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Thursday, June 29, 2006

I'm Just Sayin' . . . (#5): Mammo-Rant

First, just so you don't think I'm a whiner, or a hothead, or whatever, let me give you a little background, a little backdrop against which the asshatishness I am about to describe occurred today:

# of physicians seen since January, 2006: 12 (not including radiologists and pathologists whom I've not actually met)

# of CT scans: 4

# of X-rays: 3

# of vials of blood drawn: 14

# of "nuclear medicine" procedures: 1

# of MRIs: 1

# of different concoctions (contrast agents, radioactive isotopes, whatnot) ingested or injected for the purpose of diagnostic procedures: 5

# of invasive procedures ending in "scopy": 1 (two more TBA)

# of times an M.D. has appeared annoyed with me for having non-textbook symptoms: 2

# of times I've heard, "Your symptoms are not specific enough!": 2

# of times I've heard, "Because your symptoms cover so many different organ systems, I cannot make a unified diagnosis." (And, note that the term UNIFIED DIAGNOSIS echoes choes hoes oes s): 3

# of tests too disgusting to discuss: 3

# of sonograms: 2 (1 more scheduled)

I'm sick. I don't know what's wrong . . . blah blah blah. Enough of that, it bores me and it would bore you, too. I tell you all that, just to say, I'm over- medicalized, and need someone to just give me a break if the opportunity presents, you know? BUT:

Today, I went to my home-away-from-home, A..... Radiology. ("A" may or may not stand for Asshat.) Now, I keep going back there when I'm sent for a diagnostic procedure because it's five minutes from my house, and they're quick enough, and nice enough, and as far as I know, they're competent enough. Today I was scheduled for a chest and abdomen CT Scan with contrast. Mmmkay? AND, since it had been a while (too long, I confess), since my last mammogram, I scheduled that appointment for after the CT scan. Two weeks ago I had the pelvic, and Pap, etc., and a thorough breast exam. All OK. That's when I got the Rx for the "routine screening" (this will become important) mammogram. I scheduled it for immediately after the CT scan. One less trip to A Radiology, with childcare, time off from whatever, etc. Makes sense, right?

So I have the CT scan (during which the technician forgot to do half of my torso, and had to come and get me out of the mammogram waiting room to go back into the little spaceship that is the CT machine, but I digress), and I go get in my teal flappy shirt to get squished. With me so far?

Backing up a few days. Remember, a couple of weeks ago I scheduled the mammogram. This past Sunday, lying on my bed, my hand rested on my left breast and I had a "Hmm, what's this?" moment. It was a lump, in the top center of my left breast. I was not, am not (really) alarmed. I have had a diagnosis of fibrocystic breasts before. For those of you uninitiated, this just means that mysterious little, benign lumps come and go, depending upon things like time of the month, stress, caffeine intake, and such. I did not panic, feeling certain it was a silly little cyst, and anyway, I already have a mammogram scheduled in four days.

Fast forward to today. I'm there in the torture mammogram chamber, and the tech says to me, "Any recent changes in your breasts?"

And I say, "As a matter of fact, make sure you really get this area here, because there is a little lump there now." WRONG ANSWER, SUSIE.

Tech says, "You have a lump?"

"Yea, right here . . ."

"Then we can't do your mammogram."

WHUH HUH? "You won't do a mammogram if I have a lump in my breast?" Looking around . . . Candid Camera? WTF?

"Your doctor checked the box marked, 'routine screening.' Since you have a lump, this is not a routine screening. We must have a form with the box marked, 'diagnostic' checked."

"No, she was right. When I saw her there was no lump. When I called to make the appointment, no lump. Just this past Sunday, lump. We're good. No one made a mistake . . ."

"But we cannot do your mammogram without an order for a diagnostic mammogram..."

"You mean if she had checked 'diagnostic' you would do a different kind of mammogram?" I really am trying to understand.

"No, it's the same test. But the insurance company pays it differently."

"So if I hadn't told you about the lump, I'd be getting my mammogram right now?"

