21 July 2010

Weekend Events in Four Short Acts

normal (adj.): 
conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; notabnormal; regular; natural
normal (medical/biological): 
a)free from any infection or other form of disease or malformation, or from experimental therapy or manipulation. 
b) of natural occurrence.

ACT I: What the hell does normal mean?

It came again in the form of a letter on the same plain, unexciting white copy paper I use when I copy grammar worksheets for my students:
Your lab results are normal.  Please contact our office if you have questions.  THYROID NORMAL.
Thank you.
I'm glad to know that my thyroid seems to be functioning appropriately, but I am a woman who needs numbers.  Stats.  A data point on a bell curve.  Anything that will give me an idea of just how "normal" my thyroid is.

ACT II: Toss your patient rights expectations out with the bathwater

Called doctor's office to trade up doctors at current clinic.  Wanted someone with a personality more engaging than a stapler.  Talked to really nice receptionist.  I asked.  She pleaded for me.  They said, "No."  Something about professional courtesy and office policy.  Reminded them they chose the doctor for me and wondered why they would punish a patient.  Held fast to their harebrained rules.  Threatened to leave their office.  They were OK with losing my business.

Hung up.


Messaged a friend to vent frustration.

Researched new docs all afternoon.  Called new doctor.  Asked for help.  They answered, "Yes, we will serve you!"  Will even come up with fertility plan.  Will even get my records sent to their office to avoid starting all over.

Hung up.


Messaged friends to share the joy.

ACT III: Have overnight bag, will travel (to Savannah)

Christy's brother, Danny, lives in Savannah as he is attending South University studying to be a physician's assistant just like his big sister.  She has already taken advantage of the free accommodations since his move, but she invited me and another friend on an excursion this last weekend.

In the Reader's Digest version, we packed in many sublime activities: eating at gourmet restaurants, reading novels on the beaches of Tybee Island, getting pedicures at a full-service salon in the historic downtown, walking the cobblestones of River Street, dancing on the stage at a dueling pianos bar.  Maybe I'll dedicate a later post to the good times we had; I felt like a novelist trying to take mental notes of every occurrence for fear that I would forget something significant or poetic when dictating later.  It was a weekend to be remembered for certain, but not even a couple of days away with girlfriends made my wacky system take a break from causing me stress.

What started out as minimal spotting morphed into what seemed like a full-blown period.  I had not packed the appropriate tools for such an event because I menstruated only 2 weeks prior.  It was like starting my period for the first time and playing the when's-it-going-to-come-next game all over again.

Poor Danny had to live with a box of off-brand tampons on his bathroom counter all weekend.  He more than earned the meals and free T-shirt we treated him to during our stay.

ACT IV: Now I'm abnormal?

My former doctor's office called yesterday afternoon and left a vague message on our home answering machine.  I was to call back.  I figured it had something to do with the fax I sent them earlier that morning requesting my files be transferred to the new office.

Boy, was I wrong.

They wanted to tell me that my pap test was in and the results were abnormal.

I was hoping they would give me more detail.  With my TSH results coming up as normal without data, I figured there was some sort of formal write-up for abnormal labs.

The woman told me that the abnormal results were most likely due to ASCUS (which stands for atypical cells of undetermined significance--yeah, I had to the research to find out what it was).  There were no precancerous cells, and my HPV test was negative.  In other words, she claimed, I was most likely OK.

Let me get this straight: Normal means I'm fine.  And abnormal means I'm fine?  Then what kind of results to you have to get in order to know when there's a problem?  Am I going to have to wait for my cervix to start glowing in the dark and singing show tunes?  I can just imagine that phone call…

Doc: "Uhhh, Mrs. Wynne, your pap labs came back as abnormal."
Me: "That doesn't sound good.  How are they abnormal?"
Doc: "Well, you see, when we were looking at your cells under a microscope, they seemed to have a bioluminescent quality.  You usually see that in jellyfish and plankton, not a human woman."
Me: "Hmmm, that is strange.  Anything else I should be aware of?  Anything I can do?"
Doc: "The lab tech did say she kept hearing 'Happy Talk' being sung whenever she ran your labs.  I told her to listen to something other than music from South Pacific."
Me: "Maybe I'll so the same."
Doc: "Pardon?"
Me: "I mean, oops, ummm…" *click*

My results could have been abnormal due to a dramatic rise or fall in estrogen, having a virus (even a cold virus), or having had intercourse too close to the test.  Well it wasn't the latter, since I have always been told to abstain 24 hours before a pap test.  I wasn't sick at the time.  And I wouldn't know if my estrogen levels were hitting peaks and valleys--unless they ran another test.  But those results would come back as normal (which is great) or abnormal (which, apparently, is hunky-dory).

End Scene.


Rachael said...

Hey V! I really hope you follow through with another doctor. I am MORTIFIED with how they treated you. That is NOT okay, and you have MANY MANY options, please switch!! It makes me SICK that they spoke to you like that... I could go on and on.... I am sure your friends have given you enough comfort. HUGS

Blogging in Brown said...

Vikki, I love how open you're being about this whole process. It's so healthy that you're talking about this instead of hiding and pretending that nothing's going on like most would do.

Llewelyn said...

Vikki, you inspire me with your courage. I hope the new doctor works fantastic for you. I'm grateful for your honesty and wish you the best always.

Amanda Jones said...

Good luck finding a new practice. It is frustrating when they don't listen to you and think you're making things up. Or deny you YOUR OWN PERSONAL information. I wish you the best. It could still be your thyroid, sometimes doctor's only test the TSH level and not the T3/T4. If they only pull the 1 number the'll never 100% know whether or not your thyroid is functioning properly. Again, best of luck!


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