Tuesday, June 3, 2008

An Oncologist and A Psychiatrist Walk Into a Room

I ran into my old oncologist in the hallway at the clinic yesterday. She's the one that said I was cancer-free when I wasn't. Ahh Christina, how I love thee.

I was on my way to see my Psychiatrist. She's the one who started crying about my situation in a session.

While she cried she wiped her nose a lot and apologized profusely. In that moment of irony, I tried to comfort her, to hold and protect her from what I've been through, from what I know. There really is no need for someone to truly know my personal hell. I told her it was okay, and not to worry, I'd be okay. I told her that honestly, this was really one of the better reactions I'd had since I started telling people about my prognosis. Recognizing how sad this is and then crying as a result of your brain having processed how sad this is, is truly a reaction with a good dose of verisimilitude. This I like; I told her; this is better and more natural than some of the reactions I've seen, and I've seen a good number of them.

So after our brief counselling session, (I didn't charge her) we got back to me and my situation.

It was awkward.

Anyway, when I saw my old oncologist, I threw my hands up at her from the other end of the hallway. She must have known that meant "what's going on here? Get down here and talk to me." She came quickly. She must have known the mood I was in because the first thing she said was "now, don't....".

We began with a friendly but fiery conversation in a loud whisper. It must have looked to passerby like we were engaged in a small game of Charades, but we carried on this way as there were other cancer patients around and we didn't want to put them in a position of unease. The position for instance where one is fighting for their life and needs the help of their oncologist; that uneasy position.

"What kind of place is this?" I said in a loud whisper throwing the hands up again. "Why isn't Ken responding to my emails? I'm bleeding, he's dictated the wrong information into my file and he neglected to tell me about a Phase II Cervical Cancer trial, this is important Christina..."

She asked me, in a curious whisper, if Ken "discharged" me. In a screaming whisper I said "What, discharged?" What do you mean by discharged?"

Isn't that just for the Army? I wondered.

While Ken didn't use the word discharged, he did say there was nothing else they could do for me and then didn't respond to my emails. The really incredible thing is that he ignored the one in which I asked him if he would be a part of my healing team; the one where I told him of my plans to eat raw and living foods and to take DCA. The one where I said in order to save my life I needed the support of many players, including the Clinic. I asked him to confirm that he was on side with that. He didn't respond.

Anyway, it when on like this for about 5 minutes. I asked her if they had a plan for people who were no longer receiving treatment from the clinic. I said a plan would be helpful and it might include things like when to come back for blood work and at what intervals, and who would review the blood work with the patient. How about the same inclusion for scans. Why not send the patient home with the knowledge that they're "living with cancer "and not "dying of cancer", how about explaining what to expect and how to manage. Ever type of cancer has been beaten, every type.

"I know, I know" she said in calm, contemplative whisper. I'm just about to tell one of patients that they don't have too much longer. "CHRISSS TINA," I whisper-shouted and grabbed her hand. "Just try, I said, try telling him that he's living with cancer. Don't tell him he's dying of cancer. Tell him what to expect Christina. Tell him about the other resources he has, just try it. See what happens Christina", I whisper-begged.

I have a new plan though. I'm going to cure myself. And when I do, I'm going to go to Christina's office and sit her on her rolling stool. With her stethoscope dangling in the valley of her skirt, I'll bring her close and whisper in her ear. I'll ask her to run away with me. Come with me Christina, come to the light side. Come and open up a business with me where we treat people and not their disease. You can be the doctor and I'll be the executive assistant slash counsellor. We can wear silk scarves to work everyday and we can play Lavern Baker in the reception room. We can open up in Yaletown Christina, we will have comfy chairs for waiting and we will make it our policy to touch every patient when they come in. To touch their hands, and their shoulders and their hearts. We'll welcome them in to large rooms with the linens blowing through the open windows. We'll tell them about fear and we'll tell them about those black-hole days. We'll help them to manage, we'll help them to get through it all. Come work with me Christina, you look so sad here. Come with me, will get a spot in Yaletown. I will be your teacher and you can be mine.

Anyway, I finally made it to the Psychiatrist that day and she asked me to tell her what my rant was. So I did. She said she didn't think the doctors had a lot of experience with people like me. What? I'm thinking, this always happens to me in my life. People like me? What does she mean? What am I like? She said "well, you know, telling them what to do..."

She went on to say that not everyone is like me, a lot of people aren't in to alternative treatments and a lot of people, simply accept that they're going to meet their God. "Oh my God!", I said. "They don't have any choice here Judith, no choices. If they had more resources, more choices, more support, they'd chose the next choice over meeting with their God 30 or 40 years early; I'm sure of it." It's not just me. The psychiatrist knows it. She can't say much.

I'll invite her too, to work with Christina and I in Yaletown that is.


Anonymous said...

Oh Yeah -- you tell him Treice...and start "kickin some ass".
More Power to the People.....the People living.

I really wish you'd expose all of this with a local TV station. If anyone can you can.

Oh and I love the "whisper" description...I closed my eyes and could see you "whispering"....LOL

Go get him girlfriend...and don't stop till you do

Ms.Barbara Jane said...

Awesome! Way to be!!!
I Love this post. Turn that place on it's ear! You're the one who can do it. You GET it. Spread the word sister! It's called HOPE. Ride that bitch!

Marie said...

Well, Treice, I have been reading your blog since the beginning, and piecing things together with the extra snippets passed on from Kevin and his Mom. I thought I understood what your situation is, but I am staggered by your description of a clinic where the docs would tell you "There's nothing more we can do for you", then just cut off communication,

And nothing said about what to expect or how to manage?

As for not being open to DCA? Imagine if everyone had ignored accidental discoveries in medicine -- we'd still be dying in droves from things like smallpox and polio!

So I'm wondering whether there is any evidence that monitored use of DCA by people in your situation is harmful? If no, what in the world do Christina, Ken et al have to lose by keeping you under the Clinic wing?

I guess until they come around, you"ll just have to keep on being a "people like you" to get whatever it takes.

That said, I know it takes a lot of energy to force the system to adapt to you. I hope you will let me know if I can help you by researching or looking into anything you need to explore further.

kera said...

can i come and work in yaletown too? i would drop everything - yesterday - and do that if you asked me to. You are so inspiring (and yes, you were inspiring BEFORE all this happened, too)... just say the word.