MOVarazzi

Sunday, July 18, 2010

61. Doctor Story

So I am in California, visiting my mom who has Stage 4 Cancer. We go to Dr. S, her Oncologist, and as we are pulling into the parking lot, my mom confides in me that she does not really like him. This is new information for me, as she has not previously voiced an opinion about him one way or the other. I have never met him, so I decide to put my mom's bias aside and wait until I meet him to form my own opinion. We sit in the waiting room for what seems like an hour, but when I look at my watch it is actually only 10 minutes. Then, we are called back to Dr. S's office. I glance around at his many awards plastered all over the walls. He walks in. He is old. He looks kinda mean. When he starts talking, it is apparent that he is bossy. I immediately like him. He is very matter-of-fact in everything he says. He has zero bedside manner. To me, he is the Perfect Doctor. My mom wants someone to hold her hand and tell her that everything will be okay. That is not Dr. S. He will not say what she wants to hear, and that is the problem. When we leave, my mom nudges me in the elevator and whispers, "What did you think?" It is hard for me, because I can tell she has a problem with him, so I say, "What matters is what YOU think." She nods. In the car, she tells me she wants to get a second opinion about her treatment options from another doctor. I try to be supportive, but I fear that the 2nd or 3rd or 87th doctor will all say the same thing: it is too late for a cure (a complete eradication of the disease), but instead we must focus on treatment (to improve the quality of life and extend life). She gets the second opinion. That doctor is soft-spoken and gracious and a good listener. And he gives the exact same prognosis as Dr. S. MOV ("Morphine Or Vicodin?")

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