Sometimes a cat isn't your problem, it's actually lymphoma.
Ryan Hamner is a four-time survivor of Hodgkin lymphoma, a musician and a writer. In 2011, he wrote and recorded, "Where Hope Lives" for the American Cancer Society and the song for survivors, "Survivors Survive" used in 2015 for #WorldCancerDay. Currently, he operates his website for those affected by cancer, 2surviveonline.com and drinks a ridiculous amount of coffee per day.
First let me say, I love doctors. Heck, they’ve saved my life for the most part. However, with my history of meeting so many, what are the chances that literally every single one of them would be rock stars? Slim.
Below are three times when I really should have gone with a second opinion.
That one time when I really wasn’t just allergic to cats
This one took place so long ago it’s hard to remember. I was tiny. I mean, I do remember not sleeping well and feeling like my brother had just beaten the snot out of me. However, I simply couldn’t blame this one on him. No doubt, my brother’s fighting skills at 7-years-old were pretty solid, on the mini-ninja level—but they wouldn’t explain the large lymph nodes on the right side of my neck. And that’s fine, because a doctor would explain them for me, and my family. You see, according to this doctor, I was allergic to cats. So, the doctor recommended Benadryl. The only problem is, when it’s not cats that are your problem, but really Hodgkin lymphoma, the whole Benadryl thing is just going to be a total fail in terms of treatment. This is one time when I should have gotten a second opinion and I’m glad that I did.
That one time when I wasn’t simply constipated
I remember this one clearly. Holy crap (pun), this was horrible. The year was 1987. I was sitting on the couch watching some big 80’s movie. All of a sudden my stomach started killing me. I’m not being overly-dramatic this time, the pain was unreal. So, after a little, wait, a “lottle” prune juice, and no relief, it was time to go to the doctor. We drove two hours to Atlanta. The doctors said that I was simply constipated. Yes, they said this to a small human who had literally had like a half a gallon of prune juice and was totally unaffected. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I definitely suspected that I wasn’t just constipated. When we got home from that trip, my symptoms had worsened. I was in so much pain I could barely stand. That is when we all decided on going to the ER.
Once we got to the ER, I was admitted to the hospital almost immediately. Doctors decided that constipation wasn’t the problem, well, not totally. I “simply” had scar tissue from a previous surgery wrapped around my intestines preventing anything from passing through. It was an adhesion. This was one time when getting a second opinion landed me in the hospital to have emergency surgery and have a chunk of my intestines removed. Score!
That one time when I really wasn’t missing my clavicle
Again, doctors, I love you guys. But there was this one time, I had trochanteric bursitis. It hurt so bad I almost wished that I had scar tissue wrapped around my intestines instead. Anyway, after being treated, I was referred to a specialist. He told me, “Wow!” and pretty much made me feel like I could be in the Bodies Exhibit, which is pretty cool, I guess. He even asked if I would mind if one of the residents could come in and take a look at me. Which was fine, but dude, if you are going to put me on display, throw me a few dollars, you ain’t free.
It gets better though, because after being referred to this doctor, who was a great guy I must say, I was then referred to another doctor, for my leg.
After doing a number of tests for the doctor that made me feel like I was either being punked or taking a really intense sobriety test, he too confirmed that I was, well, unique. He wanted to talk about fixing my shoulder. Although I had come to again, discuss my leg—but whatever. You can pretty much play pin the tail on the Ryan and whatever place you pick will need some type of work. So I went with it.
As we talked about my shoulder and clavicle, I said my clavicle had been broken, and was still broken. While sitting there looking at the X-ray, he assured me that my clavicle had been resected. At which point I assured him it had not. At which time he pointed to the X-ray and showed me where it did not exist. At which time I pointed to my broken clavicle and said that it did exist. At which time he felt of my non-existent clavicle that really existed and resected his previous statement.
I was told I was missing my clavicle by a doctor who was staring directly at my X-ray, which means he was staring directly at my clavicle. It was at this time I realized if I was going to get anything fixed, I needed a doctor who read X-rays. I needed a second, or in this case a third opinion.
In all seriousness though, being misdiagnosed can be a very big deal. You can’t always expect doctors to know everything. They do the best they can, but aren’t perfect. It’s true, you know your body better than anyone else. So speak up when something doesn’t seem right—and sometimes you just have to go with your gut feeling, which might actually be an adhesion.