"Well, yes, but..."

"So, the test that I need, and in fact, may need even more now that there is a lump, I can't have, because I need it more than I realized I did when I made the appointment?"


"Just forget I said anything."

"But you did. I can't do that."

"Well, I wish I hadn't. I was trying to be helpful . . . "

"Oh, Mrs. Fairchild, don't say that! You were right to tell us. It would be terrible if you didn't mention the lump, and we missed a serious situation because of that . . ."

"But you wouldn't miss it. You just told me the mammogram is the same no matter which box is checked . . . "

"Yes but we're more careful when there is a lump . . ."


"Well, that's rather disturbing. I would hope you're careful with everyone's mammogram . . . that's the whole point of telling people to have a yearly mammogram, because you can see things we can't . . . if you're careful about what you do..."

"Well, it's not really that we're more careful . . . it's that if it's a diagnostic mammogram, we automatically do a sonogram afterwards . . . "

"Fine. I have fibrocystic breasts. You didn't know this, but you were going to have to do a sonogram afterwards anyway, because every single time I have a mammogram, I have to have a sonogram. That's just how it is with fibrocystic breast disease. Doesn't change anything for me. Let's do it!"

"I'm sorry. I cannot do your mammogram until I get the correct request from your doctor."

"You've heard me say that she gave you the correct request; that circumstances have changed since she made the request, right?"

"Yes, but . . ."

"I just want to make sure I understand you, because frankly, this sounds insane to me. You're telling me that because there is now a situation which means I might actually have some pathology, and possibly even need some treatment, I must wait longer for the necessary diagnostic tests . . . "


"I'm not finished. I must wait LONGER to be diagnosed, I must potentially DELAY important treatment, because I might actually have a problem. But if I had no problem, the procedure would be done and I'd be home by now. Is this what you're telling me?"

"Yes. I'm sorry . . . " And she proceeds to tell me 15 minutes of anecdotal stories about people who didn't 'fess up to having lumps, thinking "if they don't see them, they're not there," and then those lumps were missed, with dire consequences. Which, while fascinating, is not my situation, because I TOLD HER ABOUT THE FREAKIN' LUMP. And then she says, "OK?"

"No, it's not OK at all. But do I have any recourse? What can I do?"

"Well, nothing. But you could be very upset about it."

"Oh. Did you miss that? I AM VERY UPSET ABOUT IT! It's CRAZY."

"I promise, I'll give you the very next diagnostic appointment I can . . . "

Long story short, I will have a mammogram next Wednesday. Is it just me, or is this fucking insane? I'm just sayin' . . .

file under: &Partial Nudity &Can't Make This Stuff Up &WTF Disease &I'm Just Sayin' . . . .

46 heads are better than one . . .

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just what you need when you have a problem - more crazy-making crap! I know just how you feel about the idiocy of that situation. I had a run in similar to this one just yesterday and I am still going back and forth between being confused and pissed off. AAAHHH!!! Lynn

Anonymous Anonymous said...

this post makes me very very unhappy.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

AAARRRRGGGHHH!!! Is it possible to need blood pressure medication after simply reading a blog post?

When the story started, I thought you were going to say they couldn't do the mammogram because of the CT contrast they'd given you. Maybe you should pretend that's how the conversation went. While still frustrating, it's a little easier to take than the real situation.

I hope everything turns out okay when you finally get the results of the mammogram-that-wasn't!

Blogger Nina said...

Because every single time I have a mammogram, I have to have a sonogram. I feel your pain about the fibrocystic breasts . . . it is the same for me too.
But WTF ~ They cannot do your mammogram without an order for a diagnostic mammogram???
Oh how I hate being a patient.
Wishing you health!

Blogger Dawn said...

what the heck?????? That makes no sense, none at all. how incredibly aggravating. no wonder people don't tell their doctors things :(

sorry susie, for everything you're having to endure right now.


Blogger ieatcrayonz said...

Susie, you have booty flies.

