Today I had my routine follow up appointment at the Cancer Clinic here in town. I finally complained about this shoulder pain that I have had for months now. It seemed to start after reaching down for something in my car one night. I didn’t think too much about it at the time. However, as time has passed, the pain has become more obvious, especially with things like putting on my bra, washing my hair, and doing anything that involves raising my arm. Were I to get my orthopedics text book out, my symptoms would match “rotator cuff tendonitis”. However, this “rotator cuff tendonitis” is lasting a long time. Up until today, I Have kept putting off getting an xray because I have been afraid of getting bad results; afraid I would learn my cancer is back. But today, I succumbed to getting an xray and am now waiting for the results.
As I shook my oncologists hand at the end of my appointment, I asked her to call me if there is bad news. She replied that she would call me either way. It is now several hours later, and still no call. Being the nervous patient that I am, naturally, I am thinking the delay is because the xray is bad and my oncologist is lining up appointments before telling me the news. That is a common practice when giving a patient bad news. Any normal patient would assume “no news is good news”. Why can’t I be normal?
I confess that I made the mistake of trying to interpret the xray techs body language after he looked at the images of my shoulder. I got worried when after the first xray, in a thick Filipino accent, he asked “so what is wrong with your shoulder?”. I anxiously replied “why is there something wrong with the xray?”. He lied and said that he doesn’t look at the xrays. That is totally not true. Most techs can read an xray better than most physicians. Next, the second and third pictures were taken. After the third picture I couldn’t take it anymore and exclaimed “look, I am a doctor who is scared the shoulder pain is cancer. Do you see anything bad?”. He made this strange facial expression where stuckout his lower lip and nodded “no” in a “I am not supposed to say anything” manner. This is a good sign, isn’t it? Then, why am I so scared?