“Dear Dr. M, after much deliberation and research…”
No. No. No. Delete.
“Dear Dr. M, I am having second thoughts…”
No. No. Delete.
“Dear Dr. M, I think a craniotomy is crazy….”
“Dear Dr. M,…………I’m scared.”
I had sat at my computer for over an hour trying to figure out how to write an email to my doc telling him that I did not know if I could go through with the surgery we had scheduled for three, no, now it was two and half weeks away. Tick Tock.
Something just didn’t feel right. In my past three I had been scared but ready. The risks were high but I had felt confident that I was doing the right thing. There was something about this one that felt wrong. Like when you wake up late, still half asleep, and dress in the dark for work. You walk around for half the day feeling like something is “off.” You check the mirror and yep, everything looks fine, make-up isn’t smudged, hair is smoothed back, socks match, but still, something is weird. You can’t put your finger on it. It’s only later that night while getting ready for bed you realize that while dressing with your eyes halfway closed you put your underwear on backwards and inside out.
I knew that Dr.M and Dr. L were the best. If we were going to do this they were the men that I wanted in the room. But was this the right thing? I just couldn’t be sure. Something about this felt…different. My tumor was back but not growing as aggressively as before. Did we need to be so aggressive when taking it out? Was there something that we had missed? Something was nagging at me. I just had this feeling that to hit the throttle and go full speed ahead might be foolish I called a childhood friend of mine who is a brilliant Doctor and asked her what the social protocol was for politely breaking a surgery date. Did I have to do it over the phone? Handwritten letter on stationary? Maybe an email? Text? Facebook? I also was wondering what she thought about getting a second opinion.
“You should absolutely get a second opinion if you are not sure Steph. A craniotomy is not something you want to do unless you are physically and mentally ready. And though doctor’s have big egos he should be fine with you seeking a second opinion if he’s a professional at all. Would you like for me to find you someone here in Nashville?”
She was right. I knew that if Dr. M was anything he was professional. But I had been watching too man reruns of Grey’s Anatomy and had gotten it into my head that all surgeons were egomaniacs. What if Dr. M got mad? If I DID have to have a craniotomy I wanted him to do it and I did not want to make the man with the steady hands holding the bone saw angry.
Finally, I wrote him. “Good Morning Dr. M, as the surgery that we previously scheduled approaches I am having a difficult time getting mentally prepared. The fact that this is such a big step from the previous surgeries I have had along with the fear that even this may not solve the problem are making me pause. I have entertained the idea of a getting a second opinion (please please please do not be mad) even if it is simply for the sake of hearing the same answer twice. I need to enter into this surgery with a clear and confident mind and right now I am feeling very conflicted about it…what do you think?”
When I received his response a few hours later I gave a sigh of relief, “Dear Miss Fahs, I completely understand, I definitely support another opinion, and, of course, I am not angry. It has been frustrating that this has not resolved with the surgeries we have done, I would love to do a more conservative procedure. Let me know what you want to do after you get your other consults.”
I leaned back in my office chair and almost cried with relief. I had just bought some more of that magical currency: time. How much I didn’t know. Would my tumor continue to grow at a slower pace as it had been for the past six weeks? I couldn’t be sure. Was sitting around and waiting to find out a good idea? I had no idea. Could I find a magical alternative to more surgery by getting a second opinion? I hoped so but I couldn’t be sure