Chet The Scribe

My name is Chet Meeks. I am a 32 year old sociologist. I started this blog so that I can write about the things that interest me. I hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I'm Firing My Oncologist

I went to see my "doctor" yesterday. I have to go there every non-chemo week so they can test my blood and make sure they're not killing me. Then, afterward, the "doctor" comes to see me and measures the thing on my navel (which is now practically gone).

So, my appointment was for 2pm. I showed up at about 1:55 or a bit earlier. And then I sat there -- for an HOUR! At 3:05 I walked up to the front desk, smiled at the receptionist and said, "I'm leaving, and I want my $15 back." (I have to pay a $15 co-pay at each visit). She wanted to know what was wrong and I said, "Look at the clock." Then the PA, who was standing nearby, sort of perked up and said, "what's wrong Mr. Meeks." I told her I was sick of waiting, "especially when I can hear the lab nurses playing grab-ass in the back room. I have a meeting [which I didn't], and I have to go." And then I left.

When I got back to my office I faxed my "doctor" a letter telling him (for the second time....he and I have already had one conversation about this, mind you) that I wasn't going to tolerate waiting that long and that whether or not he was aware of it, the message it sent to people like me was that, since we are probably dying anyway, our time doesn't matter.

I doubt if he'll get it. My overall impression of the man since meeting him is that he's not entirely bright. It might be that he looks like a red-headed version of Santa Claus, or it might be the way he constantly interrupts me (which I had to ask him to stop) when I'm asking him questions about my illness. But basically, I hate him and he's finished.

More important than any of the above, though, is what I noticed on my "doctor's" website, which I looked at after faxing him my letter of contempt. I had never thought to do this before, for some reason. You can look on the website yourself by going here:

Notice anything? Anything jump out at you?


I had already planned to change my insurance to the University's more expensive but better "indemnity plan," which will allow me to see any specialist I want. I can even go to Egypt under this plan, if I want. But now I'm changing for sure, and when the change takes effect Jan. 1, "Dr." Carr is history. Aside from clearly being incapable of running an office that resembles anything other than a circus, why couldn't this idiot just say, "Mr. Meeks, your case is very serious, and I have to be honest with you and tell you that colon cancer is not one of my main specialty areas."

I'll tell you why: because most doctors only care about money. These are the same individuals who, with total hostility toward their own Hippocratic Oath, lobbied like rabid dogs to block Health Care reform in the 1990s (see Theda Skocpol's book, Boomerang). My "doctor" didn't send me to another more qualified person when he was handed my case because my carcinoma and I are CASH COWS. I don't know how much this round of treatment costs, because I have not seen any of the bills yet, but I know that last time I went through this, each treatment cost about $21,000.00! One IV bag of Oxaliplatin cost $7,000. I know this treatment is more expensive because they're giving me Neulasta, a white-cell booster that costs -- are you ready for this -- $6000.00 PER INJECTION. I'm also on Avastin, which appears to be worth more than its weight in gold. Not all of that money goes to the drug makers, who themselves are uniformly evil; some of it -- a lot of it -- also goes to people like my "doctor," someone who is, it turns out, not even intellectually interested in my particular disease.

I want a doctor who goes to bed at night and wakes up in the morning thinking about colon cancer. I want someone who gets in fender benders because their mind is occupied with the particular mechanism of action of EGFR+, grade 4/4, undifferentiated, aggressive, metastatic carcinomas. I want someone who is so obsessed with all of this that they are incapable of forming lasting, meaningful relationships with other human beings because all they care about is killing this cancer -- my cancer.

And I want someone who, when their patients are sitting in the waiting room for more than an hour while their lab nurses are fooling around and laughing in the back room, looks at the lab nurses and says, "pack your things and be out in 5 minutes."

I want Rainman, not Santa Claus.

I guess I've become a very impatient patient.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I commend you on not being passive when you are unhappy with your medical care. Obviously you deserve better.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am fuming just thinking about what happened to you. You are absolutely right to get another oncologist. The fact that he thinks he is qualified to treat you is just more evidence as to why we're (still) not winning the so-called "war" on cancer.

Have fun peppering him with questions next time (if there is one).


12:08 PM  
Anonymous Lars said...


Well written, particularly the last three paragraphs.

In addition to the political-economy of the US health care "system" (greed of drug-makers & doctors, inequality in the availabity of affordable health care, etc.), there is also an organizational analysis applicable here too. It is an organizational problem that they make you wait and can't be on time. There is no reason why, after years and years of running a hospital, that adjustments to scheduling can't be made! If the airlines can improve their on-time status, then why can't hospitals?

And as for the fact that a doctor who doesn't specialize in colon cancer wasn't assigned to you -- I'm very surprised and am happy you've elected to make a change.


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Blogger Shawna Ayers said...

I admire your ability to be outspoken, with your words you spoke for many other people that don't.

I am in a sociology class in Texas about Sociology of Health and Illness and this blog was recommended.

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