Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Oncology Followup

Yesterday was The Boy's six month oncology followup. It's gotten a little more impersonal over the last couple of visits - the nurses have cycled out and don't remember or know him; Dr. Graves was promoted and is doing research full-time right now; and he's had three different primary contact physicians for his last three visits. Last time, in March, it was a little disappointing; we sat with a physician's assistant who told us that the doctors reviewing the case decided that they wanted to follow The Boy for five years and not three. Not a huge deal, but - with all due respect to my niece, who is working on her PA license - I'd rather hear that from the doctor.

So, we planned out yesterday's visit. I took a half vacation day from work and he took a half day from school. I called last Thursday because we hadn't received any notification about an ultrasound; the original order from six months ago was that the next ultrasound would be in March, not September. Because I'm that kind of guy, I called anyway. The scheduling folks checked with oncology and told me that no ultrasound was ordered or required.

We arrived at the hospital around 12:45 for the 1:30 appointment. We bought a hot dog and a cup of coffee and brought it upstairs with us. The Boy demolished the hot dog in about ten seconds flat; pretty impressive considering it was second lunch for him. The appointment was at 1:30; at 12:50, they brought us in for weighing, measuring, bloodwork and urinalysis. He was characteristically stoic during the bloodwork, without a flinch or a complaint. He's always been a great patient (with the exception of some of the medicines and the kayexalate debacle).

Side note: the fact that he can pee in a cup now is SO MUCH FREAKING EASIER than the bag. He hated the bag.

We met the first resident, who asked the standard questions - anything unusual, pains, etc. We did tell the story of our wonderful hospital visit from May, which seems to have been a GI infection without lasting side effects. He left, the nurse came to get the cup of urine, and the new attending physician came in.

First thing she did was question me about why we didn't get an ultrasound.

I don't lose it often. I certainly don't argue with doctors often (the occasional "please wash your hands" aside). But, I argued and got as upset as I ever get. I mean, you have GOT to be FREAKING kidding me. First of all, I was told, at the last visit, that they changed their mind and wanted five years of followup instead of three. Okay, that's nice. If they didn't like us, they would have booted us out the door earlier rather than later. Then, the PA at the last visit told me that no ultrasound was needed. When I called last week, they told me no ultrasound. We didn't schedule an ultrasound. And now, we need to schedule an ultrasound.

Probably the most annoying part of it was the doctor trying to sympathize with me about having to take more time off from work. "I understand that it is difficult to get time off to do these things. I've had to, also." Okay, look, no you don't. I know what oncologists make annually. There are a lot of issues that we would NOT be able to deal with, without the generousity of my in-laws; most of those issues, when you have some money, tend to become MUCH easier. I really don't want to hear a new doctor tell me that she's sympathetic. to my work situation.

I don't know. I guess I'm getting a bit tired of the whole thing. It's not the most productive time that we spend, at the hospital. It's not awful these days; The Boy entertains himself, and he's old enough that he doesn't need 100% attention every moment of the day. I would feel better if I felt like anybody there actually knew us, knew our situations, and was paying attention to what was happening. I'm ready to be done with this, and I don't remember feeling this way before. I just don't want to go back - not because it's particularly traumatic, but because I don't think it's necessary.

The kicker to the whole thing is that the ultrasound people will schedule it and send me a letter with the appointment day and time. So, I have no control and no choice over the time and day. Nothing better than having to take a full vacation day because of a 2PM ultrasound (not sending The Boy to school to avoid snack time and lunch time and such when he's NPO for the day because of a late ultrasound).


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