By Jack Jodell, Apr. 18, 2012

Exactly a month ago, I posted the story of my 52 year old brother, who had noticed some digestive discomfort and had checked himself into the hospital, only to be released a mere 2 days later, after having undergone inconclusive testing,  having had his stomach evacuated of its contents, been pumped full of morphine and given a useless enema, and then being discharged on the grounds that “…this is simply a matter of economics. According to the tests we have done, you are simply constipated, and we cannot justify tying up a hospital bed for constipation.”

Well, that was then, and this is now. It turns out my brother was severely MISdiagnosed, and was actually afflicted with STAGE 3 ESOPHAGEAL CANCER! Unbelievable, but true, and due to gross negligence on the part of an overly eager and irresponsible hospitalist at that original hospital, my brother may very well be facing a painful and agonizing death as a result. Needlessly! 

Let’s face it, folks: ANY physician worth a grain of salt would certainly suspect something to be afoul when presented with a patient whose abdomen was becoming markedly distended, had a rapid fall-off in appetite, and an accompanying rapid loss in weight! After all, mere constipation, by itself, doesn’t lead to an increasingly bloated and painful belly! Nor do the presence of gallstones.  But a suspicious-looking intestinal mass as revealed in what were called “inconclusive” x-rays WOULD be cause for concern, wouldn’t YOU think? Evidently not to the General Practicioner who first examined my brother, nor to the hospitalist who booted him, against his better judgment and pleas for more thorough testing, out of the hospital! This gross negligence is inexcusable, but fully understandable in a very flawed health care system which places hospital and insurance company profits well before true patient care and comfort! 

Through a great level of mental anguish, physical pain, insurance company resistance, and determined persistence on my brother’s part, he was admitted to another, BETTER hospital, which quickly made the correct diagnosis of his condition. He was immediately given exploratory surgery along with three separate biopsies, and that is when the cancer was discovered.  He had displayed none of the classical symptoms of esophageal cancer: no acid reflux; no difficulty in swallowing. It wasn’t until his appetite had fallen off and a feeling of fullness and pain had set in that he became alarmed enough to seek further help. Indeed, roughly six weeks before, when I had last seen him, he appeared to be the very picture of health! Now, unfortunately, he was in a fight for his life!

He has now undergone two rounds of chemotherapy and will receive more on an outpatient basis in another week or so. I talked to him yesterday on the phone. He sounded understandably weak and a bit frail. I winced as he saud, “Jack, you wouldn’t even recognize me now. My eyes are all sunken-in, and I look about half the weight of the most emaciated Auschwitz victim you have ever seen. The skin on my arms is hanging in flaps.” He continued, “i’m gonna ride this out and file a lawsuit against that first hospital—I think their bungling has cost me at least a stage!”

The bungling he referred to may have cost him more than a stage; it may eventually cost him his very life. For there is a marked difference in the survival rates of patients with stage 2 as opposed to stage 3 esophageal cancer. Jist google “esophageal cancer stages” and you’ll see what I am ralking about. Still, my brother is very determined, and definitely wants to survive this. But I am realistic and have mentally prepared myself for what may very well occur sooner rather than later. And I share his fury. 

Adenocarcinoma, the variety of esophageal cancer he has, arises in the glandular cells and can at times be difficult to spot by either CT scan or x-ray. It is the same cancer which killed my mother 2 years ago, although in her case, they never were able to determine exactly which glandular site it had originated from. But clearly, in view of the symptoms my brother had displayed while in the first hospital, the decision to discharge him was premature, ill-founded, and deadly.

My sincere thanks to all who have, or who will, express their best wishes and concern as we grapple with this serious matter.

Heads are definitely gonna roll! Most deservedly. I only hope my little brother will survive long enough, and have enough resources, to see that his just rewards are realized!

About jackjodell53

I am an American Dissident trapped in a country where poor and middle class people are constantly being exploited and lied to by a very rigid and conservative plutocratic elite. I believe in government OF, FOR, and BY the people, not one controlled as it now is by corporations and special interests.
This entry was posted in commentary, corporate greed, economics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. jerrycritter says:

    I am very sorry for your brother. Our prayers are with him. It is amazing. We pay twice what everyone else in the world pays for healthcare and we still get this crappy medical care. And doctors bitch about lawsuits. Well, all I have to say about that is:


  2. This is tragic. I’m surprised that if your brother was in so much pain he required morphine that one of the first two physicians to examine him didn’t consult with or refer him to a gastroenterologist. Morphine is not usually given these days except in situations where other painkillers aren’t up to the job. Which is to say, when morphine is required, you’re dealing with industrial-strength pain.

