You get a diagnostic medical test.
You then have to wait, often for unreasonable amounts of time, for the results.
Each minute seems like an hour, and each hour seems like a lifetime. For you, time is suspended around one thing: the results.
The lab staff and other medical personnel tell you that it takes time for the test results to come in, that the diagnostics need to be sent to a lab in a faraway land, and that the doctor has a busy schedule.
Many in the medical field believe that patients waiting for results is just a part of the office protocol and you just have to hunker down, bite the bullet, keep the faith and a stiff upper lip, and wait for the doctor to get back to you when it is convenient for him or her.
So many patients comply with this nonsense, for a number of reasons, including feeling too intimidated by the medical system, wanting to be stoically brave, and thinking they have no options. I learned this the hard way when after being diagnosed with cancer (I got the results via phone from my doctor only two days after my biopsy), I then had to wait a week before finding out my prognosis. And that wait was sheer mental anguish.
Frankly, waiting a long amount of time set by doctors (one week is too long, for example) is bogus. You have the right to know your test results quickly. Most results are in a lot sooner than medical staff would have you believe. With computers and databases, doctors can get results with the touch of a button. I have seen this with my own diagnostic test results.
Truth is, you have much more power than you think in getting the results on your timeline, not the medical personnel’s:
Determine how long of a wait is acceptable to you. Hint: a week is too long.
Call the doctor’s office and tell the staff that waiting a long time for test results is harmful to you psychologically and physically. Tell them you must know the results by a certain date.
If this method doesn’t work, call the doctor’s office repeatedly with the previously mentioned message. In short, make a pest of yourself. The goal is to speak with your doctor or another doctor as soon as possible about the test results.
Consider requesting the results by phone. This method isn’t for everyone, but sometimes a phone call is better than waiting an entire week to see the doctor in person. You can still meet with your doctor in a week, but at least you will have your results.
Show up to the doctor’s office without an appointment if you feel you are not making progress. Embarrass the staff in front of the other patients in the waiting room by telling the staff that you need the results on a timely basis. Shock value can work in your favor, and the staff might comply just to get rid of you.
Throughout the duration of the wait, do things that will relax you mentally and physically. For me, it was sketching and watching movies. Some people have their doctors prescribe Xanax. How each person handles the wait is different, so do whatever you can to cope.
One caveat: Throughout your self-advocacy, you do need to be as tactful as possible. However, you should be assertive, direct, and willing to overcome any fears to do what’s right for you.
Remember, nobody can advocate in this arena better than you. All you need are courage, guts, perseverance, resilience, and passion for your cause.
Related topics on medical-related waiting and tools for dealing with them:
Readers: Have you had to wait too long for diagnostic results? If so, how did you handle it? I really would like to hear your story.