The idea of being an impostor seems to be popular in the awareness of chronically ill people and it’s often difficult to narrow down what we mean. I won’t speculate on how other people define themselves as essentially unworthy to be regarded as a genuine sick person. The spectrum is too wide and I think a person’s self-designation varies from moment to moment.

For me, I volunteer for imposter’ship in cancer based on my apparent misunderstanding of what it means to “have” cancer. First, over the six appointments I’ve had with people designated as “my” oncologist, I’ve actually seen five different people. #1 involved two visits and then she ditched me when I became violently ill from the infusion and didn’t know the rules of contact. #2 was nice but being sick made me inarticulate and frustrated and I walked out on her. #3 was another communications failure. Our first meeting went badly and the second he opened with how I’d used up too much time asking incomprehensible questions. I don’t count the second meeting with #3 as he was clear I didn’t qualify for care and walked out. #4 was a nice doctor and we met a few times but her reports from the branch clinic where I was “treated” never seemed to go to the main clinic–which I was not allowed to contact nor did I bother, as I didn’t know who my actual oncologist was after #1 quit. #4 represented a few pleasant moments prior to the infusions where I said everything was fine. Since it was clear being not-fine pissed them off, why mention it? #5 could stand in for #4 as she was a real oncologist at the main clinic who my daughter thought I should see about my “concerns.” Our meeting lasted a half hour where it was made clear that all the people I felt had let me down were exemplary practitioners of care’ology, though it sadly does occur that patients become confused and are not reliable witnesses to their kindness.

Up to this point, half way through my eight month treatment schedule, (booked at the start for six months but I kept getting sick from the infusions delaying the next one) I gave up talking to any “official” person except the grumpy nurses who seemed irritated with me anyway and kept it short. Last infusion I left without any goodbyes from people I’d “known” for months. Had my post-chemo CT Scan, passed it and was assigned an oncologist to follow me for a year or two to see if the cancer comes back. I can’t remember her name or office number though she did call a few months ago to confirm my need for a follow-up colonoscopy, I haven’t heard a thing.

Since a person needs doctors to be a patient it’s time to stop pretending I’m a patient.

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  • VanessaVaile  On August 15, 2016 at 7:19 AM

    Meant to reply to last post but got sidetracked, so here’s something until I get back again.

    Just yesterday I came across an article about medical training destroying empathy in doctors and thought of you. When I looked for it, I saw a raft of them. It’s a been growing problem for some time. imo age is another factor ~ aren’t we just supposed to shut up or go away? Find an ice floe or something?

    I’m in the middle of a campaign to educate housing authority residents about their rights and get them to speak up for themselves.

    • scottx5  On August 15, 2016 at 10:32 AM

      It might have something to do with socialized medicine turning everyone into employees but I get the impression that for my doctors it’s only a job. Feels like I’m intruding on their time with my unreasonable needs. With the new rules around workplace bullying there’s now a whole new category for people to be judged unworthy of “care” by. Bad language, screaming in pain or terror, impoliteness–almost anything. The names that Leslie called me while giving birth to both our daughters would have gotten her thrown out of the hospital these days. So fuck it, I’m done with medical people.

      I’m reading Compassionate Listening (may take one of their courses) and Stalingrad The Fateful Siege: 1942 – 1943. Seem to be well matched books.

      Good idea to get people talking back. We’ve become way to timid in standing up for ourselves and “management” has become extremely lazy as a result. I sense people don’t know how to deal with a challenge and surrender every time things become loud. Like Trump’s followers, scared of everything and wanting Big Daddy to fix it.

  • thesmallc  On February 11, 2017 at 9:00 PM

    Hi Scott — Just stopping by to see how you and your wife are doing. I’ve been very busy with work and stressed out. And worried about the future of this country. But so far I am doing alright. I hope you’re well.

    • scottx5  On February 11, 2017 at 11:30 PM

      Thanks for stopping by Rebecca. We are doing alright, Leslie is working contract at the college and I’m still at “work”getting rid of junk so when the house sells we can leave with a smaller load. Had a false alarm in mid-December with my heart. Was sent to the hospital instead of being sent home and it seems my new doctor will be good for me as long as she lasts. Cancer people have pretty much disappeared. Called to ask for the person monitoring my recovery as my exam was overdue but no one there is working my case. Luckily there’s a nearby surgeon who could do the procedure and another one for my skin cancer. So I don’t seem to need someone coordinating it to get by.

      Looks like Trump is making a real mess of America. As a dual citizen I’ve been voting for and supporting Democrats but after Hillary’s mess I switched to sending my regular contributions from the Democrats to Black Lives Matter who are doing a better job advocating for the next generation. For activity I’m following the just-started impeachment process and trying to pick a Republican on the House Judiciary Committee to write to regularly. Someone coming up for election in 2018 would be best. The GOP I think is hoping to shed responsibility back on Trump but there’s reason NOT to pester all of them. Beyond that, no trips across the border for us, get rid of our stocks in American companies and buy as few US products as we can. Moving to Canada in 1975 makes us first-generation immigrants–sounds weird doesn’t it? We have lots of friends in the US and don’t want to hurt them but it’s really important to stop Trump. That said we aren’t going to abandon friends!

      How are you? Are your medical needs being covered? Or is the repeal of the Affordable Care Act going to make things harder? And (none of my business) your citizenship? We were Landed Immigrants here for years and a lot of my family were Naturalized Citizens and it didn’t used to matter. Now it seems whiteness (or a shade of orange) is the #1 qualifier.