    That kind of esophageal cancer can be tricky, but it sounds as though the pain should’ve been strong clue that something more than constipation was going on. If they were thinking abdominal, twisted bowel would’ve been something to rule out, along with a couple of other things. They should at least have had him back in a few days or a week for a follow-up visit.

    My hope and prayers go to your brother, to you and your family. I wish there was something I could say to lessen the anguish, but I know there isn’t.

    • jackjodell53 says:

      Thank you for those heartfelt best wishes. You have done and said all one possibly can in a situation like this, and I am grateful. There are many things that don’t seem to add up in the way my brother’s case was handled, and I’m sure much will be revealed if and when the suit comes about. One thing is for sure: mistakes were definitely made, and we wish to spare the next person in such a condition the same tragedy. The past cannot be undone, and we are not looking for scapegoats, but the future is well within our grasp and can and should be properly managed.

  3. Oh Jack,
    I am so sorry to hear of your brother’s story. I cannot imagine the physicians’ and hospital’s actions if it was not motivated by insurance mandates or some other financial decision that just happened NOT to be in your brother’s favor.

    I can see it much like the decision in the early 1970’s with the design flaws on the Ford Pinto. When it was noted that the gas tank was so exposed that when struck in the rear end by another car, the gas tank exploded killing all those inside. The legal department within Ford plus the upper executives running the Ford Company at that time, decided that it was cheaper to fight lawsuits, dragging the trials out for years, and trying to keep the restitution payments down, than to go back and redesign and retool to correct this flaw that they knew was going to cause deaths before the car even made it to the market.

    Our Free Market Medical Industry in this country play by the exact same rules of Corporation Economics.

    • jackjodell53 says:

      Engineer of Knoweledge,
      Thank you. You are so very right to bring up that comparison, and I love your new term of “Corporation Economics.” Our Free Market Medical Industry is far too engrossed in its Market aspects, and needs to start devoting itself to the Medical portion instead!

  4. Darlene says:

    I am so soory to learn of your brother’s illness and of the pain it is causing his family. Politicians are complaining about the cost of unnecessary tests that doctors order. Instead they should be looking at the tests that should have been ordered and that insurance companies may have blocked.

    Yesterday my daughter attended the funeral of a 51 year old dear friend who died for the same reason your brothers cancer was delayed. He had an eye disorder and lost his eye. The surgeon did not take a biopsy at the time and by the time a better doctor examined him the cancer was far advanced. Eventually the mailgnency that should have been diagnosed when he first sought treatment, spread throughout his body. I don’t know whether his survivors are going to sue the first doctor or not, but they should.

    • jackjodell53 says:

      Thank you so very much for those kind words, and especially for your entire first paragraph, with which I agree wholeheartedly.

      Very sorry to learn of your daughter’s loss of her friend, too. These carelessly caused and wholly unnecessary deaths are extremely tragic and greatly disturbing!

  5. Lisa G. says:

    Dear Jack,
    Although he has a rough road ahead of him, I wish him a speedy and symptom free recovery. My neighbor just died of the same thing. I wish the best for your family in these hard times too. One day at a time though; he’ll make it with all your support.

    • jackjodell53 says:

      Lisa G,
      Thank you for those lovely heartfelt wishes. I wish I could be as optimistic as you, for there was significant spread to his lymph nodes, but you’re right: it boils down to one day at a time.So sorry about your neighbor. I hope he or she did not suffer long.

  6. Max's Dad says:

    I am so sorry for your brother’s situation and my thoughts are with him. My father had virtually the same thing happen to him, same misdiagnosis, same indifference. I watched him turn from a healthy man to a shell of his former self in months. I hope he beats this thing. Hang in there!

    • jackjodell53 says:

      Thank you, Max’s Dad, and sorry to learn about your father. It is amazing how quickly things can change for the worse…

  7. Hideous to hear this.
    I can appreciate the risks that doctors and nurses take every day of their lives. But it seems like they aren’t thinking about those nearly enough to do proper service to the patients they are supposed to serve. They scare me, and I try to stay away from them if I can.

