January 5, 2012

Well, Good Afternoon to You, Too--The Sequel

All last night and this morning I dutifully waited to hear from my doctor about what the heck was going on with this whole renal thing.  I had to take my daughter for her annual eye checkup today before lunch, so I decided that if I hadn't heard anything by the time she was finished, I'd just make a slight detour to Dr. Earnest's office on the way home since I was already in Doctor Central anyway.

We did the eye checkup (all was well, yay) and still no word from the doctor.  Fine.  I drove over to the office.  I gave the receptionist the abridged version; she hardly let me finish before she was jumping up to go find my file, complete with deer in headlights look.  Geez--I hadn't even worked up a good testiness yet.  She told me that the doctor was currently in between appointments and was working her way through all the files on her desk, so mine was probably in the pile.  Fine.  Then she told me to wait in the waiting room.  Fine.  At this point, anyone with sense should be quivering in fear by the number of "fines" being uttered, because they know that when a woman says "fine," the last thing she actually means is that she is, in fact, fine.

I waited a few minutes, then a nurse called my name.  I foolishly assumed she was there to escort me back to the doctor's office.  But no.  Instead, she took me down the hallway and into one of the consultation rooms where vital signs are checked before you get hauled off to an examination room.  Okaaaaay.  The nurse then sat down, turned to me, and quizzically said "You had a question?"  Um, YEAH, I have a question.  I have several, actually.  Like why the first time I was hearing about something as potentially significant as a renal mass was when some random nurse called me with an appointment for a renal ultrasound.  Like why I wasn't given this information in the hospital.  Like why it took over six weeks for me to get this information at all.  Like why the doctor did not call me herself.  Nurse Vacant mostly sat and started at me through my interrogation, appearing vaguely miffed that I was getting all worked up over nothing.  I repeatedly asked why I hadn't been called previously, and she kept answering with "Well, the doctor ordered the test."  Last time I checked, that answer doesn't go with that question.

This dance continued for another 5-10 minutes as Nurse Vacuous continued to be incapable of addressing my concerns, questions, or complaints, always falling back to her position of "Well, the report says..." and similar unhelpfulness.  I asked when they had received the report.  She didn't know.  How do you not know?  I asked when the doctor had ordered the test.  "Yesterday.  That's why we called you."  ::heaaddesk::  I asked what she said about the scans.  "We can't read scans here because we don't have the software to read them.  ::headdeskheaddesk::  I asked exactly what the report said.  She glanced over it and said something along the lines of "they don't think it's any big deal..."  Well, thank you for your expert opinion, Nurse Vapid.  I feel soooo much better now.   Clearly she didn't understand why I was so pissed since, in her expert opinion, it was "no big deal."  I'm sorry, but when some random person calls you in the middle of the day to tell you that you have an appointment for a RENAL ULTRASOUND because you have a RENAL MASS, it's a big deal and should be treated as such.  I don't care if turns out there's only a shadow on the scan, or someone's thumb on my abdomen, or if the scan was misread as in the case of one friend who told me that a similar scan of her father-in-law showed that he had a uterus.  It's still a big deal.  Also, if my ultrasound shows that I have a prostate, there will be WORDS and many of them.  And that's still better than another friend who told me last night that one time when her father was trying to tell people about his appendectomy he got confused and told everyone he'd had an episiotomy instead.  Now that's something I would like to see...I'm sure we all know a man or two to whom we'd like administer an episiotomy.  Turns out this same guy was also trying to tell people he was a kleptomaniac, telling them instead that he was a nymphomaniac.  Clearly someone needs to find this dude a dictionary and fast.

At any rate, largely fed up with the useless nurse and hacked that the doctor couldn't be bothered to see me in spite of the fact that she was between patients (you are so fired once this is resolved, Dr. Earnest), I demanded that Nurse Void make me a copy of the CT report and held out my hand for her to give me the sheet with the ultrasound appointment.  No doubt she said a few choice words about me once I'd left.  Seems only fair; I'm still saying a few choice words about her.

When I got into the car, I handed the report to my daughter and asked her what the date on it was.  At first she couldn't find it, so I directed her to the top where the fax reception markings would be.  Aaaaaand...it was dated November 28, a mere nine days after the scan took place.  "Pissed" gave way to "livid".  My doctor had been sitting on this report for over FIVE WEEKS.  Five weeks is more than ample time for Dr. Asshat to pick up a phone and give me a heads up:  "Hey, they found something weird on your CT scan...it's probably just a cyst, but I wanna do an ultrasound to make sure", even during the holiday season.  How hard would that have been?  Three minutes, tops.  Likewise, whoever called me yesterday could easily said something similar before presenting me with an appointment time (and thanks for checking to see what times would be good for me, by the way).   Doing so would almost certainly have made me a little more receptive--or at least less confused--by the news I was given.   "Paging Unprofessional...paging Unprofessional..."

When I got home, I read through the CT report.  I love the way medical professionals write reports...they are so...clinical.  It seems I was imaged from "the dome of the diaphragm through the pubic symphysis."  Say that five times fast:  pubic symphysis pubic symphysis pubic symphsis pubic symphysis pubic symphysis.  Makes it sound like I have some terrible sexual disease or a parasitic symbiont.  Nice.  They did mention a delayed imaging of kidneys and bladder, so perhaps that had something to do with my not being told about the mass while in the hospital.  (Doesn't change the fact that you had a complete report since November 28th, Dr. Earnest Goes to Medical School.)  On the plus side, my liver, spleen, adrenals and pancreas are normal, as are the "caliber" of my large and small bowels (aren't you glad you now know this much about the internal organs of a random stranger?).  And since when are intestines discussed in terms of "caliber"?  I must have missed this part of health class.  And now I get to spend all day with wildly inappropriate images of the sort of "shooting" in which my bowels might partake.  Stomach flus and gastrointestinal bugs suddenly come to mind...

And, there it is:  "Low attenuation left renal mass.  This measures approximately 1.3 cm in diameter.  Hounsfield units are in the mid-30s range.  This could be a complex cyst or conceivably an enhancing mass.  It might also be a simple cyst with elevated Hounsfield units related to volume averaging.  Consider left renal ultrasound for more complete evaluation."  Apparently "low attentuation" means "who the f*ck cares--make her wait a couple of months" in doctor-speak, in spite of the fact that it could also "conceivably be an enhancing mass."  I don't know what an enhancing mass is.  Does that mean I have a tumor, benign or otherwise, that is vainly attempting to tart itself up?  Can masses have plastic surgery?  More to the point, why would they want to?

So that's my exciting CT report.  Oh, and I might also have some small gallstones.  Of course I might.  Why wouldn't I?  Georgia still hates me.  I know in my head that this is all probably nothing, particularly given the incredible lack of urgency regarding the matter, and that's fine.  I have to think that if it were a bigger deal I'd have been having other issues by now, and I haven't been.  Either that or someone would have been pounding on my door a long time ago.  On the other hand, I am apparently not "normal," at least when it comes to appendicitis, so who knows?  It's still not something I want to mess about with, and it's certainly not something I want to learn about in the way I did.  Now that I have a better idea how Dr. Earnest and her staff tend to operate (or not, as the case may be), I am pretty sure I will be going elsewhere for my medical needs once I get the results of my on the 10th.  Given the way everyone has operated to date, no doubt it will be another 5 weeks before anyone gets around to giving me the results.  Yippee.

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