“No news is good news!”

Cartoon woman with many arms at desk involved in a variety of tasks at same time.

Sorry I didn’t call yesterday.

We’ve all heard this statement from a doctor at some point. If we don’t hear back with the results of a test, we are to assume that everything is fine. I understand why doctors work this way: they’re run off their feet, and they need to focus on the patients that do require follow up. I’m fine with this in principle, and for many years I accepted this system without question.

But my health is a little more complicated now, and with that I’m a bit more anxious too, so sometimes I need to hear from the doctor either way. I know I’m being overly demanding, but I also know my anxiety will rise if I don’t know what’s going on. Good news is always welcome, but occasionally the news isn’t good.

This issue has arisen over the past month as my white blood count has been on a rampage. Although the doctor suspects some kind of infection, nothing specific has come to light, yet the numbers are not budging. And, if I am honest, I have been feeling a bit more under the weather than usual.

Hence a second follow-up blood test. I alerted my kind and competent nurse practitioner that I had gone to the lab, as she asked me to. I also asked her to get back to me either way. I knew I’d been unsettled by the uncertainty and it would help me to know what was going on. She had no problem with my request, since she’s one of the many caring people caring for me.

I didn’t hear anything that day. No problem; I knew she’d get back to me when she could. And so she did, the next day. Whereupon she apologized for not getting back to me sooner. No apology necessary, I told her, since I was the one adding to her crazy workload. She then informed me the numbers were largely unchanged.

And then she apologized again for suggesting I have the blood work repeated in two weeks. She apologized? She is taking the time to monitor me closely until we sort this thing out, she is the one who will need to review the results, and she will be the one getting back to me, and she’s apologizing because I need to take an hour out of one day to go to the lab? What’s wrong with that picture? Of course I’ll get tested again, of course I’ll let her know when to expect the results, and of course she’ll get back to me yet again.

Funny how I’m focussed on my gratitude that she’s taking the time to monitor me, while she’s focussed on inconveniencing me. Doesn’t she realize it’s my job right now to do what the doctor (or nurse practitioner) says? Doesn’t she know that whatever time it takes, this is for my benefit? Maybe her apologies, however unnecessary, are her way of telling me my request for feedback either way is just fine. Maybe I just have to trust it is.

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