(This does have a happy ending)
When I went in for a retest after a bad pap smear my doctor recommended I have a vaginal ultrasound and some blood work since having breast cancer puts me at higher risk for various reproductive cancers. The u/s tech said that unofficially everything looked fine and I was relieved.
I was told to make an appointment to get all the official results from the doctor in person, but if everything was fine I’d get a call before that instead, in which case I was supposed to cancel the unneeded appointment. So I made what I call the “in case of bad news appointment” but promptly put it out of my head. The second pap smear had come back clear and since the tech said the vag u/s looked good (and since I’ve got lung nodules to worry about) the whole thing slipped my mind.
Yesterday I got a call to confirm my “in case of bad news appointment”. My stomach dropped and I thought I was going to faint. I asked the woman who phoned if the doctor was there, I needed to speak to him. But he wasn’t in. So I asked for another doctor – any doctor. By this time I was crying. I told her I am a breast cancer patient and I know what needing this appointment really meant, that the news was bad. I begged her to please find me someone to talk to and get the results from by phone. She tried, I could hear the compassion in her voice – but there was no one there that was authorized to give, and I quote, “those kind of results” by phone.
I was supposed to go in today, but I had that CT scan for lung metastasis scheduled. The gynecologist and imaging place are too far from each other to go to both in the same day. Instead I was going to have to receive a call from the gynecologist on my cell, or wait the weekend for Monday. Neither choice was good, but I chose to get a cell phone call. Waiting an entire weekend was NOT an option.
After hanging up I sat in this house alone with my kids for the next ten minutes just weeping uncontrolably. After crying to Michael and freaking him out at work I called my mother, by that time, hysterical. She was outraged at how this was being handled. I felt that way too but was too upset to focus on that part of it. Mom asked me if she could call the doctor's office and try again to get the results. At almost 47 years of age I did the only thing I was capable of doing at that moment – I decided to go ahead and sic my 70-something mother on them. Apparently she raised holy Hell because within minutes the entire situation was resolved.
It was a mistake.
My ultrasound was completely normal. Completely. Normal. So was the blood work. It was, in a sense, a scheduling error. I was supposed to receive the “it’s nothing call” but mistakenly didn’t. So they were just calling to confirm the office appointment by default. The office manager phoned me to apologize. While I could have given her a piece of my mind instead I gave her a piece of my heart…I tearfully, VERY tearfully told her what I had just gone thru, that my young children had to see their mother become unglued yet again for nothing, my entire family was to be frightened yet again, for absolutely nothing. I said I don’t ever want this to happen to another woman. She promised me the system would be addressed.
What I went thru was excruciating, but in reality it lasted less than an hour. However in that hour I sure had time enough to consider many of the worst case scenarios...and now that I’ve had breast cancer, trust me, I have a bird’s eye view of what those kind of scenarios really look like, up nice and close.
I said this had a happy ending and it does, truly, for the most part. While at the moment I'm still reeling I am also hugely grateful beyond measure that this turned out to be a big fat nothing. The word relief doesn't begin to cover it. But sadly, happy endings aren’t quite what they used to be either. I'm still waiting for results next week about my lung scan. It seems forever more my happy endings will be diminished by the reality of just how temporary happiness can be, how easily it can disappear. All it takes sometime is a phone call.