Friday, September 08, 2006

An Open Letter to Physicians and Their Staffs

I try to be a good patient. I fill (and refill) my prescriptions, take my medication as directed, and try to do what I am told. I go for recommended tests and I have the treatment that is recommended. I ask questions. BUT I AM NOT A PHYSICIAN.

I made a list of questions to ask my Gyn/One and Rad/Onc before my latest treatment. I did not see my Rad/Onc before they took me to the OR and I already had a dose of mellow meds when he made an appearance so I forgot when I saw him then. When I saw him afterwards in the Radiation Clinic I was in a lot of pain and he was getting ready to leave to go to another hospital. I asked the resident one question that seemed to puzzle him (Can I go in the hot tub?) so I didn't ask "Can I have sex?" because I thought I might make his head explode. I couldn't ask the Resident about follow up appointments because he wouldn't know.

I decided that the best thing to do was to call my doctor today because I didn't want to forget to ask him. I called and the woman who answered the phone said "Well, you'll have to ask him that." It was all I could do not to say "Dubmass, that's why I'm calling." She said "The tech can page him the next time you are in." It seemed pointless to argue with/explain to this woman so I just said ok and hung up. The Wife pointed out that the Rad/Onc's email address is printed on his card so I could email him. I did and I got an answer to my follow up appointment question and he said I could "resume normal activity" 2 weeks after my last treatment.

First of all, why didn't someone tell me that I shouldn't go in the hot tub/pool/bathtub until 2 weeks after my last treatment? Why didn't someone say "Don't have sex while you are having treatment"? Why didn't anyone tell me that I was supposed to do a "bowel prep" before each treatment? I've had 5 D&Cs so I know that I have to do a pre-op bowel prep and post D&C I'm not allowed to take a bath/swim/go in the hot tub for 2 weeks and I'm not allowed to have sex for 2 weeks but this isn't a D&C. They weren't scraping out the lining of my uterus, they've been irradiating it. Fortunately I kept to the post-D&C instructions even though they were nowhere to be found on the post-op instructions I recieved.

No wonder patients get into trouble. I could have given myself a raging infection which would have likely delayed my radiation treatment along with making me really sick. The Rad/Onc also told me there were NO side effects to the treatment - then why am I so fatigued? Why do I need to take 800 mg of Advil every 8 hours to avoid inflammation in my bladder like I had last time when you neglected to tell me to take the Advil around the clock and didn't recommend a dose? The usual non-prescription dose didn't do a thing. I wonder if he tells men who are having radiation treatment for prostate cancer that there are no side effects.


No comments: