My aunt Shirley went for an ambulance ride to the local ER a few nights ago with a BP of 295/190 — and she was coughing blood. She was transported to an Indy hospital right away. And that’s when things start getting a tad whacked. I’m no doctor (nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night), but common sense alone applied to this scenario and I’m still left scratching my head.
The doctor informed the family that the CT scan showed a spot on my favorite aunt’s lung in the upper left area… and one more place but I can’t remember where that was. A pulmonary specialist performed a biopsy the following day. The family was waiting for news directly after the procedure and was told Shirley most likely has lung cancer. Mr. Handsome Pulmonary surgeon dude explained that a blood clot was suctioned away and a mass was uncovered. He promised that Shirley would not be told about the “tumors” (his words, not mine) until her daughter, Jerilyn could be with her.
Jerilyn’s flight arrives before noon the following morning. She sits down across from her Mom who proceeds to tell her that the doctor spoke with her earlier that morning and the news he delivered was bad. She explained that the doctor told her she has lung cancer. Shirley said that surgery, chemotherapy and radiation were discussed, and she had decided that although she would let them “cut on her,” she would not undergo chemo or radiation.
Another cousin, Sherry, and I arrived a short time later. Nurses explained that tests had already begun to determine Shirley’s lung capacity should the lung be removed — based upon her ability to withstand the operation knowing she has 16 stints in place because of previous heart issues. Two hours later, the pulmonary specialist who delivered the bad news to Shirley (without waiting for her daughter to be present) was back. He took Shirley by the hand and said, “The biopsies show no cancer.” WHAT???? Of course, we were elated!
And then, we 3 cousins sat in stunned silence as he continued to explain that he was releasing her from his care, another biopsy would be performed in 6 weeks, and she would be on strong antibiotics in the meantime. All Shirley heard was that she’s cancer free. She wanted a photo of the happy moment…
Not until later did we really evaluate and question what had just happened. I understand that you might want to prepare a patient for the possibility of a poor diagnosis — but to begin tests for the removal of a lung for crying out loud? Why not put her on an IV of antibiotics before releasing her with that “strong dose?” What about that spot up high they couldn’t reach with the biopsy procedure? For some reason, I have a bad feeling — and it’s gnawing at me. I hope all this willy nilly jumping around doesn’t bounce back in the other direction. And, I have a little less faith in the healthcare system. Crazy, yah?