Part 1, Sept. 1, 2008


We don't know how current everyone is about the on-going saga so a little history is in order.  About 12 days ago, the results of a biopsy showed that I have endometrial (also called uterine) cancer.  It isn't as uncommon as you might think.  It just doesn't get any press coverage.  After a CT scan, a chest x-ray and what seems like innumerable ultrasounds of my most private parts, it looks like the cancer (technically called endometrial adenocarcinoma) is still contained in my uterus.  That is wonderful news.  A complete hysterectomy will be done to remove my ovaries, uterus and lymph nodes.  The final verdict about cancer spread will be given when my lymph nodes are removed and checked in surgery.

I have a wonderful gyn in Santa Rosa (Dr. F.) who wanted to refer me to the gynecological oncology department at UCSF.  He knows one of the MD's there (Dr. X), has worked with her before and she actually practices one day a week in Santa Rosa.  For 9 days, he (and his administrative people) were calling Dr. X at UCSF.  They were also calling the administrative people at UCSF and just about everyone else they knew.  The kept getting told that I would be called to set up an appointment either that day of the next but still there was no call to me.  On Thursday last (after a full week), my gyn gave me a phone number at UCSF to call and get registered into their medical system.  I called that number and got Dr. X's "academic office" not her medical practice.  They gave me the correct number.  When I called the UCSF appointment secretary, I was told that Dr. X was not accepting new patients, was leaving UCSF on Sept. 4 and that one of the other 2 gyn-oncologists might be available. (Why didn't anyone tell us "mere mortals" that?)

When I called my gyn (Dr. F.), they indicated that they thought Dr. X would be at UCSF for another month and that they had "no relationship" with either of the other gyn-oncologists.  That was when Dr. F. called UCSF to find out what was going on.  He called me on Friday afternoon and told me that he had "hammered" both Dr. X and her head administrator about the lack of communication.  The administrator, the "practice manager" for the UCSF gynecology-oncology dept., called me immediately, and hemmed and hawed about giving me an appointment.  There was a lot of "We are swamped." and "We're losing a doctor." and a number of other excuses.  She finally told me that she would have to ask the remaining doctors whether I could be seen "if and when" she could find them.  A few minutes later, she called me back, told me that only one of the doctors (Dr. Y) was accepting new patients and that first available time for "a consultation" was on Sept. 24.  I was also told that I would need tests done and that Dr. Y would then decide whether surgery was required.  I told the "practice manager" that there was no option.  I had endometrial adenocarcinoma and that surgery was required and that since they had "messed around" for 9 days that I expected an appointment a lot sooner.  She indicated that she might be meeting with Dr. Y on Wed. next and would ask for an appointment sooner.  I also told her that the tests were done, I had already registered in the UCSF medical system and the test results were sent to her office.  She then said, "Oh yes, here they are."

Are we having fun yet?  By this time my blood pressure is through the roof, I have an enormous migraine headache and I am close to tears because, believe it or not, I cannot do my own hysterectomy.  (There are still some things in this world that I will admit I cannot do.)  I really do need some help with this.

I called Dr. F. and related the current state of affairs to him.  He called me back around 4PM on Friday and told me that he was "more frustrated" than I was and that he doesn't "practice medicine this way".  He feels that the administrative problems are directly the responsibility of and reflection on the physicians and had decided not to refer me to anyone else and that he would do the surgery in Santa Rosa and that I was to make an appointment for Tuesday of this week to "get things started".

So I finally have found a medical person who is willing to "own" me and not refer me to yet another medical group.  In talking to a number of friends, I have heard that the problem with UCSF administrative people is not isolated to gyn-oncology and that other departments in their medical system are also run badly.  With the above experience I'm not sure I would have had much confidence in the medical care at UCSF.  I really don't want to be just another "piece of meat" or another data point for a publication.

So, tomorrow I will hopefully have a schedule of final tests (or whatever) and perhaps a surgery date.  I really just want to get past surgery and whatever is beyond and get on with my life.

Until next time, your Three Kitty (War) Korrespondents, Blackie, Yoda, and

J -

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