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View Full Version : Upsetting Dr. Appointment - Considering Canceling Surgery - Advice Please



ripley
04-09-2012, 11:37 AM
Hi everyone. I've seen many highly recommended doctors in NY, and choose Dr. Errico for my surgery based on his excellent reputation and the fact that he was so personable and easy to talk to. He was so nice during the first appointment and said I would do well with the surgery. The second appointment, he was different - short and not so personable. The third appointment that I just had was absolutely horrible. His manner was completely different from the first time I saw him and mistakes about my medical information were made. His resident, that came in to see me read in my chart that I was having a "limited" fusion - just a few in the lumbar to ease the pain. (What?!) I had to correct him - it's T4 to sacrum! The doctor made me feel so rushed and extremely uncomfortable, that I didn't ask all of my questions and this was the last visit prior to surgery. The only thing Dr. Errico focused on during the visit were surgical complications. He said I was 100% likely to have a complication, but 80% of the time it is not serious. He said the reason for doing these surgeries was progression and pain, so if I can't stand the pain, then in a few years if I have a problem at least I can say, well I had to do it. He was so negative - a complete about face from my first appointment. I feel almost like the first appointment was to hook me in, then once I was, he was done. I'm concerned because of the mistakes, the negativity, and the fact that he was so different. I am considering canceling my surgery with him because of this. I'm not sure what to do, should I cancel or just go ahead since he has such a good reputation? If I cancelled, there is another surgeon with a great reputation that I've already seen and am very confident of who I would try to use. There are insurance issues however, but I was told he would work with my plan (not sure what that means though). Advice is much appreciated - thanks!

mabeckoff
04-09-2012, 12:20 PM
I would cancel my surgery and look for another surgeon.

Terrik
04-09-2012, 01:25 PM
I just read your post and I can only imagine how upset you must feel. It is so important to feel that not only are you making the right decision about having the surgery, but that it will be successful. I am not sure which other doctors you were thinking of. I saw Dr. Lonner and liked him alot, but only had one visit with him, and the same with Dr. Boachie, although insurance issues might prevent me from pursuing him.

My question is to many of you out there who have had the surgery as adults. I will have to be fused from T-3 to sacrum and am aware that the recovery will be long and hard and may take up to a year. But after that time, will I be able to work a full-time job, take care of myself as a single, independent woman of 54 years of age? Maybe I am missing posts, but I have not read much about people going back to work full time and maintaining active lives. I have read alot about returning to activities and learning to live differently - but it seems most of the adult scoli surgery patients are retired. I hope I am wrong, and would love to hear some positive feedback.

Comments like what Dr. Enricco said are the reasons many of us are so afraid to commit to surgery. We know it will only get worse with age, and that it will be a more difficult surgery, but we so need to believe and know that we can live productive lives after it. Any feedback from any one out there would be so helpful and appreciated. Thank you.

jrnyc
04-09-2012, 01:30 PM
that sounds strange for a final pre surgery appointment...
are you saying he did not ask you if you had any questions about the surgery....???
did he say anything positive or reassuring in any way....?
i do not blame you for being nervous...

you did not mention which other surgeons in NY you saw for consults...
did any of them take your insurance...?
why did this surgeon's office not get more specific about what, if anything, you
will be responsible for in terms of bills....?

i have consulted with many different surgeons, most in NYC, one in LA...
none were that short with me, and i was only discussing surgery, not pre op
or with a date scheduled...

i do not know how you will go into surgery trusting your surgeon after
those 2 last experiences you had with him....
my personal suggestion is to consider another surgeon....

best of luck...
jess

LSKOCH5
04-09-2012, 02:24 PM
IMO - You've got to be confident & comfortable with a surgeon - esp for a surgery such as this. I have first hand experience going through a (non-back related) surgery with the same type of dr - great first visit, then cold, distant & non-receptive to questions, turned into Jeckel & Hyde over time. He ultimately messed up the surgery & I found later he had addictions & personal problems. I would stop everything w him & check back w the other surgeon with whom you had a comfort level to see if anything has changed with accepting insurance, payment plans, etc. Insurance & policies change all the time. You might also want to check w one more surgeon in your area. Follow your gut instinct!

