Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You. Maybe.

A week ago, I was required to have my cancer diagnosis certified, which is a polite way of saying that some doctor whom I don’t know and who is unquestionably less knowledgeable about my cancer than my oncologist will say that he agrees that I did not go through six months of chemo just for the hell of it.  As I described in a posting at the time, although the staff at this certification site was quite friendly, I was a bit underwhelmed by the facilities and the experience itself.  As I also noted in the aforementioned post, I was slated for only five tests to be conducted at the site and yet the facility could only muster four of them. 

In light of the above, I really have no business being in the least bit surprised about what unfolded today.  While in a meeting, which is what I call it when I can’t be disturbed, my mobile phone rang.  Although I couldn’t in fact be disturbed at that time – I am quite important to myself, after all – I did manage to sneak a peak at the phone to see from whom this call was emanating.  The call was from someone from whom I receive many calls, “No Caller ID.” 

I have a general rule, which is that I do not answer my phone.  And that is when I know who is calling me.  I have a belts-and-suspenders corollary to that rule which is that under no circumstances do I answer a call when I do not know the number, much less when the caller is blocking the number.  If it is that important for you to get a hold of me, then show yourself I say.  Otherwise, leave a voicemail.  (I actually check my voicemail unlike the astonishingly vast number of people I know who apparently never do as their “mailbox is full” all of the time.  Either that or they are voicemail hoarders.  I know hoarding is a real issue for many, but I can’t think of too many voicemails that would really be worth keeping indefinitely.)  Applying my rule and its corollary today, I let the call go to voicemail. 

When my “meeting” finally adjourned, I noted that I actually had been left a voicemail by anonymous caller.  The message was the following:  “Hi Jeffrey.  This is Doctor [unintelligible] calling about your blood results.  We will send you a copy.”  That was it.  All of 12 seconds of message.  No phone number, no other form of identification.  Nothing.  I do not even know where this “doctor” works as I saw none at the lean-to where my blood was taken.  In fact, I am only assuming that he is associated with last week’s facility because, although I do have my blood taken frequently enough to have earned an honorary degree in phlebotomy, I do not recall that having otherwise happened of late.  Consequently, I am just making an educated guess that he is somehow associated with this operation, for which I have no phone number, paperwork or other means of directly contacting him or it. 

I have mentioned before in this blog my general view of doctors – i.e., they are very good and very necessary.  I have a great deal of respect for them.  But there is an exception to every rule.  (If that is true, by the way, does that mean that there is an exception to the “exception to every rule” rule which would then mean that there are some rules to which there are no exceptions?  These are the things I ponder while not answering my phone.)  Perhaps Dr. Mutterer is a good physician.  And I am very much sympathetic to the ever-increasing demands placed on doctors today – more patients, in less time for same (or less) compensation. 

Despite my good-spirited understanding of the modern doctor’s issues, I do have to wonder if Marble-Mouth, M.D. could not have possibly taken just a few moments to look at my file and see why I had had my inchoate exam performed in this not-so-fine establishment.  If he had done so, he very likely would have noted that I have blood cancer and that I was there so that he could agree with that.  And had he noted that I had blood cancer, he might – just possibly – have had the thought that when someone has blood cancer that someone might – again, just possibly – be a little more than mildly curious to learn about any blood test results.  From that bit of supposition on my part, I think it is reasonable to conclude that Dr. No Name might have also left his phone number for me to call him to discuss these modestly interesting blood test conclusions. 

All of this may seem like much ado about nothing.  And while I do specialize in making the small enormous, I also think that when one is dealing with cancer patients – which this facility allegedly does – you have to consider that they might be a little prickly about things like not knowing how to get their lab results.  And sure, I could Google the facility and try to figure out what this doctor’s name is and find the phone number.  But should I have to?  I don’t think leaving a phone number when one holds important information in one’s grasp is a big lift. 

I also realize that this may seem – and may in fact be – more than just making a mountain out of a mole hill.  It is a bit pissy of me.  I’ll admit it.  Further, I am somewhat to blame here – I could have merely answered my phone and then this would likely have been entirely avoided.  Yet I chose not to.  (I will say that if I am expecting any type of cancer-related call I will answer from any number – known, unknown, blocked or unblocked.  I was not expecting this one because I was told upon completing my 80% of the necessary tests that I would hear in three to four weeks.) 

What is particularly interesting to me about this episode is not how I got bent out of shape about an annoying but not life-altering experience.  No, I do that regularly.  In fact, if I must be candid, having cancer has really just given me an excuse to act on otherwise inappropriate impulses such as getting into fights with clerical staff and unhelpful nurses.  The interesting aspect of this was that I ultimately chose to do:  nothing.  I did not try to figure out the phone number or listen and re-listen to the message to see if I could come up with a plausible formation of this doctor’s name.  I just let it all go.  I decided, in a wholly-uncharacteristic fashion for me generally and specifically for me-as-cancer-patient that I would wait and see what comes in the mail.  I think this is somewhat of a turning point – I am not, after all that the last six years and the last several months in particular have wrought, willing to interrupt my life every time there is some development with respect to my cancer.  I rationalized that if there was something alarming to tell then this doctor would have the training and, frankly, common sense to do more than just mail it to me.  Thus, I just am going to sit here patiently and when the results come, they come.  I will, of course, still complain incessantly to Melissa about the whole affair.  Baby steps. 

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