Saturday, March 28, 2009

The mammogram chronicles – part 4: Gaming the system

As I was writing my latest post for The mammogram chronicles, I began to wonder if maybe I should have accepted the doctor appointment. If the breast clinic’s own doctor recommended that I get one, perhaps I could get a mammogram a little quicker. I called the breast clinic back on Friday (apparently they do take calls on Friday) to find out.

The clinic opens at 7 am. I called at 7:10 and was scheduled for a callback at 8:30. Miraculously, someone did call back at about that time. I said I had been offered a doctor appointment but that I had declined. I then asked if I had accepted the appointment and the doctor recommended a mammogram would that improve my standing in the queue and I could get one quicker? The nurse confirmed my understanding – no.

I then said it was a pretty sad state of affairs if you had dire symptoms and really needed a mammogram you had to wait so long to get one. She then said if you have very suspicious symptoms, like a lump, they get you in faster. But general soreness (including my sore shoulder), she said, is usually due to hormones, and although it’s good to get a mammogram, soreness is not considered serious so you have to wait (and wait, and wait).

A friend of mine was going through a tough divorce and wanted to talk to a therapist or counselor. The last I heard, the wait for mental health care for an adult can be a year or more. (By the way, pills are the preferred Swedish solution to mental health problems. Counseling and therapy are considered too messy and too expensive.) There is an emergency number you can call to get a couple emergency sessions with a mental health specialist. “I called the emergency number and told them I was suicidal,” my friend said. “I’m really not, but I knew it was the only way I’d get in to see someone.”

When I was showering this morning, I think I felt a lump.

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