Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Before I left the hospital that Thursday Dr. Champagne had instructed me to contact her off to schedule the PET scan and the surgery. The next morning I called her office and spoke with a young lady and explained the reason I was calling and I felt she was a little annoyed that I was calling.

“We are trying to schedule those for you right now, sir,” she stated in her irritated manner.

“Well I am just doing what Dr Champagne asked”, I responded, and quickly got off the phone.

That was Friday and I didn’t hear back from her office the rest of that day.

Monday morning I received a call from Dr Champagne’s office stating that the request for the PET scan appointment had been sent to the hospital (Banner Good Samaritan) and I would be receiving a call from the hospital directly before the end of the day.

The call never came.

About 4:00 pm I contacted the hospital scheduling department and was informed that they had never received the paperwork. The very helpful young lady on the other end of the phone requested I contact Dr Champagne’s office and request she re-fax the request.

I called Dr. Champagne’s office and spoke with Mindy and explained why I calling.. She informed me that a few of her faxes hadn’t gone through that morning and requested I hold. A few minutes later someone else picked up the phone, “Mr. Willi, this is Terri, I’m sorry to inform you but we do not take your insurance.”

“Oh great,” I blurted out both is jest and frustration.

“We will be contacting you primary care physician and letting him know so he can find you a new surgeon,” she continued without hearing the dissatisfaction in my voice, “I’m very sorry.”

First thing the next morning I was on the phone leaving a message for my doctor’s assistant requesting a call and explaining what I been told the late afternoon before.

Sometime later in the day I received a call giving me the name of a new surgeon, Dr Luis Hashimoto, with an appointment to see him first thing in the morning the next day, and my PET scan was scheduled for 2:30 the following day as well.

I then received a call from Terri in Dr Champagne’s office informing me Dr. Champagne would perform the surgery for me out of network. Instead of jumping on that, which I should have, I informed Terri that Dr Johnson had found me a new surgeon.

That night my brother, Kevin, flew in to attend our upcoming Halloween party, and to attend my appointments with me as well. After freaking out all day I am feeling more relax and comfortable.

The next morning Kevin arrived at my house and we drive to Dr Hashimoto’s office where we sat for an hour before we spy him arriving through the back door. Fifteen minutes later we are shown an examination room.

Dr Hashimoto entered the room, introduced himself and starts going over the notes in my file. He asked me the typical family related questions, allergies, medical history and then, taking a cue from his notes, starts talking about my appendix.

In between receiving three phones in the course of 10 minutes, he talked endlessly talked about my appendix. He talked about the possibility of my problem being appendicitis and the treatment and surgeries available.

He then got to the second line in the notes and announced that I have a thickening of the colon wall and started to describe what it means and all the possibilities.

I finally had to stop him. He had been talking for 15 minutes without having a clue why I was there, so I finally said, “I know all of this. I have colon cancer.”

Squinting his eyes he asked, “How do you know this?”

“Because I had a colonoscopy last Thursday,” I replied.

Surprised, he looked at me and asked, “What were the results?”

“They found a five centimeter tumor in my colon, I have colon cancer,” I informed him, a little frustrated that he didn’t already know.

Dr Hashimoto then started laughing and pretended to hit me on the arm several times. “Why didn’t you tell me? You let me go on an on,” to which I replied, “I thought you knew and this was part of your show.”

“I don’t do a show, “ he demanded.

Believe me, he does a show. A nice man, and I am sure capable man, but there is a showman trapped inside him as his hands flail and he drew diagrams, and took phone call after phone call during our session.

Dr Hashimoto then talked about the surgery and the possibility of complications. He and I settle on Scottsdale Healthcare Thompson Peaks as the hospital to have the surgery performed. Although the furthest away, he let me know it is the best of those available for him to perform the surgery.

Kevin and I left the office and laughed about the comical episode in his office. From the moment he walked into the room to when we left his office the man had us laughing, or was it scratching our heads.

I felt comfortable with him although he had told me he would not be doing the surgery laparascopically. Without seeing a single report or film, he determined he would be opening me up. It perplexed me since Dr. Champagne, who had seen the results of the colonoscopy, had planned to do it laparascopically.

Later in the afternoon I had my PET scan.

I never heard from either Dr Johnson or Dr Hashimoto that afternoon or Thursday regarding the PET scan results so I called both of their offices late on Thursday afternoon and never heard back – not that day – not Friday.

More frustration.

Working with Dr Champagne I had felt a sense of urgency and comfort that I had not found since. She made me feel confident we were going to schedule the surgery and that it would probably be Monday, October 27th, I would get the PET scan and the results and on we would go.

Yesterday was October 27th, and I had not been scheduled for surgery and no one was calling me back with the results of my PET scan.

First thing in the morning I called the offices of both Drs. Hashimoto and Johnson again and inquired about my PET scan results.

