For those who don’t know what’s going on, please read #619: State of the Rock – FYC! first.
Although this is a music site, because of our current battles I am going to be writing more personal stories within Getting More Tale. I apologise for the lack of music today. Music will always be the main focus but I also have to express myself. Hence: Cancer Chronicles.
GETTING MORE TALE #622: Cancer Chronicles
Health care in Canada is free, but it’s not an easy system to navigate. It can be confusing and scary; there is no instruction manual. You have to be hands-on with your own health care. You have to be on the phone every day asking questions and pushing for answers.
Here we are with the next chapter in Jen’s cancer battle. We needed an MRI (magnetic resonant imaging) done right away. The surgeon in London, who is an excellent doctor by the way, needed the MRI results so he could perform a biopsy. The MRI in Kitchener was booked for Tuesday December 12. We had a meeting at the hospital on the 14th, in preparation for the biopsy on the 18th. It was a tight schedule and we were glad so many things were moving very fast.
Jen showed up for her MRI on the 12th, right on time. She was extremely upset to find out there had been some kind of mistake. Instead of December 12, the MRI was apparently booked for mid-February. This threw everything out of whack. The surgeon couldn’t perform the biopsy without the MRI, and the biopsy was mere days away. A February MRI simply would not do. It would push back Jen’s cancer surgery by two months!
I got a text message and a phone call from Jen, extremely upset about this turn of events. Understandable. Finding out you have cancer is a kick in the shins enough. Having your appointment date screwed up so badly is a whole other punch in the face. We never got a straight answer on how it got messed up, but that wasn’t the issue. The issue was getting it fixed.
The hospital called the house, fortunately, because that’s where I was.
The person on the other end of the phone said “Please tell Jen I got her appointment moved to January.”
I realize that getting appointments pushed ahead is next to impossible. I know she probably moved mountains to get that date. But the fact is, it still wasn’t good enough. We needed the MRI done before the biopsy. Otherwise everything would be delayed.
I told her, “That is not good enough. We need the MRI done by Thursday when we go back to London.”
“I’m sorry sir but I’ve done everything I can. I was just calling to tell Jen that we got a better date, I thought she’d be happy about that,” she said.
“But we have a meeting at the hospital on Thursday! And a biopsy on Monday!”
“I’m sorry sir but this is the very best I can do. There was some kind of miscommunication over this, it’s not my fault. If anyone cancels I’ll call Jen immediately but we are booked solid,” I was told.
I wasn’t happy and it showed.
“Sir, please let me finish,” she said.
“No, you need to listen to what I’m telling you,” I interrupted. “The surgeon is waiting for that MRI, he needs it to do the biopsy. The biopsy is already scheduled. We need to get it done for him before then.”
“I understand what you’re saying,” she told me, “but please don’t be angry with me, it’s not my fault, I have done the best I can do.”
I calmed myself down.
“I’m not angry with you,” I attempted to say in a calmer voice, “and it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. That’s irrelevant. You have to understand that you are now delaying her cancer surgery.”
“That’s not what I’m saying,” she rebutted.
“Well it might not be what you’re saying, but that’s a fact. That’s a fact.” I paused to regain my thoughts. “If the doctor doesn’t get these results until January, he won’t be able to do the biopsy, and that’ll push everything back. That’s a fact.” I couldn’t imagine the surgeon being happy about this.
Finally she seemed to understand the problem. I think before this point, she just assumed I was an upset husband who wanted to get the dates expedited. But I still wasn’t getting any help.
“Then you need to take that up with your doctor,” she said. “I’ve done all I can do.”
I attempted to escalate.
“Then I need to talk to someone who can get us a better date.”
“I’m sorry sir, but that’s just not possible. This is the best date I was given.”
That gave me an opening. “Then I need to talk to the people who gave you that date.”
She paused. “Please hold,” she said with no patience left. I was on hold for two or three minutes.
Suddenly, I was connected with the imaging lab. The person on the other end of the phone was already aware of the situation. She asked me for the name of the surgeon. I asked, “So you are going to try and get her the MRI appointment before the biopsy?” She answered yes and assured us that she would call us back.
Jen arrived home shortly after I got off the phone. She was still incredibly upset. I told her, “It’s OK, don’t worry, I am taking care of it. They are going to call you back, they are going to try and get you a better date.” She started to calm down a little bit, but the truth is, neither of us really thought we’d be able to get a closer date. I know I did the very best, and pushed as hard as I possibly could. However I also know how booked up these places are. Usually for months and months in advance. I gave it my best shot.
An hour or two later the phone rang. To my absolute shock, they told Jen they moved her MRI to the very next day.
I still can’t believe it.
They must have called the surgeon, who assured us that he needed that MRI done right away. And so it was.
When Jen showed up for her MRI the next day, the staff told her “Your husband must love you very much. This never happens.” Well of course I do! But I didn’t do anything special. I did what any husband would have done. The fact that I got results is the only thing that made it special, and I think the surgeon had a lot to do with that. The biopsy was performed on schedule. Results should be in before Christmas. We are still on track. In the new year, she’ll be beating cancer.
I told my dad and co-workers what happened. Every single person said the same thing: “I’ve never heard of anybody being able to get an MRI scheduled for the next day, ever! How did you do it?” Another guy at work assured me, “I come from a family of doctors, so believe me, getting an MRI moved to the next day never happens!”
I felt good. I felt like a total hero. But as long as I’m just a hero to my wife, that is reward enough.