Turf wars

I wish I knew how to make this blog play music. I bet it can, since I’m pretty sure it’s smarter than I am, but I haven’t figured it out yet. I need a jazzy yet foreboding score to set the scene. Think Star Wars theme song combined with Indiana Jones theme Song with a little West Side Story mixed in.

I knew this was going to happen. I was partly dreading it, but a little curious too to see how it would play out. It played out, all right, and yesterday by 10:30 a.m. I was exhausted by it. Thanks to a beautiful bottle of Vueve Cliquot that Trevor presented at dinner last night, now I’m over it.

But it’s such a great story, I must share.

Those of you who’ve been along for the ride since this summer, when I was updating my trials & tribulations via Caring Bridge, know that I have an especially close relationship with my plastic surgeon. I’ve written a lot about the many ways I have tweaked him, and I hope to continue to do so here. In fact, I plan to. I will invent new ways to tweak him if they don’t present themselves organically, because I love him and really enjoy tweaking him. He likes it, too.  Trevor and I used to joke while endlessly waiting for Dr S during my multiple hospitalizations last summer that I would write a screenplay when this was all over entitled “Waiting for Dr S.” The title will be “The Tweaking of Dr S.” He always showed up, and he always brought his A-game to my bedside. I love that man.

I had great and ambitious ideas about transferring all my Caring Bridge posts over to this new, improved blogsite but it hasn’t happened. Yet. So for now, if you’re interested in reading (or re-reading) about the tweaking of Dr S, I’ve copied & pasted one of my faves at the end of this post.

As I’ve said before, surgeons and bedside manner don’t always go together. No peas & carrots there.

Because I don’t have enough on my plate or on my mind in the last few days before the big surgery, I had to go see Dr. S one last time. Personally, I though we had covered everything, and whatever we missed I certainly had covered with Dr Spiegel. But Dr S insisted I come back, one last time, to be extra sure everything is covered. I asked a simple question. I just wanted to know how he and Dr Spiegel are dividing up the work involved in this long, complicated surgery. Seems simple, right?

A little background: once we decided on the type of reconstruction surgery, Dr S referred me to Dr Spiegel. (Correction: once the post-mastectomy infection ruled out the easier option of tissue expanders to implants as my reconstruction, the option with which I was left was DIEP. Nitpicky? Perhaps, but I like full disclosure.) I did not want to go see Dr Spiegel. Nothing personal, I had just had it up to here with doctor’s visits, and I didn’t want to add another doc into my personal rotation. I’m 100 percent satisfied with the care I get from Dr S, and don’t feel the need for another doc. I was still under the mistaken idea that I could pretend to be a normal person in the interregnum between healing from the infection and reconstruction. Wrong! There is no “normal” anymore, so no interregnum.

I didn’t want to do it, but I did, and I have to admit, I’m glad I did, and Dr S was right. Yes, I said it: Dr S was right.

When Dr Spiegel told me that she and her assistant usually do the DIEP procedure themselves, but that Dr S was welcome to be involved, I got nervous. He doesn’t like to “be involved,” he likes to be in control; that’s why he’s so incredibly good at what he does.

It sounded so simple coming out of her mouth: She and Jenn usually handle the procedure but if another plastic surgeon refers a patient and wants to “be involved,” he is welcome.

I guess I envisioned two teams working together toward a common goal. Teamwork! Division of labor! Cooperation!

No, instead it might  be a little more animalistic than that. They are the dogs, and I am the soccer ball. Great.

Back to the simple question: Dr S didn’t quite answer me yesterday when I asked him exactly which part of the surgery he’ll be doing on Wednesday. See, Dr Spiegel may be a bit more experienced with microsurgery (the part of the DIEP procedure that involves harvesting blood vessels from my belly and reattaching them in my chest). This is presumably why he referred me to her. He is exceptionally good at the “artistic” side of plastic surgery, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he will do a phenomenal job.

To me, finding out which surgeon is doing which part of the surgery is a perfectly normal thing. If I hired two laborers to do work in my home, I would ask which one would be doing which part of the job.

Dr S understandably didn’t want to disclose too much, but my guess is that Dr Spiegel do the blood vessel part, and he would do the transferring of skin and sculpting that skin into a nice rack. He also said that any revision surgery and all my follow-up visits would be with him. Ok by me.

 


9 Comments on “Turf wars”

  1. Ed says:

    Perhaps they should do an op-off (like a cookoff only they make boobs instead of cakes). Whoever makes the nicest boob wins. Of course you might end up a little out of whack! Speaking of whacks, maybe that’s how you should communicate with Dr. S, just whack upside the head when he gets out of line, like a dog.

  2. Amy H. says:

    Nancy, you set the scene perfectly! The funny thing is, there probably isn’t a real turf war–Dr. S knows his place and will walk into Dr.Speigel’s operating room and become a respectful observer. It’ll be like the first picture with the birds–only the red bird is NOT Dr.S but Dr. Speigel.

    Those crazy Dr.S’s!!

    At least Dr.S was clear that he WAS NOT going to be the guy who went from operating room to waiting room to keep everyone informed! I wonder if he’s going to be a little bit closer to THAT GUY in the grand scheme of this operation and that question just hit a little too close to home?

  3. […] of all, the part about any assistants he may select is hilarious in light of the turf wars between him and Dr Spiegel. But more importantly, and more hilarious, is the idea that there are […]

  4. […] are conflicting reports on how the turf war between the Drs S played out. All parties are being quite cagey on the details of who did what part […]

  5. […] ol’ Dr S is still nursing some hurt feelings over the turf wars, apparently, even though he was the one who suggested I go see Dr Spiegel and get her involved in […]

  6. […] a struggle for power was starting to […]

  7. […] round & round on a few things in the past, and we’ve had some pretty good arguments. The Turf Wars continue to amuse me.  But at the end of the appointment, with the exception of one hellacious […]

  8. […] my belly, Tammy used a new technique she’d just learned at a K tape workshop. Could this be Turf Wars part […]

  9. […] vessels bloomed in their new home and all was well. With my highly skilled and kick-ass surgeons, the Drs S, The Big Dig was a screaming success and I seemed to be on the right […]


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