Bureaucratic Ninjas

That’s the title I’ve bestowed upon the wonderful women who work with breast surgeons.  They’re the women who guide a new breast cancer patient through that  scary world, its language and procedures.  Their official title is Breast Navigator.  But one of the things they do so well is slice through red tape.   Hence my preferred title: Bureaucratic Ninja.

It’s been a year now since my little cancer oopsie and it was that time again.  Mammogram time.

I called to set up an appointment.  Just out of curiosity, I asked if it would be half-price, given the fact that now there’s only one.  I was informed that it was a bi-lateral mammogram.  But I’m uni-lateral, I argued.  Why do I have to pay for two?  Because that’s just the way it is, she said.

I told her I thought that was “milking the system.”  Perhaps an inappropriate metaphor in this instance but true nevertheless. Eye docs only charge for one at a time when they do cataracts.  Orthopods certainly don’t charge for two knee replacements when they only do one.  What’s the big diff with mammograms?

I lost that battle.  There were bigger ones on the way.

The day came for the appointment.  I had jitters; I think quite naturally.  I sat in the outer-waiting room (there’s an inner one, too…bi-lateral waiting rooms?)   I waited and watched as many who arrived after me left before me.  Time and time again.  Come and go, in and out, and there I sat.

At last I inquired.  Well, they said, your order says to do the left side and, as we look at your records, it’s clear we can’t do that.

You’re right about that, I said, so what’s the problem?

We have to obey the order.

That’s a physical impossibility so let’s be reasonable here.

We can’t.  We need another order.

I’ll fix this one, I offered.  Give me a pen.  I’ll cross out left and put in right.

No can do.

Then let me into the inner sanctum and I’ll demonstrate the obvious. We’ll go from there.

Nope, can’t do that either.

Just exactly how long is it going to take to get this straightened out, I asked, because I’ve been sitting here for well over an hour.   I’ve been patient and quiet so far but those other, not so well behaved, dogs are desperate to get out and it’s not gonna be pretty when they do.  Trust me on this: You don’t want that to happen.

Enter the Breast Navigator, aka, Bureaucratic Ninja.  She had remembered me from last year, had come to my rescue more than once back then and, Bless Her Heart, there she was again.  In less than five minutes I was on my way.  Happy to have it over and happier to have a good report.

I don’t know what she did to make it right.  All I know is The Mister was so grateful for her help that he sent her flowers the next day.  I stop by to just say hello if I’m in the neighborhood.  She doesn’t have an easy job and she sure does it well.  She deserves the occasional, out-of-the-blue and heartfelt “Thank you.“


P.S.  Life on the May turns three this month.  The blog is still a “do-not-reply” site.  My personal email or the “contact” page on the site is the only way for a message to come to me. Anything else goes into the ethers, never to be seen again.   I value any remarks you have.   It’s my way of staying in touch.