My First–And Last–Visit with Dr. Morte, Part II

by Maggan

in Diagnosis,Doctor's Appointment,Finding a physician,Pathology


“What are undifferentiated cells?” I ask my new gynecologist, Dr. Morte, as he reluctantly stumbles through my pathology report.

Undifferentiated cells sound pretty good to me. If cancer cells are no different from normal cells in my body, would that not be a good sign?

“You have to ask your oncologist. I don’t know the answer.” Dr. Morte slams the folder shut.

“You don’t know what that means?” I glare at him.

“You have to ask your oncologist.”

“I don’t have an oncologist.”

“Well, I am not an oncologist, so I cannot discuss this with you.”

We have clearly come to an impasse. My dislike for Dr. Morte is now intense.

“Why would I have an oncologist?”

I was proud to have found a surgeon already, but an oncologist? And what exactly do they do anyway? I assume they had something to do with chemotherapy.

Dr. Morte avoids eye contact. It scares me that he will not look at me and claims not to know anything about undifferentiated. His demeanor is weird and frightening.

Then he cleverly diverts my attention from the “undifferentiated” cells.

“Do you have a surgeon?” he asks. “If you don’t, I have someone I can recommend.”

“I already have a surgeon.” I cut him off, smug about being so resourceful.

“Who is your surgeon?”

“Dr. Guru at the Medical School.”

“Not familiar with him.” Dr. Morte shrugs. “Well, if you change your mind and need a name or referral, let me know.”

What is wrong with this man? He keeps talking about “my” oncologist, which I do not have, then he recommends a surgeon when I already have one. Why does he not give me the name of an oncologist? Why does he not explain some of the steps ahead? After all, he is a gynecologist and must run into patients with breast cancer all the time.

“Do you need me to fill any prescriptions?”

“Well, just the estrogen cream.”

He refuses, shakes that awkward head of his:

“No, now that you have breast cancer I cannot give it to you. You are at high risk for ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and cancer of the colon,” he says.

“You have to make sure you take care of yourself now.”

“How do I do that? What do you suggest? ”

“Oh, you are doing it. You are arranging to have the breast cancer removed. Deal with that first.”

Before I leave, Dr. Morte reaches out to me, a hollow stiff arm, like a cardboard roll, slightly bent around my shoulder. He gives me an awkward pat.

“I hate doctor Morte,” I tell Marie. “First he will not tell me about undifferentiated cells. Then he scares me with bringing up ovarian, uterine and colon cancer. I am at risk for all of those.”

“I warned you, he is pretty thorough,” she says.

I disagree. Dr Morte personifies many traits of a bad physician:  He is steeped in his narrow specialty, ignorant or indifferent to anything outside his box. Pathetic communication skills.  An ass.

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