Many people don’t think about their health until an adverse health event occurs, but we should all endeavor not to take good health for granted. Preparing for an eventual illness or injury isn’t as difficult as one might think. And, we really do need someone to look out for us when we’re well, too!
Here’s an example from my own life that brought the matter very close to home for me and a loved one. Having lived with cancer for over a dozen years, it’s quite routine for me to examine every lab test, pathology and radiology report with an eagle eye. It’s not so common for most people to be that way. My habit of looking over diagnostic reports led me to ask a friend if I could read the radiologist’s report of a CT scan she’d had more than a year before.
When my friend suffered an acute appendicitis attack, she’d gone to an urgent care clinic, and the physician had ordered a CT scan. The scan results showed an inflamed appendix. It also pointed out that there was another condition going on. Something very serious, which, until I read the report, had gone unnoticed by every health care provider who’d had any contact with my friend — even while she was hospitalized! What I saw in the radiologist’s report was chilling. She mentioned that she saw a mass in one of the kidneys that was worrisome and required follow-up. However, every single doctor who had treated my friend since then had missed it.
Upon learning of the finding, my friend immediately notified her primary care physician, who scheduled further tests. He learned that the mass had more than doubled in size since that first CT scan. He made sure that my friend was seen by a specialist (a surgeon), and, within the brief timespan of a month, my friend had a diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma and had a radical nephrectomy to remove it.
What’s my point in relating this story to our readers? I want to encourage everyone out there to READ their lab test results and diagnostic reports. Have a friend or other loved one read them, too. If you have ANY questions about what the results mean, communicate that to your health care provider as soon as possible. Don’t delay!
Get copies of all test results! Read them! Have someone else look them over with you! Ask your doctor about anything that appears to be out of the ordinary, or anything you don’t understand!