I recently read a very interesting post by Trisha Torrey on About.com about a happening on the TV show, Downton Abbey. Downton Abbey is a PBS (in the United States) TV show that originates from the UK. Briefly, the show is about the British aristocracy and their help, not dissimilar to the other famous show of similar roots, “Up stairs, Down Stairs. “However, Downton Abbey takes place in the early 20th century.
In the most recent episode a 24-year-old character from the aristocracy, named Sybil gave birth to her first child and then died. So, why am I talking about a TV show especially about childbirth on a blog about advanced prostate cancer? Good question let me answer it.
It turns out that Sybil’s death could probably have been avoided but for the fact that this aristocratic family was more concerned about public appearances than with calling in a doctor with experience in child birth. It seems that Sybil had always been tended to by a simple country doctor (not very aristocratic) who had properly diagnosed her as experiencing preclampsia and urged she immediately go to the hospital. However, her father, Lord Granthem, wanted to appear more important and insisted that they bring in a better known and more expensive doctor who was more appropriate for their station in life. Lord Granthem, despite the opinions of the others, including Sybils mother and husband, decision stood and the upper class doctor, Dr. Clarkson assisted in the birth and poor Sybil died of preclampsia.
So again, why am I discussing this matter, a TV show and childbirth, what does it have to do with advanced prostate cancer? It has everything to do with advanced prostate cancer!
Despite their gut, which told them Sybil, belonged in a hospital as recommended by the country doctor her family allowed themselves to bullied by Lord Granthem. They ignored their gut and poor Sybil died. Had they followed their gut Sybil might have survived and been allowed to become a mother to her baby.
Empowered patients follow their gut and don’t allow things like money or appearance to dictate their medical care. Then, if you are not sure always error on the side of caution. In this case caution meant seeking help, going to the hospital, if you have the slightest doubt. Better to trust your gut and be overly cautious then be dead! Don’t ever let others dictate against your feelings, not even your doctor. Don’t forget, when you leave your doctors office they go on to the next patient, you go home with the problem. The problem can kill you.
When I was first diagnosed with Melanoma I showed the mole I was concerned about to my dermatologist who made light of it, telling me it was nothing. I got back into my car and I really believe that the mole was “laughing” at me. I believe that I heard it making fun of me and telling me that it had won. I made another appointment with a different dermatologist who after checking out the mole told me that I should just forget about it, it was nothing. At this point I told the doctor that my gut was different and that I wanted a biopsy. She refused, so I made it clear that I was not going to leave the exam room until a biopsy was performed or the police led me out in handcuffs. Needless to say, the biopsy was performed and I was diagnosed with Melanoma. Had I not followed my gut I do believe my fate would be the same as was Sybil’s, I would be dead.
Joel T. Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.
I just wanted to make a few corrections to the storyline. The family doctor diagnosed Sybil, he had treated the family for years, so it wasn’t a case of snobbishness that led them to disregard his advice. The new doctor had been brought in because he had helped with the pregnancies of other families they knew. He said she was healthy, and when his word was doubted by the family doctor, he refused to acknowledge that he was wrong because he was a well renowned doctor. Lord Grantham knew this man was renowned, assumed it meant he was better, and thus when he had to choose, he chose the doctor others had told him was excellent, despite the fact that the family doctor who knew her better disagreed. The go with your gut thing is still valid however because the rest of the family wanted to do what the family doctor had said, and felt something was wrong.
Good point, Joel. As a follower of the D.A. series, I’m sure that we fans will find out that Lord Grantham will live to regret his reliance on image rather than his wife’s gut instinct. And as far as going with my gut, you’re absolutely right. Had surgery last week on both my feet. Surgeon had prescribed pain meds which turned out to be inadequate, and I could not get ahead of the pain. Took the initiative to head to the ER, which administered the pain meds that should have been prescribed at the outset. This resulted in a testy exchange this week with my surgeon, but I don’t care about his feelings. It’s my body, thank you.
So true, Joel. I thought I had done enough when I suspected I had something wrong by going for a second opinion to a supposed intelligent and respected urologist. This after I had already seen two other doctors. He basically laughed at me and blew me off and insisted that nothing was wrong. I asked for a biopsy and he said he would do an ultrasound of the prostate. After the test he lied to me when he told me I had a “nodule, but it is benign”. I now have advanced terminal prostate cancer. My advice to all men is get the PSA every six months and if it is going up get a biopsy asap even if you have to pay for it yourself.