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Sharon L.

Calling surgeon with questions

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I had Vats surgery on 2/13/18 and had been feeling pretty good until about a week ago I thought it had something to do with the fall I had when outside walking so I called the surgeons office to talk to the nurse practitioner about my shortness of breath, my bloated abdomen and feeling more soreness than I had been but they wanted me to go for chest X-ray which I did on Saturday so today the results were posted on my chart and I called the surgeon to see what the results meant and they said everything was fine and I was probably experiencing discomfort from scar tissue but the test results gave several different things  that the X-ray showed. This is not the first time I have called them with concerns and have never spoken with anyone except the person answering the phone and have only seen my surgeon once since my surgery at my 2 wk follow up after surgery and have seen my oncologist once since my surgery but wasn’t feeling this way when I saw her on 5/25/18. I was wondering if others had the same experience with their surgeons?  All I want to do is talk to them about my concerns and I guess they don’t do that so I have scheduled an appointment with my family doctor to see if she can give me some insight on my concerns and what she thinks about the test results or what kind of doctor I should go to.  I’m interested to see if this is the norm for surgeons since I’ve never had surgery before this surgery. 

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Hi Sharon,

My surgeon was pretty scarce once my chest tubes were out and incisions healed. I think seeing your primary care doctor is a good idea, or maybe your oncologist?

Bridget O

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My surgeon was exceptional--he gave me his personal cell phone and encouraged me to call any time with any questions or concerns.  I did that only twice, when there was a discrepancy regarding the date of the surgery (it was a weekend and nobody from the hospital was returning my call) and when I experienced a complication that landed me back in the hospital for a few days.  I absolutely LOVED my surgeon and would love to still be seeing him for my followup, and he said he COULD do that, but noted that if the cancer ever returned I would be looking at chemo, not surgery, so I elected to continue my followup with my oncologist, who would plan any further treatment.  Based on my experience with my surgeon, I'd bet I could call him today if I felt weird and he'd talk to me about what to do.  I probably wouldn't do that, though, because my situation really isn't his responsibility any more.  I'd say he's unusually accessible for a surgeon.

Seems to me that you are far enough out from surgery that any issues you might be having from the fall are not directly related to the surgery.  If I were you I think I'd see about having the x-ray and report sent to your primary physician or to your oncologist and schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns.  

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I had VATS at M D Anderson, Houston, in Feb. 2018. My surgeon was so skilled. Any questions were handled quickly and professionally by his staff. I also depended on seeing my primary physician. On questions about pain, people on this site really helped. Besides taking Gabopentin for pain, I used Salon Pas patches.

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My mom only saw her surgeon for consultation, the surgery, and afterward during her hospital stay.  All questions and concerns have been directly relayed to my mom's pulmonologist or oncologist. 

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Sharon,

I'm not sure I can answer the availability norm for all surgeons.  Mine was a busy guy.  But, his practice had an email portal that I used to pose questions.  He or his PA generally did reply promptly.  When they didn't, I'd just tee-up another message.

Surgeries, for some reason known only to God, start at oh-dark-hundred.  Then they've got to see every patient in the hospital every day.  Then they need to see new patients in their office.  Perhaps that explains the difficulty of actually getting one on the phone.  But, there were some exceptions.  My wife called the surgical office and reported me with a fever of 105 degrees several days after hospital discharge.  The surgeon called back and told me to get to the hospital and on arrival, I went to the head of the line for admission.  I also had a chest tube fall out while at home, and again I got an immediate call back to report to the hospital.

I did also use my general practitioner as a knowledge base for my cancer treatment.  He was very helpful, particularly for suggesting ways to make me more comfortable from post surgical pain.  He suggested I buy an angled pillow to transfer my weight from my back to my hips and that dramatically improved my sleeping. 

Interestingly, my surgeon and I have formed a close friendship.  He's retired now and we communicate all the time.  I think you are experiencing schedule grind not a deliberate desire to ignore you.

Stay the course.

Tom

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