Sword of Damocles–All Those Medical Tests?

OMG, I’ve got a cold that just doesn’t go away…cough just hangs on…I’ve been down this road before (with a husband whose cough signaled cancer), and I don’t like the signs.  But I know:  If I share concern with my doctor, I’ll begin the odyssey–where I’m advised to take all those tests of CAT scan,  MRI (“Which one makes all that noise?”), chest X-rays, the  ‘damned if you do/don’t do’ scenario.

After all, my GP  is thorough.  And I understand his thoroughness (well, sort of).

He must avoid liability and responsibility for error.  He must weigh whatever I say as a patient and determine:  “Does it warrant further investigation?” I mean, that’s how we found out I have MS  in my 61st. year of life (“Thank you very much.”) That diagnosis, coupled with my having had breast cancer ten years ago, guarantee I’m ineligible for long-term care health insurance, should I want it.

So, even if, by some miracle,  I make it to advanced years, I’ll be like that native American woman who must walk out into a frozen wilderness to end her own life, after her husband dies. Or share kinship with Indian women who throw themselves onto the funeral pyre following their husbands’ demise (Do they still do that?) Why?  Because I can’t get health coverage in my dotage; all those dire medical diagnoses have seen to that.

I don’t blame him–It’s how the American medical system has evolved.

It’s even happening with others, in the not-so-suspect categories, those who defy expectations 0f anything serious befalling them, by virtue of their young age.  They’re not in the pool succumbing to cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes (the 4 Horsemen of the Acopalypse  in the medical world), but that doesn’t alter their being subjected to countless procedures.

What must patients do?  Carefully communicate with doctors, leaving out every nook and cranny of our concerns (all the more important, if you tend to be highly phobic.) Then, weigh what they say.

I, myself, went the over-cautious route in my younger years, due to cystic breasts where a lump was always considered ‘possibly cancer.’ My GP would find the lump, then send me to a surgeon who aspirated the cyst  (remove fluid from it via a hollow needle).  That sample was then sent on for further tests to determine “Is it cancer?”

On one occasion, the surgeon performed a lumpectomy.  It was still the time when a woman went in for surgery and wouldn’t be sure ’til later as to whether she’d wake up with her breast intact.  I awoke with mine; it wasn’t cancer………. yet.

In later years, I came to the conclusion that all that mucking around in the breast area might have helped bring on my breast cancer (if not, why is the question asked on patient history, “Have you ever had lump aspirated or cyst or lump biopsy?”)

I mean, to me, it makes sense:  Cancer is cell division gone amuk, a rapid explosion of the same process normal cells go thrugh all the time.  It seems perfectly logical that when some force from outside stirs things up in a region, it might bring on destructive consequences.

I mean: Isn’t that the meaning of the adage “Let sleeping dogs lie?”

So, medical testing…in my estimation, a real Sword of Damocles  (but I’m no medical expert.)  Too many tests or invasive procedures might bump up one’s chances of getting the very disease you’re trying so zealously to avoid. 

But what I really want to know is:  “What’s your take on all this?” “Do you go for all those procedures?” “Do you find your life and daily schedule too packed with doctor visits?” Comment section is below.

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
This entry was posted in Health and Well-Being, Medical, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.