My Scrape With Modern Medicine

Forget Obama Care. There are more serious things out there, and any one of them will make you thankful for any kind of medical care if you are unlucky enough to have those problems. Those problems revolve around critical organs like kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, brains, etc. Well, some people have no problem getting along without a functioning brain, but I digress.

During my physical examination this last March, my EKG looked a bit out of the normal (what ever that is), and my personal physician recommended a stress test.

Two weeks later, I was in my doctor’s office for that stress test which I apparently flunked. My return visit, two weeks after the stress test culminated in the recommendation for a nuclear stress test. A nuclear stress test includes some stuff tainted with radio-active isotopes, injected into my veins while I was monitored by all sorts of paraphernalia.

Two weeks later, I was told I had flunked the nuclear stress test. I guess this was supposed to be a foregone conclusion, but I figured out that if there were an emergency, somebody would have called me. This time, my doctor tells me to go to a cardiologist.

After another two weeks, I went to see the cardiologist. It only took that long because I figured nothing was wrong, and the cardiologist was just CYA for the internal medicine guy. Besides, if anything were wrong somebody would have called me.

The first question the cardiologist asked me after reviewing my records was, “Why are you here?”

Ahhh…  Those words were nice to hear. Nevertheless, the cardio guy sent me to Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta for a coronary CT Scan. This is a regular CT scan, but involves being injected with a dye so that the images will be more pronounced. I queried the cardiologist at Piedmont about the risk of the dye on my one remaining kidney. It was possible for the dye to destroy my kidney, and I didn’t look forward to being on dialysis for the rest of my life.

He tested my blood on site to see if my kidney could handle the test. He also told me that he could not assess the real risk, and I had to sign an additional waiver for them to run the test. Death, as usual, was a potential result of the test.

One and one-half weeks later…

Yeah. I put off hearing about the test for a while. Besides, if there were something wrong somebody would call me. My cardiologist later told me that was not a good idea. I needed to pay more attention.

That’s when he told me that the tests for coronary artery disease were false. My testing had been a false positive. In the world of statistics, my tests resulted in a Type I error, a false positive.

I am very fortunate. Many men of my age have coronary artery disease, and some of those guys fall dead without warning. I am glad my doctors paid such close attention, and had me take confirmatory tests. It was all worth it.

Oh, and I will not wait for the doctor’s office to call me with test results, anymore. I will pester them on the idea that I just might have a problem that needs prompt attention.

9 thoughts on “My Scrape With Modern Medicine”

  1. I’m ‘gonna say’ that I’m VERY glad all went well and that I’m thankful to know you, Bob.
    Happy Thanksgiving…xx Z

  2. Ed: I had it all. Turkey. Honey baked ham. Cornbread dressing. Cherry cola salad. Fresh cranberry salad. Home made yeast rolls. Green bean casarole. Lemon glazed carrots. Tennessee blackberry jam cake. Pecan pie. Apple pie. Mashed potatoes. Sweet potato casserole. etc.

    Not to mention the wine and hors’douvers (?).

  3. Glad to hear that you’re okay!

    False positives are quite common, but we typically don’t learn that fact until after we’ve undergone procedures, including surgery.

    For example, back in 1996 I had a false positive on a mammo and had to undergo surgical biopsy. My health insurance picked up all the tabs.

    As another example, in 2004 my cousin had a kidney removed because of a false positive (carcinoma). It wasn’t until the kidney was out and fully studied that the lab determined that the surgery was unnecessary. Furthermore, before the removal of the kidney, a cardiologist got antsy about my cousin’s carotid arteries (despite minimal blockages) and recommended that both carotids be cleaned out surgically. In my cousin’s case, Medicare paid for everything in full.

    How many tests/procedures are done unnecessarily because the medical profession knows that “there is a pool of money” to be had?

  4. AOW: It seems to me that your cousin should be able to sue the docs for malpractice. Losing a kidney is not a trivial thing.

    My right kidney was removed because of renal cell carcinoma, and you could see the big tumor on a CT scan. As a matter of fact the tumor was discovered when I had a CT scan looking for kidney stones. There are few symptoms for this slow growing cancer.

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