$250 and No Guarantees
Recently, I was sent to see an endocrinologist in Toronto to confirm that I don't have Cushing's disease. Even though she started the appointment telling me that I don't have Cushing's, by the end of the appointment, she was looking at test results I brought with me, (the referring local specialist only sent the results from two tests, not the additional 15 that I've had done in the past year) and decided to have me do a bunch more tests related to Cushing's.
Cushing's disease is very hard to diagnose. It has to do with pinpointing high Cortisol levels as well as where the problem originates. No one test is reliable in confirming or ruling it out, although the 24 hour urine collection test is fairly reliable for determining cortisol levels. You can read more about Cushing's disease on Wikipedia.
One of the tests the endocrinologist ask for was late-night salivary cortisol test. This test is basically chewing on a cotton wad for 30-45 seconds and placing it in a sterile tube. It's important that the cotton not be touched with your hands so that the sample is not contaminated. In total, I did four of these tests.
It was stressed to us, that the sample has to be frozen, and sent back to Toronto for testing. The sample cannot reach room temperature for any prolonged period of time, and so needed to be delivered within 24 hours of coming out of the freezer.
We were told by FedEX, that to deliver it from Sudbury to Toronto overnight, that packing it in dry ice was the safest bet.
Because dry ice is considered a dangerous substance, the cost to ship it ranges from $250 to $300.
By the way, there's no guarantee that the substance will remain frozen. We asked, and were told that there was no way they could guarantee that the item would not be placed under a vent or next to a heat source.
That would mean that we would pay that amount to send the samples down, and not really be able to trust the integrity of the sample once it arrived at the endocrinologist's office.
We tried calling the doctor's office Thursday afternoon, but they closed early, and their voice message said they were closed until Tuesday.
So, we are driving it down ourselves. It's cheaper, and we know we can keep it frozen, and away from heat sources for the trip.
We've asked. This is our only reliable option.
It's ludicrous to me that we have to close our business for the day, make arrangements for other people to cover other responsibilities and drive over 800 kms round trip to get this sample down there. There is no money or time to stay overnight, and so we have to round trip it.
With all the problems I'm having physically, this trip will be very difficult. My wife will have to do all of the driving. She has problems with her hips, knees and ankles and so this will be difficult for her as well.
At least we can do something like this. I can't imagine what happens to the people stuck without a choice.