Always Question the First Diagnosis

It was a beautiful, sunny, perfect-weather day. I was at an art festival with the woman I had just met several weeks ago and would eventually marry. We were strolling along the sawdust paths of the festival, both feeling happy beyond any sort of adjective-laden description.

Suddenly without the slightest warning I felt a sharp pain in my right side. I thought it was just one of those strange pains that would subside quickly, until about an hour later when I could barely walk. Something very nasty was happening. I kept thinking, “for once in about a decade I’m having a wonderful time with an interesting and beautiful woman whom I really like and who actually really likes me, but fate has something else in store for us. Jeez, God, give me a break, man.”

Life can be that way, throwing an unsuspecting curve right when you are confidently in the box. I managed to see a doctor who thought I had some kind of pleurisy, perhaps. He suggested that I wait it out and see my personal doctor as soon as we got back home. We were living a good four to five hours drive away, and it was the Saturday of the July 4 weekend. It’s never good to get sick on a weekend, especially if it happens to land on a holiday. We could start going back immediately, go to a local hospital emergency room, or wait it out and see what happens. I was still holding on to the idea of this being just some fluky pain that would go away.

We tried going to a movie. I was giving it my best mental effort to not notice the extreme pain I was really feeling. “No, God,” I kept saying to myself, “I am not going to let this get the best of me on this truly great weekend.” About an hour through the movie, we had to leave, and we began the trek home. I sat bent over and miserable in the passenger seat as my wife-to-be drove us back.

We arrived at the local hospital emergency room in record time. An x-ray was taken immediately. As I lay crunched up on the medical room table, the doctor came in, looked me straight in the eye and said “you have a broken rib.” I looked him back in the eye and said “this ain’t no broken rib, Doc; you better get someone else to look at that x-ray.” I was not in the least bit friendly at that moment. In fact, If I had any strength, I probably would have physically tried to throw this so-called doctor out of the medical room.

About 30 minutes later another doctor came in. He looked me straight in the eye and said, we have to admit you because you have a collapsed lung. “Okay, doc, thank you,” I said.

Long story short: I wound up having a lobectomy of my middle lobe from a viral infection and was actually in an Intensive Care Unit for one day after the surgery. I eventually made a full recovery, losing about 10 percent of my breathing capacity overall.

The moral of this story is always second guess your doctor’s prognosis, or any prognosis about anything you are in the throes of realizing. It’s easy to agree with the first thing that comes out of any doctor’s or other professional’s mouth, and put your total trust in that person because of his/her credentials, as well as your strong desire to know what the hell is going on, and perhaps overly accepting of anything that comes your way. But experience has shown me time and time again—not only from this incident, but from many others—that getting at least one more opinion, and, when possible, several additional views, can make a big difference.

Have you experienced a misdiagnosis in life, be it medical or business related? Here’s where you can share your story in the comments section.

Thanks for stopping by George.

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