While we’re exchanging pleasantries here, in semi real time – although this column will not be most read until March 6th (I need to submit it on Monday, March 3rd as we go to press on Tuesday, March 5th), I feel the obligation, given how last week’s column ended, to update you on the results from my February 26th CT Scan. Presumably, by the title you all have determined that as of this writing, Saturday, March 1st, I have not heard back from my oncologist. Typically, I would have already heard from him, electronically. But so far, not a peep, electronic or otherwise and believe me, I’ve been checking, as you might imagine.
This non-communication has happened twice before that I can remember. The first time, my oncologist did not e-mail results to me because he said, as a presumptive courtesy, he doesn’t like to share bad news in an e-mail. The second time he neglected to send a post-CT Scan e-mail, the news was good and sort of not worth mentioning, he said, because the news wasn’t bad; if that makes any sense at all. Either way, the silence is hardly golden. And the longer I live, the less patience I have for such irregularities.
And what complicates my interpretation of this most recent electronic silence is that I have previously made it clear to my oncologist that my not receiving these post-CT Scan results, however good, bad or indifferent they may be, is far more difficult for Team Lourie than actually receiving them. So now, after we’ve established these communication guidelines (expectations, requirements even) it is a bit perplexing as to why we’ve not heard anything. But is it cause for concern? I’ll tell you what it’s cause for: unnecessary and barely controllable anxiety and stress concerning the interpretation of what any of it definitively means.
Maybe it means nothing because there was an internal computer problem that "sent" e-mails into cyberspace, rather than their intended recipients? Perhaps the staff Radiologist called in sick that day or had to leave town unexpectedly and no replacement could be found – in a timely manner, to read all the X-Rays, CT Scans, MRIs, etc. that day and as a result, results and communication of said results have been delayed? Maybe my oncologist is on vacation or out sick himself or had to leave town unexpectedly and my scan results/his assessment/summary of them are sitting in his in box and were not sent because, as I would understand, he prefers to send out his own e-mails? Heck, there might even be protocol/privacy issues that prevent such communications from being forwarded unless all parties agree in advance. In fact, never before have I received e-mails from any other oncologist. It’s always been Dr. "H." Or maybe, the results are so bad that, despite our previous conversations on the subject, my oncologist is ignoring my preference in order to tell me in person, since he will be seeing me on Friday, March 7th for our regularly scheduled post-CT appointment? Or maybe the results are so good, he wants to tell me in person and see for himself the joy and relief his care has brought to a patient of his whom he originally characterized as terminal and gave a "13-month to two-year" prognosis? Or, as Paul Harvey never said: you don’t know the rest of the story.
Consequently, what one experiences, as maybe you can tell from the previous paragraph, is a non-stop rearranging and reinterpreting of one’s medical circumstances, potential medical circumstances, real and/or imagined medical circumstances, and anxiety over any and all of them.
Still, I’ve been through this kind of waiting before for medical results. It’s not easy, but I can handle it. Nevertheless, it sort of seems like a waste of my ability to handle such things, given the seriousness of what I may yet have to handle.