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Medical Standard Time

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medicalstandard.JPGBy Mike Snyder

Mike Snyder's cancer journey began with a sore left knee in the mid-1990s while living in Denver. After a variety of tests and minor surgery to correct the problem, he was diagnosed with a specific type of bone cancer called chondrosarcoma. Last spring, his doctor recommended that he switch to a hospice-type care because his tumors were growing too fast. It was an answer he couldn't accept.

After months of research, Snyder became a patient at MD Anderson and has been for more than a year now. Learn more about his experience on his blog mfsnyder.wordpress.com.

Like most MD Anderson patients, many of my visits include multiple scans with CTs and MRIs. Since I need two MRIs, my schedule consists of a CT and MRI on one day, followed by the second MRI the next day. Even though it can be done safely, insurance restrictions and MD Anderson policy will not allow more than one MRI per day

To minimize the amount of time I have to spend in Houston, Patient Scheduling sets up my appointments as close together as possible. As a result, my first day of appointments is chock-full, often concluding with the CT, followed by the first MRI.  

With all of the appointments stuffed into the first day, I find myself at MD Anderson for eight to 12 hours. Even with everything on the schedule, I end up with a lot of time on my hands. First, there is the time between appointments themselves. Things like blood work and X-rays don't usually take much time, but procedures like CTs or MRIs require a lot of preparation.

If one appointment takes longer than the scheduled time, equipment breaks down, or one of the imaging centers is simply short-handed, things start backing up and everyone's appointment gets delayed. A day that is already filled with nervousness because of why we're at MD Anderson goes from uneasy to unbearable.

Instead of being calm and easygoing, we become impatient, short-tempered and aggravated. Soon we find ourselves snapping at nurses, technicians and other caregivers. Being human themselves, it isn't long before our providers respond in kind. There goes everybody's day and their good mood.

In an angry moment, you might be tempted to say, "So what?! I'm the one with cancer!  Why should I have to be nice to anybody?" But you know it doesn't help; not really.  

While the person at the MRI control console probably doesn't have cancer, he or she is trained to provide your doctor with the images needed to help make an accurate, effective diagnosis. So, it's in your best interest to have the exam go correctly; even when that means enduring an appointment schedule that is running very late.

Adjusting to medical standard time
You can always tell when the phenomena I call Medical Standard Time has kicked in. It's 45 minutes past your scheduled time and you haven't been called yet. Everyone seems to be having a bad day, and the room is full of grumbles and sour expressions.

So what can you do about it without making yourself and the staff crazy?

In another post, I will offer suggestions on how to pass the time.


Read more posts by Mike Snyder

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