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Waiting for News

Posted 8/23/2013

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We all know the absolute torture of taking a test or a scan and then waiting (and often waiting and waiting and waiting) for news. The test itself may be unpleasant and stressful and maybe worse (e.g.the GI upset that often follows drinking all that stuff before a a CT scan), but it never carries the same emotional load that waiting for the news entails.

There is no way to completely eliminate the difficulty of these hours or days, but there are a few strategies to help. Most importantly, talk in advance with your doctor about how long the wait will be and how you will receive the news. Some people are able to wait a week or so until a scheduled visit; others want to know as soon as possible. Many doctors are hesitant to call with bad news, but there may be advantages to hearing sooner and, even, to hearing in the privacy of your own home. Set this up before the scan; you definitely don't want to be sitting near the phone, wondering what the absence of a call means. Just be clear about your preferences: waiting until an appointment, getting a call with any news asap, something else.

This is an interesting essay from the New York Times about the anxiety of waiting. It is especially provocative because it is written by a medical oncologist who is worried about the result of a cardiac test. He is just as distressed and distracted as the rest of us. Here is the link:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/22/waiting-to-hear-from-the-doctor/

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