Friday, December 16, 2011

Important Health information for Women as a Gift to taking care of themselves.

     This year as I've done for the past 11 years, I scheduled my mammogram, except with one distinction. Since I've been getting my testing performed at the same facility, I thought it would be a good idea to get a second opinion and try a new testing site where I recently had a wonderful experience getting an MRI on my knee. Before going to the new site, I picked-up my records, films and all from my previous breast exams so the new doctors and radiologists would have a good comparative baseline to use. 
     Unfortunately, this time, the waiting room was jammed at the new site. After about an hour of sitting, a harried technician came to rush me in to get a sonogram of my breasts, which is what my doctor ordered, in addition to the mammogram, because I have many cysts.
     To succinctly sum up my experience, I can simply share that it was awful: I was rushed to change into the smock, while the "Tech" was still in the room ( I've always been given the privacy of changing solo, with the tech returning once I'm done). "Excuse ME," I said, which prompted her to at least turn her head while I changed, "rapido". I felt unimportant and unwelcome as she complained during much of the testing about how she didn't get a break and how the company doesn't care about her. The entire time, I was  thinking, "I should have stayed with the much more professional staff where I had been getting my radiology work done prior."
     Even worse than the sonogram was the mammogram, which hurt more than it ever had before; my new technician, who shared my name, "Donna," was not only stressed and rushed, but she was also NASTY: "Could you put your left breast on the table and turn this way, not that way?" I can't repeat what I was thinking because this blog is rated  "G"...okay, sometimes, "PG" lol.
     When the mammogram was complete, I was instructed to wait while nasty "Donna" went to chat with the doctor who reads the tests. Well, wouldn't you know something "didn't look right" and I had to get another couple of squeezes, if you know what I mean. Of course, when I nervously inquired as to what "didn't look right, " I was told, "I have no idea."
     After the second set of films were taken, I waited and was told I should call my doctor the next day as all my information would be sent to her. "Are you kidding? I'd like to talk to the doctor here who just read my test, " I inquired. But, the office staff responded, "the doctors don't talk to the patients." I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep that night if I didn't find something out. So they assured me they would send it to my doctor later that day. I felt sick to my stomach that something could be wrong, but my gut instinct felt that I was "okay" medically despite the scare I felt.
     I was confused as to why I wasn't allowed to talk to the doctor when at my previous testing site, the doctor personally consulted with me a few minutes after each visit. I later found out, and am sharing this with all women, that it is  proper "medical protocol"  now to get an explanation of your test results BEFORE you leave the facility and by law the patient is supposed to have something in writing sent to her doctor or patient within 24 hours of having these tests. I learned of this after I called the facility and left a message for the "Director" about how unpleasant my experience at his place of business was for me. He returned my call and couldn't have apologized more, adding he could understand exactly how I felt. "Really," I thought. There's no way having a prostate exam --with a few squeezes--could match getting my body parts crushed down to a fraction of their size, between two plates--and being treated like a cockroach the entire time, pestering them to do their job.
     He told me he didn't understand their doctor's notes either, so I should see my own physician for clarification. He ended saying he wished I had the opportunity to wear one of his new, plush robes during my visit, and that he was going to "fire" the women I dealt with because he's had "a few" other complaints from patients. All the while I was on the phone with him, I had a sense that he was part of the problem, along with his staff. Sorry, buddy, but the buck stops with you and overseeing your staff and all that is going on.
     I called my gynecologist, whom I treasure dearly and knew she would call me back. She did call that evening advising she couldn't interpret the test results because that's what the radiologist is supposed to do. My doctor shared the findings of " a more dense area of breast tissue" and some other information with me and advised she wasn't "concerned" but recommended I see a "breast specialist" just to confirm. I did see a breast specialist and she determined that (she believes) the changes are within normal range but we will check in six months.
     So here's why I'm sharing this experience with women and those who love them:
1. Verify when you schedule your mammogram if you can get the test results before you leave.
2. Ask for your privacy when changing into any smocks or medical garments. I won't allow what happened to me to ever occur again.
3. Follow-up on any vague medical explanation with the few doctors you trust.

I always pray for good doctors for myself and my family. And that goes for dentists as well. Have a healthy holiday!

And, Merry Christmas!!!.

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