My medical records have evaporated. Buried in some nuclear waste site? My “health file” at home contains a brochure regarding an ancient, and expired, insurance plan. Not a single piece of paper refers to past doctor’s visits or mammograms. Not a single reference to the benign findings of my earlier biopsy. Certainly no pathology report.

How could this be?

I never received any health reports, other than bills and the pap smear post card. Never once did I get a mammogram report or a letter indicating “birad score.” And I did not miss them.  My good health was a foregone conclusion at each check up.  Every year I went just to confirm my infallibility.

My family’s medical history is one of longevity, a smattering of depressions,  and a few scattered gallstones. Some TBC can be found in the older parts of the family tree. No cancer. Or ?

Do we really know what lurks in our DNA? Much of what we “know” about relatives is myth, many “unknowables” passed on as “facts”.  Did Uncle Edgar really die from gallstones or was it cirrhosis? Was great Grandpa August done in by a stroke or a brain tumor? Did Aunt Celia have syphilis or was she schizophrene when they carted her off?  In all probability,  their doctors may not even have know for sure.

Until the first cancer cell popped up, my health was impeccable. I have low blood pressure. Normal hemoglobin count. Excellent cholesterol levels, at least of the good kind. I never have head aches, until now when I realize how stupid I have been about my records. Obviously my “health IQ” must be extremely low.

The Breast “Care” Center has no record of any previous biopsy. Even though I clearly remember lying face down on a contraption with one of my breasts pouring through  a hole while someone pricked my breast with needles. Which breast?  What Year? No idea.  But  I do remember my appointment with a friend’s physician, Dr. D. whom I met to get the biopsy result.

-I have cancer, don’t I?

-What makes you think that?

-I described my x-rays to my friend over the phone . She told me that my description sounds just how her x-rays looked when she was diagnosed with cancer.

With a hairy slab of a hand and a chuckle, he waved me away.

Now Dr. D no longer has a practice and my records are gone.  The breast “care” center  tells me my mammogram in 2000, six years earlier, revealed calcifications .  Nothing was ever done. No records available before that year. I never received a report. Certainly no “birad score” (what are those anyway?)

“We discard all x-rays after seven years,” a lady tells me.

Amazing, considering their own radiologist told me cancer can linger for 10-12 years before it is discovered. Is the purpose of annual mammograms not to track changes inside your breast? Since mammograms are so hard to read.

I  call Dr. Bored’s office.  He retired, in fact, he just passed away. His office no longer has my records either.

I start hyperventilating, but eventually manage to calm down.  Being furious with impersonal institutions, and retired, or dead physicians is  pointless. Nobody I can  give a  dope slap. Nobody but myself.

Luckily, I have book club in the evening.  There in the company of my friends, I forget about my non-existent biopsy reports and doctor’s who don’t biopsy obvious micro-calcifications.

Dr. D. is retired. Playing golf? (A punishment in itself. ) Dr. Bored is dead, and here I am, very much alive: eating, drinking,  and laughing with my book club cronies. Who is the lucky one?

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