Waiting for Those Test Results

Where are my test results
How many of us have had a similar experience?
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I had the MRI on Monday. 

“When will the results be available?” I asked the technician.

“Your doctor will have them tomorrow,” she said.

I phoned my doctor’s office on Tuesday.  “I’d like my test results,” I told the receptionist. 

“I’ll transfer you to the test results line,” she said.

The test results line was a recorded message which told me to leave my name and phone number. Somebody would get back to me with my test results within 24 hours.

Nobody did.

I spent those 24 hours feeling very anxious. My mother had been diagnosed with cancer at the same age I was now. I braced myself every time the phone rang.  As the day wore on and I didn’t get the call, I became convinced that the news must be bad. My doctor wanted to put off telling me -- and who could blame her?  

I had trouble sleeping that night.   

On Wednesday morning I phoned my doctor’s office “I had a breast MRI two days ago,” I said. “I’d like my test results.”

“I’ll transfer you to the test results line,” she said.

“No! Please! I left my name and phone number yesterday and nobody got back to me.”

“Oh dear,” she said. “Well. The doctor is in the office this morning. I’ll see if I can get her to phone you.“ 

I spent the rest of the morning anxiously awaiting the doctor’s phone call. At one, I phoned again.  “I had an MRI on Monday,” I said. “I’m trying to get my test results. I’ve phoned several times.”

“I’ll transfer you to the test results line.”

“No! Please don’t! This is the third time I’ve called. I’ve left my name and number. Nobody got back to me. I phoned this morning and they told me the doctor would phone me and she hasn’t. This is incredibly stressful. Can’t you just tell me?”

“The doctor’s policy is to phone patients herself with test results.”

“She hasn’t phoned me.“

“It’s busy here.”

“I’ve been waiting for two days,” I said, as calmly as I could.  “You’ve had my results for 24 hours.“ 

“Let me just see if we actually have them,” she said, putting me on hold. I listened to most of “Dancing Queen” before she got back on. “We do have your results,” she said. “I’ve got them right here.”

“Can’t YOU  just tell me?” I ask.

She repeated that the doctor’s policy is to deliver test results herself. 

“It’s been two days,” I said.  “I’m very anxious about this.”

“I understand,” she said, “But --”

“Look, I want to know if I have cancer. Won’t somebody please tell me? It shouldn’t be this difficult.”


“Okay,“ she said after a moment,  lowering her voice. “I‘m looking at your test results right now. They look fine to me.”

Relief washed over me. “Thank you,” I said. “That was very kind.“ 

“I’ve been there,” she said. “I know how it feels.”

“I appreciate it.”

“Just don’t tell anyone.”  

My doctor finally phoned later that day.   “Everything looks fabulous,” she said.  

I didn’t blow up at her for keeping me waiting, take her to task for her insensitivity or suggest that she change the way she communicates with her patients. Maybe because  I knew just how lucky I was, compared with the patients she’d be phoning whose results weren’t so fabulous.

I just thanked her for the news, hung up the phone and thought about finding another doctor.

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