By Karen Crowley
Have you ever had a doctor break up with you?
I’ve gotten to know a lot of doctors over the past eight years. Some have been with me since my myeloma diagnosis; others have come and gone.
Before my diagnosis, I was eerily healthy. Even as a kid, I rarely had anything more serious than the sniffles. For most of my life, I saw a doctor once a year for my annual checkup, and that was about it. Even my pregnancy was completely uneventful. I showed up for my regular checkups, had the baby, and that was about it. Doctors were never a big part of my life. I really didn’t think about them too much. If I had to switch doctors, it wasn’t really a big deal.
Then, I was diagnosed with myeloma, and I suddenly found myself in a world of doctors. They were no longer people I saw for a few minutes once a year when I was healthy; they were now part of my regular routine, helping me make important decisions about a potentially deadly illness.
Most of my doctors have been amazing, so it’s always hard when one of them moves on.
A couple of years ago, my myeloma specialist sent me a breakup letter. She said she was participating in a study at the hospital and would no longer be seeing patients in the clinic, so I’d need to switch doctors.
It was a classic, “It’s not you; it’s me,” breakup letter.
Just like that, it was all over between us. We’d been together for more than six years. We’d been through all kinds of ups and downs, through stem cell harvests and bone marrow biopsies and giant jugs of my pee. It was magical.
“That’s it?” I thought. “You’re leaving me for ‘a study’? Is the study younger and better looking than I am? That study will never love you like I did! I gave you my blood! My blood! Did that mean nothing?”
Of course, I moved on, and my new specialist is also a great doctor. But, I still miss my old doctor. Change is always rough.
Last fall, I got a similar letter from my family practice doctor, Dr. G.
I’d been going to Dr. G. for more than ten years. She was the one who first discovered my myeloma, when perhaps other doctors wouldn’t have, back when it was just a tiny blip on a blood test. I owe a lot to Dr. G., and even though she’s not an oncologist, I always appreciated that she knew all about my weird medical history.
When I got the letter that she was moving on from the practice she’d been with for years, I was distraught. Another doctor breakup! I couldn’t take it!
A few months later, I was driving down the interstate when I noticed a familiar face smiling down at me from a billboard. It was Dr. G! The billboard was advertising that she was at a new practice, but I drove by too quickly to get all of the details. Every time I’d pass the billboard with my 8-year-old daughter in the back seat, I’d ask her to read it for me.
She’d catch about two words each time, so it took several trips before I had enough information to Google Dr. G.’s new practice.
I soon made an appointment for my annual checkup and discovered Dr. G. was just as excited to see me as I was to see her. She gave me a big hug and was thrilled to hear I had been stalking her on the interstate. Stalking cases don’t end happily all that often.
That’s when I realized that doctor breakups can be just as hard on the doctors as they are on the patients. They miss us, too! Do you think my former myeloma specialist still thinks of me from time to time with a fond sigh? That’s what I’ll always imagine.
Reposted with permission from the Myeloma Beacon, www.myelomabeacon.com
Karen Crowley blogs at The Adventures of Cancer Girl.