Monday, January 16, 2012
It is now August 2011. I have been coping with the concept of being diagnosed with a rare life threatening incurable disease for about six months. I am in denial and really not handling it well. My GP is not happy that I haven't seen a hematologist since February so he suggests I see another. The appointment is scheduled for a Tuesday during the first week of August. Late in the day for my husbands schedule. I am in the blood draw area with the phlebotomist/nurse answering questions about my health history and medications. She weighs me, takes my blood pressure and draws about 8 vials of blood. This practice runs a paperless office, scanning all records into the computer. There is no paper chart that I can see. I glance at the screen and notice my name with a doctor's name next to it. The doctor is not the one my GP requested I see. This is not the doctor who took care of my mother in law so many years ago. I recognize the doctor's name from the office website and remember that this guy joined the group two months ago, right after completion of his hematology fellowship. I asked the nurse if i was seeing the doctor my gp requested. She gave me what was obviously a standard line in this practice and said 'we have three hematologist, a nurse practitioner, and a physicians assistant. You may be seen by any of them during your visit.' I was furious! Another newbie. I thought about leaving and going home but i decided to give him an hour. I figured he couldn't do any harm. The first thing I notice is this guy doesn't make direct eye contact. He speaks with his gaze averted in a non-confrontational manner. I do know that he studied school psychology prior to becoming a doctor so I thought this behavior may have been a part of his counseling bag of tricks. He asks why I am there so I tell him about the ET diagnosis and my reluctance to have a bone marrow biopsy with just Novocain. He has the records from the first hematologist and tells me I don't have ET. He says I have PV, polycythemia Vera. Why I ask? Well you are jak2 positive. He then tells me I should get my name on a bone marrow transplant list before I become too old. It may take some time to find a match. He also wants to do a bone marrow biopsy. I am shocked! I am not surprised he would have a different diagnosis. The two are related and I do have symptoms of both. But no where in the limited research I have done did the research suggest a bone marrow or stem cell transplant as a standard treatment protocol. Quite to the contrary! I repeated that I would not allow him to do a bone marrow biopsy without some sort of sedation. We left knowing that this guy did not have a clue of what he was doing and knew even less about this rare disease. I planned to call the Dana Farber Cancer Center in Boston the next day. I desperately needed to speak to someone who knew what they were talking about.