I'm just sayin...(if it were only that easy - and funny)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Booty flies! I love that post. I laughed until I cried. I think I nearly stopped breathing at one point! Susie, sometimes you crack my right up! Lynn

Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

In Owensboro we have a special term that applies in situations like this one. I have to problems sharing it with you now. This is:


You have more patience than I.

Blogger eviluncledave said...

I'm not going to swear on your blog, so I'll just say that it's not just you. The fact that they would have cheerfully performed an unnecessary procedure, while denying you one that may be necessary, is completely insane.

I'm hoping that next week's scan proves to be totally unnecessary (except in the peace of mind department).

Blogger Annejelynn said...

sadly, your experience doesn't surprise me - I've witnessed FAR TOO MANY medical blunders, steeped in medical bureaucracy... I'm so sorry though that you DID THE RIGHT THING BY SAYING SOMETHING and got the shaft for it - THAT is NOT RIGHT!

Blogger Susie said...

lynn, that's it, the adding insult to injury. Sorry you had some crazy crap, too.

razz, it's OK; it'll be OK. Venting and having kind people commiserate is helping ;)

sharkey, yea, it's like that. And you're right, if there were some reasonable reason, I would have been fine with it.

nina, I hate being a patient, too. Hate it a lot. It's getting old.

dawn, thank you sweetie. And you're so right, makes no sense at all.

crayoneater, you know, I didn't mention my history of booty critters to anyone . . . hmm . . .

lynn, glad you enjoyed :)

mr. b, I could have used your special term; very appropos.

eud, that's OK, I've got the swearing covered. Yes, completely insane.
word verification: icntblvit

annejelynn, so true; that shit ain't right.

Blogger Andrea said...

That is complete and total BALONEY. I think you were right about what A. stands for. What a cretin!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

WTF???!!! I just freaking LOVE our medical insurance system in this country! Grrrrrrr...How creepy is this??? Well, the good news is this: Now you've documented it all and if there is something wrong, you can SUE! Heh...or not...I am so not happy about this shit. They really need to be taking care of you and I realize the person was just doing their job but GEEZOHPETE! Common sense people...puhleezzee! {{{{{Susie}}}}}

Blogger Karen said...

That's just aggravating. So what are you supposed to do if the same situation comes up again next year? Do you call your doctor to give you another form, or do you keep your mouth shut and hope everything turns out okay? (I wonder what would happen if you just scribbled over the "routine" checked box and put a checkmark in "diagnostic"? Probably not a good idea.)

Blogger Susie said...

andrea, the tech was very polite, and I was quite sure that she was stating policy accurately, but the policy is idiotic. And I never got the impression that she understood how stupid it was. Very frustrating.

traci, thank you. Common sense is very hard to come by, it would seem; especially in medical care in this country.

karen, you know, I tried. When I got dressed and followed her to the appointment desk, I told her to give me the form, I'd change it, and even sign my doc's name, and no one would have to know. She wouldn't let me. You ask an interesting question. I guess in the future I will ask the doc to always check "diagnostic," just in case.

Blogger WILLIAM said...

I think this may fall under "#of tests too disgusting to discuss".

It is disgusting and disgraceful what they did.

On another note I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to see a post from you.

Blogger Jomama said...

That is completely nuts. I have no words for how much sense that didn't make.

Blogger Effie said...

So, what you're saying is that, they don't do a good job all of the time, just when the doctor tells them too? THAT freaks me out for you! All this insurance stuff that Americans have to put up with (substandard service for different insurance providers) ALSO freaks me out--one thing I have to say about Canada--if they send you for a test (or 37 in the case of you) EVERYBODY gets the same treatment--at no charge--even some of the elective procedures are covered, like one I did yesterday...

I hope and pray that it is just another one of your cysts and nothing more serious--you've been through too much recently Darlin!

Hugs and love to you and prayers for you!

and having to drink 5 different systems colour changers is just WRONG--those things taste horrid!

Feel better soon!

Blogger Unknown said...

It's not just you.

That's fucking insane.