A couple of hours later I received a call from Catherine, the assistant to another doctor in Dr. Hashimoto’s office. She called to inform me that my surgery had been scheduled for Thursday, October 30th. I need to arrive at 8:00 am and that surgery would be at 10:00 am.

She told me I could not eat anything past midnight and as she continued, I felt the need to interrupt.

“Has Dr Hashimoto received and reviewed the results from the colonoscopy and PET scan, “ I asked. Stumped, she reviewed my file which I assumed was in front of her and said, “No, I don’t see that they have been.”

Starting to get irritated again, I asked, “How is it possible for Dr Hashimoto to perform surgery on me when he hasn’t even seen the results of any of my tests? You can go on and give me all the information you were supposed to tell me but I am not feeling comfortable with this and will probably have to reschedule.”

This didn’t please Catherine. She asked “Do you know how difficult it is to schedule surgery?”

I informed her I did not, and I was thinking, “And I don’t care but something about this does not feel right.”

I could feel her displeasure with me over the phone as she ignored my concerns and continued on with her list of demands.

“You will need to bring someone with you because you will not be allowed to drive yourself home,” she stated rather matter-of-factly.

This time I snapped. “What? Dr Hashimoto is cutting me in half and you are telling me he is sending me home. He told me I would be in the hospital at least a week.”

I was pissed. I’m sure it was not Dr Hashimoto who believed I was being sent home, it was his colleague’s incompetent assistant.

“Oh, well, each doctor does things differently, “she cautiously replied.

I couldn’t get off the phone fast enough with her. The only useful information she had given me was the time and place of my surgery, and I wasn’t feeling too good about any of it.

I stewed for a few minutes and then Dr. Johnson called with the results of the PET scan. Everything had come back clean – although once I have recuperate from my surgery he wants me to get my prostate checked out because of my high PSA numbers.

He asked me about Dr Hashimoto and informed me he had called him several times and had never received a call back. I was thinking, but didn’t say, “I was surprised because he talked on his phone three times in the 20 minutes I was with him.”

I told Dr Johnson that Dr Champagne was planning to do the procedure laparascopically and that Dr Hashimoto was going to cut me open. I asked why the difference and what he told me didn’t alleviate my uneasiness.

For the remainder of the day I sat at my desk working, yet apprehensive with the chain of events that had lead me to surgery on Thursday.

I had an instant chemistry with Dr Champagne. When I first spoke with Dr. Johnson he had told me she was one of the two best surgeons in the state, and when I met her I felt confident I was in the hands of someone both capable and caring.

I do not have that comfort with Dr Hashimoto. I liked him and I am sure he is a good surgeon, definitely a busy one, but their approaches are too different for me to not feel uneasy.

Driving home I started thinking about contacting Dr. Champagne’s office and telling her I would take her up on her offer to see me out of network and then it hit me.

The day before, Kevin had visited Dad and Jane and they mentioned they would like me to see the surgeon who performed Dad’s surgery – Dr. Michael Buckmire. I would look to see if he was a provider in my network.

When I arrived home I immediately looked online and found that Dr. Buckmire was in my network so I texted my step-mother (back and forth several times) and they agreed to grease the wheel for me with Dr. Buckmire’s office.

Before going to sleep I left Dr Johnson a message informing him of my decision to cancel my surgery and go with Dr Buckmire, and I requested he have all my charts and reports faxed to his office.

This morning while showering I received a message from Dr. Johnson. He stated he understood my concern and thought it was a good idea that I seek out Dr. Buckmire. He even mentioned having a reservation or two about Dr. Hashimoto.

When I arrived at work today the first thing I did was call Dr. Hashimoto’s office and left a message that I needed to have my surgery cancelled and that I was going with a different surgeon. I called Dr Buckmire’s office and told them my name and that Dr Buckmire had performed my father’s surgery and that I am now going through the same thing and would like to make an appointment with him to have him perform mine as well.

I was told the first available date on Dr. Buckmire’s schedule would be November 7th. I asked that I be put on a list for any cancellations and accepted the appointment.

I am now feeling so much better. I am happy with my decision to postpone my surgery and wait for a doctor I am somewhat familiar with; however, I now just sit here stewing, wondering if waiting that long is a bad move. To alleviate some fear I left a message for Dr Johnson who promptly called me back and reassured me that he didn’t think I was jeopardizing anything by waiting for Dr Buckmire. He told me he had faxed over all of my information and even left a message for him.

Dr Johnson, whom I actually have never met, has been the constant in all of this and I am very appreciative. At no point has he passed me off to an assistant. He has always called me directly, alleviated any of my fears. I am just Hashimoto was just a hiccup, or bump in the road, and I am now back on track….

…to be continued….

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


It was at 2pm Thursday that Dr. David first uttered the “C” word to me. In a matter of fact, yet positive tone he told me they had found a 5 centimeter tumor in my colon.

