Medical staff attaching wrong term to a portal message makes for a very long night

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Martin Blank
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Medical staff attaching wrong term to a portal message makes for a very long night

Post by Martin Blank » Mon Feb 21, 2022 2:45 am

I recently had a colonoscopy as a follow-up for a moderate bout of diverticulitis. It's a completely normal diagnostic because it helps the GI doc gauge progression of the underlying diverticulosis, and about one in every 200 cases also involves discovery of cancer. They found a small (8 mm) polyp and removed it, and it went off to pathology for analysis. I'm supposed to get another colonoscopy in five years presuming that diverticulitis doesn't raise its head again.

Now, the actual report from the actual pathologist came back describing it as hyperplastic, which just means some over-expressive cell growth. They're common throughout the body and usually don't mean much. They can develop into something more later, but when arrested at an early stage, they're harmless, and the body sometimes takes care of them itself.

However...

A follow-up message to the pathology report by someone in the GI doc's office described it in the portal message as "precancerous." I didn't see that until a bit after the report and I was cleaning out my Gmail inbox at night. While objectively I knew that the doctor would (or at least should) have called me to talk more in depth if it was something to worry about, I ended up in a flurry of searching for papers on hyperplastic growths and their links to cancer, and just what precancerous meant in all this.

I didn't get to sleep until sometime after 5 a.m. I slept through four meetings, two of them very important. Fortunately, I was able to explain it to the one person (aside from Cat) that it mattered to and I was given an obvious pass. I also managed to get ahold of my primary doctor, whom I trust a lot and who reviewed the report and assured me that the office staff screwed up. She was really annoyed at it, but said that I really had nothing to worry about. I already knew it logically, but I really needed to hear it from her. I felt much better.

Still really annoyed at the staff that wrote the message, though.
If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.

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Re: Medical staff attaching wrong term to a portal message makes for a very long night

Post by Rorschach » Mon Feb 21, 2022 4:54 pm

Christ man. What a nightmare. So glad it's been a false alarm though.

I don't really have anything of value to add to this except that the first time I went for a colonoscopy they wouldn't release me back into the wild until I'd expelled some of the air they pump up there to expand the bowel for visibility. Which would have been fine but there were a few of us all waiting for the same thing. A seeming eternity of sweating and clenching and then someone was unable to stop themselves emitting a squeaker and then before you know it, it's the campfire scene from Blazing Saddles in the waiting room.

Anyway. Hope the diverticulitis has been and gone. I know first-hand what a pain in the ar...neck it is.
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Martin Blank
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Re: Medical staff attaching wrong term to a portal message makes for a very long night

Post by Martin Blank » Tue Feb 22, 2022 5:57 am

Diverticulitis is part of my future and, it seems, my past. I've had problems with abdominal pain every few years for about 15 years. My new GI doc (the one that did the recent colonoscopy after my last one retired) said that this may be due to diverticulitis causing inflamed diverticulosis pockets to press against my small intestine, irritating it and appearing on X-rays as something very similar to a viral inflammation. The future question is just how bad will it get? It will range from needing some antibiotics and a clear liquid or soft food diet for a bit to hospitalization and even a temporary colostomy bag.

Yay.

But still better than cancer.
If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.

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