ripley
04-09-2012, 02:30 PM
Thanks guys. Yes, I've been very upset since. Jess, to answer your questions: He did not ask if I had questions, it felt to me like he thought I shouldn't be having another office visit (I don't know, but for giving up my spine for good, I don't think 3 office visits is to much...), and he said nothing positive in any way. I asked some of my questions and he answered briefly, then he talked about complications, then the visit was over. I've seen Drs. Boachie, Neuwirth, and Lonner. I will most likely go back to Dr. Neuwirth he was really my first choice as long as I can get confirmation on pricing as he is not in my insurance (Dr. Errico was). Yes, it was a strange appointment. I thought for the last one prior to surgery he would have been reassuring and informative. He was neither. Thanks for the support.

rohrer01
04-09-2012, 04:20 PM
Ripley,
It souded like he either didn't have your chart or he had someone else's chart to me. I would go with the other surgeon. You can't risk having this messed up. Is your surgery scheduled? Another option would be to go back to him and tell him what he did and ask him if he had your chart. I would ask what procedure he was planning on doing and if it was different from the first one he told you, ask him why and show you on your x-rays. It really sounds like a mess up in charts to me. I had something similar happen to me, but was not scheduled for surgery. The doc got everything ALL wrong, but he admitted that he was winging it as he forgot to look at my chart and didn't even have it with him...

rohrer01
04-09-2012, 04:26 PM
My question is to many of you out there who have had the surgery as adults. I will have to be fused from T-3 to sacrum and am aware that the recovery will be long and hard and may take up to a year. But after that time, will I be able to work a full-time job, take care of myself as a single, independent woman of 54 years of age? Maybe I am missing posts, but I have not read much about people going back to work full time and maintaining active lives. I have read alot about returning to activities and learning to live differently - but it seems most of the adult scoli surgery patients are retired. I hope I am wrong, and would love to hear some positive feedback.



Terrik,
I will refer you to titaniumed. He is fused, I believe, from T2 to pelvis with pelvic anchors. He's single and lived alone at the time of his surgery. He works full time now, as far as I know. I think he was about 49 at the time of surgery. I'm trying to remember, it's in his signature. You might shoot him a PM or post on one of his threads. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

I forgot to add, that he was and still is an avid skier. It's very impressive!

LindaRacine
04-09-2012, 04:35 PM
I'm not sure I'd try to find a new surgeon, but I would definitely postpone surgery. I do not like the idea of you going into surgery with such a negative experience. In the meantime, I would send him an email or a letter, outlining your concerns.

It's important to remember that surgeons are just people, and they have bad days. So, it may have been a bad day, or that may be the norm, and your first appointment was on a good day. If you send him the email or letter, you should be able to judge whether or not you want to go forward with him, or find another surgeon.

--Linda

debbei
04-09-2012, 04:42 PM
That is strange, and would not give me the warm and fuzzy feeling you need to have with your surgeon. I agree with the others and cancel. Maybe he'll want to explain himself because he was having a bad day or something, but PLEASE. It's just not right. If you are putting your life in someone's hands, you have to feel that you are doing the right thing.

((Hugs))

ADMoul
04-09-2012, 05:29 PM
Just chiming in agreeing with the other posts. Going into a surgery like this, you have to have the utmost confidence in your Dr. I had a consult with a very reputable surgeon in a major teaching hospital and was totally turned off by his approach. I knew in both my heart and my head when I had found the right surgeon. I think you have to be mentally as well as physically prepared and if you have doubts or you feel as though you are not being heard, it's time to move on. Fortunately, scoli surgery is not an immediate life-threatening situation so you have time. Best of luck to you!

Karen Ocker
04-09-2012, 07:20 PM
I am just wondering about Dr. E also. I have actually recommended him to others based on what his patients told me personally. I had an appointment with him but cancelled it. I had an appointment with Boachie and decided, on my first visit, to schedule with him. That was 9 years ago and I am still pain free. Turn 70 next month.

djkinkead
04-09-2012, 07:44 PM
I agree you need to have confidence in your surgeon. He took the time to introduce me to another one of his patients who had the surgery four months before me. The surgeon I chose even prayed with me before the surgery. It was comforting. On the funny side, he prayed with me and then in the middle of my surgery, we had an earthquake. Oh well, God got me through it all. :-)

I agree with Linda, everyone has bad days. Maybe communicate via email how you felt you were treated and see if there is some different behavior on the part of the surgeon.

When they talk about "working with your insurance", from the best I could glean from a surgeon I almost used who'se staff stated the same thing, they play a bit of a numbers game by stating the surgery was more expensive to get the insurance company to pay more. In the long run, they have a price in mind for the the surgery and you end up paying the difference between what their internal "price" is and what the insurance paid. You also need to find out if the hospital you are going to use is in your insurance plan.

