Recently I spent a day in the ER.
I had a Zoom book club meeting the day before and was eating a tuna fish sandwich as I sat at my computer chatting with my book club friends.
I made the tuna salad myself and in fact my husband was eating it downstairs while I was upstairs Zooming, and he later told me he thought it tasted fine. But it tasted off to me, and a few hours later I felt sick to my stomach and that night spent more hours in the bathroom than in bed.
The next morning I still felt awful and called my wonderful primary care physician Dr M. His nurse told me it sounded like food poisoning and rather than come to the office I should go to the ER as I’d need fluids after throwing up all night.
And so I went to the local hospital in the Connecticut community where we spend half our time. It’s a wonderful hospital, and there’s usually no wait in the ER and there wasn’t that day. I was immediately ushered into a private room, quite unlike the narrow bays separated by curtains that I’ve seen in the crowded ERs in many New York hospitals.
Then a kindly staff treated me with state-of-the-art medical equipment. But when I mentioned I had a slight pain in my abdomen, a red flag went up that sent me for an MRI – not the usual protocol for someone in the ER with food poisoning.
And the results were a bit alarming – it seems the MRI revealed a cyst on my pancreas as well as something suspicious on my breast. The MRI results were shown to the surgical team who deliberated for awhile while I worried, and altho they concluded that nothing was urgent, they strongly advised me to pursue those two incidental findings with my doctors. And so of course I continued to worry.
After six hours in the ER I was discharged, and the next day I called my New York gastroenterologist and my gynecologist with the Connecticut ER story. Each asked that my medical records from Connecticut be sent to New York, and I made appointments for further tests to be sent back to Connecticut so my doctors in both places were kept – pardon the expression – abreast.
And so my inter-state medical saga continued. I had several more tests and procedures, and for a few weeks I continued worrying until I finally got a clean bill of health from both doctors! The pain in my abdomen that had sent me for that MRI was now chalked up to gastritis caused by all my vomiting that fateful night.
Back in Connecticut I went to see Dr. M.
“Isn’t it lucky that when I went to the ER for food poisoning they did the MRI and uncovered those incidental findings!” I said.
One of the things I like about Dr. M is that he’s not an alarmist.
“Actually my dear, it might have been better had they not been so conscientious in the ER and not done that MRI.” he said, “It would’ve saved you all that unnecessary worry.”
You know, he was right.
– Dana Susan Lehrman