Yesterday, a friend and I were sharing memories of the trauma of “the callback.” She received hers last December and I got mine two weeks ago. This is not the callback that thrills an actor auditioning for a part. This callback comes from the radiology department of your health care provider telling you there is something suspicious about your mammogram and you need to return soon for more pictures.
The caller remained upbeat even as she delivered the unsettling news. “We had a question about a change since your last mammogram. It’s nothing to worry about. We don’t think it’s a problem.”
What is a problem is that no amount of reassurance is reassuring. I thought about the call off and on for a week until the date of my return appointment. When I arrived at the hospital I felt calm, but this feeling started to dissipate as I waited for thirty minutes to hear my name called. By then my head had begun to ache.
When my turn finally came, the technician took two more pictures and sent me to another room to wait until she had conferred with the doctor. She returned five minutes later to say that the radiologist was not satisfied and she needed to take another picture. My feeling of calm had fled by the time she had taken the picture and escorted me back to the waiting area so she could revisit the doctor.
After her second trip to get a third opinion, she poked her head into my hangout and started to speak, but shut her mouth when she spotted another patient waiting with me. “We need a private room to talk in,” she whispered.
At this point I was certain that she did not have good news to share. My anxiety heightened as we wandered the corridor in search of an unoccupied office or waiting room.
The only space she could find was a restroom, which I did not view as the best place for sharing bad news, any news for that matter. She pulled me into the room, turned on the light and apologized for her choice of locations. “Everything’s fine,” she said. “See you next year.”
Even as my shoulders dropped in relief, I wondered why we had to meet privately for this? I wanted to tell her, “You don’t have to whisper. Just shout it out, because that’s how I want to receive this news today.”