Friday I had my final meeting with the surgeon who did my breast biopsy last year. As much as I’ve been enjoying these every-six-months mammograms and subsequent check-ins with her, the time has come to say goodbye.
For one thing, it’s been a year and the boobs seem just fine. For another, I’m moving. (I know, you forgot, because I have only mentioned it every other sentence for the last four months or so.)
So I went in and had an appointment just like every other appointment I’ve had with her (don the paper shirt, get felt up, talk about how everything seems fine and we should keep monitoring but there’s nothing to worry about). And then I told her I’m moving and that I’d probably need to get a copy of my file, and she surprised me by saying that they could take care of that for me on my way out.
Have you ever tried to get a copy of your medical file somewhere? Usually it takes FOREVER. You have to submit a request in triplicate and wait and wait and wait and call them up and wait some more and then eventually go to your new doctor and explain that you have no idea where your file is, because you requested it months ago.
But Friday, oh, THINGS WERE GOING MY WAY. The surgeon wrote on my file PLEASE MAKE COPY FOR PATIENT. I was good to go.
First I went up to the checkout window, and the nice woman sitting there immediately started detaching the papers in my file to make me copies. This was too easy! But then… her phone rang.
“Hello, Big Hospital Surgical. Yes, he does. No, I don’t think so. Sure, I can check on that for you.” She put the phone down and set the papers aside. “I’m sorry, Mir, I’ll be right back.” She disappeared into the back of the office for a few minutes. When she came back, she picked the phone up again. “Please hold for a minute.” She put the phone down again and went back to my file. The phone rang again. “Hello, Big Hospital Surgical. Hi, Mom. Yep, we finished it up last night. I don’t know. Probably. Well what did he say?” I did a bit of sign language to ask if she wanted me to go wait in the waiting room, and she shook her head at me. “Mom, can you hang on a minute? Okay, thanks.”
She put the phone down again and went back to disassembling my file. One of the other women at the long desk there asked her a question, which she answered while pulling papers from the manila folder. Finally she had a neat stack and told me she’d be right back. On her way out of my line of sight, she stopped to ask someone else to take the call she’d put on hold. (Her mom? No, probably the other call. But that would’ve been funny.) And then she went and made my copies.
I believe she may have gone to a Xerox machine in Arizona.
No matter! She was back an hour later with my papers. I thanked her and she paused while handing them through the window to me. “You know,” she said, “you should probably go down to Radiology while you’re here, and tell them you want to pick up your films, too.” Oh, right. Perhaps my next doctor would like to see my previous eleventy mammograms. “I don’t know if they’ll be able to give them to you today, but you can ask.”
I thanked her and trotted down several sets of stairs down to the hospital basement. In the Radiology waiting room I was stunned to walk directly up to a window—no line!—to be helped. I set my papers down on the ledge (the nice woman upstairs hadn’t given me a folder) and realized that the top sheet had one line highlighted in yellow: DISCHARGE FROM LEFT NIPPLE.
Hello, my name is Mir, and I’m carrying around papers announcing that I ooze. Or, at least that I once oozed.
I quickly flipped the stack of paperwork over and explained to the woman on the other side of the glass that I wanted to pick up my films.
“Let me check,” she said, typing at her keyboard. “Okay, here you are… oh. We don’t have your films.”
“No, Dr. Surgeon has them.”
“But… I was just up there.”
“Right, that’s why your films are up there. They pulled them for your appointment. You need to get them from upstairs.”
“Oh. Okay, then. I can just pick them up from their office?”
“Well, yes, but then you have to come back down here.” I was clearly irritating her, but I wasn’t sure what I’d done.
“I… do? Why?”
“Because you need to sign them out!”
I scurried away, hoping she wouldn’t come around the glass and smack me around.
Back up the stairs again, there was now a line in the surgeon’s office. I waited my turn and then explained that they had my films. The woman behind the glass (a different one, this time) asked me to take a seat while she found my folder.
The films were located right next to the copier (in Arizona).
Once I finally had the folder of films (so large and heavy! so many pictures of my boobs!), it was back down the stairs again to follow proper protocol and sign them out. Sure, I considered just making a break for it—who was going to stop me?—but I figured I’d try to abide by the rules.
Back down in Radiology, there was now a line half a dozen people long. I stood behind a woman who was on portable oxygen and reeked of cigarette smoke. Again I considered just taking the films and leaving. But eventually I was called up, this time to a different window.
“May I help you?” asked a sweet young thing with too much eye makeup.
“Hi, yes, I just picked up my films from upstairs at Dr. Surgeon’s and I’m moving so I’d like to take them with me. I guess I need to sign them out?”
She looked at me like I had 3 heads, but then reached out for the folder. I gave it to her, and she told me take a seat while she did some paperwork.
At long last I was given the folder back, and I slipped my copied paperwork inside of it and fairly ran out of the hospital. People kept looking at me strangely and I couldn’t figure out why, until I got to my car.
On the back of the folder, there’s a large diagram of—what else?—breasts. With gigantic (diagrammed!) areolas, even. The way I’d been clamping the folder to my body with my arm, said breasts were at about, well, breast-height. Nice.
Which, you know, considering the entire year-long saga of my boobs at that hospital, seems like a rather fitting way to wrap it all up.