You should have taken the chart from the chippy, and whapped her over the head with it.

You may still be waiting for your mammogram, but I'd bet you would feel a little better. :)

Blogger Unknown said...

Hey! I have an idea! Let's go for french silk pie or ice cream for lunch! Whaddaya say? :)

Blogger Susie said...

william, I was mighty disgusted. And your comment makes me smile :)

JOMAMA!, I think you said it perfectly.

effie, I am having that conversation with my husband a lot lately. Our healthcare system sucks. I'm one of the fortunate ones with decent insurance. I've gotten most every test anyone has suggested. But I am ALWAYS thinking and saying that people without good insurance, who need those tests as much as or more than I, simply wouldn't be able to get them. Not right. Everyone should be able to get the healthcare they need. We really are a mess in that regard.

I only had to drink stuff once. The others were IVs. Which is good. I'm such a chicken, I never thought I'd say that, but my perspective has shifted. I'd rather have an IV in my arm than drink nasty stuff.

I hope all is well with you. I'll come and see ;)

CK, I sure did feel like whapping her over the head. But all I had handy was . . . well, my breasts, and thankfully, they don't (yet) lend themselves to whapping someone over the head (gimme a year or two, though...)

French silk pie? Well isn't that . . . explicit of you? I think I love you. Oh, who am I kidding, I've known that for a LONG time :)

Blogger eclectic said...

When concern over reimbursement takes precedence over patient care, the hospital is assuming a gigantic increased risk. The Risk Management team of the providing hospital may be very interested in an informative letter from you. I, on the other hand, am interested solely in you. And I am spitting mad on your behalf. Could I write your letter?? All you have to do is review and sign and send. /rubs hands gleefully together in anticipation

Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

Golly, Susie, if I weren't such a nice guy I would come over there and bop some heads for you.

This is classic Catch 22.

Poor baby.

Blogger Unknown said...

Oh! Oh! I want Ecelectic to write your letter, AND deliver it to the proper 'authorities' and read it out loud to them, but only if I can stand behind her while she reads it and interject a loud "YEAH!" with a pointed finger every now and then...

Blogger Unknown said...

oh... and I love you, too Soosie Q. :)

Blogger Squirl said...

What f'ing idiots! I have fibrocystic breasts, too. They always do the breast exam first and they can feel them too. Then they take me in for the mammogram and sonogram. Always.

And I can't believe they don't leave times open for things like this. The place I go to can take up to a month for a regular appointment, but within a day if there are lumps.

What a jerk-off place. You have enough crap going on without this.

I know what you're going say now. Tell us how you really feel, Squirl.

Love you, sis. :)

Blogger Unknown said...

Ok, that just sounds like balls-up out-of-control bureaucracy! That's completely nuts!

But I'm so so so glad you're STILL getting a mammogram. And I hope they find what the problem is all-over-wise and you're back and single-handedly renewing the world. Because you can.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading this post made me think about a conversation I overheard at a hillbilly party I was at about 15 years ago. My bluegrass picker friend's drunken (and philosophical) father had just been introduced to this yuppie gal: "You're a lawyer? Good! I need one, because I'm gonna kill somebody!"

Your ability to recall conversational details is admirable.


Blogger Susie said...

eclectic, it's good to have a sister who's an ass-kicking lawyer :) I keep thinking of the oldie, "The Letter," My baby, she wrote me a letter . . .
My doc was not a bit happy, either, when I called to get the new order.

hoss, come on, you're not THAT nice, are you? I think you'd make an excellent head-bopper.

CK, I feel very blessed, indeed, to have my sisters and one of my fiances here to reppazint for me :)

squirl, see comment to CK :)

jim, you're so good to me. I forgot to say on your site, I bought you something and, no kidding, MY DOG ATE IT. Or them, I should say. I will try again.

katy, ain't it amazin' how often drunkenness and philosophizing go hand in hand? I like the guy's style. Plan ahead. That's the pot talking to the kettle, telling me about my powers of recall. I do have a really good auditory memory. I recall what people say, how they sound. The rest, not so much. You've got it all.

