When my wife Gay and I were celebrating her parent's 50th wedding anniversary in December, I distinctly recall rubbing my throat while we were sitting down playing cards. I felt a soft lump on the right side of my neck. Over the next month, I found it didn’t go away.
I went to see my GP in West Kelowna (Eric Gustavsson) and we talked about things. I had not experienced any weight loss or weight gain that was unusual. I was not experiencing any “night sweats”. I felt great...no fatigue issues at all. I had a couple of root canals in mid-November, so we kind of concluded we were probably looking at an infection of sorts from that issue. It is apparently quite common.
I saw Eric again in late February, the lump hadn’t grown or hardened, so we agreed to connect again in March. When I went to see him then, he was actually on holidays. I saw one of his colleagues (Dr. Baillie) and asked him to schedule something for me to get the lump looked at. I took the referral and called the scheduling office. They hooked me up for July 9. (Yeh, really...about two-and-a-half months away.)
Oddly, on Monday, June 4, I received a call on my cell asking if I could come in for the ultrasound that morning, as there had been a cancellation. Of course, I was in
Saskatoon at the time, our final day of the celebration for my parent's 50th wedding anniversary.
My annual physical is usually done in July, so I went to see Eric on June 6 to get paperwork from him for the blood work I usually have done. I advised about the ultrasound scheduling and asked him to get me into see an Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) specialist as well. He said he’d try to make that happen quickly.
I got a call a couple of days later and then met with Dr. Ben Achtem (ENT) on July 3. (I kind of laughed with Gay that his office appeared to have all the ambience of a Mexican prison.) He scoped the lump by going through my nose with a camera…up my left nostril, over the roof of my mouth to a point where he could see the lump on a monitor. Good times! He commented on the “hardness”, and also said, “you’ve waited awhile to come and see me”.
Sure, I guess it's kind of a "shot" at Achtem about his office, but in truth, this is the guy who has probably saved my life.
He's a young guy with obvious expertise. In time, I think he'll grow on the "PR" side. For now, I see him simply as a "matter-of-fact" type who doesn't mince words and waste anybody's time. If you want the facts, seek him out. If you want the facts delivered with a velvet glove, I'm not sure he's your guy.
You can draw your own conclusions, but in cases like this, where cancer is a definite possibility, why not opt for a guy that will not sugar-coat the "straight goods"? I'm very fortunate that our paths crossed.