Thursday, September 02, 2010

Looking for Mr. (or Ms.) Right

I'm up to three second opinions. Or maybe four first opinions. Actually, I just have the one opinion, four times.

I suppose, in many ways, that's easiest. At first, I was a little worried about getting second opinions. I was happy (and I use that term loosely; I would certainly prefer to be seeing no doctors) with the doctor I originally found. Really, the doctor I was originally given (with rave confirmations, mind you). So bringing "second opinions" into the mix just sounded complicated and confusing. In the end, I need to trust someone. Second opinions felt too much like second guessing. Or putting myself in a place where I would have to choose between various surgical options. I feel vastly unqualified to do that.

And right now I have no place in my life for regret. You may have noticed my Totally Achievable Bucket List. Everything on it is already crossed off. In fact, I won't add anything to it until I've done it. Mostly, until I've done it again. Because I'm focused on what I'm doing, not what I've done or haven't done. For some reason that seems to mostly center around comfort foods.

Anyway, my quest for a resolution to my little problem has looked like this:

Opinion 1: The first doctor, despite being identified as "the guy" by everyone I'd talked to, took himself out of the running for lack of experience with my particular type of aneurysm (have I mentioned that it's "giant"?).

Opinion 2: A friend of a friend referred me to a doctor in Texas. He was never really an option for performing the surgery; I'd like to be somewhat close to home. But he was very helpful in providing guidance (via e-mail and phone).

Opinion 3: Another neurosurgeon recently joined the practice in Maine and was certainly game to perform the operation. This simply speaks to the delusions we all have about age, but he just seemed too young. I'd say he's about my age. And I certainly wouldn't want me doing the surgery. We liked him a lot, and he has an intellectual interest in my type of case, but he doesn't have the level of experience I'd like. He's done "5 or 6".

Opinion 4: Again, people of have said he's "the guy". He's experienced (lost count on how many he's done), older than me (maybe early-mid-50s) but not so old that his hands are shaking. And he's got the radiology lab at Massachusetts General Hospital tricked out to take special Cat Scans with some computer-generated images. So I had yet another (hopefully my final, for now) CT to show in yet more detail the inner workings of my head. I'll put some more pictures below. As usual, they are not for the faint of heart but pretty fascinating. Ain't technology grand?

The one opinion from all of them is that the best option for me is full-on brain surgery (vs. the endovascular kind). What occurs during the procedure(s) will depend in large part on what they find once they get in there:  they can clamp, they can clip and remove, they can bypass. In all likelihood, it will be a combination. An intra-cranial pu pu platter, if you will.

As of today, all of this is scheduled to happen on Monday, September 27th, at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The doctor down there (No. 4 above) offered the best combination of experience, reputation, bed-side manner, and facility (meaning MGH as an institution). Honestly, I haven't had a bad experience with any of my doctors. And No. 4 is even going to let No. 3 observe. My hope is that No. 3 and No. 1 will handle my follow-up care in Maine.

So, now I have a doctor and I have a date. This is both comforting and nerve wracking. I'll get into that next time (hopefully sooner than this time). It's time for less medical mumbo jumbo and more philosophical jumbo mumbo.

Now look at the crazy pictures (remember, left is right and right is left, except in the last image. That one's computer generated. Or, possibly the spaghetti I had for lunch that day.)


  1. I do love your philosophical mumbo-jumbo so I hope it's forthcoming. Glad you have a date so limbo can end soon, though I know it's nervewracking. The Snells will be descending upon Long Island with 3 mini weiner dogs if G, W and Tee Thomas Two Tone need any entertainment in between starting school this week, or if you need distraction....

  2. It reminds me of dating, except that the doctors are all cooperating with each other. I can't imagine a date allowing a potential other date to come along on the evening to observe.

    Glad you've found an option and a venue you're comfortable with. In relative terms.

    What I want to know about those pictures is, where are all the little cartoon characters that are supposed to be inside your head? The angel, the devil, the lascivious wolf, the guys with pickaxes, etc etc? Do they hide when the camera comes out?

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