      Take Care,

      • thesmallc  On February 12, 2017 at 2:16 PM

        Scott, good to hear from you! Glad things are going well for you and your family. When is the move? I am sorry about the scare from Dec. I am glad it wasn’t anything serious. I am still at my same job so the insurance aspect of things shouldn’t change? But I now wonder because we just switched insurance carriers, and it just happens that the new carrier was bought by my old insurance so I am wondering is that would affect my pre-existing condition — hopefully not. I will know when I see my doctors next month. Yes, Trump has to be removed ASAP. He has done enough damage in the little time he has been there. Thank you for being an active U.S. citizen, even though you no longer reside here. I appreciate it. I am a citizen of the U.S. and plan to stay that way. I have thought of moving to Canada but I’ve heard they are picky in some cities with the criteria. Is this true? I love the idea of living in Montreal or Toronto. But that would be a huge change for me, and will probably need to speak the language in order to make a living. But if I ever get lucky and win some money (haha!) I will move there. I don’t play lottery or gamble, but maybe I’ll get lucky somehow. Anyhow, I hope things continue to be OK for you and your family. I have big decisions to make this year and have been feeling anxious about them (job situation, building a family – is there ever a right time for this?, etc). Prayers are welcome. You stay well, Scott.

      • scottx5  On February 12, 2017 at 11:12 PM

        Rebecca, the scare in December resulted in my being more connected to my Cardiologist who’s been following my case since 2008. Had a long interview with her, plus she has a new receptionist that works the system like a pro–very reassuring.

        My older daughter Anna works in insurance. Was doing auto and household. Then a few years ago she was let go and called back into the same small company with a promotion to commercial accounts including non-profits. Then the company sold to a larger carrier and she transitioned just fine to the new company, including better health coverage. (In Canada, primary care is covered but does vary a bit by Province. Some specialists charge fees and drug costs aren’t fully covered). I sense the insurance industry as a whole is way is ahead of other industries in benefits and employee upgrading. Also know young women in the business seem to worry a lot about their performance so I’ll skip telling you things will be fine:-)

        I love the US, still consider it my home. Though I have no use for “patriots” and supremacists for their desire to be mothered by some dictator, I know they aren’t the majority. Especially have problems at the border where we get questioned for being Americans living in Canada and it’s even worse now. If a person doesn’t have to visit the States it’s way better to skip the harassment and stay away. I’m skipping my 50-year high school reunion because I won’t be insulted by some punk at the border telling me I don’t belong in the country of my birth. Around 6,000 scientists from around the world have agreed to skip academic conferences until immigration policy is reliable and the bullies back-off at the border. What I find strange is living in an oil producing area where people certainly aren’t “liberal” we comfortably have people from everywhere here. No Beverly Hillbillies crap, you work in oil, you are welcome and not expected to kiss the ass of some playground chump. Leslie is building a water processing workers course for the college and the experts she works with are infrastructure engineers from Sri Lanka, Texas and I think South Africa. We all contribute. I heard that the average Trump supporter lives like 10 miles from where they were born and will have no sense of how international the US economy really is. They live under a rock in Ohio and behave like skittish sheep. There’s also the belief that America is the best and most powerful country in the world which seems to give a lot of Americans the illusion that everyone in the rest of the world is inferior and desperate for “guidance” from Uncle Sam. People DO love America but generally stay near the coasts or the bigger cities.

        Here in Canada, 2/3 of our economy is dependent on trade with the US but that will change if Trump stays in power, especially as tariffs get put on Canadian goods. With a smaller economy, we can respond faster but it still won’t be easy.

        Yes, some areas and cities of Canada have lists of needed skilled workers and will prioritize immigrants with those skills. Was that way when we move here. At the time my classification was in general construction and Leslie had worked as an electronics buyer for Singer Business Machines. Where we said we wanted to move (coastal British Columbia and specifically Vancouver Island) needed roofers instead of carpenters and office managers instead buyers so we adapted. As it was, I ended up roofing and Leslie started teaching swimming and did it for 35 years. You aren’t required to do what you put down on your application, they just don’t want to have immigrants flood a profession and put Canadians out of work. Took us about a year to be processed before we could move. Montreal you need French for sure and Toronto possibly though it isn’t strongly French there. Vancouver and Edmonton are pretty cosmopolitan too but I’d guess you are more of an East Coast girl and think Montreal would feel most comfortable to you.

        Families? We spent a long time deciding to have kids. As soon as Leslie was pregnant (at 28) we felt really silly about hesitating. The only major hesitation was feeling settled in our new Canadian home. Even that was silly. Maybe because we come from small families we didn’t know that having kids is the most natural thing in the world. Maybe your friends have kids or maybe not but a new world opens up where kids are everywhere you look and new friends appear like magic. Not perfect, Anna had a rough adolescence that almost broke our hearts and one her sons has the same heart condition as me. My father and his father died from this condition but each new person is a new start in a changed world and I’m older than when my dad died and he lasted longer than his dad.

        Anyway, don’t make starting a family too complicated. Once you start the complications will begin on their own. Sweet and wonderful complications. Will pray for you and your guy. I’m not a particularly religious person but I don’t think God worries much about the philosophies and opinions people come up with to explain things.

  • thesmallc  On June 16, 2017 at 4:40 PM

    Hi Scott! I am currently in CAN and thought of you and your family. I hope everything is going well with you and your wife. Nothing new on my end — still at the same job and trying to live my life. Let me know how you’re doing.

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