I called her 5 times in 4 weeks, trying to get results of my lab tests performed during my last check-up. Yesterday at 8pm she called back ; she spoke in elevated tones, literally, yelling over street traffic in Manhattan.
Sh: Hi, Svetlania. It’s Dr. H-n!
I: er…My name is not Svetlania…Hi, Doctor. You received my messages?
Sh: Yes! I was on vacation! there was no need to leave me so many! You tests are fine, fine. The [blood one] shows elevated level of A, and borderline number of B – but I can’t interpret it, you gotta go to a specialist for that! Otherwise, everything is fine, only there is possibility of cancerous cells in [other substance] C, so I recommend to redo the test in 6 months! OK, I see a fire track coming, I will not be able to speak, so good bye!
I: Wait, Doctor? Don’t hung up yet. Cancerous cells?!? What?
Sh: No need to worry. This was not a test per se – you know that expression, yes? It’s Latin. What are you by profession? Do they teach Latin people like you? This was a “screening”. I oppose this so called test wholeheartedly. It was invented in 1947 – imagine that. Netherlands stopped performing it altogether, because it is so inaccurate. Germany downright banned it. And only us, at the arrière garde – it’s French, by the way, did they teach you French? – only the US are holding on to it religiously. It’s all the fault of Big Money-pharmaceutical establishment! I only performed it following the guidelines. But if you really want to find out if you’re positive, I recommend to do test D instead, it’s the golden Mecca of all tests (Mecca being a city in the Middle East – do they teach World Religions to people like you?) – but of course, your insurance will not pay for it, as it is $3,500 a pop – OuuKaaeey?
I: wait…insurance is the least of my concerns at the moment. You think I have cancer?
Sh: No. I think if you’re, clearly, so perturbed by a simple screening you should come for a test D – it’s called Epibareomory*, from Greek ἐπιβαρέω and Latin “Mori“! [follows incomprehensible description of test, full of jargon abbreviations I have no idea of]
I: Doctor, I really can’t care less for Greek or Latin at the moment. You think I have cancer?!? I have no symptoms of anything…
Sh: You wouldn’t. There is no symptoms of this particular cancer type – OuKaeey? Let’s see if I can explain it to you on example. You grew up in Russia, right?
I: yes, but what it has to..
Sh: Russians and other Europeans have a BCG test for TB, and we instead give a test PPD, so if you had BCG and I will perform TTD on you, you’ll come out positive, OuuKaeey? See now?
I: No, I don’t. Never mind TB – Doctor, you think I have cancer? How long do I have? Let’s do something! Why wait for 6 months – let’s repeat the test immediately – maybe that lab made a mistake?
Sh: That’s what I am trying to tell you for 20 min – insurance will not pay for your test earlier than in 6 months. Even though there are lots of false positives! You know the word “false”, yes? 40% of this screening come out false positives at 2nd screening. So if you pay for the test out of your pocket -and I would certainly understand if you wouldn’t want to – and it shows a positive – what are you going to do?
I: I don’t know! What happens to remaining 60%? What should I do, in your opinion?
Sh: I have this conversation every day at least 4 times, people who want me to make their life-and-death decisions for them!
I: Life and death?!? What chances do I have?
I: [speechless, fall on the floor]
Sh:…[continuing] That is, you are not in danger at all. But if you’re so concerned, you should set up an appointment, come to my office and I will draw a diagram for you – I can hear you’re confused, even after all my ocmprehensive explanations, it is always easier for laymen to understand a visual aid – draw a diagram illustrating different tests for D-cancer, how they perform it in different countries and what percentage of false positives each contains, per statistic. That would be my usual consultation fee of $250. Or you can come in 6 months, as the guideline require, and we’ll do the screening again – and then you’ll tell me what do you want to do next. Oukaeey? And if I were you, I’d immediately go to a specialist with those blood test results A and B. It might be something serious!
*the real name of the test is withheld for privacy reasons.**
** I was trying to hint at “burdensome/ expensive method of dying “