Wednesday, July 27, 2011

March 19th 2011 - The Beginning

I had a small mole on my upper right chest and it had been there a while. It did seem fine, although it was a little asymetrical. Anyone that has Melanoma knows the "A, B, C, D's" to look for. A is for asymetrical mole, but I wasn't really paying much attention. I should have, though, because I am pale skinned, fair haired, and my family has a history of basal cell skin cancer.

The mole had been there for years and wasn't changing until my cat just happened to scratch me there one day. It began to change quickly, getting larger, changing colors, then even more alarmingly, bleeding and weeping. I am a freelance graphic designer and don't make much money so I went to a Health Center as my primary doctor. I showed them my mole back in the summer of 2010 and they said I should go to a dermatologist. I told them I didn't have the money. A few months later I showed them the mole again and again they said to see a dermatologist. This time they gave me a number to a charity clinic that I would have to contact to see if they would approve me. At the same time I was (and still am) a full time caregiver of my disabled sister and her needs always come before my own. It was literally months before I could get approved to see a dermatologist that wouldn't make me pay anything. If I had known then what I know now, I would have gone there at the first unnatural sign of my mole and written a bad check if I had to. It's my life we were talking about.

And so, in March of this year I finally got in to see the dermatologist. Here is what I wrote about it:

I went to the dermatologist on Monday and made mom go with me. I'm glad I did. They took one look at "Charlie" and said "Oh HELL no, he's coming off today!". I was like all big-eyed, gulping.... "Today? As in NOW?", and they laughed and said "Yup!". Eeeek. I wasn't at all prepared. I thought they would look at it, maybe scrape a sample off, and schedule me to have it removed. I was really scared, I must have asked at least a million questions. I've never had any kind of surgery at all. But once they got me in the surgical room with the lights and the instruments, somehow I just calmed down and said ok, let's get this over with.

I asked them what Charlie was, a mole, skin cancer.. what? And they said for lack of anything else to call it until pathology gets back, they're calling it a tumor. Wherein that started me with the "It's not a tumor!" comments ala Arnold Schwarzy.

I hate that they lay you down flat then pull that big light down to you. For some reason it makes you feel very vulnerable. The only thing I was really worried about was the shots to numb the area, I was scared they would really hurt, but they didn't. They just pinched a tiny bit. They must have given me 10 shots or so, in different areas, but I was joking the whole time. I was so relieved. After just a few mins the whole area was numb and they got down to work. There was a doctor and two residents and the doctor let them do the surgery while she watched. So they started cutting and I kept lifting my head to see. The doctor said "Stop lifting your head, you might get ill from the sight of your own blood" and I was like "No way. Once I'm numb, I wanna SEE. I can watch autopsies while eating dinner. I'm not squeamish". They thought I was weird... but they laughed. I'd wait a few mins then lift my head again and comment and they'd laugh and tell me to quit looking. Meanwhile mom and I were talking about the Bachelor and the doctor (who was a female) started talking with us too. I kept saying things to make the residents laugh and they said I was "very entertaining". When they were using the cauterizing tool to stop the bleeding, a little smoke was coming up and I jokingly tried to sniff it, and said "Is that the smell of my own burning skin?" and mom said "Smells like chicken" and that was it. They all burst out laughing. We're so weird, I know.

My whole family thinks I'm a big wuss when it comes to getting anything done myself, but mom said she was really proud of me, that I handled it wonderfully. And Deni is proud of me too. I have 8 stitches and a big bandage and restrictions for the next two weeks on bending, lifting, etc. I don't really hurt that much, but the itching is crazy. When it aches, it pinches a bit.


A few days later... Yeah, so they told me it wouldn't hurt while it healed. It doesn't hurt per say, but it does ITCH like a mother, and it tugs and pulls and pinches, and is just generally a pain in the ass. It's red around the edges so I'm watching it for any signs of infection. Last night Deni was asking me to pick up her big huge binders from hell on her floor and I said no, I wasn't supposed to bend over and pick up heavy stuff. She just said "oh that was 4 days ago". I don't THINK so. I got really annoyed and said no and just walked out. I talked to my neice, who graduates nursing school next month, and she said any restrictions apply until I see the doctor again which isn't until a week from Monday, so I still shouldn't be bending over and/or picking up anything heavy.

I guess what really worries me is what's going to happen if something serious ever happens to me? Deni is gonna have to step up and push herself a bit. She IS disabled, but I've spoiled her too by waiting on her hand and foot instead of making her get up more. But if I ever get really ill or have a serious injury, I don't know what would happen. First off no one would take care of me, second, Deni would have to try and take care of herself for a bit. Momma said she'd take care of me, but she's in her 70's and can only do so much. All I can do is pray I stay relatively healthy.

Speaking of that, I'm still waiting on my pathology results to see if "Charlie" was cancer or not. Deni told me to prepare myself because her test results have always come back cancerous - skin cancer, but they've never had to do anything else for hers. The doctor told me if mine come back cancer, they might have to go back in and take more out, and they might have to biopsy my lymph nodes too.

Scary shit, Mainard. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile I still have another week of healing to do before they take the stitches out.

And that's my life right now in a nutshell.

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