"My experience with a removal of a cyst in my back"

About: Cork University Hospital Cork University Hospital / General Surgery General Practice

(as the patient),

It was, is the worst experiences of my life. It started with a referral from the pain specialist to the cardio department in Cork University Hospital. I was having unexplained pain in my chest and back for about 2 years. When no one doctor could explain my pain, that could keep me in bed for days, I was referred to the pain specialist. They requested that I have a head to toe MRI done. The pain specialist was the one to discover that I had small mass under my shoulder blade and they referred me over to the Cardio surgery department. I had an appointment very soon after that and I was told that a few more tests were going to be given, because in the surgeon's mind at the time, they thought it to be a cluster of blood vessels and nothing to worry about.

Months past and after a few MRI's, CT's and PET's scans they were able to see the mass. I was told I would have a biopsy taken to see if that could determine what it was. I was sent to the oncologist instead because it was their area of expertise. When the oncologist had a look at my back they suggested that I needed to go back to the cardio surgeon because of the location of the mass. They said they would bring it up in their next meeting.

Frustrated I went home again without an answer and without a plan in place. While this was going on, no one specialist could guarantee this wasn't cancer. This went on for months! Then I get a letter for an appointment with the breast clinic. The surgeon there was going to do a biopsy of the mass. I went in that day and when they took an ultrasound of my area they said they couldn't do it on the day because, without major pain medication on board, the location of it wouldn't be an easy biopsy. They said they would send me back to the cardiology surgeon because there was a need for a surgeon to be involved with this procedure. I was sent home again with nothing done and not a single answer to what it was.

After many phone calls and finally calling the patient officer of the hospital I received a call from the cardio surgeon’s department saying they had a slot open for me the following day and I had to come in that night. I arranged my family duties and prepared myself and my husband for the biopsy. After waking to extreme pain from the biopsy I was told it would be sent home and I would have a result by the time of my post-operative visit. I was sent home after a few days as my pain was managed and I was finally going to get an answer.

When my appointment came, I was anxious for my results. The results weren't there, I was sent home and told I would need to come back in a few weeks to discuss the plan to move forward. A few months went by and I'm back on the phone requesting a time to find out my results. After another appointment given to me from nagging the patient officer, I go in to get the results. Not only did the Jr. Doctor not know of my case, he looked it over while I was sitting there, and there were no test results. I then lost the plot! I said I wasn't going anywhere until they found my results. They said they would get them and they called down to the lab. The lab said that the results were in my chart but they weren’t. Another copy of the results was requested to be sent up to the clinic because I was there waiting. After chatting about my history the doctor called down again because there was no delivery of my test results. By now the hospital clinic was closed. Finally, the doctor apologised and said they would wait for the results and give me call either tonight or tomorrow. I left frustrated and crying, I’d had it! I went down fumbling for change to pay the parking after staying there for hours it didn't help my mood. Then when I was getting copper changed into coins at the gift shop I got a call from the surgeon asking if I was still in the hospital. I said I was and they asked if I could come up to the clinic. I went upstairs expecting to get the results, the surgeon said the sample wasn't enough to make a diagnosis so they gave options for going forward. One of these was to remove the mass, I said it's time to take it out. They told me that they would inform the cardio surgeon of my decision and they would have me in to discuss the procedure.

There was a time gap between that discussion and the one with the cardio surgeon but I was told I would be scheduled in the next few weeks because it was getting close to December and there needed to be a group of specialists involved for this type of surgery. They said they would come back to me with a date.

I was called at the end of February to be told that the hospital had a slot to get me in so I needed to check in that evening. I got my things together and my children organised and went into the hospital for a surgery promised over a year ago and 6 months after the biopsy. After many hours of surgeons coming in, going over my history, choices of medical procedures and what was going to happen I finally got some rest by midnight.

The operation went well, as I was told that the mass was bigger than they thought. They didn't know what it was but it wasn't the cluster of blood vessels as they previously thought. They took more surrounding tissues and muscles just in case it was cancer. I was taken care of and rehabilitated to raise my arm, because of the dissecting of the muscle, and sent home to wait for the results. After my post-operative visit I was told that the results hadn’t come back and I was examined for regular infections, etc. Then at my final visit, this is around 6 months after surgery I was told it wasn't cancer it was some form of tissue growth and they couldn’t determine what it was. I asked what caused it and will it come back, I was told they don't know and I would be sent back to my GP and pain specialist to be monitored. They just do the surgery they don't follow up.

I have been seeing my GP to be monitored for a few months, but then I started getting pain in my chest again and after a few months of pain medicine adjustment he referred me back to the Cardio surgeon. I did have an appointment with a Jr. Doctor, who was going to send me home referring me back to the pain specialist when I said I was their patient and this is the area they worked on! No other doctor can follow up on their work. After an X-ray, I was sent up to the inpatient department to see what the next step was. After another hour I was told I would be getting a CT scan in a couple of weeks and would need to come back to the clinic. That was October it's now April.... My case isn't solved yet.

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