I Don’t Think So!

 Posted by at 2:03 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 042014

As I wrote in Wednesday’s blog, when I called the VA hospital in Tucson Monday, they still did not have a time for my skin cancer surgery, but were “pretty sure” it would be Thursday. But nobody knew what time it would be or where it would be at the hospital. So we came back down to Tucson on Wednesday to be here for it.

I was on the phone early Thursday morning trying to figure out where to be and when, and nobody knew anything. Finally after several hours and many phone calls I was told to come in yesterday morning and go to the dermatology clinic. I did, and met with the Physicians Assistant (PA) who did the original biopsy. He asked why I was there, saying I did not need to be because he had already scraped and burned the cancerous area and it didn’t need anything else. Terry and I both told him he had only done a biopsy and he insisted we were wrong according to his records. When we insisted he had not, he backpedaled and said, “Well, it says in one place I did but, in another it says I didn’t. So I’ll just do it now.”

Terry asked him what happened to the surgery and he blew that off, saying it wasn’t necessary, he could do a “scrape and burn” and that was 95% effective. Then I asked why a doctor went to the trouble to call me at 5:30 on the 18th to tell me I needed surgery if it wasn’t necessary? I figure doctors have more to do than just call me to chat. His response was that this was no big deal, that squamous cell carcinoma is a slow growing cancer that isn’t “usually” a problem. That may be true and I’m sure mine is not all that serious, but my own research had taught me that some 2,500 people die from it in the United States every year.

By then neither Terry nor I had any confidence in this clown and let him know it. I had no intention of letting him touch me again until I talked to somebody else. When all was said and done, I have an appointment to go back next week for surgery. The surgical nurse said the surgery had a 99% success rate. I’ll take an extra 4% edge any day of the week!

Too many people just assume that they have to do whatever the “professional” tells them. But it’s my body, and as out of shape and flabby as it is, I’m kind of attached to it. We’ll do it my way.

So we’ll hang out here in Tucson for a couple more weeks for the surgery and follow-up, and then figure out our next move. We had reservations at the Palm Springs Thousand Trails for mid-January, but we’ll have to cancel them. We’ve done the Quartzsite thing too many times already, but we may go hang out in Yuma for a while, and I’d like to go up to Winter Blast in Lake Havasu City in February. We’ll just play it by ear and see what happens.

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  12 Responses to “I Don’t Think So!”

  1. Nick this is the very thing that makes me nervous about the VA and being on the road. But actually being on the road has little to do with it as you have just shown. To many mistakes and assembly line type of care. I have never been mistreated by the VA but for the most part I just get my meds thru them. I turn 65 next year and will be getting a supplement for medicare and hope for the best, even though I am 100% disabled through the VA I’m judt not convinced with there care yet.

  2. My husband used the VA as we didn’t have insurance. He was suppose to have a 4 way by-pass on his heart which they never got around to doing. His Dr. two years later said he was FINE in mid October ’03 and dead on Dec 17 two months later. I hope Bob NEVER uses them.

  3. More people need to do their own research instead of just doing what the doctors tell them. Doctors are trained to look at symptoms and prescribe a drug for each one, or as in your case, take too casual a view of what could be serious. I just can’t get over how so many people don’t even do a quick Google search of their condition before they submit to whatever the doctor says.

  4. Well, you sure aren’t giving me much faith in the VA system. It’s taken me about 3 months to finally get assigned to a clinic and Dr in Tucson but I now have my 1st appt. So far the people I have come in contact with have been very nice and “try” to help.

    Since my stroke in May 2012 I’m convinced Doctors just want to push pills as they are all members of the CYA program. Continue to do as much research as possible!

    Good Luck next week!

  5. good for you standing up to this PA. Good luck with your appointment

  6. Well, we agree this will become the new norm. Sorry you went through all that, had a squeamish cell removed from my back, know what you are going through

  7. This situation has NOT been indicative of what I have come to expect from the VA health care system. This was a combination of one inept PA and the holiday slowdown hitting at once. Overall, I have always received very good care from the VA. And you can find one clod in any profession.

    The first doctor (private practice) who diagnosed Terry’s stage 4 cervical cancer at a hospital in Michigan told her she was going to die and that there was nothing to be done and to go home and start making her final preparations. 13 years later she is alive and well BECAUSE she refused to accept the first “professional’s” opinion.

  8. My wife is like that and always asks a lot of questions and if she doesn’t like the answer she fires them and asks for another. They kept wanting to give her knees steroid injections of cordizone which she had tried before and it made her very ill. She said no what about chicken comb and polymer? The Doctor said they had used that much yet but was willing if she was. They did it and after 3 years of all else failed this worked great. Pain stopped and she may have to get them again but only if it returns. All because she did her studying and asked a lot of questions. She has always had good service at the VA in Sacramento, McClellan air park.
    When a doctor got upset that she wasn’t doing what THEY wanted she would give them the information she had found on line or in a book even buy them the book and when they didn’t change their mind or give her a reason why it would not work then she’d fire them and look for another.
    I go to every appointment with her and she insists I be in the room so I can hear the diagnosis also. We cover each other. Because a few say I didn’t say that??? Oh yes you did on this day at this time. Its great being old!…

  9. Nick please please do not take the skin cancer lightly no matter what the guy at the VA hosp. told you. My husband developed a little squamous cell carcinoma on his ear and our family doctor said the same thing, no big deal. He froze it and it came back so he burned it and again said no big deal. Peter got tired of going back to hear the same thing and just ignored it after the 3rd treatment. Last summer when we were in New England it began to grow much faster and I finally called the same doctor, who again said no big deal and to see him when we got back to Colorado Springs. I disagreed and tried to get Peter to go to a doctor where we were at but he told me I was overreacting and that the doctor knew his business. When we got home and finally got in to see the doctor it had spread and invaded his skull and jaw. He had had three surgeries and lost part of his jaw and now it is attacking his brain. The doctors at the cancer center tell us he may have a year or eighteen months left at best. All our family doctor said was, well it can happen but usually doesn’t.

  10. I’m SO glad you brought this up! Hopefully it will help someone stand up for themselves! I’ve fired doctors that didn’t like the fact that I do my research & have an opinion about my body. We need to remember that WE know ourselves best. If a doctor says something that doesn’t sound right, speak up! Thanks for your candor & forthright ways!

  11. Wow, lots of good advice here!! You are so right Nick…you do NOT (yet anyway) have to take the word of a clown when you run into one. In the doc’s favor however, most are not allowed to practice as THEY see fit as they have to keep the AMA and other organizations happy. Probably however, your experience will become more prevalent. Well, if it is called “practicing medicine” which is what they are doing, no reason not to try out some things ourselves in some cases and at the least do the homework, which internet makes easier. We have had to search around to find a “reasonable” doctor…one who will not want us to take every drug imaginable. We have come across some doozies back here in NC…but finally found one who at least cares, will listen and will not push things on us we do not want.

  12. Sorry for you and the others getting poor attitudes and apparently poor information. I went to the VA twice (10-15 yrs ago)–after SS @ 62) and neither time was the doctor for my appointment IN. (duh?) The 2nd time I said no more.

    Then they billed me/my BC-BS as a VA-clerk said that I had signed a VA form that I would pay if I had insurance. I said, “BS”. Show me the paper that I signed and I’m not touching it so that they could get my fingerprints (if they were to try to play that game).

    Well, they said something like my forms/records were in St. Louis–or some such.

    Needless to say I haven’t been back and won’t be.

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