Cover Your Bases – Here Comes the Ball!

Have you ever thought you had covered all your basis, checked and rechecked only to find out there was one little problem with your planning that  later pops up and smacks you in your face?.  Let me give you an example.

Almost forty years ago Thad had his first surgery for testicular cancer and was fitted with a prosthesis.  It was this first encounter with medical mayhem that we began keeping our own medical records.  Operative notes, discharge summaries, lab tests, radiology test, etc. were gathered and placed in a three ring binder according to date and procedure.  While today there are electronic versions for recording keeping, over the years Thad’s “chart” has grown into three, 5 inch binders!  Needless to say we felt we were on top of it and had all our bases covered.

That was until Thad began experiencing pain in his right hip.  “Oh, no”, I thought, “There is going to be another hip replacement in the family!”  It was particularly painful upon rising and over the course of the day would loosen up somewhat.  But any exercise ratcheted up the pain to the point that he was out of breath upon repetitive movement.  A weeks’ worth of chiropractic manipulation and massage determined that it was outside the scope of chiropractic medicine and he was referred to his general practitioner.  An x-ray was ordered and showed no discernable problem.  An MRI was ordered and on the day Thad went he was asked if he had any implants or prosthetic devises in his lower body.  To which Thad replied that he did.

“What type is it – metal or gel?” the technician asked.

Thad replied that he did not know off hand but he had his medical records and would look and get back tp him.  Needless to say, the procedure was scrubbed as the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) would yank a metal prosthesis right through the skin.  Now that’s a whole new level of pain!

Once home, he went through his records, found the discharge summary and the operative note in which the prosthesis was mentioned but not the type.

Uh-oh.  “Houston, we have a problem”.

Thad called the hospital where the surgery was done to request this information from his 1981 records.  He was told that they would send him a form to complete and then the files would be pulled from storage.  This would take a minimum of 3-4 weeks to recover them.

Three to four weeks with chronic, continuous pain!  OMGosh!  No way.

Thad knew that the surgeon had retired but luckily his son had taken over his practice.  In fact, his son had done Thad’s prostate surgery 4 years ago.  But he also knew that his case was somewhat unusual in that Thad had two separate primary tumors 16 years apart – one in the right testicle and one in the left.  And that because of this unusual diagnosis, the Father surgeon would present Thad’s case every year to a new group of medical students for learning.

He called the surgeons office, explained the situation and what he needed but was met with some impassioned resistance.

“Mr. Schoen, I cannot and will not call Senior Dr. T. out of retirement to have him come into to see if he can remember your case!  After all it was forty years ago.”

“Yes, I know very well it was forty years ago, nurse.  I remember Senior Dr T was just starting out and I had a full head of hair. He was most proud of his work and how he had chosen just the right type and size.  But Nurse, I am not asking you to call him to come in out of retirement nor to come to the office.  I am asking you to place a call via phone and ask him.  I assure you, he will remember my case”.

Unless of course, he has memory loss and then we would need to consider removing the prosthesis – another surgical procedure.

“I really don’t think this is possible, Sir” the nurse said with frustration.

“Ok, then.  Please ask Junior Dr. T. to call his father and ask him what he used as a prosthetic device.  And if that isn’t possible, kindly have Junior Dr T call me.  He did my prostate surgery 4 years ago.  Surely that is possible, is it not?”

With a harrumph of indignation she said she would try.

Two days later, the nurse called Thad back to state that Senior Dr. T. indeed remembered him and the prosthetic he used and he could go ahead and get the MRI because it was a gel and not metal.

Later that day, Junior Dr. T. called, had a wonderful chat with Thad and confirmed that indeed the prosthesis used would not adversely affect him or the MRI.

My point of this lengthy story is

  1. Do your best to leave no base uncovered. Maya Angelou is quoted as saying “Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better”.
  2. Accept that you cannot always think of every circumstance and information you may need in the future. All you can do is the best at the time.
  3. Sometimes you have to look for solutions that are out of the norm.
  4. Kind persistent pays
  5. Keep your own medical records. Either make use of the hospital and health practitioner online portals or simply ask for copies of all medical records: x-rays, radiological results, blood tests, operative notes, discharge summaries.
  6. Keep a Fact Sheet with dates of events, illnesses, surgeries, types of devices, implants, and prosthetics.
  7. List amounts of radiation and chemotherapies you have received.
  8. Keep an updated list of medication

Look, friends, you may not be able to keep all your basis covered but doing the best you can with the information you have will go a long way when life throws you a curve ball and you have to run the bases.

P.S. We are still waiting for the hospital to send us the form and get back to us.

Thank you for reading my post.  If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it.  Feel free to even re-blog – may these words take flight!

I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts.  To order a copy or learn more go to my website at

Blessings for Health & Wellness.


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