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Waiting for Test Results

Posted 11/25/2015

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  This is one of those things that does not get easier with practice. Awaiting results from your 7th CT Scan is no easier than it was the first time. Anxiety is high; superstition often plays a part--"I have had several good scans, so I am due for a bad one." or "I have jinxed myself by not worrying enough".

  We often talk about these difficult hours and days in my groups, especially in my group for women with metastatic cancers. The only real tip is to have a system in place, discussed with your doctor, about how you will learn the results. Some people prefer to wait for a planned appointment. Others prefer to know as soon as the results are known. What you don't want is to be wondering whether no call is good news or bad news. What you don't want is trying to read your doctor's expression when you next meet.

  So, talk about it in advance. Before that talk, think carefully about what will help you. Many doctors are reluctant to call with bad news, but plenty of patients would actually prefer to hear it at home. At home, you can wail and pound the walls all want; there is no mandate to behave well. Then, by the time you see your doctor, you will have had a little time to process it, and be ready to talk about the plan for what comes next. If this is not right for you, think about how to schedule tests so that the waiting time to the in-person appointment is as brief as possible.

  This is an article from The New York Times about waiting for test results in general. It is not specific to cancer, or even to medical tests, but suggests that people who worry are actually better prepared. Interesting, no?

  Here is the start and a link:

While Waiting for Test Results, Worrying May Help in the Long Run
By Jan Hoffman 

In May, Mathieu Putterman and Anna Evans Putterman graduated from law school at Chapman University.
In July, the couple took the California bar examination. Results will be posted on Nov. 20, at 6 p.m. The
Puttermans are in the final throes of that four-month wait.
Mr. Putterman, 29, is not breaking a sweat. “I had good preparation, so I’m expecting to pass,” he said. “If I don’t, I’ll cross that bridge when it comes.”
His wife? Drenched. “I would never say ‘I think I passed,’ ” whispered Mrs. Putterman, 25. “What if I say it out loud and they haven’t graded my essays yet? Will someone hear?”
Mrs. Putterman and fellow worry warriors, take heart.
A new study in the journal Emotion of how people manage stress while waiting for high-stakes results is a
validation of sorts for those who embrace their anxiety. During the waiting period, researchers found, those who tried coping techniques failed miserably at suppressing distress. And when the news arrived, the worriers were more elated than their relaxed peers, if it was good; if bad, the worriers were better prepared.


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  • Claire Blum said:
    11/25/2015 10:44 AM

    Worrying is only good if you have a follow-up action plan.
    Happy holidays. The Blums