Thursday, April 12, 2012

A good news, bad news kind of day

Wednesday was one of those days. I had an appointment with my urologist. The week before I'd gone in for a PSA blood test. Since I've had my prostate removed the desired number of my PSA is zero. Zero means there are no cancer cells from the prostate still in the body. My urologist, Dr. Gee, was also my surgeon in February, 2009. When my prostate was biopsied after removal there was optimism that he had gotten all of the cancer, but it always takes a blood test to tell for sure. So far it's been three years, and every time they take my blood and test for prostate-specific antigens the number is zero, and that's good.

But when I had my operation I had complications. If you have a strong stomach you can read about it here in a posting I wrote just a couple of weeks after surgery. Dr. Gee has apologized for it (and is probably lucky I didn't sue him since he admitted he screwed up).

Dr. Gee is arrogant. I don't necessarily hold it against him, although I don't particularly like him, either. I think arrogance comes with being a surgeon. But his bedside manner is not so good. He's very abrupt and can be impatient. Six months ago during our meeting he reiterated the surgery was the right thing for me. But yesterday he told me he rarely does surgery anymore, because there are new treatments that are better. When he saw the look of pain that crossed my face he said, "I'm sorry for what you went through, and I'm sorry for the side effects you still have, but I can't undo what was done."

Sure, Doc, sure. I understand.

This is a diagram of my cancerous prostate.

He looked at his laptop screen and said, "Three years out, still zero, that's good." I nodded my head. Three years cancer free. It has a nice ring to it. I've always heard if you get to five years out you're considered cured of that cancer. Then he told me, "I had a guy last week, five years out, and his cancer cells went up. It's a good idea to come in every six months for testing so we can catch it."

Gulp. He said, five years out cancer came back...? But...but...I understood that after five years you're considered cured. I guess not.

We talked about me going on Medicare. Next time I see him in October I'll be on Medicare, and wanted to know if that's a problem. "It's only a problem if they cut it 30% like they're talking about," he said. At least then I knew he wasn't a fan of the Paul Ryan plan to cut Medicare. That was good news.

Then he got up; apparently my five minutes or however long I was in there was up, and it was time to move on. He shook my hand. "See you in six months." Before he went out the door he asked, "You have arthritis in that wrist?"


"I could feel it wiggling."

Uh...wiggling? Did he say wiggling?

Before I got a chance to ask what he meant he was off down the hall, his final words being, "I'll send a copy of this [blood test results] to Anna Leeza."

My family doctor is a young Filipino woman whose first name is spelled AnnLiza, but I've never heard it pronounced. I've only seen her twice since she became my doctor, and I can already tell her bedside demeanor is much better than his. Was he being arrogant, calling another doctor by her first name, maybe because she's a woman, or to sound cool. As usual with Dr. Gee, when I left his office I had more unanswered questions than when I went in.


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