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Blue Sky

Down the Medical Test Rabbit Hole & Hoping for No Poker Faces: Everyday Magic, Day 469

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

A few weeks ago, a friend going through chemo asked me if I still worry about the cancer returning. “Not for years,” I told her. Nothing like saying such a thing to find myself having to get a bunch of tests, mostly likely for a kidney stone (as if that’s a happy thing) or a minor infection, but also to rule out something more serious.

The fasting blood tests were Tuesday morning, and this morning, I had to wake wicked early to get to the hospital for a renal sonogram, something I hadn’t experienced since I was pregnant with Forest. While the test wasn’t invasive or painful, watching the screen, I did ask a lot of questions. “What’s that white thing?” The technician told me it was my kidney, seen through the window of my liver, but of course, she can’t tell me if she sees anything of note.

We had a good conversation about the challenge of keeping a poker face in her job, particularly when the news is going to be very likely very bad. For this reason, she no longer does, whenever she can avoid it, sonograms on pregnant women. “For every hundred great ones, there’s one that will break your heart,” she told me.

I remember too well when, in the middle of my breast cancer, I was having my ovaries scanned (a procedure you don’t want the details of), and the extremely cheery and chatty technician suddenly went completely silent. This was followed by my gynecologist coming in to talk with me, carrying a box of tissues. While it turns out that, despite the images, I didn’t have ovarian cancer also after all, since then I’ve become very attentive to how the technician talks and acts. The woman today told me it was all about having a good poker face, but she also confessed she didn’t have such a good poker face, and since she didn’t seem freaked out by what she was seeing, I’ll take that as a good sign.

So now I’m in the usual pastime of those down the medical test rabbit hole: I’m waiting for a phone call, and distracting myself between now and then.

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