Friday, May 22, 2015

The Wait is (finally) Over

Conclusion to I HateWaiting

I cannot tell you how many times I checked the phone in fear I’d missed a call before bed that night. Television, in its myriad offerings, did nothing to alleviate the tension. Every ache, pain, creak or pop of a joint made me wonder, is that what the beginnings of bone cancer would feel like? I’m in my fifties. Almost every move produces a creak or pop.

I did not burden my family with my persistent, inward fears. A vivid imagination can be a real curse, and I have that in spades. Until something concrete could be discussed, this would remain my own nightmare.

Sleep came only with the help of a previously prescribed pill. I still woke up at 6:30.
The clock ticked by to noon the next day. As my husband and I were having lunch, he asked what I wanted to do. In reality, there were only three options we could think of.

A)    Call the doctor’s office (for the first time today, sixth day since the test)
B)     Go to the office and camp out in the waiting room until she could see me
C)     Go get the results from the hospital, and demand my doctor explain what is sure to be Greek terminology to me.

We discussed the various outcomes of each choice. For option A, I would just annoy whomever had to speak with me. With B, I might find myself being ushered out the door at 5pm. The final option held the most appeal. While the results were certain to be in medical language beyond this layman, there were a few medical professionals in my life who might be able to interpret the hieroglyphics.

After my husband returned to work, I headed for the hospital to get my results. At the service desk of the radiology department was a notification taped to the window. “All requests for copies of reports and/or images must be made 24 hours in advance.”


I decided, since I was there, I’d go ahead and begin the 24 hour process. When the clerk came to assist me, I recognized the voice as the woman I’d spoken to the previous day. Friendly, funny, and quite disarming, she chatted with me regarding hospital procedures and the reasons why they are what they are, all the while flitting back and forth from one keyboard and monitor to the next, presumably preforming her required tasks, and trying to avoid a possibly irate patient.

She made me laugh a number of times over the ridiculousness of a system that would keep the information from the one person who truly needs to know.

A few forms were printed out and I dutifully signed where indicated. She said “last one” and handed me a clipboard with a three-part paper to authorize the request. After signing, I checked my watch, and, without looking up, said, “So, they should be ready for pick up around two tomorrow?”

“Or, you could take them now.” Looking up, I saw she held a small manila envelope, and a smile. “God bless you, child,” she said, turning back to her monitors.

I left with a lump in my throat. Was she trying to lift my spirits, in the face of a death sentence? Did she mean that as a final goodbye? Damn my vivid imagination!

Out in the parking lot, I sat in my car and opened the envelope. Where the expected copies of a scribbled doctor’s notes should have been, there was a CD and an easy-to-read report. In plain English.

It reiterated the incident of the fall, then noted a “boney lesion” on the left iliac crest. After that, each line item read: Negative
The conclusion line read: “Normal bone scan”.

Never have I read such a lovely set of words.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I Hate Waiting

There are things in this world worth waiting for. Love. Peace. A nice dinner. These things cause you to step back from your immediate desire, from “instant gratification mode”, and wait. The time might stretch from an hour, to a day, to weeks, to months, to years. Well, the nice dinner shouldn’t take years, but you understand.

I have found results to be the hardest thing to wait for. Whether you’ve taken a test while sitting at a school desk, or interviewed for a job, tried out for a team on a playing field, or even in a doctor’s office, the anxiety is the same. As the time draws near for the scores to be announced, the feet shift, the palms sweat, the heart races. You’ll find yourself checking the website from your laptop, or your phone, or whatever means the sender chooses to use, on a moment by moment basis. Nothing else in the world could possibly be more important than these results.

We understand life goes on. It’s just that it goes on for everyone else, but us.

I’m waiting on results right now. About three weeks ago, on a Saturday, I fell on the first step of a pool. My feet held no traction, just rising from the water directly in front of me. It took me by such surprise, I didn’t even have the wherewithal to curse as I fell. I remember the sound escaping my lips being, Oh! Oh! OH! And then the concrete and my lower left side met with a brutal impact. My husband pulling me from the water is the only thing I have full recollection of for the next half hour. It seemed I ‘woke up’ as he was asking me if I wanted something for the pain. I must have been walking and talking, I just don’t know how.

Fast forward to Monday. My appointment with the doctor results in the (expected) orders for an X-Ray at a local diagnostic center. Done. Two days later the doctor orders an (unexpected) MRI. Done. A few days after that, the diagnostic center wants to re-run the test, to get a better angle on the area in question. Okaaaaay… Done. In the next couple of days I get a call from the doctor’s office. It’s not the anticipated results of the MRI, but instead, a request to go to my local nuclear medical facility and submit to a full body bone scan. The doctor said there’s a spot on my hip that can’t be ‘clearly identified’. 

So, I do a little research. According to an online medical reference, the primary purpose of such a test is to determine if I have bone cancer.

The nurse at my doctor’s office said the results could take a week to ten business days. Gee, anyone ever heard of that time frame before?

Upon calling said hospital, I discover the soonest the test can be performed will be ten days. ARGH! Fine!

The test, now completed, was painless. The tech performing it told me the results would be at my doctor’s in forty-eight hours. Yeah, I called two days later.

Nope. The results are not in my file.

At 3pm, I called the hospital. The woman was kind enough to fax (yes, I said fax) the report to my doctor while I was on the phone with her. Now they have the report, dammit.

The clock ticked by to 4:50pm. The office closes at five, so this is the latest I could call and still reach a human.

A nurse kept me on the phone for five minutes only to come back and tell me, yes, they have the fax, but no, no one has reviewed it yet. But, someone would call me tomorrow.


So, we sit together, dear reader, waiting. Okay, you can just wait for the next post and find out what happened. You know, the whole “life goes on” thing. 

As for me…

I Hate Waiting.

(But you don't have to. All things are done. Read all about the end results here.