Blogger Katy Barzedor said...

My head just exploded. The asshat was too tight.

I don't even have any words for this...actually, I do. And they all start with FUCK.

Hi, welcome to Ass Backwards Land. Makes the Mad Hatter's tea party look like a walk down Sane Lane.

Love ya, sis - and hope the asshats have to put their faces in the mammogram machine.

Blogger Unknown said...

Yes, it is fucking insane! The bureaucratic rules and regulations that have become a part of the health care system since the insurance agencies gained control are absurd. The conversation you had in regard to your mammogram angers and nauseates me.

I’m sorry you’ve had these experiences and pray that someone can come up with a valid diagnosis—soon!

Blogger DCK said...

wow.. what a load of crap. Sorry you had to go through that.

Blogger mrtl said...

Stalk these idiots and find out where they live. We'll go and tp their houses in November.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no better time to maliciously use ex-lax on another person. You should make that person some special brownies... because apparently they are full of shit.

Much love and high hopes to you Susie :-*.

Blogger Susie said...

Hey, there's my other sister and fiance :) bucky, I swear, I was so furious, I had to "reframe" my perspective to "amused" at the absurdity of it, or I would have hurt her. Through the looking glass, indeed.

ssnick, thank you. I do so appreciate prayers. As I keep telling my IRL friends, praying is the only time I'm sure I'm talking to someone who knows what this illness is, and what to do about it.

thank you, twixie, and thanks for stopping in :)

sounds like a plan, mrtl, I am looking forward to seeing you :)

ch ch ch chia, thank you, Ms. Abs of Steel. Now you've got me singing "Just what makes that little old ant... think he can move that rubber tree plant?..." :)

Blogger Vajana said...

ah a little late on this one, only because I am dealing with the exact same red tape/bs! I actually called my insurance to complain about the fact that I had an 'abnormal' ultrasound and they wanted to wait 6 weeks to check it out...after I had ALREADY told the doctor at least 4 months ago I've been having pain in that same area. When I mentioned this to the doctor, she suggested I have a UTI? WHAT? Uh, I was just in your office TWO DAYS AGO and my urine was clear. Egads.

I am so sorry to hear of all the tests. My thoughts will definitely be with you, as they have already. But I must agree even with the post, it was nice to see you again!

Anonymous Anonymous said...


what everyone else said!

Blogger LadyBug said...

That's one of the craziest things I've heard in a long while.

I love you, Susie, and I'm so sorry everything sucks so much right now. Love and hugs to you, dear.

Blogger ToadyJoe said...

Fucking insane. Best wishes on Wednesday. ((hugs))

Blogger Susie said...

thanks, jana, and I hope you get your exasperating situation cleared up.

innocent bystander, thanks for stopping in, and for your encouragement :)

ladybug, thank you, sweetie :)

toadyjoe, thanks for stopping in; hugs always much appreciated :)

Blogger Amy said...

Oh what a world.
When dorky people
Follow protocol
In favor of common sense.

Hug to you, my sugar pie.
And may a cobra spit in that lab tech's eye.

Blogger Susie said...

amy, your fine poetry is much appreciated :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was on vacation and your posts stacked up. Anyway I just wanted to pop in and say hello, give you my best wishes--because clearly this world of medicine is INSANE. It seems like they try to make it harder, just when you need it to be easier.

Take care, we're all pulling for a diagnosis (unified or not!!! dangit) and a healthy Susie.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, that is truly insane. Good for you for sticking up for yourself, though; we need more people who do that. Continue to make a fuss as loud and long as you have to whenever it comes to the care of YOUR body.

Blogger Lazy Lightning said...

Wow, now I know to wait until after the exam to mention any abnormalities. That is just WRONG. Sadly, I certainly don't find it unbelievable, given my own experiences with this country's medical system.

Blogger sometrouble said...

Wow! I can't believe they did all that to you! That is terrible. Sorry...just a random passerby here giving my $0.02.


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