NFR The Roller Coaster Ride and the "C" Word

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by dryflylarry, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. Not in the least LD. Most folks see a GP for general stuff and these folks know when 'the situation' is beyond their training ... and that's why you get referred to a 'specialist.' Their training takes them down the GP road then a few more years of training .

    Let's not forget Doctor's are not "God's," they're just damned good at what they do.
    Travis Bille likes this.
  2. Lest we forget, medicine is as much an art as it is science. While it's tempting to grouse because docs don't get a diagnosis exactly right the first time, it's worth remembering that they're also human and subject to biases, misconceptions, hubris and errors. They're also incredibly smart and dedicated to caring for their patients. They take medicine seriously and approach a diagnosis in a rational, logical way - much the way Sherlock Holmes or Hurcule Poirot solves a mystery.

    As some of you already know, several years ago, a routine x-ray turned up a large, unidentified mass in my neck. After several more x-rays, a CT scan and a needle biopsy, more scans turned up another three unidentified masses in my chest. Two were the size of tennis balls flanking my heart, while a third the size of my thumb was wrapped around the large vein returning to my heart from my right shoulder.

    In consulting with two surgeons (including the chief of surgery at Overlake Hospital), they threw out a number of possibilities, most of which were fancy words for cancer. The process, which took about 3 days nearly scared the shit out of my wife and I.

    Fortunately, a dear friend and neighbor is a doc with an 'open door' policy to offer a little professional perspective when called for. Over coffee, he told me about a standard medical process called a 'differential diagnosis'. Basically, it involves making a long list of everything that could possibly be causing the symptoms, then systematically crossing them off the list as tests and observations rule each one out. Whatever is left is the cause.

    His reassuring advice: My docs HAD to include cancer as a possibility until they could ABSOLUTELY eliminate it.

    Just 5 days after the initial x-ray, I had a 5 hour, 'beating heart' surgery that removed nearly 2 kilos of mass from my neck and chest. The mass in my neck was the size of a chicken breast and had constricted my trachea down to just 5mm. I could have died from a stroke at any moment. The recovery from having my sternum sawed open then stapled back together took nearly a year.

    But it only took the pathologists two days to confirm the masses were just an extremely hyperactive thyroid gland that had spawned itself remotely in my chest. A kind of goiter on steroids.

    It was only then that the docs could absolutely rule out any form of cancer. It was a tough way to get there, but it was exactly the outcome we were praying for.

    Nobody should ever expect a doc to come up with a precise diagnosis without first ruling out all the other possibilities. That's not medicine, it's guessing.

  3. Wow! Glad you made it through the surgery Kent. And very happy there was no cancer.
    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  4. Christ, Larry, I'm sorry. That sounds like a horrible ordeal, thank the gods you came out in the clear. Many more coho and Searuns ahead my friend, and I look forward to seeing you on the beach this spring... if you stay off those damn lakes!

  5. Wow! And I thought I had an "ordeal" Kerry. You take care, and I will have a talk with the same fish god spirit that I did, for you. Yes, it is some scary stuff eh? Sounds like you are coping well and hopefully beating this stuff. That positive attitude helps a lot, including your friends support. I had even seen an oncologist once, until all of this ended up being negative tests. Hopefully, this lung thing remains as is or clears up come my test in June. If this pulmonologist doesn't give me some good news, I will probably go for the 2nd opinion route. Here is an interesting side note to all of this. On the final report from the Mayo Clinic, there was a sentence that read, "I would have a concern for occult aspiration injury as a potential etiology for the patient's chronic airways remodeling." My friends neighbor, who is an RN, asked me whether the pulmonologist asked me about what my hobbies were. When I told her about tying flies for 50 plus years (feathers, synthetics, etc.) she said that if that doesn't raise the eyebrows of my pulmonologtist, it should!! So, perhaps "snorting" all of this fly tying material just may not be a good thing!! Geesus, never thought of that being a bad thing for our lungs have we?! My 3 month asbestos exposure may not be a big deal, but the fly tying materials….well who knows. So, when I see this guy in June, I will see what sort of reaction he has about my hobby/sport.
    So, the heart attack thing doesn't even seem real, and I feel great. Heart attack? What heart attack?! There is nothing stopping me from doing what I want to do, so, Steve Knapp and everyone, I'll see you on the beaches chasing coho and cutthroat this year!! As a matter of fact, I'll be on the beach in a couple of hours!! I'm back!!! Again, thank you all for the kind words.
  6. I'm no expert on cancer but it's touched my family in the last few years. I believe Seattle pretty much leads the nation in cancer research and care. That spins off to all of the PNW hospitals and clinics to some degree. My SIL was felled partly from a "back woods" mis-diagnosis IN LA! The outcome probably would be the same, but she might have had more months but for an old doctor, behind the times. There is a pervasive notion among some (doctors even) that if you have lung cancer, it's your own fault. Well, my brother never smoked a single cigarette. Same with my best friends wife and they're in the middle of the battle now.

    Kerry, that's quite a scarey story. Best of luck to both of you.

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