First, the good part.
My church worship team is very good. They have a six-song CD and I have it in slot one in my vehicle. I played it on the way to my appointment this afternoon and by I think it was the second or third song, I was in tears.
I was afraid. I was stressed. But the songs on the disk, which are often sung during service, were uplifting and helped point my mind in the right direction — to the place from which my help comes.
Now, the not so good part.
I finally pulled up my big girl britches and had that overdue mammogram done in June. Two days after I had it, I got a letter in the mail: areas of concern and schedule a diagnostic mammogram were basically the only words I saw. In the midst of all this, I was changing insurance coverage (if you can call what I have ‘insurance coverage’ — listen, if you live in the US and are retired, disabled, or have employer-supplied medical coverage, please do not even start with me. Nothing compares to the horror and expense of trying to pay for your own. I am one of those fortunate folks who makes enough to be slightly dangerous but not enough to save consistently, invest, or pay for very good health coverage. I suspect I will be tagged by the IRS for not having what the crooks in DC say I should. And that they are not helping me pay for. Okay, this part of the rant ends here) so I had to find a different place to get the diagnostic screening than where I’d had the original mammo done.
And thus begins the horror.
My mom was diagnosed last year. Hers was detected very early, so the doctors were able to remove the spot and she has not had to have chemo or radiation. She does take some sort of medication as a preventative, but so far, her blood work has come back fine, thank you very much. I shared this with my former doctor and he said that the chances of me getting breast cancer, even with such a close relative having had it, were slim to none at my age. If my mom had been in her 30s, 40s, or 50s, he would have been concerned. Since she was a good bit beyond that at diagnosis, he felt I had no cause for alarm.
But when you get a cryptic note in the mail, telling you to get a diagnostic test done and no other info? Yep: alarms for days and as loud as all the fire truck, police, and ambulance sirens in San Bernardino, Riverside, and Los Angeles Counties.
I found a place to get it done under my new health coverage. They needed my mammo films, which these days, is a high-tech affair. The sending office puts the films on a CD and sends it to the new place. Who knew?
I get that square and call to make an appointment, at which time I am told I need an ‘order’. I tell them about the letter I got, which was not it. I contact the old office, give them the fax number, and go on with my panicked existence. After all, who doesn’t panic with the specter of cancer lurking? I knew it could take several weeks for the films to make it over there and once I’d waited the requisite amount of time, I called again to make an appointment.
The films had made it though.
I contact the old doc’s office again. I ask them to send me a copy of the order. I don’t get it. The new place doesn’t get it.
After five tries, the order makes it there.
I arrive and get checked in. My tech was a woman who looked like Rita Moreno when she first played Bobby Goren’s mom in Law & Order – Criminal Intent. She was very nice and we had a nice conversation while she mashed me to bits (as an aside, I thought this would be an ultrasound sort of exam, where they would slather me with gel and use the wand thing to get a better image. Fool me once …). However, before we could get to the torture, she tells me that order and films they had, but report they did not have. I shrug; as the patient, I don’t know all these intricacies.
I guess the look of shock, terror, and even more panic was all over my face.
Rita-not-Rita patted me on the shoulder, sent me to the waiting area with the other de-brassiered women who were reading magazines, and said she would call the doctor’s office and get them to fax it.
Some time later, after I’d been thoroughly disgusted by the cost of shoes and handbags in the whatever it was haute couture magazine I’d flipped through, she came back and said she had what she needed. After being pulled, pressed, and prodded, she sent me back to the waiting room again. This time, I had to wait for the doctor to look at the images. Soon enough, Rita-not-Rita came back with another tech to take a couple more films. I have scar tissue and small calcifications and while the doctor figured that was what he was seeing, they had no films to compare it to.
On the order, which I now had a copy of, the old doctor’s office wrote that they had not compared my current films to anything.
I had run the gauntlet of the healthcare organization I had when I worked outside the house full-time, paid I can’t remember how much, and sent all my records over there. And they didn’t have the decency to look at them.
Rita-not-Rita told me to look for my copies (which I don’t see hide nor hair of) and in case I didn’t find them, she had me sign a release form. I sent a message to the old doctor’s office, telling them of the continued horrors and asking if they could find out if the records exist in their system to send to me.
My neck was, and still is, as tight as a Commodore Barry Bridge cable.
I stopped on the way home and purchased junk food for dinner, half of which I ate in the car. The only reason I didn’t eat the giant cupcake was because I didn’t want to get icing everywhere. Because it was 93 degrees. And I didn’t have a fork.
It disappeared within about two minutes of me getting in the house though.
Thus far, it appears I am healthy. For this, I am grateful. I know many of my Facebook, church, and other loved ones were praying and sending good energy my way today. For this, I am also grateful.
The struggle continues.