Monday, March 28, 2005

comedy of errors, cont.

The story of my thyroid cancer is one screw up after another. Eventually things get put right, but usually only because I spend some time making increasingly annoyed phone calls.

This latest round is par for the course, unfortunately. It all started last Tuesday when I went over to my local office for my blood draw. It was scheduled for 8:30, and I was fasting and hadn't had my meds yet. At 8:30 I'm OK in that state, but it doesn't last very much longer. I drove over to the medical office building and found a parking space, which in itself is a minor miracle. The problems started when I walked into the lobby and saw that my endo's office was dark. All the other offices were open and lit...sigh. I tried the door. Locked.

I knocked, thinking that the lab techs could be working in the back and the receptionist hadn't arrived yet to open up the front office. No answer.

I sit down on the bench in the lobby and cool my heels for a minute, and then I dug through my purse and found their card, and called the main office number on my cell phone. "Was I scheduled for my labs in Phoenix?" I ask.

Hold on a sec, let me see -- oh, yes, here you are. No, you're scheduled for the [local] office, but I don't know why anyone would have done that. There isn't anyone there today.

Gee, like I hadn't noticed. "OK, what should I do?" I was dreading the idea of driving by myself, fasting and unmedicated, up to Scottsdale or worse, Phoenix.
There's an independent lab just a few doors down from our office there. You can get your blood drawn there.

OK -- I did the back-and-forth a few times with this person, because the thyroglobulin test is tricky, and it's a good idea to have it done all the time at the same lab. She assured me it would be OK and we would get results that we could reliably compare to my previous results. (Little did she know...)

I walked over to the lab. There were, without exaggeration, at least 30 people waiting. Maybe even 40. But wait, it gets better! I don't even have real paperwork, all I have is my doctor's notes on two different prescription forms, so someone else, someone who does not know me or anything about thyroid cancer and the tests you would order for a thyroid cancer patient, has to interpret her writing and transfer the order to a lab slip.

The one upside of going to that lab is that there is a great tech there, a guy from India (I just love their sibilant accents), who always gets a vein on the first stick. Alas, I continued my streak of bad luck by getting the older woman with the lovely manicure (she always has the nicest nails) who can't hit my veins without digging. Tuesday she was lacking in patience, though, and after digging around in my left arm she declared my arms "impossible" ("Not for the Indian guy," I was thinking, but I just kept my mouth shut -- you don't want to annoy someone who is about to jab you with a sharp instrument) and she drew three huge tubes from the back of my hand.

I have to give this woman credit, because the vein didn't blow out. Of course my hand was killing me for a good while afterwards, but I was still impressed.

My blood was drawn, and off I went. The helpful person at the endo's office said that my results should be back by Thursday, so Thursday I called and left a message for lab results.

No call back Thursday.

Friday afternoon I call because I don't just want the results, I want my endo to tweak my meds because the chest pain, palpitations, and skin crawling are all nightly occurrances now. It's not the worst thing I've endured, but I'd rather not deal with it all if I don't have to, you know?

So I called again and rang through to the receptionist and gave her my story. Newsflash: My endo is on vacation until next week. A nurse can give me my results over the phone, but no one else can adjust my meds, I'll just have to wait it out -- which also means filling yet another Cytomel prescription. That's just annoying because I didn't want to refill my old prescription, I want a new prescription.

OK, I understand about the meds having to stay where they are for now. I can deal with that. What about my test results?

We don't have them.

What? Get this: The lab didn't send the results back, so they had to track them down. We'll get back to you.

That was Friday afternoon. Saturday and Sunday I just pretended this whole situation didn't exist. DH's comment to me Sunday night: "You've been really happy these past two days." I was, too. I just set the burden of worry down for a few days, knowing there wasn't anything I could do about it over the weekend. I wish I could turn it on and off like that all the time. The weekend was a gift, and I really enjoyed my shopping and seeing DH's confirmation on Saturday, and then all the Easter stuff on Sunday, even though I ate wayyyyy too much chocolate.

This morning, I was busy cleaning out the refrigerator in preparation for DH's birthday cheesecake. Then I made the cheesecake, which came out awesome. After lunch, MIL and I went out to do errands to pick up presents for DH and groceries we needed. We picked up DS1 at school on the way home, and when I got in and there was no message from the endo's office, I called them again, and specifically asked to speak to the person who had helped me last week.

She's really a doll, but the worst thing is that whenever I talk to her it's because there has been a screwup. Anyway, she found my labs, which had been sent back on time, just to another doctor -- eek! We did some back-and-forth and she didn't want to give my numbers because she couldn't advise treatment or interpret them for me. I told her, no problem, I have my last labs, and I just want to compare.

She was fine with that, so she went and got the paperwork, and gave me these numbers:
TSH 0.05 (I knew I was over-suppressed)
T4 1.3
T3 3.2

"What about the Tg, and Tg antibodies?" (sounds of paper rustling)
I don't see that here.
"Did they do the CBC, then?"
Yes... why did they do a CBC?
"My white blood cell count was very low, and we wanted to see if it would come back up."
Yes, that's in range at 4.4, although the bottom of the range is 4.0

No Tg or Tg Antibodies, though! "That's the one test I really needed," I explained. You know, the whole cancer-tumor-marker deal. She said she'd check with the lab to see if they had even run those tests, perhaps they, too, had gone to the other doctor. We ring off.

About 15 minutes later, she calls me back. The lab did not run the Tg or TgAb, but they still had frozen specimen and would run the test on that if they had enough. (roll eyes here)

I can call her on Wednesday afternoon for the results.

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