It's called an annual checkup, but I like to stretch the year.
After all, a mammogram IS radiation. And so forth. (We all have our little indignities to bear; why bear them more often than we absolutely must?)
This means there's usually a bit of antagonism from the doctor's office when I make my appointment 14 or 16 months after the last one.
Still, I like the way their office spells it out. They send a letter confirming the results: "Your mammogram shows no cancer."
No question about whether a positive test is negative or vice versa.
Even without a precedent to give my worry shape, it feels like this form-letter from my doctor's office is akin to a big red mark on my doorpost, telling the Angel of Death to pass me over once again.
But another letter followed shortly afterwards.
It said "Dear Amy. We have attempted to contact you on numerous occasions and have had no response from you. We are in receipt of test results that we need to discuss with you."
To which the only response is, "Oh crap."
There was more in the letter, but I did not read it until I was waiting on hold with the doctor's office.
Side rant: I don't know why they call it "voice mail." It's more like voice-maze. As it turns out, a week later, my messages seem to have been awfully stupid mice, never earning me the reward of a call-back.
In the back of my mind, the refrain: Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap.
"It is important that we discuss these results and possible further follow-up and/or treatment options available to you. Since we have tried to contact you by phone and have been unsuccessful, this letter will serve as notification that you may need further evaluation and/or treatment."
And "We will assume you do not wish to discuss this further and/or will seek treatment elsewhere."
It closes with "It is our desire to continue to provide you with informed medical care."
To which I can only respond with, "Oh, BULLcrap."
While I waited on hold the third, fifth, seventh time, I thought, "Huh, if you desire to provide me with informed medical care, you'd call me back. You know, to INFORM me."
Then, because it is my way, I began to deconstruct the writing. I sensed bitterness. I wondered if the writer was recently at the short end of a bad break-up.
Perhaps s/he had lost trust in the humanity of others. I wondered if s/he desired to provide me with any kind of care at all.
I thought, I should draft them up a letter that would at least sound plausible. Had anyone in charge ever even read this letter?
Every time I go to the office, I jot down my contact number about seventy-neenty zillion times. In the ten days since I had last written those digits, there had been zero telephone calls from them, so this "numerous times" that s/he tried to contact me? Bullcrap!
Eventually, after leaving half a dozen tremulous voice-mails and entertaining my insomnia with a fresh new crop of 3-a.m. anxieties, I pressed some mystical combinations of buttons to reach a live human at the doctor's office.
Four transfers later, I reached my physician's assistant's assistant. Or something.
The test results? Oh, no big, she told me breezily. No –– gosh! Nothing like cancer. Just wanted to double-check something. No, no sign of cancer. Heck no.
Have a nice day.
The frustration lifted away as I thought: Ah, no sign of cancer. Lucky day. Knock wood.
Let them send out their passive-aggressive, panic-inducing and fibbing letters. I'm just happy to have those black wings flap on by.