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Problems With a Dick Doctor

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  • Problems With a Dick Doctor

    I was diagnosed two years ago and was pleased to be referred to one of the top TC specialists in the US. I also have lupus, a complicated autoimmune disorder that nearly killed me ten years earlier. That experience and the years dealing with my recovery from the disease made me into a very engaged patient so when I was diagnosed with TC, I had a lot of questions that most others wouldn’t bring to their oncologist.

    During my first visit with the oncologist, I was a bit of a wreck. My health history amplifies any new health problems and I rely on my physicians to be sensitive to that fact. When I asked my new oncologist if he would be consulting with my rheumatologist, however, he blew up at me. He seemed to think that I was questioning his qualifications to treat me. It was frankly very weird but eventually he calmed down and by the end of the visit I almost felt comfortable with him. My wife had accompanied me to the first consult though and she did not like him one bit. She said “I can see why he decided to become a dick doctor!” Yesterday, I found out that as usual, my wife was 100 % right.

    So fast forward 18 months and several check ups later. Everything seemed to be working out just fine. No recurrence of cancer was detected on any of the scans. My insurance company all of a sudden decides it won’t be approving the CT scans my doctor had ordered. So naturally I’m concerned about this. I file an appeal though and at the next appointment my doctor says he’ll do what’s called a peer to peer review to convince them. He said I had nothing to worry about and that he’d prevail so when they called to tell me my CT scan was back on I assumed it meant that he had discussed it with them and they relented. However, I was to be proven wrong.

    Yesterday, the office calls me to tell me the insurance company had gone back on their decision and would not pay for the scan. I asked if their determination was final and the office person said “yes”. I hung up and, being the engaged patient that I am, I immediately called my insurance company to find out why they did not trust my doctor’s judgement. They proceeded to read me their guidelines and then I asked why they had gone back on their previous decisions. They told me that the doctor had never responded to their initial denial and that he had not responded to the most recent denial. I realized that I had been lied to by my physician. I was not happy about this.

    I wrote a summary of what happened and explained that I can not trust a doctor with my healthcare if he can not be honest with me. I told them that unless I received an explanation that I would be changing to a new physician at the rival hospital across town. The oncologist soon left me a voicemail where he explained that he did not think they would budge and so he didn’t want to spend the time discussing it with them. He closed saying “I want you to understand it’s not that we didn’t provide you with the care. It’s just that it would be a challenge to do so.”

    I did not think this was a sufficient explanation. I understand it must be very bothersome to have to convince someone that your decision is correct only to have them deny your case. I just expect that if my doctor doesn’t want to do something, that he tell me the truth and not say that he has done everything he could.

    If he had simply said something to the tune of “I do not fully agree with their decision but I do not think it significantly increases the risk of recurrence” then I would have deferred to his best judgement. Even if o thought the guy was an asshole, I still trusted him with my care. Now that I have caught him lying to me, however, I can not have faith in his ability to care for my entire person. I’m more than the testicle they removed two years ago.

    The manager of the cancer center called me this morning and affirmed my feelings and apologized for my negative experience. She set me up with a new oncologist at a different clinic and I think I’ll be much happier there. I think all of us here need to trust that our physicians will not only makes the best decisions possible for our care but also to communicate open and honestly about challenges they face along the way. This doctor may have all the knowledge he needs to make the “top testicle cancer doctor” lists, but I need one who can also recognize that living with cancer (and in my case, other serious diseases) it’s terribly difficult. I hope this next guy is a better fit!

    Thanks for being here to let me vent!