Remember the oncology suite in a certain unnamed hospital in New York City?
I still can’t get over how accurate that is. Well, since I fired my oncologist due to the uncomfortable fit and horrific public service in the unit, I’ve been out of sorts. I’ve been busy gathering medical records (another source of indigestion that revealed a weak spot in the surgeon’s office) and wondering if or how the landscape would change. Would the new oncologist see me? Would my gut tell me that it was okay? One thing after the other. Add to that my back hurting more and more and I didn’t think that October 5 would ever arrive.
As it turned out, October 5 arrived today! The oncologist’s office called with a cancellation and I was able to see the new unnamed doctor an entire week and two days early. Because it was such an awesome experience, I’ll reveal the name of the hospital: Mt Sinai’s Dubin Breast Center. Due to some extremely light crosstown traffic, I got to my appointment quite early. However, that gave me an opportunity to survey the area and engage my office efficiency and customer relations radar. (It is tuned and highly sensitive. One obnoxious person cackling and gossiping two floors away will engage the alarm.)
First thing, I was greeted professionally and escorted to the receptionist of the medical oncology unit. Second, all of my insurance information, paper work, etc. had already been processed (I communicated my policy information over the phone two weeks before). I only had to sign some privacy and payment distribution forms and I was ready to see the doctor. And that is how you run a business, people. That is how it’s done!
The reception area was clean, comfortable, and very welcoming. I was addressed as Ms. Barrington and not summoned by my last name only to do everything from pay my bill to get blood drawn to have vitals taken. There was no oncologist in the waiting area discussing confidential medical information with the patient. HIPPA rules were followed properly and I was impressed.
The waiting area had a big screen TV, but it wasn’t blaring mindless network television chatter, stock quotes, or otherwise useless and stressful bullshit. Instead, images of calming scenes with accompanying light and soft music played. Very nice. Due to its location on Fifth Avenue and on the first floor, I was able to look out onto Central Park.
Yes, all of the aesthetics were spot on. And that means a lot, but the medical expertise means more. I’m not going to reveal the physician’s name, but suffice it to say that I am confident and my gut tells that it is the right fit. The patient is the focus of care here. And that is the way it should be. Here I feel that my desire to know and explore is not predicated on my being a control freak, but on my being a partner in the delivery of the very best and most thorough care.
Today, for the first, time, I was asked about my support network. No one. Not one person has asked me about this. Before, the most I got was a brochure I picked up (no one gave it to me) and the breast unit wasn’t even mentioned in it. I took the bull by the horns in this regard and I have one of the best networks going: in person and virtual. People concerned about the welfare of the patient will want to know that they have a support network and are not floundering.
My physician concurred with many things my former oncologist conveyed to me. And that was important because when I lost confidence in that person I also lost confidence in my diagnosis and treatment plan (again, following it because my surgeon first recommended it). This confirmed to me that it was not the intelligence or experience of the oncologist that was the problem, it was just not the right institutional fit for me. And that was good to know.
But the systemic landscape is much the same and I will likely need a biopsy of the vertebra to confirm the presence of cancer cells in the bone (which is strongly suspected by the physician). But, most importantly, it will be needed to confirm if the cancer cells in the outpost have morphed from the estrogen gluttons that make up the Death Star orbiting in the boob.
Things are set up and I’m moving forward: I have one of the best surgeons in the city, and now I have one of the best oncologists. And the oncologist, to whom I will be married for the rest of my life, is in a place where I can return with confidence. Marcus Aurelius would be happy for me: “Scorch,” he would say, “Forward, as occasion offers. Never look round to see whether any shall note it. Be satisfied with success in even the smallest matter, and think that even such a result is no trifle.” (And that is why Marcus was probably never invited to too many parties.)
Because I’m so bloody happy right now. Here’s a video that will make you smile.