Okay, yes, I know…that rocket left the launch pad a while back. But, unlikely as it may seem, it continues to thrust ever further into space…the final frontier. I’m getting loonier. I have proof.
Today was dermatologist day–always traumatic. I have a skin malfunction that basically ensures I’ll never grow out of the oily-occasional-breakout-teenage phase. On the up side, oily skin gets fewer wrinkles. Anyway, today was a follow up, which I have come to believe translates to, “The day you have to go to the doctor so he can get his cut on the office visit before refilling your prescriptions.” I don’t hold that against the dermatologist. I think most doctors operate that way, and who can blame them? They have vacation homes to pay for.
Today, I also had a mole check. I bet some of you see where this is headed. I am one of the very pale skinned women who slathered themselves with baby oil and iodine and baked for hours to a bright, lobster red trying to achieve a suntan during my teenage years. Since I grew a brain, I have also had several accidental sunburns. So, once in a while, a dermatologist looks me over for suspicious moles.
This was my first general mole check with this doctor. Some of you might recall the dramatic, very specific mole check that brought me to this good man. So does he. Which possibly explains why this appointment was mysteriously bumped several times due to emergencies.
After a general chat about my teenage skin, why I need to use sunscreen, et cetera, kindly doctor Harper (not his real name) left the room so Nurse could drape me. This is where I take off everything except my underwear and she gives me a sheet for my legs, and a swatch of cotton about the size of a wash cloth. She hands me the cloth. “This is for your top.”
I just looked at her.
She took another look and me and went to find a bigger wash cloth. Finally, we were all set, and Dr. Harper came back in. I chattered away about couldn’t he just sandblast my whole body and give it that air-brushed look that models in magazines had while he looked me over with a magnifying glass. Literally.
I noticed he was paying a lot of attention to a red place on my shoulder. He measured, frowned, and made some notes. “How long has this been here?” he asked.
I told him I really couldn’t say, but why was he asking?
“Is it a scar?”
“I don’t think so,” I said. I thought back, and couldn’t imagine how I would have gotten a scar on my shoulder. I didn’t recall ever injuring it.
“It might be a cancerous spot,” he said, in a tone like he was saying we might have a shower later this afternoon, “or it could be a scar.”
Now, I’m thinking, this guy’s a dermatologist, and with a magnifying glass, he can’t tell the difference between a scar and cancer? But I say, of course, “Let’s get that sucker off of there right now.”
He frowned at me. “It’s really just something we need to watch.”
“Watch?? Why? Just take it off.”
“I’ll check it again in fours months, and we’ll see if it’s grown any.” He knew I’d have to come back in a month to get the refills on my teenage skin prescriptions, but he wanted to check what MIGHT BE CANCER in four months??
As you probably can guess, I did not take this well. I began to hyperventilate. “Dr. Harper, really, what’s the down side to removing something that MIGHT BE Cancer right this very minute?”
“Well, this is the type of thing we see every day. We really just need to watch it,” he said, in that father-knows-best-voice.
“Listen, Dr. Harper, I’m a little nutty”–like he didn’t know that already–“and I really think we’ll both be better off if you just get out the scalpel and get rid of whatever that is on my shoulder, because otherwise, I will lie awake and worry about it. I will obsess about it. I will drive everyone I know crazy.”
He sighed. Deeply. “You know, I really wish I’d said, ‘Hmmm, looks like you have a scar on your shoulder.'”
Again, I asked him what possible downside there was to removing the thing.
“It’s like when you go to the doctor, and he tells you that your cholesterol is high, and we need to watch it.”
I persisted. “What’s the downside?”
“It will leave a scar,” he said. He really said that. About this time, he started furiously scribbling my prescriptions.
I was flabbergasted. “But it already looks like a scar, and it MIGHT BE CANCER.”
“You wouldn’t have a doctor remove your appendix just because it might give you trouble,” he argued.
I smiled, triumphantly. “Oh yes I would. I already have.”
He cocked his head and squinted his eyes at me. “Well, if they were already in there…” He stood up and handed me my prescriptions. “See you in a month. I’ll take a look at it then.” He started rushing out the door. Over his should he said, “There’s a lot of things we could all be worried about. Forget about this and pick something else.” So now he’s my psychologist, too??
I stewed on the way to the pharmacy.
I stewed all the way home.
If he wouldn’t take the thing off, I’d find a dermatologist who would. Too bad the quack I used to see left town without notice. He’d lop anything off I asked him too, without so much as blinking. Why, he’d once taken off three or four moles in one office visit. One on my stomach, two on my arms, and… it stuck me like a thunderbolt… one on my shoulder.
The thing I wanted Dr. Harper to remove was the scar from where Dr. Left-Town-In-The-Middle-Of-The-Night had removed a mole years ago.
Y’all know how bad my memory is…
At least I can tell myself that until I go back for my teenage skin follow-up, which is a good thing, because we leave for tomorrow on vacation with my mamma and daddy and my sister and her husband. We’re going to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and will be spending time in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Park. My family has little patience with my insanity. If I were to exhibit signs of obsessing about this mole/scar that MIGHT BE CANCER, one of them would likely drown me in the Snake River, or throw me out of a hot air balloon.
I’m already on my sister’s list because I packed a skirt, and that was not on the approved wardrobe packing list in the professionally bound trip book she prepared for us. Y’all probably won’t believe this, but she’s much crazier than I am.