Monday, May 23, 2011

If you can't say anything helpful why don't you just be quiet??!!

I feel the need to rant.  Sorry.

My mother just kicked breast cancer's nasty ass.  It took 2 surgeries and 30 doses of radiation.  I can't really comprehend what my Mom has been through or how she managed to keep her stiff upper lip in public all the time.  And while Mom was going through this battle my husband and sons really started to be insistent that I have a mammogram.  You may have read about my adventures at the breast screening clinic in April.  I never did tell you the end of the story though.  It took days to recover from the mammogram.  My ribs were bruised, I had muscles pulled in my chest and I actually had torn skin in more that one place.  It hurt!

Well a week or so later I get a message from my doctor's office to call them back.  Since my doctor's office never calls, I was worried.  It didn't help that I couldn't get back to them until the next day.  It was a long night.

When I finally got through it was to be told that I needed to have another mammogram and an ultrasound.  I asked why and didn't get an answer except that I shouldn't worry about it.  So I now need more tests for some mysterious reason, but I shouldn't worry . . . can you think of anything stupider she could have said to me?

A week or so later I have my second mammogram.  I arrived on time, put on the gown and sat to wait my turn.  Apparently they were running late because there was a couple of women that went before me even though I was on time.  While I'd been able to keep my mind occupied over the past week, now that I was sitting with nothing to do but stare at the wall and worry, I started to lose my composure.  I tried to control myself but all I could think of was how much the last test hurt and how long it took to heal . . . and here I was going to do it again.  Plus the fact that I could only assume they had found something on the first test, what was it, and what was going to happen next?  But I kept my stiff upper lip. 

Another lady came in, changed into a gown and sat down to wait her turn.  The technician comes out and calls the other lady's name.  She says, "this other lady is first."  "Well, I pulled your paper work so we'll do you first.  It doesn't really matter."  In that moment I was speechless.  This was another woman telling me it didn't matter . . . it didn't matter that I was worried sick that I had breast cancer,  it didn't matter that I was watching my mother's battle everyday and didn't think I could be that brave, it didn't matter that I was on time and it was my turn, it didn't matter that I was worried about the mammogram because I knew how much it was going to hurt and that I would be days healing again.  Apparently I didn't matter.  And I was speechless.  I know you are shocked by this but I was.  She made me feel that I was nothing, I had no value, I was just a number.  And the tears started.  Not a huge crying jag or hysterical tears, just big fat tears dripping slowly down my cheeks. 

Finally my name was called.  I was still crying and the tech offered my a Kleenex.  Nothing else.  I don't believe I said a word the entire time I was having the test.  I was afraid if I opened my mouth I wouldn't be able to edit what I would say and I knew I wouldn't be able to stop.  So I mutely submitted to the test.  And it wasn't so bad.  It turned out they only needed a couple of scans.  This would have been good information to know.  The test was over quickly and I got dressed and left. 

Hal was waiting outside and he didn't ask any questions.  He knew I was distressed.  All I said to him was that we needed to get out of there quickly because I was afraid I might punch someone. 

We went down to ultrasound to see if they could fit me in so I didn't have to wait 2 more weeks for this test.  The receptionist was very nice but she said there were no openings and she had already turned several people away.  I thanked her and turned to leave.  She seemed to sense how upset I was and wanted to know what was wrong.  Twice I said I didn't want to tell her because I would be dumping on her and I didn't want to do that.  Finally I gave her a very short version of what had just happened to me.  She was so upset and offered to try and squeeze me in as a way to make up for everything.  She was so kind but if I had accepted that appointment I would have been making someone else wait for their turn.  I couldn't do that.  I didn't tell her why I was turning her down because I understood that she was trying to be kind.  I thanked her and we left.

I can only assume that the volunteer at the breast screening clinic must have heard what I said to Hal when I came out of the clinic, because when we walked by her office she came out after us.  I let her know how angry I was and how horrible I felt and why.  She apologized.  I don't know why she apologized, but she did. 

A week later I called my doctor's office to find out the results of the second mammogram.  First the receptionist couldn't find my file.  It must be on the doctor's desk for some reason, she says.  That freaked me out.  Finally she comes back to the phone and says that the results weren't in yet, but that if anything was wrong the clinic would have contacted them right away.  The fact that they didn't have any results suggests that they didn't find anything wrong.  There is something wrong with this logic.  So people get to wait and wait and wait and worry because no one will contact them unless something is wrong.  Wouldn't it be nice to be called and told nothing is wrong so that patients don't have to worry for long periods of time?

I had the ultrasound last week.  I refuse to worry any longer.  If anything is wrong, I'm sure someone will call me  . . .

I said to Hal, my friends and mom that I was going to write a letter to the Hospital letting them know that they had a tech that needed a little retraining in sensitivity, but every time I started writing it I would cry.  Today I thought I could finally write the letter.  I nearly didn't finish it, but I was determined.  I think that until I tell the people responsible what had happened I am never going to stop feeling like a victim.  So its done.  And in a few minutes it will be sent.