So many people have been touching my boobs lately. I have like the most popular boobs in New Jersey right now. Ready for a boob update? Super. Let’s have at it.
So, since we last discussed them, many things have happened with me and my boobs. As I mentioned previously, I had an appointment with my gynecologist a few weeks ago. My gynecologist is the best. I think it’s important to really get along well with your gynecologist. I mean, he’s going to see things. You need to be comfortable with the person who sees those things. We talked for awhile about the situation, and he gave me a referral to an oncologist and genetic counselor to have the test to determine if I carry the BRCA 2 mutation that is plaguing half of my family tree. He also told me my cervix looked fantastic. Compliment of the year. Then he sent me for an ultrasound and mammogram the very next day. Exciting. I spent my 35th birthday being naked in front of strangers. Not the good way.
Let me tell you about mammograms. Mammograms have a bad reputation. They’re not so bad. I mean, it’s not how I’d choose to spend a day, but it was considerably less uncomfortable than other tests I’ve had in the past year. After the mammogram I was supposed to go right in for my ultrasound. Have you ever had an ultrasound? The kind where you have to have a full bladder? They like to make you wait for these. They made me wait too long and I became THAT* patient. The one who says “Oh, there’s someone else in front of me? No, actually there isn’t. My appointment was at 2:30. It’s 3:30. I haven’t peed since 12:30. I am going in there and taking my pants off. You can send someone in or not, but I’ll be in there, pantless, waiting.” They sent someone in. She didn’t seem thrilled. She was especially peeved when I used the phrase “dildo cam” and that wasn’t even my fault:
Me: I need a bladder full of 32 oz of water for this ultrasound. They told me to finish drinking it by 1:30. You really need to strictly adhere to your appointment times when your waiting room is full of full bladdered women. We’re going to revolt soon. I’m getting a lot of knowing eye contact that clearly means “we’re with you.” I think I’m about to be a legend, guys.
Jessica: Do you have to do the dildo cam ultrasound?
Me: Dildo cam. Amazing. And yes. I have both. They smashed my breasts and now I’m going to be penetrated by machinery. It’s like Amsterdam.
Me: I’m going to pee on someone soon. Intentionally. That’s how revolution starts.
Nicole: With a whiz.
So that all happened. And then yesterday I met with the genetic counselor and oncologist. That was surprisingly fun. Todd and I had a great time talking about farts and nipples and all sorts of things while we waited, and when they joined us they enjoyed our jokes and had all the fun with us. And the best part? My biggest fear was not realized. My biggest fear, of course, being that I would reveal that I had already come to a decision on how to proceed and they would try to talk me out of it. That didn’t happen. Instead, here’s how it went down. After talking to me for well over an hour and discussing all of my options, the question came: Have you considered how you want to proceed if your test does come back positive?
“Yes. I have. I know me. I don’t deal well with stress, and the constant worry and waiting for test results every three months for the rest of my life is not for me. I don’t want any more children. I don’t have any emotional attachment to my breasts. I would like to get rid of everything.”
I waited for a look to pass between them or the “well, there are some other things to consider here…” Instead, they both smiled and said “that’s great. It’s good that you know that about yourself and that is absolutely a good decision. Hopefully we’ll never need to consider it but, if we do, that means you will probably never need to see us again.”
And so there it is, guys. Now we wait. But here’s an interesting thing about the waiting that I want to share because you should be angry about this. This gene? This BRCA2? Somewhere in California is a company named Myriad, and Myriad did something very interesting indeed. They patented the sequencing of this gene. So if you need this test, you must have your results read by this company and only this company. Know what that means? They get to set any price they want. And if you can’t pay that price, you have no choice but to not have the test. For the specific test I need, it is $495. I’m lucky for a few reasons. Since we know the precise mutation in my family, I get the “cheap” test. We don’t have to look for everything because we know exactly what we’re looking for. And I’m not concerned about $495. I have insurance and if my insurance doesn’t cover a portion of this or if it counts toward my deductible, well that’s okay, because I have money in the bank. But what happens to women without insurance? Without money in the bank? Are you okay with living in a world where women have to choose between grocery shopping or their rent and their own health? Are you comfortable labeling them as lazy ol’ takers? Are you cool with denying them the same opportunity I have to take every precaution to ensure their continued health? Because I’m not. This is what happens when your health exists in a for-profit environment. Because this is disgusting and deplorable, Myriad has been sued by the ACLU. And Myriad isn’t concerned. Because by the time the case is out of litigation, the patent will have expired anyway. These are the people responsible for my life right now. And if I weren’t privileged enough to have an extra $495 laying around, they’d happily tell me to go fuck myself. Be disgusted. Then do something.
*This absurd display wasn’t entirely my fault. They told me “Melissa, you have a 2:30 appointment, so you have to drink 32 oz of water by 1:30.” So I did that. And then at 3:00 they brought me in for my ultrasound and were like “Your bladder isn’t full enough,” and I was like “It seriously could not be more full,” so then they were like “you need to drink more. We’ll do your mammogram first and have you drink some more water and then we’ll do your ultrasound right after that,” and so then I drank some more water and had my mammogram and then I just sat there for like 45 minutes. And a very nice nurse came out to me and said “are you okay?” and I said “No, I am positively not okay. I haven’t peed since 12:30 and I’ve drank twice the amount I was told to at this point.” And so then I heard the nurse talking to the ultrasound tech and the ultrasound tech said “well, they have to work her back into the schedule, her bladder wasn’t full enough,” and that’s when I lost it. At an hour past my appointment time and three hours past my last bathroom trip and then the ultrasound tech who agreed to take on the pantless woman had the nerve to tell me I appeared to have trouble emptying because she sent me to the bathroom after ultrasound 1 and before ultrasound 2 and was like “there’s more in your bladder,” and I was like “THAT’S WHAT WAS WAITING IN LINE. STOP SAYING I HAVE TROUBLE EMPTYING. YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND BLADDERS?”