Friday, June 25, 2010

Call waiting

(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.

Until yesterday.

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.


Lesa said...

Oh Kaleigh, what a horrifying mess!
In a much,much smaller way I got a wrong diagnosis last week of kidney stones based on lab results that the girl did not do correctly.
Unfortunately our lives are in the hands of people who don't know (or sometimes care) what they are doing to you.

I am glad that things worked out and you have me out here praying that next week will come out well too.

with love,

Always Summer

Jean said...

Hurrah for Mum! I'm so glad it was sorted out with a good result, but my god - what a horrible thing to have to go through! I hope you get an apology from someone.

Much love to you K,


Mervat said...

Aren't Mums the best! It is so good when even at the age we are at we can actually hand over the reigns to someone we trust whole-heartedly (and who better than Mum!). And she pulled through with the fantastic news that all was fine. I hope that *all* will be fine, from here-on in.

Love, always,

La Belette Rouge said...

I LOVE your mother. I love that your 70-something mother kicked their ass into give you the good news. I am so happy to hear your good news. And I am so very sorry you went through that horrible hour.
Huge hugs to you( and to your mother)!!

Qwerty said...

That is beyond inexcusable. I'm so happy your mother raised some hell (as only mothers can do!!) and sorted them out. What a horrific experience to have to go through unnecessarily! Sending you much love and hugs. Am still praying for good results on the scan!

Unknown said...

What a terrible ordeal to go through, though I'm so glad it had a happy ending.

Goes without saying, your mom rocks! It's weird, but my mother's the same way -- she can get things done when it comes to dealing with bureaucracy staffpeople in a way that I just can't.

Enjoy your good news, and I hope all future news is just as good. :o)