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Being Misread: A Lesson in Vigilance

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Are Four Doctors Wrong?

At this point, I began to prepare for surgery.

Immediately after getting news of the atypical cells, I had stopped taking the estrogen. To prepare for the procedure, I went to an acupuncturist (a great preparation for surgery and recovery, I'd been told). I also had a therapist friend make a hypnotic recovery tape to play during the surgery. I rearranged my house and moved a bed to my living room, since I had been warned I should not climb stairs for at least two weeks. I was also told it would take six weeks to recover and maybe even longer to begin doing yoga again. I got what used to be called the last rites of the Catholic Church – now called the sacrament of the sick. I hired a practical nurse to be at my bedside the first night after surgery to assure that anyone who touched me washed his or her hands first. I drew up a living will, a power of attorney and updated my regular will.

Meantime, it took two days of telephone calls to get the actual biopsy slide sent from the lab to the doctor who had agreed to provide a second reading. I could never have accomplished this without being persistent, using a fax machine and having a Federal Express number. I wondered what people without these resources did.

Two weeks passed. I did not hear from the doctor who was to give me the second reading of the slide. I expected he would say that it showed atypical cells and I should have immediate surgery. I called his office and kept missing him. On the day before surgery, I spoke to my surgeon/gynecologist and she agreed to track him down.

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