Test Results


Doctor: I have some bad news and some very bad news.

Patient: Well, give me the bad news first.

Doctor: The lab called with your test results. They said you have 24 hours to live.

Patient: 24 HOURS! That’s terrible!  WHAT could be WORSE?  What’s the VERY BAD news?

Doctor: I’ve been trying to reach you since yesterday.

You know, this joke isn’t actually as improbable as it sounds.

This time last year, my 89 year old widowed mother-in-law was admitted to a nursing home having become increasingly withdrawn and difficult to nurse at home. On admission, a routine blood sample was taken by her doctor and sent off to the nearest hospital for analysis.

The following day, the hospital laboratory rang to enquire if the patient was still alive! Her kidney function was apparently so bad, the laboratory thought that the patient would not have survived the night. The family were told to prepare for the worst and we all gathered to say our last goodbyes.

Now one year on, and my mother-in-law is looking forward to celebrating her 90th birthday in the nursing home. Her kidney function is normal for her age.

You have to wonder if this ‘miraculous’ recovery is thanks to lots of TLC at the nursing home or maybe, just maybe, it could have been a laboratory error?

8 Responses to Test Results

  1. d@\/e says:

    That’s amazing.I hope she’s a great birthday!

  2. Steph says:

    Dave – hello and welcome!

    My mother-in-law was a legend in her time for opening her home to anyone in need of some TLC. When news of her imminent demise emerged, all the family plus her surrogate family flocked from far and wide to pay her a last visit. Our house was like a train station for weeks. My MIL revelled in having all this fuss made of her and perked up enormously. We all thought that perhaps it was the final flourish before the fall but here we are a year later and she’s still enjoying regular visitors in the nursing home. At least when the final call does come, we’ll be well-rehearsed at family gatherings!

  3. I had one of those lab errors just two weeks ago. No joke, I tell you.

    Hope your mum-in-law keeps going strong!

  4. Steph says:

    Thanks! AV

    Hope you’re feeling better at this stage.

  5. annb says:

    Our boy wonder had an MRI scan done at approx 18months of age, in the hope that we would find out why he arrived sans kidneys. At this stage he was just recovering from a very nasty peritonitus and scepticemia, so was just a shade under the weather. He also hadn’t managed to fit walking into his list of achievements – what with the dialysis and the general fight for life it had somehow skipped his mind! Anyway results of the MRI were conveyed in a very formal and serious manner via the neuro team complete with the consultant himself. The results were vague,certain areas of brain were not developed properly, we couldn’t be sure if there was a developmental issue and not much else could be determined for another year. Intellectual disability couldn’t be ruled out but I was not to worry!! Not worry? Given my experience of the community services, this was a serious worry!! I went home, wept, worried myself sick and then started to wonder. I happened to watch a BBC documentary on brain development while nursing a large glass of wine one night and realised that I had never asked what parts of the brain were affected. When I returned to the hospital, I asked, they checked and told me it was the area governing gross motor skills. I told them he hadn’t learned to walk yet – and they said Ah, right, well, that’ll be it so. That part of the brain won’t develop until he walks! MRI’s on brains this young was still a new science and really they were just learning how to read them! Now can anyone spot the person with the developmental, communication disorder in this story?

    Happy New Year – keep up the good work!

  6. Steph says:

    Annb – I take my hat off to you! You’ve just beautifully outlined what I’ve always known… that people dealing with a serious health problem often actually know more about the condition than the so-called experts.

    Having been in and out of hospitals all my life, I can honestly say that I’ve heard some unbelievable stuff over the years. The secret is knowing when to intervene and when to keep your trap shut.

    Thanks for your support. I’ve all fingers and toes crossed for your little fella.

  7. annb says:

    My personal favourite, was when a junior doctor asked me to provide a sample of my son’s urine.
    I said he didn’t pass any. He nodded sagely and said” I’ll leave it with you there’s no rush”. It was the early days, I was still getting used to the medical speak, but I just couldn’t not say anything!
    I apologised again for my ignorance, but said that even Leaving Cert Biology had equipped me with the knowledge, that no kidneys means no urine. His exit was swift and final, I never saw him again.
    I often wonder what happened to him.

  8. Steph says:


    That poor junior doc was way out of his depth. He obviously hadn’t learnt to think outside the box. I’d say it was a lesson he never forgot!

    I groan when medics who are unfamiliar with my complicated medical history, try to suggest simplistic measures. I listen politely and then have a bit of fun at their expense. You’d go bonkers otherwise!

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