For Terrik - I am 57 and I think my surgeon was more conservative than some of the others many see on this forum. I still have a bit of curve--he didn't break the bones where they were already fused, but worked around the fused bones and still got me quite a bit straighter, and I gained 2-3 inches of height. I have much better lung capacity now. I wonder if I had a bit easier/faster recovery because of this.

I have been back to work full time since four months post surgery, but my job is mostly desk work--but I do travel for business, which means pulling my suitcase around the airport (I do check it). I took my first business trip across country when I was between six and seven months post surgery.

Regarding being back to active...I walk around two miles a day. I'd like to go back to showing my dogs (big dogs), but will wait at least one year post surgery and talking to the surgeon if I can at least lightly run around the ring with one of my silly dogs. I also hope to start back riding my jet ski after a year, although I am pondering getting the SeaDoo that has shock absorbers in the seat.

I have found in the last two months I have gained quite a bit agility (sorry, dog terms are engrained in me). Actually, for the first time this morning, sitting on a stool, I was able to put my socks (trouser socks) on for the first time without the sock aid.

My two cents for a Monday evening.

mdtaffet
04-09-2012, 08:18 PM
My question is to many of you out there who have had the surgery as adults. I will have to be fused from T-3 to sacrum and am aware that the recovery will be long and hard and may take up to a year. But after that time, will I be able to work a full-time job, take care of myself as a single, independent woman of 54 years of age? Maybe I am missing posts, but I have not read much about people going back to work full time and maintaining active lives. I have read alot about returning to activities and learning to live differently - but it seems most of the adult scoli surgery patients are retired. I hope I am wrong, and would love to hear some positive feedback.



I haven't returned to work full-time yet, but it is my intention to do so as soon as I possibly can (living off of disability payments won't pay my bills in the long run, and in any case they would only last a maximum of 6 months anyway). When I saw the surgeon last Thursday (11 weeks post-op now), he told me that I could return to work part-time at home (my employer will allow this) "after course of PT" (PT is of course physical therapy, which I start on Wednesday). And he said that I could probably return to work full-time in about 2 to 3 months. I have a desk/computer job, so it is not that physically demanding, other than sitting for long periods of time and using a keyboard and monitor.

I'm 53, so not far behind you.

-- Mary

jrnyc
04-09-2012, 09:23 PM
i thought it was 2 unsatisfactory visits...Linda...?
yes, they are people...but people with the life of their patients in their hands, quite literally....
2 negative appts in a row...? and the last one just prior to scheduled surgery would spook me into
finding another surgeon...just sayin'

jess

Confusedmom
04-09-2012, 10:35 PM
To me, the surgeon's skill is much more important than his bedside manner. I would be most concerned about the confusion about your procedure. Bottom line, if you're uncomfortable with him, find someone else. You have got to have the utmost confidence in your surgeon or you will second-guess yourself the rest of your life.

As for the question of being active, I'm only 40 and just got fused T4-sacrum. I have young children to s
raise, plan to go back to work eventually (that depends on the kids, not the surgery), and am even considering adopting another child. So, yes, I would say plan to be active after fusion!

titaniumed
04-10-2012, 06:34 PM
I donít know Dr Errico, but I have to say he has a great webpage.....

This guy is an alpha male. A pioneer, master, a genius. If things are not perfect, flowers wont bloom.

Try adding some water.

Tell him you picked him because you feel that he is the best scoliosis surgeon on the planet and see what happens. He will soften up immediately.

I donít think you need to switch surgeons. You just have to see eye to eye, just listen and donít ask too many questions.

I had a few bumps in my hiring process also, but I knew my surgeon was the best and thatís what matters.

Men are from Mars.....

Ed

jrnyc
04-10-2012, 08:52 PM
Ed...don't ask too many questions...????
with a life changing surgery like that, i would NOT want a surgeon with whom i could not ask all my
questions (pardon my grammar)...
i always felt Dr Lonner would answer and answer until his patients felt comfortable....
honestly, it is not about not trusting a surgeon...it is about allaying a patient's fears and making
them feel safe...

i do not like ANY doctor who will not answer questions freely....
i learned the hard way with Lyme Disease...and with the cancer my mother had...

jess

rohrer01
04-10-2012, 10:08 PM
So if we're female, we need to shmooz our male doctors to get them to be friendly and consistent? C'mon Ed, seriously? You are joking, I hope. Anyone can have a great webpage. You can be fooled by the glitz. I'm not saying he isn't a great doc, I know nothing of the man. I have some serious reservations about not being consistent with what he told her initially about the procedure. Did he even have HER file, or someone else's?

