As you can imagine, I've been through the ringer when it comes to medical testing (as have most of you). Some were simple blood draws…though up to 8 vials at a time. While other tests were much more painful. Think bone marrow biopsy and electrified probing needles. Most were just at varying levels of discomfort. A topic came up on a CVID group about knowing when to speak up for yourself when it came to testing. Most agreed that they often suffered tests in silence because they didn't want to come across as the problem patient or cause a scene. I have been guilty of this in the past. Not so much now. You can politely complain or question something that is about to be done. I recently had an experience that made me look at things from the tech's perspective as well.
|Sometimes when it comes to my medical issues |
I feel like grass being blown about by the wind,
but I take control where I can to calm the breeze
and regain a place of strength.
"Wildness By The Water" 7.25" x 11"
Acrylic on Masonite $375
I'll start with the polite questioning scenario. A week ago I had a dermatology appointment to have a new rapidly growing mole examined. It would periodically itch intensely and was changing color. Being fair-skinned, blue-eyed with a healthy dose of red in my hair and having a basal-cell mole removed in my early 20s, I was worried. The dermatologist had a young doctor following him around that day. I explained my concerns and stated that because of the immune deficiency I was more susceptible to cancers. He looked at the spot and said he believed it was a benign growth, but that if it bothered me, he could freeze it off. I paused a moment and said, "How positive are you that it isn't cancerous?" He responded with, "There are some cancers that may not look like cancer." "Hmmm, I would feel much better if we went ahead and biopsied this." He said that was fine and we did the procedure. The young doctor observed all this and started asking me questions about the immune deficiency and if my family had related issues as well. He also generously took my jacket as the dermatologist looked at additional moles on my arms and back and set it with my purse. I was thinking, I hope you retain that bedside manner as the years pass and that you understood my concerns and reason for asking for the procedure.
At that point the nurse was handing a needle to the doctor and I said, "that's just lidocaine, right?" She said, "Oh, yes." Immediately the dermatologist said, "No, it has a little bit of epi in it. Do you have problems with that?" Not exactly. I explained I am also prone to heart racing and that it was possible the epinephrine might trigger it. So he asked the nurse to get a syringe without epi. I was glad I had spoken up. I had a phone message yesterday that the growth was indeed benign, but I don't regret having it confirmed one bit.
I also recently had my left breast examined again to check for tumors. I had a mastectomy of the right side in September. My doctor just requested a sonogram, but the imaging center insisted on a screening mammogram and then after looking at it called me back for a diagnostic mammogram before we ever got to the sonogram. The mammography tech was very nice and the policy certainly wasn't her fault, though I did question why we were doing this since it wasn't on the order. She got noticeably flustered and I felt bad. When it was all over she said to me, "I know you have been through this all before, but you were really patient." I replied that I was just thinking that this didn't hurt nearly as bad as the last time I had it done. At that point she absolutely beamed. She started telling me how she was really conscious of the psi that she was using and had done tests that showed, past a certain point, additional compression didn't improve the detail in the digital files. She really tried to make the patient as comfortable as possible. I was having a difficult time not smiling really big at her enthusiasm. I had just completely made her day with my offhand remark. I thanked her for her attention to detail and as I left the room thought about how many women must complain during the procedure. It's not pleasant. Someone is moving private parts of your body around and placing you in awkward positions. As an artist and graphic designer, I'm used to positioning models, product or a set up for a still life painting and the direction she was giving verbally or her physical positioning of me; I never once thought it odd or unusual. I do the same thing in a different setting, but I can see how just about everyone else would find it strange and feel vulnerable. I am going to make a big effort from now on to thank techs that do a good job. They deserve it.