What is it about second opinions that reassures people? I can see circumstances where you may want reassurance for something traumatic. In most cases, I doubt a secon opinion is very helpful.

I am not talking about construction projects, or the installation of a furnace. We moved into our house 11 years ago. Our furnace seemed to have trouble keeping the house warm. The air conditioner that was highly praised by the previous owner was barely useful. Nothing more than an air circulator. I talked with the representatives of about 6 different furnace manufacturers. Like most industries. there are very few actual manufacturers. What looks like a diverse field is dominated by a few companies that market several brands. All claimed to have the best unit on the market and cited one item that distinguished them from the others.

One had an electronic ignition which they claimed was useful in that it was more efficient. Do not need a pilot light. Just saved myself $10 a year. Another had an anti-static drum that would prevent the accumulation of dust on the air intakes. Fantastic feature guaranteed to work for three years at least. Another had a 12volt fan which could stay on for ever circulating the air around the house. Highly useful. I guess. I came away from the exercise more confused than when I went in.

We finally replaced our furnace about three years ago. We hired the same contractor this year to install our central air without going fro a second opinion. We trust the contractor. He did a stellar job the first time, and again now.

One of my cousins visited me recently. One of the first things she asked is whether I was having liver surgery. No, I said, no such plans. She suggested I might want to go to Germany for said operation. It would only cost about $2,000. I should not rely on the opinion of my one doctor here. She understands that we are living with the constraints of universal health care. They often will not perform operations or provide other services to save money. I should not let that hold me back. Germany has wonderful services.

I accused her of having Health Care prejudices. This opened a whole other set of issues which I will not go into, a waste of time.

This advice was given without having any idea about how our system works, or at least the system in this hospital. There is a panel of doctors who look after us. Major decisions are made by the panel, not the individual doctor. This is a truly amazing system. Not only do you get a second opinion, but you get five of them. By the time I was set for surgery, I had four separate opinions. Why go after another?

The situation gets more complicated. We do not appear to understand the why’s and wherefores of cancer. We do know that I do not have liver cancer, but colon cancer in the liver. Same situation in the lungs. I finally understand the meaning of metastasized cancer.

An operation of the liver is a waste of time. The cancer cells are busy in both halves of the liver. Taking one half out, letting the liver regenerate, means that the cancer will just travel from the other half back to the first.

Why in the world would I want to second guess my doctor anyways? What makes me think for a second that I know better than my doctor. Should I go to Germany for the operation, who will look after me post operation? I have an appointment to see my surgeon tomorrow morning. This is 9 months after the operation. We talk and make sure all is right. It is not a long meeting. Am I supposed to after another local surgeon look after my needs following an operation in another country? Does not make sense to me on any level.

We were told that we have the right to a second opinion at any time prior to the operation. We were told to feel free to go to the Mayo Clinic or anywhere else we thought might provide some additional information or help. No one here would hold that against us. After being in this system for a year, researching, reading and contemplating alternatives, I can say that the doctors appreciate it when you know more, when you take the time to educate yourself and take charge of your destiny. At least my doctors do.

I think a second opinion is required because we do not like or trust the first opinion. We are hoping that the bad news is not as bad as it appears to be and want to hear a second voice.

I generally deal with people I trust. I trust my family doctor. We have been together for fifteen years and understand each other. She is a modern medicine woman, dispensing drugs to heal all. Anyone not comfortable with that should seek the advice of a traditional medicine person.

I trust my oncologist and his entourage. I trust my surgeon and her entourage. I am happy with the decisions taken. I will add resources as I see fit, as I can accept them, understand their significance.

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