Reading the Fine Print: Discovering I Have Ulcerative Colitis

Reading the Fine Print: Discovering I Have Ulcerative Colitis
I was purging paperwork the other day when I came across follow-up notes from my last gastroenterologist appointment. I never read these notes when I check out. I usually only look at them when I’m about to throw them away to compare the history of my bloodwork. I hardly ever look at the front page, which contains demographic information, weight, blood pressure, and pulse, and the running list of diagnoses for medical coding purposes to bill my insurance. As I was about to toss the papers into a pile to be shredded, something caught my eye. At the top of the list of diagnoses was “Ulcerative Colitis; Active 12/2016.” When I saw it, I remembered receiving a call from the nurse with the biopsy results from my August colonoscopy. She said my ulcerative colitis was still active and that my doctor wanted me to set up an appointment with him the following month. I was confused because I had Crohn’s (granulomatous) colitis, not ulcerative colitis, and I had orders to see my doctor every six months. I told her that I had scheduled my six-month follow-up a few days earlier and I didn’t understand why the doctor wanted me to see him so soon. She insisted the instructions were in the notes, and she would have the scheduling department call me back to reschedule my appointment. When I never received a call to reschedule, I presumed she had cleared everything up with the doctor and had misread the part about my having ulcerative colitis. But staring back at me in black and white was the ulcerative colitis diagnosis. I couldn’t recall my doctor discussing a new diagnosis with me af
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