Dr. No

Is there a nice doctor in the House?
Is there a nice doctor in the House?

I just returned from visiting my 83-year-old aunt in the hospital, where I met one of the most arrogant doctors I’ve ever met in my life. That’s pretty arrogant.

My aunt has Stage IV colorectal cancer.  To make matters worse (as if they could be), she fractured her hip last week as a result of severe osteoporosis. As her closest living relative, I am her “patient advocate.” From the day she was diagnosed with cancer almost two years ago, my aunt could count on me to stay on top of her doctors and treatment, help her maneuver and understand complicated medical processes and make certain the quality of her life was the best it could be. Up until the fracture, it’s been pretty good.

After striding into my aunt’s room today, the orthopedic surgeon immediately told us he normally doesn’t work on bone fractures but he was reviewing her case “as a favor” to her oncologist.  “All I do now is elective hip and knee replacements. Five hundred a year,” he proudly announced.

Then he called me to task for ignoring his instructions to bring my aunt to the hospital sooner.  “Now the hip is broken and a rod needs to be inserted.”

After firming establishing there were no such instructions and reading aloud emails that I exchanged with my aunt’s oncologist (I felt like a defense attorney), DR. “I DON’T DO BONE FRACTURES” contritely explained the options. I asked him lots of questions too, as I’ve been doing for two years with all kinds of doctors. His speciality is bones.  My specialty is my aunt.

Two decades ago, when my 68-year-old dad was dying, doctors and patients acted like Gods and their worshippers.  The medical profession was sacrosanct.  Our attitude towards medicine has changed—even if many doctors still think of themselves as holy.

We, the over 50 million FOF women who had blind faith in our doctors 20 years ago, now realize it’s not just okay—it’s wise—to question their authority. We’re becoming patient advocates for our elderly relatives who take sick.  We’re becoming advocates for ourselves when we become the patients.  We know docs make mistakes–just like we do.

Don’t mess with a FOF woman.

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