Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dr. Bienstock Does Not Give Me Hope or Encouragement

Thursday April 30, 1992 The L.A. Riots Continue

Frank must work on the Marvel house today so I go alone to Woodland Hills to see Dr. Bienstock. I'm shocked when I arrive. There are 6 fire engines there. For an instant I think the madmen who set all of L.A. ablaze last night might have been here. But no, it was a gas line outside in a construction area. But the building I'm to enter has been evacuated. Soon everything is back to normal and I'm with Dr. Bienstock for an exam. He still insists a look-see operation in July is unnecessary. He claims it would weaken my immune system and studies show it's no more effective to treat the cancer when there is some than more. I can't agree with that.

He calls Dr. Swartz to discuss. I hear Dr. Swartz backing down after he said to me, "If Dr. Bienstock won't operate we'll find another doctor who will." I am hurt. Dr. Bienstock agrees to send me to Kaiser Sunset for a second opinion. I like that.

I am so upset by Dr. Bienstock and the L.A. riots I hurry home on the verge of tears. Dr. Bienstock does not give me hope or encouragement. I feel he doesn't expect me to live long.

It is rare for Mom to be emotional. She is normally strong and stoic. But on this day her emotions got the best of her. Normally she has Frank at her side for support when she meets with her doctors, but today she is alone. Then she is shocked and disturbed at the prospect that the L.A. riots have spread to Kaiser Hospital in Woodland Hills, and then that the building is evacuated for a gas leak. She finally gets to see her oncologist, but she feels betrayed by him, like he is dismissing her as a lost cause. Even her regular doctor backs down after telling her at first that they will find another surgeon who will operate. I would be crying my eyes out! Having a doctor who is on my side is so important to me. The Kaiser health care system is set up to discourage surgeries in order to minimize their costs. When I suffered a herniated disk in my lower back 4 years ago, I had to drive 2 hours to see a specialist and then I had to insist on surgery. They didn't want to do it, but at least my surgeon left the final decision up to me. I respect him for that. I am glad I had the surgery and my only regret is that I had to wait so long to get it scheduled that I had some permanent nerve damage.

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