanoma. He told me that it was "definitely not melanoma", using emphatic hand and arm gestures, swinging them back and forth to make his point. I asked him about follow up, stating that I had read that sometimes a sentinel lymph node biopsy is recommended. He told me no follow up was necessary. He said he would see Shannon in one year and that he was only doing this final excision to prevent the spitz from going crazy in her body in 10-15 years.

Shannon did not want me to stay in the room with her for the excision. She told me that the doctor was rough and it would upset me as she cried out. I respected her wishes and went to the waiting room feeling nauseous in the pit of my stomach. Shannon told me later that the nurses who attended to her that day told her that if she had to come back she should make an appointment with Dr. B's associate and not him.

I felt so uncomfortable with the treatment that my daughter received during this visit that as we left I told Shannon that she needed to get her lab reports and seek a second opinion. I want to add a thought here for some of you. You might be thinking, "Why in the world was this girl even going to a doctor such as this?" It seems like an obvious question to ask, sitting in the seat of being a mature and more experienced person. The more mature, experienced patient would recognize poor treatment and find another physician. Dear reader, what you must remember is this: Shannon was only 25, she had grown up in good health, she had no experience with physicians. But she was learning. She was learning one hard lesson after another.

Life got busy again for Shannon. She had more traveling to do for work. She did not have a chance to go back to get her lab reports. Though later she would have to get them.

Having to get ones lab reports should not be something a patient has to do, but as I said before, I really felt uncomfortable about the treatment and care Shannon received.  But we never dreamed of what would come next.

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