It had been a whirlwind twenty-four hours. After having visited the doctor on Tuesday afternoon for a pain in my side that I suspected was appendicitis, I was set up for a physical at 8am and a CT scan for 11am on Wednesday morning.

By noon Dr Johnson, my doctor whom I have yet to meet – I have only met his nurse practitioners - was on the phone telling me he had received an unprecedented call from the radiologist, another anonymous figure I have yet me to meet, who said that the CT scan showed an abnormal thickness in the colon. He told me he was trying to get in touch with Gastroenterologist Dr Schwartz to see if he could squeeze me in for a colonoscopy.

I had just left the radiology lab and grabbed a fast salad and was on my way to work.
Fifteen minutes later I received a second call from Dr. Johnson informing me to immediately return to the radiology lab, pick up my “pictures,” and head over to the office of Dr Laura Champagne – one of the two best surgeons in all of the state he assured informed me.

I met with Dr Champagne, whom I had been forewarned appeared much too young to be a surgeon, and she reviewed the pictures from the CT scan, attempting to describe to me what we were seeing.

She first pointed out my liver, nonchalantly saying their were a couple of spots on it. She then moved on to my appendix and explained that it appeared enflamed or aggravated, and then she saw the tumor in my colon.

It had been less than three hours since I had laid down for the CT scan and Dr Champagne turned to me and told me she wanted to admit me to the hospital.

At first I didn’t think I heard her right and I remember asking, “you mean like now” to which her reply was, “as soon as I can get you a bed at the hospital.”

We walked out of the examination room and into the hallway. She was on her cell phone trying to get in touch with Dr. Schwarz to set up a colonoscopy first thing in the AM. She instructed a staff member to call the hospital to get me a bed and for me to go home and prepare to be admitted. Someone from her office would call me when there was a bed available.

Minutes later I was in my car, dumbfounded but upbeat. So much had happened in such a short amount of time I was not able to process it. I texted Fettit that I had colon cancer and was being admitted to the hospital and his reply was “Oh Dear.”

I returned to the house and started making telephone calls to family and friends letting them know I was being admitted to the hospital but not 100% certain why. I knew I was having a colonoscopy in the morning but I certainly didn’t need to be in the hospital for the procedure. I recalled Dr. Champagne saying something about a precaution about the appendix but I still didn’t think it was necessary to go to the hospital.

Fettit called an hour later and asked when I was going to the hospital and I told him as soon as he arrived home – although I had not received the call that a room was available for me.

I saw no reason why he couldn’t take me. I wanted to watch the debate and spend the evening with him like I do every night. Just because I was spending the night in the hospital didn’t mean we couldn’t do it together – hospital or no hospital.

Sometime prior to Fettit’s arrival at home I received the call informing me to go to the seventh floor of the hospital and did section D. I was to check in there.

Packing up my laptop, ipod, two books, some underwear, socks and toiletries, we headed off to the hospital a few minutes later.

Fettit, fearing he couldn’t get through the evening debate without his nightly wine, poured some into a Rubbermaid container and along the way we stopped at the Jack-in-the-Box for him to get a large cup of ice.

Arriving at 7D with my backpack full of electronics I looked around and saw that all the room had two beds and I started to panic. I do not like sharing my space with strangers. The thought of having to endure the endless bodily noises of a stranger didn’t sit well with me I could feel my body tightening up knew it wouldn’t be long until something came out of my mouth I would regret.

As I walked up to the nurse’s station I received several curious glances from the three caregivers at their desks but only one immediately ask if I could be helped. “I am here to check in,” I announced like I was at the front desk of a hotel.

The quizzical looks continued as they turned to each other in confusion. “You are here to be admitted,” one asked.

“I received a call from my doctor to come to 7D of the hospital and check in, yeah,” I replied.

Just then a nurse walked up and acknowledged that I was expected and a middle aged man behind the counter pointed towards a room and said, “you are in bed one in that room.”

As expected, I told the man that I didn’t want to share a room. “I don’t like people that much,” I told him, to which Fettit concurred, “he really doesn’t like people.”

The man behind the counter looked at me and sneered, “well, no one is making you stay here now are there?”

My response was something along the lines of “Well, I don’t think I really have a choice in being here.”

A mediator intervened immediately and said she would put in a request for a single room if one was available, and showed me to my bed to await admission.

The first thing I did was sit on the bed and pull out my laptop and search for the best Wi-Fi connection but there wasn’t one.

Treating the nurses like staff at a hotel I asked each of them individually as they walked in and out of my room if they had wireless internet. Surprisingly, each acted like they had never received such a question and no one knew if they did or not.

When the nursing assistant came in I tasked her with finding out for me and then dismissed her like she was the household staff. For some reason she never returned.

Fettit made himself at home and quietly sipped his wine and a flurry of hospital staff came and asked questions and checked my vital signs.

