29 September 2010

Raining, Pouring

Two weeks ago my FIL was having trouble breathing, so he went see his doctor.

Actually, that isn't true. He didn't have a doctor, because he doesn't get annual physicals, so he went to his sister's doctor.

Doctor suspected congestive heart failure and admitted him to the hospital. Ran heart tests - they all came back negative. Took a chest x-ray...found a spot.

The spot on his lung, they said, was less than an inch long - very small and almost nothing to worry about even if it turns out to be cancer.

Did a biopsy...found it was, indeed, cancer.

No problem, they said - at that point several more doctors got involved. It's so small, it's only Stage One - early stage one, most likely.

They sent him home, told him to come back in a week to have the spot and a hunk of lung removed.

He went back on Monday. When they opened him up they found the tumor - much larger than one inch - wrapped around his pulmonary artery. And more tumors. Everywhere. His whole right lung is covered in them.

Can somebody explain to me why THAT wouldn't show up on an x-ray. And WTF is is wrong with doctors that they don't put a person through an MRI before cutting on him, so they know what they're in for once they open him up?

Anyway, they left the pulmonary tumor - the really big one - because they were afraid he'd bleed out on the table if they messed with the artery.

So they sewed him up and are sending him home in a couple of days with Stage Three lung cancer, a scrip for chemo and radiation, and their best wishes.

This. Is. Fucked. Up.

He's 66 years old. He doesn't even smoke, although he lives with a smoker...who lost half of one of her lungs 5 years ago and kept right on smoking, BTW.

But, cancer runs in the family and he isn't the first of his momma's children to get the lung variety.

So let's review: Cancer runs in your family, your sibs have died from it, and you live with a smoker, but you don't get a chest x-ray - or even a basic fucking physical - once a year.

We live in a first world country. Hell, we are the poster children for The First Fucking World.

Is our healthcare system unfair? Yes. Do I think we should have universal medicine? Absofuckinglutely. Does this have anything to do with MY family? Hell no. My FIL has had health insurance for the last 20 years and he has Medicare now.

Surely to God this was preventable. Even if it was inevitable that he was going to get cancer, it never should have had a chance to get this bad. It should have - probably could have - been caught ages ago.

But he didn't go to the doctor. Once a year. For an hour.

I know well-educated people my age who don't get physicals...or go to the dentist...and it blows my fucking mind. I know women to don't get PAPS for God's sake. Women who HAVE health insurance and spend twice the $25 co-pay on lattes every week.

It isn't like they can't afford to see a doctor. It isn't like they don't fucking KNOW any better. They're just lazy about their health.

One of these women gives me a hard time for going to the doctor. I do get annuals - both kinds. This year, last month, my doc didn't like the way something sounded, so she's sending me to see another doc who knows more about that area than she does. Just to be sure something isn't on it's way to being bad wrong. And there is NOTHING wrong with that.

It's better to be safe than...my father-in-law.

So the moral of today's angry tale, kids, is this:
GO TO THE FUCKING DOCTOR AND GET AN ANNUAL PHYSICAL.

If you don't have a doctor, open the fucking phone book and find one, pick up the phone, and make a goddamn appointment. Go. Now. DO IT.

People love you. If you're going to die on them, go out in a blaze of glory - don't leave them because you were apathetic or stubborn.

6 comments:

City Girl said...

Note to CG1: Don't you say One Word about my rotten ovaries. I'm having that shit looked at.

Country Girl said...

I've already said it ;)

ANYWAY...I would love to see some sort of survey that determines if this is most prevalent in the rural South. I grew up in a household of people who went to the doctor when they needed to. No big deal. Married into A Family Divided, where one parent single-handedly keeps the local medical profession in business and the other parent spent years boasting, "I don't put much stock in medicines." That tune has, out of necessity, changed ;) BUT, I think it's a macho big-dick thing and uh..."I don't put much stock in idiots." I've left The Big Boy here by himself, too sick to get out of bed, because if he won't go to the doctor or take the medicine? Die. I didn't take you to raise.

Comet Girl said...

I have the following doctors on my payroll:
Internist, Gynecologist, Gastroenterologist, Orthopedist, Periodontist and Dentist.
Don’t know if these count:Chiropractor & Podiatrist
Don’t worry about me momma ;o)
Sorry about FIL. What’s the prognosis?

Nina said...

They should've gotten a CT scan. You're right, people need to get their heads out of their asses.

Misfit in Paradise said...

But some of us have no insurance. And physicals are very expensive. So we go to the free clinic for all the woman stuff and hope the hell everything else is okay.
I am so sorry about your FIL. My Dad just went through the same thing.

fatboyfat said...

Sorry to hear about your father-in-law.

If it's of any interest, even in the UK where we have evil free socialist healthcare (if you watch Fox News), it's a struggle to persuade some people to get themselves checked up.

There's a lot of the British stiff upper lip and 'Oh, I don't want to cause any fuss' thinking still prevalent, especially among the older generation who should be the ones taking the most care. I think my dad was guilty of that, to a degree.

Which is partly why I happily toddled off to my doctor today to find out why I haven't been able to breathe through my nose for a disconcertingly long time. Turns out I'm fixable, who'd have guessed it?