Medical malpractice ?

As I write I’m still waiting for news from my friend, the one I first wrote about in my post “The toughest moment”.

She was operated on about a month ago and, although she was prepared to have a full mastectomy and in fact it was one of the possible scenarios, it was not the case.

However, when she was operated on she already knew that her tumour was a complicated one. Not in the sense that it was not curable – thank God it was in Phase 1 – but due to the fact that it was very big, very deeply located and somehow difficult to eradicate. So the operation went on for several hours (about four, I think) and what seems amazing to an ignorant person like me is the fact that the doctors ended the operation without being sure they had removed the whole tumour – and even so did not decide on a total removal of the breast.

She had a very painful postoperative – on the first days I suppose it was normal, but then she had some complications such as haematomas that had to be drained, resulting in considerable pain. She is a very strong and brave person but as we talked to her we could feel she was really suffering. Then she slowly improved, but the news was not good: when the results from the pathology exams came they did not show with the necessary degree of certainty that all the malign tissue (and that around it) had been eliminated, so after some discussion among doctors she was informed she had to undergo a new operation – and this time, a total mastectomy.

I suppose the decision to perform a total mastectomy on a patient must not be an easy one, but even so, isn’t it better to remove all doubts once and for all? When my friend was already on the way to recovery, feeling better and without pain, there she goes again! and has to go through everything for the second time in such a short while – it is violent, in the least.

In cases like this one cannot but wonder if there has been some sort of negligence – medical malpractice. It’s not that we have to blame someone; it’s just that all her pain seems so useless…after all, the first operation was good for nothing.

She, who is always a tower of strength, was very subdued on the days previous to the second operation. Yesterday as I called her to wish good luck she told me “I’m feeling very, very nervous!” Of course she was, she already knew what was in store and it was not pleasant.

Her operation was due to begin at 2 pm. It is almost 8pm now and I have no news. I have texted her daughter, and nothing. I have texted her husband – nothing either. I’m feeling anxious. I need to have news from my friend, to know things went well, to know she will soon be on the road to recovery. Fortunately, the doctors said – hopefully they will be right – that in this case she will not have to undergo chemo or radiotherapy! This is the best news she may have, but they will have to confirm this, of course. They have said and done so many different, even opposite things…we don’t really know anymore.

Well, we may conclude medicine is not an exact science. It’s not the time to find faults, but to look for results. It’s time to have faith and believe I will soon get a message saying it all went well; and tomorrow I will call and hear her voice and, even though she may be tired, I will sense in her that strong will, that determination to be cured. And she will be going home soon, and soon she will be well and she will be joining us at work and I will hear her laugh again.

And, most of all, I will not see her empty desk when I come in (unless she is away for a good cause, such as holidays!). Because her toughest moment will then have become a thing of the past.


(Talking about medical malpractice, I have my own incredible story, about when I was treated of an acute appendicitis with antibiotics…and only got an operation some months after!)