Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Please Paramount, Give Us The Volleyball Scene

Why is it so damn hard to find The Volleyball Scene from "Top Gun" on Youtube?  There are parodies and foreign language versions, videotaped copies and oh-so-funny dubbed versions.  But just the scene in all its sweaty glory? You all know what scene I'm talking about.  Jeans no shirts, aviator glasses, volleyball gloves, flexing and dives. So far as I can tell, it ain't there.

Copyright issues? Whatevs, Paramount. We have to help our friends through needle biopsies here.

Here's the thing, how can I be as young as I am (and I am crazy young mind you), and have three of the, say, six women I consider to be my closest friends, have been through needle biopsies?  One of the three had a lumpectomy.  And thankfully, they have all been benign.  I definitely am on board with the whole it's-better-to-be-safe-than-sorry thing. Catch it early. Wipe it out. But it seems to me, and I'm not the doctor in this house, that new imaging devices are able to see miniscule things in our bodies, but clumsy old human eyes, even very well-trained doctory ones, aren't able to tell what those things are without poking holes in our boobs with knitting needles.  Either the devices have to get even better.  Or the doctors need to figure out how to interpret these pictures a little better.

But that's not even really what I'm on about.  What I'm on about is that in the meantime, the patient care, the real business of counseling women who make the move from the routine mammo to diagnostic mammo and beyond-- well the docs haven't quite figured out how to do that part either.  I spent four hours in a very well-respected doctor's office last Fall, apparently completely forgotten about, going through mammogram, wait, ultrasound, wait, repeat mammogram, wait...  It was an absolutely excruciating four hours.  And during the time I waited in my little robe in the magazine room, not one person came to explain what was going on.  No one told me what the docs were looking at.  Or concerned about.  Or not to worry.  Or even how much was reasonable to worry.  I swear, at one point a nurse or tech or someone actually came in, saw me alone in the waiting room, and said "you're still here!?" I kid you not.  I was alone, essentially crying on the ultrasound table, with no one to talk to.   Texting my husband like a crazy person.  My little crisis ended four hours later with a paper that read "normal mammogram. probably benign ultrasound come back in six months possible cystic changes." What the wha?  I am fairly certain that means I'm okay.  Doc Hubby agreed.  Still even the interpretation of that mysterious piece of paper was lacking.  But at that point I was so desperate to leave...and late for a Kindergarten visit that when I showed up at the doctor's office four hours earlier I hadn't even dreamed I could possibly miss...that I didn't have it in me to ask more questions.  I have the comfort of going home to a physician.  I'm lucky that way.

The friend for whom I was desperately seeking Tom Cruise, has just completed that particular journey of anxiety that is becoming all to familiar as I watch friend after friend slog through it.  Hers started on MLK day, over two weeks ago.  Routine mammo.  Follow up call for a diagnostic mammo scheduled in...a week.  Week one of worry.  Degree of worry on a scale of 1 - 10?  Say 4. Diagnostic mammo results in needle biopsy scheduled in...a week.  Week two of worry.  Degree of worry on a scale of 1 - 10?  After spending four hours googling all possible outcomes? Say 8. Needle biopsy on a Monday.  Results back on Wednesday. Two more days of worry.  Degree of worry on a scale of 1 - 10?  When you throw in steri-strips and throbbing? Oh, around 11. 

Results today, negative.  Collective sigh of relief.

In what universe is it okay for all of that to take 2 and 1/2 weeks?  In the brilliant article by physician turned patient Colleen B. Fogarty "Call it 'Jiffy Boob', What's Lacking When Care Has Assembly-Line Efficiency," at least the author was able to have her needle biopsy immediately.  Why is this not par for the course?  But Fogarty's concerns are valid. Where is the mental health counseling?  If breast cancer detection is turning into an anxiety-creating machine, where is the counter-balancing human kindness?  I know there's no way of eliminating the anxiety completely. Results can't be instant.  But when routine turns scary, it's scary. Every hushed conversation overheard by nurses is interpreted as a sign.  Every mumbled discussion of what a radiologist has for lunch is a possible discussion of your condition.  Can they tell?  Do they already know? And when that ultrasound tech was smashing my poor cysty breasts over and over again, couldn't she say, "Just because I'm doing this so much, doesn't mean it's cancer. I need to give the radiologist a good picture because if I don't she will yell at me and I've had quite enough of that this week."

So, to Tom Cruise. It is up to us, then to be those people for each other.  When my boobs were aching, I went to my friends who had already been through this, for support.  And this past week, I decided to offer my friend a smile a day while she was going through her nightmare of waiting.  I sent her ecards and funny videos.  And when I wanted to send her the link to the Volleyball Scene on YouTube, or anywhere online really, I COULDN'T FIND IT!!!!  I mean, when you want to see Slider flex, you want to see Slider flex, am I right?

So listen, ye who hold the keys to the "Top Gun" kingdom.  For all us 40-somethings out there, who came of age to the Volley Ball Scene and then rented it at a video store you had to drive to, and wore out our parents' VCRs watching it over and over and over again while snacking on Cool Ranch Doritos and drinking Diet Coke...we who are now getting our tatas squished and poked and punctured, 80 percent of the time for absolutely no reason but to make us crazy with worry, is it too much to ask that you throw us a bone? For the love of God, put that heart-pounding, sand-spewing, orgy of sweat and shades on YouTube in a clear as crystal version. For us. Cuz we're sittin' squarely in the danger zone. And we need to have our breath, and our worries, taken away.