mabeckoff
04-10-2012, 10:58 PM
I totally agree with Roher. I asked and still ask Dr Bederman all of my questions. How can someone have this kind of surgery and not have many questions?

titaniumed
04-11-2012, 12:45 AM
The questions can roll forever....we do it here on this forum. I could ask 1000 questions that would take 3 months to answer correctly....not every surgeon wants to do that. I think thatís why I was told to go online and learn as much as I could. You also donít want to go in with a list....its...sigh...not an easy thing to do and can happen with the ďalpha femaleĒ surgeon......

UCSF holds the scoliosis conference every year, and the surgeons down there answer questions ďall day longĒ.
You donít get all day long at any doctors office....How long do you get? 15-30 minutes? Its impossible to make a decision in such a short period of time....

Communication is a difficult thing. Especially with medical terminology amongst us bunnies....Maybe some of the surgeons that have done this for 40 years get tired of the interview.....like Karen mentioned....

Yes, I agree that each patient needs to feel comfortable with their surgeon but its impossible to ask all your questions as they arise. If you keep reading here, or online, you will come across all sorts of new things that you will wonder about. There are also questions that a surgeon will not know how to answer. Examples are with Cancer, and ALS..... I guess that could be pretty frustrating. I saw that myself.

The hiring process is not an easy thing to do. Surgeons are human, and do have a ton of stress. Thatís another subject, another thread. Achieving perfection....their goal, sometimes is difficult.
Ed

jrnyc
04-11-2012, 02:29 AM
No
i was not suggesting a patient go in unprepared, espcially when ready to schedule the surgery, set the date...
one would think that questions would have been answered by the point of the pre op appointment...
but if they have not...i was suggesting that after a patient has read books on scoli, like Wolpert's, etc., done
research on the internet, etc...if there are questions left about their OWN procedure, they need to be answered...
in a decent manner...that is exactly what every patient deserves...
i doubt any patient is unrealistic enough to expect the surgeon to stay there and answer their questions all day long, or for
days at a time...
i do believe patients have a right to have their specific questions about their own surgery answered directly...
the patient can take a pen and paper to write the answers down so as not to forget and re ask them, or bring a recorder, or a friend...
questions a patient has and that have not been answered deserve to be addressed before patient and surgeon
head into the operating room!!!
otherwise, i think the patient would be uncomfortable, unsure, untrusting, and would be better off with a different
surgeon...
no one is expecting any doctor to be a saint...just a good surgeon...
and...if the doctor has done a lot of the same procedures before, i would think he might be able to guess ahead of time
which questions he did not cover and should answer before the consent forms are signed...
that is, assuming the surgeon is holding the right file for the patient sitting in front of him!

on the walls of some doctor offices now, there is a poster that says "Do you need any medications?
"Do you understand your treatment?"
"Do you have any questions about your treatment?"
i think anyone scheduling life changing major surgery at least deserves the answers to those questions...

jess

rockycarm
04-11-2012, 06:10 AM
I just read your post and I can only imagine how upset you must feel. It is so important to feel that not only are you making the right decision about having the surgery, but that it will be successful. I am not sure which other doctors you were thinking of. I saw Dr. Lonner and liked him alot, but only had one visit with him, and the same with Dr. Boachie, although insurance issues might prevent me from pursuing him.

My question is to many of you out there who have had the surgery as adults. I will have to be fused from T-3 to sacrum and am aware that the recovery will be long and hard and may take up to a year. But after that time, will I be able to work a full-time job, take care of myself as a single, independent woman of 54 years of age? Maybe I am missing posts, but I have not read much about people going back to work full time and maintaining active lives. I have read alot about returning to activities and learning to live differently - but it seems most of the adult scoli surgery patients are retired. I hope I am wrong, and would love to hear some positive feedback.

Comments like what Dr. Enricco said are the reasons many of us are so afraid to commit to surgery. We know it will only get worse with age, and that it will be a more difficult surgery, but we so need to believe and know that we can live productive lives after it. Any feedback from any one out there would be so helpful and appreciated. Thank you.

