If you happen to be one of the people who actually reads this blog and you know a bit about who I am, I would imagine you might be scratching your head right now. The other day, I had a post with a title about our "ability to prevent breast cancer." Thankfully, there are a few people who do email me and that post has me a bit worried. I hope anyone who saw that title and bypassed the post will go back and read it.
There is a line from a medical oncologist explaining what women might attempt to do to "prevent" breast cancer. She wasn't being serious with her suggestions, she was trying to make a point. The statements are so ludicrous, they made me laugh. And breast cancer is not anything that I laugh about. EVER. But, it was a clever way to grab my attention. I read the entire article. It's logical.
I do agree with her thoughts about primary care physicians being trained to identify "at risk women." I agree with her thoughts about having our primary care physicians (or our gynecologists) discuss the potential benefit of taking a drug like tamoxifen or an aromitase inhibitor if we are in an "at risk" category. All people with high cholesterol are not sent to a cardiologist. Ditto those patients with high blood pressure. They are monitored and medications are prescribed, for the most part, by their primary care doctors. Those who do not respond to medications are the ones who are referred for specialty care. I might have benefitted from "preventative" tamoxifen. I doubt I would have taken it, but it MAY have cut off the estrogen supply to the rogue cells and perhaps I might have been spared the cancer diagnosis.
That's the skinny on the post that insinuates "prevention" as a possibility. A sound bite. I'm becoming a sound biter. And I'm using the buzz words that I've come to despise. First "prevent" and now this??? AWARENESS???? Surely I've moved to the dark side. Or should I say, the pink haze.... NAH. This awareness has zero zip zilch to do with cancer or illness or really anything... this is a story of what the hell happened last night that made me miss my monthly Patient Volunteer meeting at MSK and it was a great meeting. (I phoned in but it was NOT the same.......)
I had my swimming pool uncovered on Monday and as I was running out for yoga, the young man from the pool company was pulling up to vacuum the leaves now that the water was clear enough to see the bottom. Today, they will throw salt into the water and for the rest of the summer, the pool basically takes care of itself. It's NOT a salt water pool but we have this great salt filtration system. It makes natural chlorine and I save a bundle on chemicals.
When I got back from yoga, I went to put my yoga mat into my "basement" .... It's only under half of the house and the basement is only half underground. One of the windows is eye level with the ground and I have a great view of the pool from this window. I walked over to the window to see what was going on with the water. Frequently, the window is open. It was open yesterday afternoon as I was glancing at the pool.
Right beside that window are the meters for the electric and the gas along with the box for the phone line and the cable modem. My nostrils were invaded with what I thought was a slight odor of gas. I called my daughter and asked her if she could smell anything. Initially she said she didn't smell anything and then she thought she did. I went outside to the meter and again, it seemed like there was an odor. I was outdoors so there was a small element of my logical brain in play........"Hey, jerk... you are in OPEN air where this stuff would be dissipating if it were nothing."
I HATE sounding the damn alarm and "I smell gas" is pretty high on the alarm scale. It's an eleven. Call the gas company? Or wait? Or call? Or check again in an hour? In an hour????? I grabbed the phone and called The Special Phone Number. There are no prompts to press one for this or two for that. The phone is answered with the same swiftness as a 911 call. And they don't take kindly to people jamming that number with stupid questions like, "I have no hot water" or "why is there a service charge on my bill?" The greeting, "What is your gas emergency?" I don't have an emergency.... and I try to tell the girl I'm not sure if it's an emergency or not, but I THINK I may smell gas.
She asked me a couple of quick questions and as I was elaborating she was entering a mayday request. "Stay on the line with me until I get a confirmation that they accepted the order." Huh??? Who accepted WHAT order????? It's a procedural thing. No ball dropping when someone calls in and implies even the hint of a gas leak. This shit is serious. I hung up the phone and I said to my daughter, "Just watch this." She was looking at me like I was nuts. I told her to check the time because there would be someone at the door within minutes. Turned out, twenty minutes to be exact.
I felt like a complete idiot when the guy got to the door. I just shook my head and took him to the gas meter, told him I felt like a giant ass but I thought I could smell gas. Ten minutes later, he was at my door again to inform me that YES, the valve was leaking and YES, there was a fairly significant leak and YES, he replaced that value and he needed to check all the pilot lights in the house. Water heater, boiler, cooktop......
The fact that the meter was right outside my open window meant the gas would be leaking into the basement and once it reached a saturation point, one of those flames to the boiler or the hot water heater? BOOM. It coulda been a real issue. The key point here? It's a damn good thing I am AWARE how dangerous a gas leak can be...... Because I'm pretty sure I would have been completely UNAWARE if the house had blown to smithereens. I would have just been collateral damage. Without ever even knowing what the hell happened. Yes, Awareness. Nothing is more important.