This week has been all about doctor visits. Its time to get my six month check-ups and Pet CT Scan — all are a part of my five-year surveillance plan. My scans came back good — no they are great, my oncologist says my blood test results look great.
UCI is always busy with patients and I learned that a 10 o’clock appointment can turn into an 11 o’clock one. The great thing about doctors at UCI is that they do not rush the patients — well at least mine don’t. There is nothing worse in my book than seeing a doctor and feeling that I’m not being heard. The downside is that they run late, so I learned to bring a book.
This morning I brought a book about Buddhism and the section I was reading discussed change and how we humans just hate that and how that emotion leads us to suffering. I found myself agreeing with the author. I certainly knew many people who hated change and they in fact did feel bad when change happened in their lives. I, however, was pretty well-adjusted and understand that things change all the time. It’s part of that impermanence thing.
Then my name was called and I went through he usual weight and blood pressure routine and was led to a small room to wait for my radiation doctor. UCI is a teaching hospital so its protocol for a resident to come in first to go over any issues and updates. That’s exactly what happened this time, but when he was leaving, he told me a doctor’s name I didn’t know, would be in to see me shortly. I told him that he must have gotten me confused with another patient. Dr.Wong is my doctor and I am seeing him today. That’s when I was ambushed with the news. Dr. Wong moved to Canada.
Everything I read a few minutes earlier — things I agreed with — went right out the window. Moved? How could my doctor abandon me? He is an intricate part of Team Inge and nobody — I mean nobody is as smart as he is when it comes to radiation treatment. Never mind the fact, I haven’t needed treatment since May 2011.
My new doctor, I forgot her name immediately — because I stopped listening — asked me the typical questions Dr. Wong always asked me, or at least I think she did. It was hard for me to focus on her words with all the talking going on in my head…how qualified is she? Does she know anything about my type of cancer? How old she? Why didn’t Dr. Wong call me to tell me that he was leaving?
My office visit lasted only a few minutes. No, I didn’t have any questions…see you in six months. It took me a good hour to process my feelings and accept that my doctor is gone. He was offered a better position in Canada and since he is Canadian, a chance to practise medicine in his homeland. Who can argue against that?
There is a special bond that happens between a patient and their doctor, especially when that patient faces a life threatening illness and that doctor helps in the recovery of that patient. It’s not just me, I read accounts from other patients who experienced the same thing. It has to do with the nurturing that is receved from the healthcare providers. It’s the same feeling of nurturing that we get from our parents when we are young. We feel safe and cared for. But just like anything else these relationships are impermanent. Parents grow old and eventually die — and doctors move away. The feeling can be similar…the feeling of loss..which Buddha calls suffering.
I gave this a great deal of thought this afternoon and I am better now. It’s also a valuable lesson that seems to have come at a convenient time. Who knew that the words I was reading were about to play out in real life.