I terrik, in response to your question about returning to work. I have read many of these posts and have found that many do also go back to work which has given me too the courage to proceed with surgery 5/16 Boachie. I am 53 year old woman who too will be fused from T something (not sure) to sacrum - seeing him on Monday and will find out for sure. I remember going to my first visit and saw a woman who was there for her 5 month visit and I was told she just returned back to work! She looked terrific! Me and my husband felt so good after that like wow maybe this will work. So now I am biting the bulllet and scheduled, preparing mentally, with plans of returning within 5 months godwilling. If it is a little longer so be it but I have spoken to many people who are living very active lives often better than before. Good luck with your decision.

timetofaceit
04-11-2012, 04:46 PM
Terrik --- I totally understand your concerns about what life will be like following surgery. I am fused T4-Sacrum, yesterday marked the 3-month mark since my surgery, and I have been back to work since the six-week mark! Granted, I only work 8 a.m.-12 noon, but I'm back at work nevertheless. Check out my blog if you want more info. I was extremely nervous prior to surgery and have found that the anticipation was much worse than the actual surgery and healing. It is so fun to hear people say how great my posture is and how straight I stand. With God's help, you can climb any mountain!!!!

YB1125
04-11-2012, 06:50 PM
Hi, I know how confused you are feeling now. It is beyond stressful finding the right surgeon, it can be very frustrating when things don't seem right, feel suspicious.
I had to back up from a surgery recently too, not because the Doctor was not nice or helpful.. but because once I was ready to move forward with surgery and asked for referrals, he wasn't able to provide it, which put a big red flag there for lack of experience..

If I was told I would have best surgeon, best results but not good bed manner I would still go with surgeon as long as once its over I will go back to normal with excellent outcome, I guess I would be willing to bare the rest. Website mean nothing though.. ask for referrals with same condition and see what you get.. ask the referrals about the Doctor behavior..
In real life, no one have guarantees, trust your gut and if you have to make the painful decision and move on, find the strength to do so.. though it sucks I know!

Make your well being first choice always and everything will fall into place :)


All The best, always!

rockycarm
04-12-2012, 06:51 PM
Terrik --- I totally understand your concerns about what life will be like following surgery. I am fused T4-Sacrum, yesterday marked the 3-month mark since my surgery, and I have been back to work since the six-week mark! Granted, I only work 8 a.m.-12 noon, but I'm back at work nevertheless. Check out my blog if you want more info. I was extremely nervous prior to surgery and have found that the anticipation was much worse than the actual surgery and healing. It is so fun to hear people say how great my posture is and how straight I stand. With God's help, you can climb any mountain!!!!

Sherrie, WOW thank you so much for your inspiration. I loved your blog and was so impressed by how far you were at 5 weeks time. You have given me something to look forward to. I hope too to feel that peace you felt before surgery. I will continue to pray for you all and ask that you pray for me as well (May 16). Keep us posted with your blog!

ripley
04-12-2012, 09:18 PM
Thank you all for the support. I felt that I couldn't go back and would have to cancel after the appointment - It's reassuring to hear it from others too. I agree that skill is more important than bed side manner, but getting medical info mixed up and focusing only on a negative outcome with no reassurance was too much for me. I had only a few specific concise questions for him, that literally took less than 2 minutes. What I really wanted from the appointment was just to see him before surgery for a sort of summary, like a pre-op (which was never mentioned.) His surgical coordinator suggested the appointment since without it, I would have been waltzing into surgery not having seen him in 7 months. She also had me get X-rays which he didn't even look at, even though I asked to have the progression measured (my last progression was 9 degrees in a year and a half.) Canceling is disappointing, but I believe it is the right thing for me. Thanks to all who have replied!

jrnyc
04-12-2012, 09:25 PM
i am sure you find the right surgenn for you....
i thnk you are doing the right thing by cancelling and not putting yourself in such
an upsetting situation...problem communicating before surgery would mean what
kind of problems communicating after surgery....

best of luck in your search...
NYC is full of top surgeons....

jess

rohrer01
04-12-2012, 09:57 PM
I think you are doing the right thing, too. It's too big of a surgery to take any chances with the mix-ups that he was making right before surgery. Measuring progression at that point should have been a priority, too. I hope you find the right doc. As Jess mentioned, NY is full of top-notch surgeons.

Best Wishes,
Rohrer01

Confusedmom
04-12-2012, 10:16 PM
I agree. You need 100% confidence in your surgeon. You are doing the right thing. And when you do cancel, I hope you tell them why so maybe it won't happen again with another patient.

mabeckoff
04-12-2012, 10:28 PM
You are definitively doing the right things. While surgical skills are important, so is being able to talk to your surgeon