Friday, July 6, 2012

The light goes out

I was looking forward to my appointment with Dr #4.  I had questions about surgery (THR) and recovery.  I was excited to get on with things.  I had lined things up with friends and family- we were all ready for surgery- now just 3 weeks away.  But the appointment did not go as planned.

It was like someone took the Dr #4 that spent so much time with me and was compassionate, and replaced him with a monster.  Remember, I am a nurse.  My dad is a surgeon.  My sister is a surgeon.  I have worked with doctors for over 20 years.  I know the personalities.  I'm okay with demanding and arrogant personalities- to an extent.  I am not even sure that I can accurately convey how I was treated during that appointment.  I was yelled at.  I was treated like an idiot.  I was accused of not taking care of myself.  I have never, ever, in all my years as a patient, as a nurse, as a daughter heard a doctor speak with such disrespect toward a patient.  And that patient was me.  Dr #4 was obviously pissed off that I hadn't quit smoking yet.  He berated me for that.  I was so disappointed because he is a physician.  I am a drug addict- yes I am in remission and clean, but I will always be one.  I understand addiction as a patient and as a nurse.  It is so shocking that those in the medical profession refuse to understand what addiction is.  I am addicted to cigarettes.  I wish it was easy to quit on demand.  I wish I didn't love smoking.  But that's not how it works, and instead of approaching it that way, as the disease and medical model of addiction, my doctor tried to shame me in submission.  That doesn't work.  Ever.  I wanted to be strong enough to laugh in his face when he implied my weakness- I wish I could have looked in his face and said- "Now hold on doc- I quit cocaine!  But it wasn't because some incompetent fool yelled at me!"  But instead all I could do was choke back the tears.  And at that point, I completely lost faith in him.  And he has a reputation for being the best doctor for hip replacements.  What a let down.

He went on to say I should get a second opinion.  He then ripped me apart because he accused me of not being prepared for surgery, or understanding it and the recovery process.  He said I wasn't using the walker all the time, like he said to (which he did not).  He was all over the place.  Even my dad was fuming.  At the end of all of this, I told him that I didn't understand why last week he was so willing to set a surgery date and now, 7 days later, he was suggesting a completely different plan.  What changed? Didn't he understand what this means to me?  I have been in pain for 7 months!  I thought we were headed towards surgery and then this was thrown in my face.

My father and I walked out.  I was shaking and sobbing.  I felt like the roof had just caved in and I was lost again.  I wish that Dr #4 could have been me, and really appreciated how he made me feel.  My dad didn't know what to say to me.  I actually think he was a bit embarrassed on behalf of his profession.  But mostly, I think his heart was breaking watching his daughter struggle through this.  Watching me crumpled and humiliated and full of shame.  He saw me like this before- when I went into rehab.  And then he watched me work through it, find myself and my strength.  He saw me work hard to get my life back.  To crawl out from the shame.  And then, today, he witnessed a stranger bring me right back to that ugly place.

All I knew at this point was that I was back at square one.  I couldn't let that man touch me.  I don't care if he was the best hip surgeon.  It takes more to be a good doctor than technical skills in an Operating Room.  I went home, crawled in bed and slept.  

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