I had an appointment with the dermatologist this morning. Routine visit. A year or so ago I had a little basal cell carcinoma cut out and so now I go annually to get a "body check." My plans were to go in, get a couple of small places looked at, and get out. I had a to-do list all mapped out: doctor, bank, fill the car up with gas, buy thread, get car washed, pick up a book at the library....the list was pretty long. The best laid plans.
First of all you have to understand that the dermatologist is absolutely wonderful, has the most beautiful skin you've ever seen on any man, and will certainly be celebrating his 14th birthday this year. Maybe 15th. He looks quickly and talks fast. He immediately froze 4 places; one on my hand, one on my arm, one on my back and one on my really low back (yes, you could classify that as my backside). That's my first time for freezing off one of those questionable spots. It didn't hurt as bad as childbirth and that's all I've got to say about that.
Then he said, "we have to do something about all those pre-cancerous places on your face." Huh? What places? To say that I am a normal 62 year old woman should tell you immediately that my close-up vision is not good. I put in a contact to put on my makeup. Then I take it out to sew. I put it in to go shopping. I take it out to read. One contact. Because I can see a mile away but nothing on my nose. It seems he saw lots of little red spots under the skin on my nose and cheeks, under my eyes and on my forehead. Sun damage that would someday turn into cancers that he would have to cut out one at a time over the next however many years God gives me on this earth. He assured me I wouldn't like that.
So we discussed options. Or he discussed options. His preferred method of treatment is the "blue light." I felt like a K-Mart Special. He put something on my face that is supposed to be a natural substance but is really some kind of acid. Then I waited an hour and went back in. The nurse put sun glasses on me - you know the kind like you wear in a tanning bed? No I don't get in a tanning bed. Any more. But that kind. And then she put this space helmet down over my head - no kidding, it was sort of an old fashioned hair dryer helmet but updated to Space Odyssey Year 2098. They turned it on for 16 minutes and 41 seconds and I am not kidding. That's the exact time she told me. And then she left.
So I'm sitting in the dark with my eyes closed and sunglasses on and a space helmet over my head. When I get nervous or scared or bored I have to have something to do to keep me from running screaming so I sing Jesus Loves Me. Not out loud. But over and over. You can sing Jesus Loves Me a lot of times in 16 minutes and 41 seconds. Finally it goes off and the nurse comes back in to remove it.
She turns to look at me and her eyes widen. Uh Oh. And she says, "was your face peeling like that when you came in?" Uh Oh. I reply, calmly, "Since I can't see my face I don't know what you're referring to but...my...face...was...not...peeling...when...I...came...in. She says "I'll get you a mirror and I think you're going to need some pain pills." Uh Oh. She brings me a mirror and my face is peeling all over like you do a week after a bad sunburn. I ask if this is the norm. Still calm. Until she says "I've never seen anyone do this." Uh Oh. I ask for the doctor, the 14 year old one. He's so cheerful I want to slap him. He says....oh it's gonna' be fine...it will just take a little longer than we first thought....you're skin is so fine and so thin that you just started the process a little sooner than normal but look at it like this. Lots of women pay a lot of money for a mid-level chemical peel for cosmetic purposes but your insurance company is gonna' pay for yours because it was for medical purposes. And you're gonna' look really good....in a week or two. A week. Or Two. It's a little swollen now but it will go down. No kidding. That's what he said. It's peeling but you just wash it and rub it with a washrag and that will come off. No kidding. That's what he said. It won't last but a week. Or two.
Picture a white haired, very fair skinned woman after being in the sun for several hours with no sunscreen. That's me.
I have a pretty tough schedule this week (according to my sister my normal schedule rivals her 40-50 hour work week and she'd rather work and get paid for it thank you very much). I'm doing physical therapy 3 times, had quilt guild tonight and a quilt group Wednesday, a luncheon, the theater, a two day women's conference, etc. Need I say more?
I called a friend in Little Rock because Jerry and I have theater tickets with she and her husband and was bemoaning my fate. I wasn't sure I could go looking like this. She said, "Oh Marlene I went to our high school reunion bald after my chemo. It's no big deal." The blue light special was now over. It's gonna be no big deal!