When I had anal cancer, they were constantly pulling blood out of me. Every doctor I saw wanted to run the same tests on me, over and over again. Sometimes I’d just had seven vials of blood drawn for the exact same test a day or two earlier. I felt like I was constantly asking, “Are you expecting a different result this time?” I just couldn’t see how my results could change drastically in such a short period of time.
Usually when I asked why a test was being done again, the doctor would say that he or she hadn’t been the one to order it originally or that they didn’t have access to the original results. I was getting my care though through a system where I knew other doctors could locate past test results, so that just didn’t make sense to me.
Some of my doctors told me that they wanted to run additional tests because there could have been errors in the labs. I was already facing a life-threatening situation, and to hear that your doctors don’t have faith in their own labs makes you wonder who you really can trust.
In addition to the repeated blood tests, I also had six scopes in less than one month.
One was down my throat and into my stomach, and the other five were all anal. I couldn’t figure out what could have changed so much in one month to need so many scopes. I feel like either I had what they were looking for and trying to diagnose, or I didn’t. Why did they need to keep repeating the same tests so many times within such a short timeframe?
The biggest thing that I learned throughout this all is that you need to be proactive.
You can’t just sit back. If you do, you’ll get swept along in the stream and they’ll do whatever they want with you, even if it means repeating tests, over and over again.
So make sure you ask questions. Ask if you really need each test, and why. And find out what will happen if you don’t get it.
Galen G., California