Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Immediately after my introductory visit with Dr. FixIt, I met with his scheduler, who is my new BFF*. She is awesome. She gave me some info for my work leave of absence planning. We discussed my summer plans – we are planning on leaving for a vacation to London on August 5, so counting back 6 weeks from there, ideally I’d like to have the surgery done before June 24. (Dr. Cancer had also taken a bet that it could be done that quickly, and already scheduled my post-op for June 23.) BFF told me that she’d do everything she could to align the two surgeons’ schedules to make it happen. Awesome!!
Within minutes of arriving at work after meeting with BFF, she called me (wow, responsive!!) to tell me that she’d called and emailed Dr. Demo’s scheduler, but unfortunately Dr. Demo’s scheduler needed some info from Dr. Demo herself, who had already left for the holiday weekend. So I needed to sit tight until Tuesday.
EVERYTHING hinges on when this surgery is scheduled for. Whether or not we can go to London; submitting paperwork for my leave of absence; telling my co-workers and my boss; oh, and telling my family! No problem, though; I’ll wait!!! Sure!!!
Tuesday rolled around (along with my strep throat). I left a message with BFF. She called me back a few hours later (just as I was about to leave for the hairdresser) to tell me that Dr. Demo’s scheduler (let’s call her Nemesis*) was the hold up, and she’s so sorry about this, but maybe I could call her directly…?
So, Wednesday morning I tried calling Nemesis. I waited on hold for 15 minutes and it never went to voicemail. I hung up. I had gotten some really awesome customer service from Dr. Cancer’s scheduler (let’s call him … Bob), so I decided to give him a ring in case he could help me. He tried sending an email to Nemesis for me.
Later in the day I was finally able to get through to Nemesis. I fawned a bit, in case I’d already been too much of a pest so far. She said something about still waiting for the orders from Dr. Demo.
Then she said, “What do you want done? You are trying to schedule a DOUBLE MASTECTOMY, right?”
“No, just the right breast. Why, does it say I need a double mastectomy?” I wanted to scream, “Why would you ask me that??!!”
She said, “Ok, right breast. You want the surgery on June 24, right? I can’t promise anything, I don’t know when I’ll be able to get this to fit in.”
I don’t really remember what was said after that.
I was now freaking out a little bit. Having cancer and needing a mastectomy in the first place is stressful enough. Layer on the logistical complications with getting the surgery scheduled, and throw strep throat in for good measure. Now we get to add scheduling confusion to the mix?? Why did she ask me that question? Did she pull up my records? Do my records say something about a double mastectomy? What does all this mean? And on top of that, I’d like the surgery done BEFORE June 24, not ON June 24!
I thought about calling Dr. Demo’s office back, but was worried that Nemesis might answer the phone. I decided to call Dr. Cancer, to see if I could get some clarification and make sure there wasn’t any confusion.
The phone rang and someone answered. “Hello, Dr. Cancer’s office, how can I help you?”
“Hi, I’m a patient of Dr. Cancer’s. I am wondering if I could leave a message to have her call me.”
“Dr. Cancer is on vacation for two weeks. I can leave a message to have her nurse call you back.”
AAAAHHHH!!!!! This was the closest to crying I’ve been this whole ordeal. I called Elisabeth just to recap the whole story and have her help me think it through. We agreed that I should wait for the call back from Dr Cancer’s nurse.
About 20 minutes later, the nurse returned my call. She was fantastic and totally talked me off the ledge. She explained that the schedulers know nothing about us; they actually do not have our records in front of them and know very little about us. She did not know what procedure I needed, except that BFF had contacted her and probably told her the basics. I should absolutely not read anything in to her question.
I thought that was the end of it (panic now gone, rational thought returning), but several hours later, that evening, Dr. Demo herself called me! She explained basically what the nurse had said (but maybe a little less clearly – so I was actually really glad that I’d spoken to the nurse). She said she definitely will do what she can to schedule the surgery as soon as possible, and spent a little time trying to explain to me the way operating room scheduling works, etc.
The fact that Dr. Demo called me means that Dr Cancer’s nurse must have sent a message to Dr. Demo. Clearly I’m making excellent headway with establishing myself as their MOST HIGH MAINTENANCE PATIENT. Well, I suppose they’ll have to get used to it!!