Like many other lifetime Rhode Islanders in their prime, (that is, old,) a great deal of time was spent at the beach when I was younger. Like many other sunbathers my body is now covered in brown …
Like many other lifetime Rhode Islanders in their prime, (that is, old,) a great deal of time was spent at the beach when I was younger. Like many other sunbathers my body is now covered in brown spots of all kinds and sizes. Heeding warnings about skin cancer, I recently went to a dermatologist who so very pleasantly surveyed my body from top to toe. She did not spot anything that looked unusual but asked if any of my myriad of spots had changed. I thought about it for a minute and pointed out one in my upper chest area that had developed a small curly que. No big change. The tiny spot, about 1/8 of an inch, had developed a very inkling of a tiny tail. The doctor got out her syringe of numbing agent, numbed it, then scraped it off. She said she would call me with the results of the biopsy, but I wasn’t worried. It did not look like any of the melanoma pictures they had around their office, and it was certainly too small to be skin cancer. If it was, I assumed it had been irradicated by her swift scalpel.
I left the office without a care, and went about my business, until a call came the following week from their office. It was determined to be cancerous, and it was requested that I return to their office to have it “more fully removed”. Huh? That teeny tiny spot? Wasn’t it already removed?
Last Friday, bright and early in the morning at 8:00 am, I went back to their office for the “surgery”, as they called it. The nursing assistant and the doctor were bright and cheery, and we made small talk about our children and grandchildren, laughing about their antics. I laid down on the table and was engulfed in a huge light similar to what they have in operating rooms. It was a sudden realization that it WAS an operating room, and, in fact, it was an operation. My eyes were shut tight, both to avoid the glare from the overpowering streams of light, but also so I did not see when she picked up the syringe full of numbing agent and the scalpel. She worked quickly to poke me with bee stings of the anesthesia, from what felt like a whole beehive. She and the lovely assistant continued to talk about life in a friendly tone, even chuckling a few times, but my contributions to the conversation stalled due to my sudden realization about what they were doing. Apparently, they were removing the area that had surrounded that brown, teeny tiny dot to make sure they “got everything”. It was a sobering thought.
They bandaged the area up with a 3-inch square bandage and tape, gave me directions on how to care for the incision, and sent me on my way with prescriptions for antibiotic cream and an oral antibiotic. My thought was that it was a lot of precaution for such a small area.
The pain that ensued belied the fact that it was only a tiny area. I was told not to bend over, pick things up, or carry anything, and it was easy to see why. Just reaching to put my shirt on was painful. I spent the day on the couch watching the latest season of “Young Sheldon” and wondering how in heavens name was THAT Sheldon the same Sheldon that was on the “Big Bang Theory” as an adult.
Per their instructions, today was the first day I was able to take the bandage off. Staring at myself in the mirror, I was mortified to see a huge 3-inch incision with about 1,000 very neat, tiny stitches. (Okay, I exaggerated.) The whole area is black and blue, and it looks awful. Where I had expected a tiny incision to match the tiny spot that had been removed, instead there is a large area where all traces of any type of melanoma has been eradicated. I hope…