Friday, July 11, 2014

Dr. Lentrichia

Steven and I sit in this small precise room, chatting comfortably while Steve jiggles nervously.  We examine the model of the colon on the table, checking out all the things that can go wrong inside of one.   It is interesting that doctor’s offices can have so much of the same kinds of things in them, represented in different ways.

Finally, the doctor comes in.  He introduces himself, while shaking our hands and asks us what we know.

Dr. Lentrichia (len-trisha) is not a tall man, but his presence fills the room.  He is balding and has a beard and mustache.  He looks at you very directly, locking onto your eyes.  He smiles.  His skin is a lovely shade of golden brown.  Could it be a tan?  Is this the color he is always?  I guess I will find out.  His clothing is very crisp, and his green shirt complements his complexion.  He has a golden hoop in his left ear.  I imagine he is a pirate.

After finding out that we know nothing, he gets up and shakes my hand again, and reintroduces himself.  I think this is funny and a great way to get people to remember a difficult name.  Maybe it is his way of starting over, now that he knows where he needs to start from.

“You have a mass in your colon, that is most definitely malignant.  It has spread to your liver, in what is most likely stage 4 liver cancer.”  These words stick in my head.  I smile.  I know I am smiling because this is how I respond to bad news about me.  Yes, I know this is not great, but it is not the worst.  He has not told me I have months to live and I need to get things in order. I can deal with this.

He wants to operate on Monday.  He doesn’t know how I have been able to get waste out of myself, the mass takes up so much space.  He is not worried about my liver, that will be for the oncologist to take care of.  His job is to get my colon in order.

He tells me his plan of attack.  He will go in laproscopically and try to remove the mass.  He is pretty positive this will work, but there is a chance it will not.  It is hard to see what is attached to what until you actually get in there.  He warns that he might have to go into a full surgery to remove the mass, which will be a much bigger operation.  He’ll have to see how things look when he gets in there.

“Oh,” he says, “there is a chance, such a small chance but I have to mention it,  that you could end up with a colostomy.  I am 99.9% sure that this won’t happen, because I am that good.  I have to mention this though, just in case.”

I love his confidence.

“One more thing,” he says with a look of regret in his eyes.  “I don’t want you to eat solid foods all weekend.  You need to have a clear liquid diet: broths, jello, clear beverages.”  I think he was contemplating whether I could handle another flush, and this was the more gentle alternative.  I ask about ensure or protein shakes, he says no, too much stuff in them.  Stick to clear stuff.  I bring up my lack of weight, he say there isn’t time to worry about that.  In hindsight, I realize I don’t really get the gravity of this situation.

We go out to the desk area where he introduces Steven and I to the receptionist. He describes her as the most lovely and wonderful… I have forgotten her name.  I like the rapport he has with his staff.  I hope he is always so nice to them.

I sign a form saying he will operate on my left side, on my sigmoid, to remove a mass.  He sends me upstairs to the East Side Medical Lab for bloodwork since I won’t have time for pre-admission testing at the hospital.  

When I return from having blood drawn, I find out that I am scheduled for surgery on Monday. “Report to ambulatory admitting at 11:30am.  Bring your insurance card and an ID.”


  1. I am so glad to hear you are in golden, confident, skilled hands, Kathy.

  2. That must have been a torturous weekend, with the surgery looming on Monday and nothing to eat to speak of all weekend. One or the other of those is trial enough.

  3. I feel so reassured by the earring. I love him.

  4. You are one of a long line of journalists who write through a crisis

  5. The waiting is the worst, as I well know from my brain surgery. Hang in there - one breath at a time, as cliche as that might sound. We've only seen each other in passing at church, but please know I am holding you in my heart and lighting a candle. Kelley Smith