Back at the Cancer Clinic for the result of my CT scan. The staff are so unrushed and kind. But what a huge difference it would make if they coordinated the blood work clinic with the patients.
The appointment sheet gives a time; no mention of coming early for blood work. Yet last time, when I saw the doctor, he expressed surprise I hadn't gone to get my blood work done first. So this time I am there early – to pandemonium. It's like Grand Central Station. No, I'm not fair. Everyone is sitting in defeated heaps, with no sign of movement.
I am checked in and given a device like a cell phone which will buzz when the doctor is ready for me – one floor up. Meanwhile, I sit holding a paper number and watching an electronic board. My bleeper buzzes, but I uneasily ignore it. For variety, I switch between the board on the wall at right angles to my left shoulder and the one above the door which is diagonally up to the right. Like a tennis match in hell. The old man sitting next to me rearranges his walker, saying his back is agony from radiation.
My beeper buzzes hysterically, but the flashing numbers don't move. I feel at fault. How early should I have come? Finally, my number comes up. My bleeper has shut up, defeated. I wonder what my waiting doctor is saying. The technician looks up my requisition and advances with a syringe. I idly muse out loud – how do they get the results through in time for my appointment, which is already half an hour overdue?
“Good thing you mentioned that.” She rushes back to her computer. She had been about to do last month's tests. No req. for today. She calls Sam, then Cheryl, then Mary. No blood work today. I go guiltily past the old man with his walker, having wasted 10 minutes.
We arrive on the upstairs floor, hand over the beeper. Then before I can go in to see the doctor, I am waylaid by an eager volunteer with a wellbeing survey. Do I gave anxiety, depression etc.? Well, not before the blood clinic.
After the appointment am then sent down to take a number and wait again for blood work. When I eventually get called, the req. has't come through yet. Also I am on the computer twice under two different names. Do we both have the same diagnosis? I am sent outside because I am holding up the queue.
Get called back and parked in a corner. Sam, Cheryl and Mary are called again. The technician tells me about the car accident where she broke her back. We have progressed to her new hip when the req. arrives. I bare my arm.
“Oh, no,” she says. “I have to copy it on to my computer.” They have two state of the art systems, which don't talk to each other. Surely ripe for a transcription error! Further complicated by the fact that the screen she is copying from has a very intense horizontal table, displayed vertically, so she is contorted at 90 degrees to read it at all.
Then the req. says viscosity, but not whether serum or plasma. More calls to Sam, Cheryl and Mary.
How early should I come in next time? Well, for chemo at least two hours. For lesser souls like me with a simple appointment? “I would come the day before.”
As for my results, they have led to further tests. The paperwork is in the system.