Friday, April 15, 2011


Hospital was fine, no issues with the biopsy. The tumor is in my tonsil and spread to my neck. Surgery, and soon, is recommended, but the exact type and stage won't be known till Tuesday or Wednesday. Throat is a little sore but not worse than any other I've had before.

Full deal:
Got to the hospital with plenty of time. Good thing because the map they gave us was completely useless. We ended up going in a completely different entrance than indicated, which was in fact, where we needed to be.

Registration; Checked in. Second question is 'do I have $980.00'. Answer: no.
"Okay, let me call my supervisor because you need to pay before the procedure. Did anyone call you from the hospital? It says someone called on the 12th and you said you could pay."

"No, she told me how much it was and I said I don't have $980.00 or something to that effect and I asked what would happen if I didn't and I was told I had to pay it. No other option was offered. Every one of my counselors, friends who've been through this, support groups, even my own doctor said not to worry about it so I thought something could be worked out at the hospital." I said.

"I'm going to have to call the doctor and find out if he considers it "emergent"", which I gather means 'is it an emergency situation', not 'is it emerging', lol.

So he calls the doctor right then and with me and both parents listening. He hangs up and says, "Dr. Rothman says it's not emergent so we will need to reschedule." In my mind, every curse word I could think of was spewed down that phone line right into his brain. Not gonna say what I was thinking about said toxic brainwaves...

So of course, my mom, being a mom, and being present there hearing this, goes immediately to get her credit card and all my emotions and thoughts follow immediately into a black hole. I feel like I felt when Bob's brother hugged me. I feel like it would have been better if they weren't even here now. My parents are retired. I know they would give me their last penny to fix this and that makes me feel worse than hearing "you have cancer". And of course, everyone says not to worry about it. I am. I do. But I'm also more worried about everything from this point on. I know surgery is going to cost upwards of $40,000 and that's being conservative. Delicate neck surgery? No idea.

Anyway, once the credit card is swiped and our futures destroyed, they're more than happy to immediately send me upstairs to get naked in the freezing-ass pre-op area. We meet the doctor, who offers some bullshit about how he knows this isn't how anyone wants their day in the hospital to start and how he doesn't get involved in the financial side of things. Of course, we're all thinking to ourselves he's full of shit since it was his decision that my f*&%#$@! tumor closing up my airway, threatening to spread to my chest or brain, is not "emergent" and ONLY that which would have sent me home to basically die.

He goes away. The rest stay and set up the IV and ask me the same seven questions 2 people on the phone and 4 people in the hospital already asked me. "no, I'm not allergic to anything." "No, I don't drink." etc.. But everyone is very nice and the woman with the needle is adequate (it's all psychological anyway, I know). They wheel me back and somehow on the way I'm done and back in the room already.

My mom and dad come into recovery and tel me what the dr told them - that I have a tumor on my tonsil and it has spread to my neck (it's bad if it goes near or below the collarbone [close to heart, lungs, etc.] or the base of my skull), and that we will to decide but he recommends surgery, and soon. How is any of this not "emergent"?

The nurse comes back to see how I'm doing and tell me the IV will come out soon. She gives us some paperwork and there's a paper about the prescriptions for pain meds and how they affect you, side effects, blah blah, except there's no prescriptions written down. No pain meds, no xanax like I asked, like he told me he'd give me last visit and didn't, like his office told me he would prescribe "at the hospital". And of course, no doctor around. "He never comes to recovery". The nurse is very nice and she actually asks me what pharmacy I use and calls the doctor's office to have them call it in. Cool.

No. Not cool.
*cut to pharmacy*
*enter drunk looking and sounding pharmacist* "No, no scrips phoned in. Let me check the email. No, nothing here."

Phone calls to dr yields endless automated phone systems and voicemails but no live people. Phone calls to other Basha's lead nowhere. We figure maybe the doctor's office closes at noon for lunch so we go home. I try to call again at 2:15 with the same results so we pile in the car and drive the 20 minutes to the dr's office. The blonde with the dead expression and no answers is not there, but the other woman there is very helpful and asks Marsha, the dr's PA, about it and she says she called it in while I was in the hospital. I ask for the phone number she called to make sure we're going to go to the right place this time and she provides it.

I figured I had better call to make sure they do have it and where exactly I'm going and the drunk sounding pharmacist answers and says it is there, and asks if I was the person who was in earlier. I said yes, but it wasn't there. She says, "no, it wasn't but it is now. It got called in at around 3:00pm".

Which is it? Did it get called in while I was at the hospital at 12:30 or so or did it get called in at 3:00pm, 10 minutes before we arrived at the dr's office? Sooooooo, a small but extremely infuriating and annoying AND money-wasting excursion because one of these two is either dumb or lying and I am leaning heavily towards the woman at Basha's pharmacy.

Oh, and no damn Xanax.


bobby said...

Hi Guy,

I've read your blog since your post about cancer. I'm a throat cancer survivor with very similar history. In 1998 I was working part time at Pizza Hut, along with another part-time job. It's a long story, but in early May of 1998 I got my diagnosis of throat cancer, stage IV; squamous cell cancer of the right tonsil to be exact. I had two large tumors on the side of my neck.

I'm still here, still alive and doing well. I really was an active participant in my treatment. I didn't do all that some doctors wanted me to do. I never had surgery. I started with low-dose chemo, declining the radiation. I responded wonderfully to chemo, but after some months, the cancer was still there and I went for the full-dose radiation. I'm living today with significant effects of treatment, but very actually very happy to be alive.

Reading your account brings lots of memories of crazy-ass misinformation, problems with communications, extreme frustrations dealing with the medical system. What got me through everything was meditation practice. Yes, it's all completely crazy, but that's the nature of the world. Might as well accept it and come to terms with your own mind, work to alleviate your own frustrations. Makes things a whole lot easier in the long term (and short term as well).

I wish the best for you my friend. May your experience be happy, despite the very difficult situations. There's always beauty to be found even in the worst of situations.


Guy said...

Thank you very much, Bob. It's always good to hear from others who have had similar experiences. I have a friend in Miami who went through full-on Hodgkin's and he's been talking to me about meditation and yoga. I am definitely going to start getting back into it soon.
Thanks again for the encouraging words. Means a lot :)