Saturday, September 23, 2006

Seven Puncture Wounds

I thought, no, I won't write about this. But Joan, my sister-in-law who is in the middle of nasty chemotherapy for breast cancer sent me a note yesteray about pink and white M&Ms of which 50 cents for every pack goes to research. And both quilt magazines I received lately advertise the Olfa rotary cutters and mats in pink, percentages gong to research. And I think of Virginia Spiegel's project selling art quilt postcards at $30 each. She's already made over $50,000 for research and will be hoping to double that at Houston in a few weeks. It's a serious and important subject, I hope a cure will be found. I had the unfounded and head-in-the-sand idea that it wouldn't affect me in my own tender flesh.
Hubris asks to be humbled ... so I'm recovering from seven puncture wounds in my left breast inflicted on Tuesday after a couple of mammogams showed a change from the previous mammogram -- THREE years ago -- a tiny spot only visible on a magnified X-ray and sonogram. But ... "we should check it out." I considered rejecting that reasoning and would have said, no, let's wait and see if it changes. There's been no breast cancer among my blood relatives. BUT none of them took estrogen for many years either as I have. Weighing the facts, I decided okay.
I said to the nice M.D. that in a way doing a biopsy with such slight indications is CYA medicine. [CYA is cover your ass] She said defensively, as expected, But there are times we catch something very early -- a major part of the goal of the whole initiave that urges we women to have regular mammograms. [A theory to which I am not an enthusiastic adherent.] She agreed that in another country such aggressive medicine would be unlikely ... it would be "wait and see."
Anyway, after a couple of pricks when the anesthesia was administered, the subsequent seven punctures were painless. Thursday she called to say the pathology showed only benign results. Happy ending. BUT the moral of the story, from my point of view, is not HURRAY I'm okay. It's: this is one of the things that's wrong with American healthcare. This procedure cost Medicare a few thousand dollars, and it cost me about a thousand. So the clinic is richer and has a nice statistics to prove they are doing exactly what they exist to do. But it was quite unnecessary.
Thanks to the scare tactics of the media and the fact that almost no one understands statistics [I'm not a statistical genius either but I have a basic grasp of how and who uses them] we have little ability to balance pros anc cons. Another case in point, a cousin just wrote and asked if I'll get a flu shot soon. No! I've never had a flu shot. Why? Because I've never had the flu. Can I get the flu? Sure. But I seem to have a good immune system and rarely have more than one or two colds a winter and no flus. Why should I have a flu shot?
This week the news is telling us that every teen and many others ought to have HIV tests because somebody's statistics say X-thousand people are infected and don't know it. Likewise, there's a whole battery of tests we're told we should have regularly for things like colon and prostrate cancer, bone density, cholesterol level, etc. No doubt they save lives but the shotgun approach of test everyone just doesn't make sense unless you are a manufacturer of the tests, a clinic that administers them, a government agency that wants to rack up some impressive numbers or an insurance company that has calculated that it's cheaper to do a lot of tests than pay for the care of those dying of the undetected results.
Where are we, the individuals in all this Big Brother medicine? We're the scared little rabbits paying too much for health insurance and for drugs and deciding to live the "good life" while we can and eating too much, exercising too little and never asking where or how our spinach is grown until someone dies of E. coli. If we took the trouble to know how artifically most of our food is produced, and how artificially the flavors are added ... well, in fact there's a couple of generations who don't know what a tomato truly should taste like, and who have no idea that most fruit should be rather soft and quite sweet and truly flavorful with a satisfying texture in the mouth -- not something similar to eating styrofoam somehow infused with the scent of actual strawberries or apples.
It's a soapbox and I've only begun this rant. But I'll try in the next few notes to write about quilting ... meanwhile those pesky puncture wounds itch as they're healing ... which I guess is a good sign. [Sorry no pictures today.]

1 comment :

magikquilter said...

I am so with you on this one....a few years ago I had the same thing except mine was a false positive. They were carrying on as if I was dying and nothing had been properly diagnosed yet. They ended up biopsying a lymph node which I am annoyed about, those little buggers need to be left alone!