Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The doctor is out

Not only did I not get a biopsy on Wednesday during my scheduled appointment with Dr. B1, I didn't even get a chance to see Dr. B1.

I got stood up.

I've been stood up before, memorably in the early '80s when I invited a guy I had met over to my apartment for a home-cooked meal. He never showed, and he never found out how lucky he was. The quiche I prepared was rancid.

Two days ago, both my radiation oncologist told me that he would consult with Dr. B1 to bring him up to date on my situation and to share his recommendation that I get a biopsy, and fast. My maxillofacial surgeon also said he talk to Dr. B1, whose department is adjacent to his own.

But when I stepped up to the counter in the Head and Neck Department and presented my Kaiser membership I.D. and the postcard I received for my 2 p.m. appointment, the woman who checks in patients shook her head and said my appointment had been canceled.

I could almost hear the cancer cells in my face cackling with glee.

And not only was it a waste of my time to leave work and drive across town to Kaiser, my best buddy left work, too, to meet me at Kaiser for the appointment.

The woman at the check-in desk told us to take a seat so she could try and straighten things out. A few minutes later, a door creaked open and a nurse named Bernadette led us into a part of the Head and Neck Department I haven't seen before.

I thought I was going to be seen by another provider, which would have fine with me. Even a Doctor Doolittle would be able to look at my face and see that something is seriously wrong, and get the ball rolling on a new treatment plan, beginning with a biopsy.

Instead, Bernadette brought us into a conference room and asked us to take a seat at a long table.

She began by expressing her apologies about the canceled appointment.

I wasn't about to play Mr. Nice Guy and accept her apology with grace; I was peeved and wrote words to that effect in my note pad. My friend was ticked off, too, and his T-shirt bearing a Rolling Stones tongue logo with fangs made him seem even more menacing. So we played Bad Cop, Badder Cop: my friend expressing himself orally and me scribbling my complaints in my note pad.

But the goal was to get a biopsy and Bernadette could not do anything to make that happen —at least not today.

My friend and I parted in the lobby. As soon as I returned to my desk at the office, I shot an email to Dr. B1 asking for his next available appointment.

A few hours later, I was crawling down Melrose Avenue on my way home from work when I saw that I had missed a call on my cell. Seeing no TMZ reporters lurking about —they must all be staking out in Mandeville Canyon— I listened to the message the caller had left.

It was Theresa in the Head and Neck department, offering me an appointment with Dr. B1 at 7 a.m. tomorrow morning. I hurriedly sent a text to my friend asking him to call Theresa back and grab that slot.

So unless I oversleep and stand up Dr. B1, I'll be seeing him tomorrow, just 17 hours later than originally planned.

I give Dr. B1 a lot of credit for getting me in so quickly. But if my cancer truly has returned for another round, it's moving fast. If I have any chance at all at beating it —twice— my doctors and I have to move even faster.


  1. Glad you're seeing Dr. B1 in the morning and not Dr. Doolittle. Can't believe you have me laughing, yet again. Good luck in the am, nighty night.

  2. You make me laugh but at the same time my heart goes out to you as you struggle with all of this.