    • jackjodell53 says:

      Manifesto Joe,
      Thanks for your comment and great to see you back up again! I see your point, but I also believe avoiding all medical practicioners could someday have fatal consequences, especially for those of us who are middle-aged. I believe we cannot fault all doctors and nurses for the mistakes of a few. After all, it is a vastly corrupted medical system rather than individuals who is to blame. I would say get a doctor whom you trust implicitly, and stick with him or her.

  8. mudrake says:

    Jack, I, too am sorry for the medical ‘treatment’ of your brother. As I wrote earlier, my son had a wrong diagnosis and a botched surgery last summer; he is still not entirely well.

    Where does the blame lie? I’m supposing in many areas, none the least of which is the insurance racket and their stranglehold over the doctors. Only in America! Sadly, we used to be proud of that 3-word statement, but now it preceeds some idiocy fostered by greed.

    My best positive energy is directed your way and to your brother as well.

    • jackjodell53 says:

      Thank you, my friend, and I wish a full recovery to your poor son. It is criminal that this country has allowed a for-profit-only entity like the insurance industry to worm itself into the position of dictating how, when, and whether people can receive medicine!

  9. JollyRoger says:

    Another “success” story from “the best healthcare system on Earth.” As someone who was repeatedly misdiagnosed, I understand the frustration all too well. I also understand how lucky I was to have been diagnosed before I died, given that stories like your brother’s have almost become the norm.

    For-profit medicine is an obscenity and a crime. The insurance CEO makes a killing by killing people: it really IS that simple. The Klanbaggers all screaming about SOSHEELESM are usually on MEDDYCARE, which makes them hypocrites in addition to being inbred idiots.

    I am so sick of them controlling the debate.

    • jackjodell53 says:

      Jolly Roger,
      “For-profit medicine is an obscenity and a crime. The insurance CEO makes a killing by killing people: it really IS that simple. The Klanbaggers all screaming about SOSHEELESM are usually on MEDDYCARE, which makes them hypocrites in addition to being inbred idiots.” – how right you are! I’m glad they finally got your case diagnosed properly. I wonder how many other millions will be going through what my poor brother has?

  10. Jack,

    My thoughts and tears (and tons of healing thoughts) are with you and your beloved brother for now and in the future.

    My sister stopped breathing over two years and was medevaced (is that a word?) to the hospital in Myrtle Beach where she was tested lightly and given antidepressants to help her “relax” at home.

    Two months later the same thing occurred in a different city and they x-rayed her and found a large tumor on her pulmonary artery, inoperable, cancer. She was given no prognosis to live at the Cancer Center in Greensboro (supposedly even better than Duke), but she demanded a full course of chemo- and radiation-therapy and is alive two years later. We know it won’t last much longer, but we are grateful for every day.

    And if you decide to sue, be prepared. They’ve written those treatment protocols just so they can send you home without doing all the testing that would really expose severe problems. And they are protected by cost concerns attached to those protocols (which are no longer medical protocols, but insurance-payment protocols). Yes. That’s how they’ve written the laws protecting the profit centers now. I wish you could sue them and win, and then all of us in blogtopia would highlight this so overwhelmingly that we’d provide the push for single payer to triumph over the insurance industry’s profitmaking.

    Love going out to all of you!


    • jackjodell53 says:

      Thank you for presenting that infuriating as well as inspiring story about your sister. I will pass it, as well as your insights on suing, along to my brother. Good luck to her, and now I will not rest until we have adopted a universal, single-payer system!

  11. Cammie says:

    Angelflame is my name.. My dad was misdiagnosed 2 and a half years ago… the doctor told him it was a hernia. .. by the time we found out it was 4th stage esophogeal cacer . My dad was diagnosed on April 19 th 2012 and died 3 months and 2 weeks later with 3 chemo treatments. I watched my dad go down to nothing..

    • jackjodell53 says:

      Welcome aboard, and thank you for commenting. My sincere condolences to you and your family for suffering such a painful and needless loss. God bless all of you, and I hope you will all find great inner strength in dealing with this tragedy. It is maddening when senseless misdiagnoses like that occur. My brother is almost in remission, but we all know this improvement will be only temporary…

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