…by Anura Guruge
Writing about the forthcoming Huggins Fair yesterday, got me thinking about this far from amusing incident with Huggins — and I knew I had no choice but to share it with you.
It was Fall 2007 and I was seeing an urologist in Manchester, NH — next to Elliott Hospital. I needed to get a PSA test done before my next visit.
My primary care doctor at the time was based in Alton (where I had recently moved to) and was affiliated with Huggins Hospital. They could draw blood, enter the necessary ‘stuff’ into the computer and then sent the vials off to Wolfeboro to be tested at the hospital. It was certainly more convenient than having to drive to Wolfeboro. Plus, you typically got faster service in Alton. So, I arranged to have my blood drawn in Alton and to have the results sent back to them.
My appointment with the urologist was on a Thursday. I was going to swing by the Alton office on Wednesday afternoon and pick the results.
I get a call from a nurse in Alton that Wednesday afternoon. She says that my results are in, but that they are NOT good. The PSA score had been marked as HIGH.
I was devastated. I had never expected any issues, at that juncture, with my prostate. Usually my PSA was always on the low side; below ‘1’. Now I had a nurse telling me that my PSA was high.
I still had the presence of mind to ask her what the reading was. She said it was ‘0.1’. I got her to repeat it. ‘0.1’. It was below ‘1’. But, it was supposed to be high. I told her I will be there shortly to pick up the result sheet.
I did a Google. ‘0.1’ was way LOW. Not high. Deanna drove me to the doctor’s office. I was in a trance. Long ago having seen what it did to folks I had vowed that I would never have my prostate taken out. Worst case I would go with pellets. If they could only guarantee 8 years, that was still ‘OK’ with me. So, I was, in my mind, already getting mentally prepared for the pellets. I called up my eldest daughter. She told me not to worry and that all will be OK.
I saw the nurse and got the result sheet. She showed me where there was a big, BOLD ‘H’ to denote that the ‘0.1. reading was high — and per the range, it indeed was very high.
Next morning we all went to Manchester. I was still dazed.
My urologist is great. A good Catholic. I had given him a copy of my first pope book. He liked it.
I told him the results and gave him the sheet. He read it, carefully. He told me that it was strange. He said that ‘0.1’ should not be high. I said, I thought that. I asked him if the test has changed, with a new scale of readings. He said ‘No’.
He was confused. He told me not to worry. That he was going to call Huggins. He said that I would need to get the test done again — at a different lab.
He told me he would call me. That was the end of the appointment.
I was still crushed. The kids needed to go to the bathroom. Finally we were ready to leave and were trooping out of the door of the main building. A couple came up behind us and said that the doctor was looking for me and that I should go back.
So we trooped back upstairs. The receptionist called the doctor. He appeared with a BIG GRIN on his face.
‘Mystery solved. Your results are fine. Way below ‘1’. You are good. Huggins had YOU coded as a FEMALE!’
So all of that was because Huggins had me in their computer as a FEMALE.
Well, I wasn’t new to Huggins. They had done blood work for me before. I had also had Cat-Scans at Huggins. So, it wasn’t as if I was new to them. Plus, in whichever light or direction you look at me, I do not look un-masculine.
I was relieved, but now was bummed.
When I got home I checked. To my amazement I found out that they indeed do PSA testing of women — and for a woman ‘0.1’ PSA is high. I think that in the main such testing has to do with transgender issues.
Now I was at the ‘get even’ stage. Called up a couple of my favorite lawyers. I wanted to sue the pants off Huggins.
Crushed again. Would YOU believe this: I had NOT suffered enough pain!
Yep, 24 hours of mental anguish, however, severe is considered bagatelle by the system. So much for the you can sue on a dime theory. I was told the BEST I could hope for was to get Huggins to refund me for the PSA test!
Well, maybe this story might help somebody else. Check the gender on your PSA results.