The presidential debate started and it was hard to give it my full attention. Fettit must have felt the same and announced an hour into it that he was going home.

I shot him a dirty look, in essence saying “If I have to be here, so do you,” but I knew he was bored and that he didn’t have to be there, other than to keep me from being bored.

It wasn’t long before Liz, the interventionist nurse, came to my room and whispered that she had found me a single room to which I quietly replied, “I love you Liz.”

I moved to a room on the same floor with an entirely new staff and it wasn’t long before I knew I wasn’t checking into a hotel. Everyone that entered my room wanted something from me, and they we often accompanied by needles.

They drew blood and gave me an IV line. My blood pressure was taken for the fifth or sixth time that day and where it had been in the perfect range all day, now at 9pm it was slightly elevated.

Nurse Deserae informed me that she would be coming back soon with the comically misnamed golytle, pronounced “go lightly” and that I wouldn’t be getting much sleep because of it.

She was right.

I started drinking, what tasted like sea water, at 10:20 and laid on the bed for the next one hour and 20 minutes waiting for it to take effect. For the next couple of hours I spent most of my time in my private bathroom thinking, “Thank God they gave me a single room.”

By five the next morning I was sufficiently hungry and exhausted, but cleaned out, and I went downstairs for a cigarette.

At some point in the morning my own personal doctor McDreamy walked into the room and introduced himself as a co-worker of Dr. Champagne’s. He was young, not even 30, and had a beautiful smile but the entire time he was standing next to my bed he didn’t stop touching his crotch.

Fettit came to the hospital prior to going to work. He accompanied me downstairs so I could have a cigarette and it was while on the smoking patio that a wheelchair wielding technician arrived to transport me to my colonoscopy.

The colonoscopy started at 11:00 and by around 12:00 I was waking up. The procedure was not complete though, and I was in the most excruciating pain. I recall yelling in pain a couple of times before it was over. I don’t know if that is typical, for the patient to wake up before the procedure is over, but I have never experienced such pain in all of my life.

On the way back to my room the technician handed me my chart to hold and I asked if there was anything in it yet regarding the colonoscopy, and there was. As he wheeled me to my room I was looking at the pictures of my colon and knew something wasn’t right.

It’s been six days since my diagnosis.

Monday, October 13, 2008


When uninspired or tired or short on time, I can always count on one women to write something that I can steal from her website - or at least make me feel good with a song.

She doesn't know I exist (other than the shout out and response I got from her in concert almost two years ago), but I universally agree with her on everything. Okay... so Im obsessed.

Sorry Babs - But I like what you have to say and am far to lazy to come up with my own right now.....

Who is Sarah Palin?

Until the Republican Convention, very few had ever heard of Sarah Palin…and now this mean-spirited campaigner is asking who is Barack Obama???

I’m asking who is Sarah Palin???

I know that she's a woman who doesn’t believe in allowing women the right to choose their own reproductive health decisions even if they are victims of rape…but approves of these victims getting billed by the government for the rape kits used to examine them.

I know she’s a beauty pageant runner-up who is a gun totin’ extremist in her views on the environment, religion, women’s choice and the separation of church and state.

I know she’s a woman who along with John McCain would divide this country while pledging that she and the Senator are “mavericks” who know how to reach across the aisle.

I know that as mayor of the small town of Wasilla she increased spending by 63% and left behind a $19 million long-term debt, which was non-existent before she took office.

I know she hired the same good-ol'-boy network of Washington lobbyists she says she will fight if elected, in order to secure millions of dollars of earmarks for Wasilla.

I know that she’s been found guilty of abusing her power as governor by pressuring a state official to fire her former brother-in-law and then firing the official when he refused…an investigation that began prior to her selection of Vice President.

And I know that the American public has had less than two months to vet Sarah Palin, and during this time the press has had to fight tooth and nail to secure just two network interviews with her…while she still refuses to appear on the tougher Sunday new shows.

On the stump, Sarah Palin and John McCain continue to avoid addressing the critical issues facing our country. Neither of them provides any substantive conversation on what they will do to steer our country on a journey back to prosperity. Palin’s sheer ignorance and lack of experience precludes her from speaking thoughtfully about the financial and foreign policy dilemmas we face. And John McCain’s voting record forces him to change the subject. McCain knows his policies have contributed to the unraveling of our financial systems due to excessive deregulation. McCain knows that he supported the war in Iraq since its inception, which has been a tremendous financial and military drain on our country. Both Sarah Palin and John McCain know that if this election continues to be about the housing market, the economy, healthcare, the environment, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan… the issues that affect everyday Americans…they will lose this election. And after eight years of Republican control that has left this country in deep distress…they should lose. So now that we know who Sarah Palin is…do we want her a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

The above was pilfered from www.BarbraStreisand.com.