Tuesday, February 21, 2017

So, They Said They Found Something...

My world is my family.  Combined with work, hobbies, food, travel, and more work.  I'm 52 years old as of last October.  I live in Connecticut in the hills and most of the time I consider myself to be surrounded by idiots.  Not at work or home mind you, but out in the world.  The strangers seem like the idiots, not the coworkers or family.  I like to picture myself as a self sufficient homosapien that does what the world would expect her to do and pays her bills.  I raise my son, take care of my pets and husband, and run the house.  Pretty uninteresting.  What I do have is a keen mind, a great IQ, and a strong will.  Maybe that's what made this experience so interesting.  Maybe that's not what did it.

I went in for a routine mammogram in September.  For me, routine means that I go in and have the mammogram.  The doctor reviews the mammogram and discovers that I have what's called dense breast tissue. This means, in layman's terms that I have small boobs and that makes the tissue more difficult to examine.  Just one more reason why it's better to have big boobs.  What they want to do after that is have you come back for what they call additional imaging, which in my case means that I have to pay for it, because my private health insurance won't pay.  I have private insurance because I work for a company that offers it.  I could have had Obamacare and gotten government subsidies, but because of the way that law is written, I have to pay the crazy amounts for private insurance and suffer the indignity of getting no tax credit for it.  But I digress.

Anyway, I went through the process of not being able to pay for additional imaging just because my breasts are dense for years.  Last year, the OBGYN had told me the same thing as many times before.  This year I go in and I am accosted by a radiologist in the waiting room while I'm wearing my easy access breast shirt.  He starts yelling at me in front of patients and staff about how I was irresponsible because I didn't come back for additional imaging the year before.  I'd never met this doctor, and I instantly was not impressed.  I asked if we could discuss the matter somewhere else, as I was embarrassed.  He moved to the hallway next to the waiting room.  I was still not impressed.

At this point, I went with a technician to have my mammogram done and the doctor went on his way.  I had the mammogram which seemed uneventful and went to get dressed.  A technician came and asked me to come to an office.  The nasty doctor was in the office waiting for me.  Finally, we could talk someplace that wasn't completely public.

He explained that there had been something called calcifications found on my mammogram the year before.  I told him that my doctor had only talked about dense tissue once again.  He called me a liar.  I was done with this relationship.  I would rather have dealt with a witch doctor after that.  He told me that I had to come back for extra imaging so that they could find out what was going on.  The technician that was now standing in the office with us agreed with him.  I trusted the technician more than the doctor at that point, so I agreed.  I told them that I would just have to figure out how to pay for it.  The doctor didn't seem to care if I could pay.

I left the office and the technician approached me in the hallway.  She told me to give this woman a call and handed me a post it with a woman's name and a phone number on it.  Then she went away.  I went home not knowing what to think, because it was such a bizarre experience and there wasn't really any breast cancer in my family.  My dad's mom did have it, but I'd always been told that it didn't normally travel that hereditary road.  I didn't know what to think except that I wanted to beat that doctor with a stick.

I arrived home and told my husband about my adventure.  He got all upset that someone would treat me like that.  After I calmed him down a little, we decided that I should call the number and see if we could manage to pay for the tests.  Once that was decided, he went online to write the most scathing review that I'd ever seen about a doctor.  I know for a fact that the doctor is still working at that office, and no one ever got a hold of either one of us to discuss out thoughts, so I guess that filling out the feedback section or even taking a survey does nothing for customer service in the medical field.

The next day I called the number and reached a breast cancer navigation unit at my local hospital.  I had no idea that such a thing existed.  There were two very nice ladies that worked there and they told me that they had grant money that they use to help women in my situation pay for the tests that we need.  They promised to pay for both ultrasound and biopsy so that I could see exactly what I was dealing with.

I don't know how I ever would have gotten through my experience from beginning to end without the navigation unit and the two wonderful ladies.  For anyone out there that thinks they aren't necessary, they are.

So I come to the end of chapter one.  I hope that as I write this, someone will find it useful.  I found as I went through this that I was not prepared for the real issues and problems that came with it.  All the things that I was told about were not the problems.  That's why I'm writing this and I hope that ladies will find it helpful.

Soon will come another part of this story.

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