Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"Bummer of a Birthmark, Hal."

Well, today started off with a not-so-fun phone call. Although, not involving Sophie, or her teeth, or her inability to refrain from sticking crayons up her nose...going spontaneously deaf to her teacher's instructions...or rolling on the floor with Nixon. So in light of our most recent school not-so-fun-ities, that was a refreshing change.

No, this unpleasantry came in the form of a message from my dermatologist's nurse.

Turns out the super-scary mole that I went in to have checked (and removed) last week - the one that suddenly turned black, started growing like I'd given it a shot of hormones, and basically hit every check-point on the Signs You Have Skin Cancer checklist, it was fine. The teeny, slightly scaly, pin-sized dot on my face that I asked Dr. Stewart to look at as an after-thought to the removal of Mr. Scary was not so fine.

Basal cell carcinoma, not so fine.

I sat there, barely breathing, as the nurse did a lah-te-dah run through of what I needed to do now: Wait for a call from one of the other dermatologists in town. A specialist in the Mohs surgery, who would call to set up a consult for me to come in to have this particular procedure done. When I asked what "this particular procedure" involved, she informed me that it consisted of the surgical removal of the affected tissue, the freezing and mapping of that tissue, the interpretation of the microscopic slides of tissue, and the reconstruction of the surgical defect. In layman's terms, that's code for: "We'll cut a chunk out of your face, make you sit a really long time in your little paper napkin-gown in our holding area, while we look to see if we need to cut out more of your face. Then we'll try our darndest to put your face back together in such a way that doesn't make you look like The Elephant Man on the flip side."

"It's really nothing to worry about," she said. "They'll get it. Basal cells don't metastasize, so they'll be able to cut it all out."

For the first time in the conversation, I exhaled. "So I shouldn't be as freaked out as I feel?", I asked her.

"No, honey. You'll be okay."

Now, in the grand scheme of things, this is where I should've set up camp: Okay-ville. Hundreds of thousands of people receive calls such as this where the prognosis is not "okay". I should've rested in the fact that this spot, while not perfectly peachy - as I was hoping, is still relatively benign in the world of the Big C.

But hearing the word "cut", I couldn't help but think about Lucky. And Zach, I know you couldn't either.

While one of my brothers inherited my dad's nice olive skin - skin that will tan to a golden brown when exposed to the sun, I, along with my other brother, inherited my mom's skin. Red-head skin. Skin that refuses to turn any color other than Persistently Pasty White, regardless of sun exposure. Skin that's riddled with freckles, and Freckle's ugly cousin, Mole. Skin that has this nifty little propensity to grow a plethora of things in its Skin Garden - tags, warts, moles, sebaceous hyperplasia, seborrheic keratosis, cherry angiomas. And the granddaddy of all benign skin growths: keloids.

For those of you unfamiliar with keloids, this is the point where you jump up, click your heels together, and maybe even give yourself a nice, hearty high-five or hug. Because to know Keloid is not to love him. I tried to think of how to describe them, and after consulting with my good friend, Wikipedia, I can introduce you. Keloids are firm, rubbery lesions or shiny, fibrous nodules, which results in an overgrowth of tissue at the site of a healed skin injury. Yes! Very attractive, I know you're thinking. Around our house, keloids are affectionately known as "Lucky" - a humpy friend the size of a silver dollar that takes up residence on your chest after the removal of a mole.

Whenever I have a growth removed, or have to have surgery, or have a skin irritation that lingers (such as a blemish or cyst), or have some sort of trauma to the skin ("trauma", like piercing my ears), I get a keloid. It was the possibility of developing keloids that basically kept me from reaping the free-Lasik-surgery benefits of working for an ophthalmologist for six years. Dr. Marr received word of my skin/scarring history and said, "Nope. Enjoy your glasses...forever." Keloids on your eyeballs - not only not improving to your sight, not improving to your looks either. And not a good advertisement for your boss or his skills as a surgeon.

Since my phone call this morning, all I can think about is Lucky. Lucky in the form of a third eyeball, on my face. I've been pretty bummed about it, trying to stay busy with various cleaning chores around the house to distract myself. Just a few minutes ago my neighbor popped in for a visit. Upon seeing her, I immediately felt better. (Yes, I'm one of those people who delights in a good vent session.) I was telling her all about my morning and about the dermatologist I'll be visiting in a couple of weeks. I got as far as his name when her eyes bugged out and her mouth fell open. Cartoon-like. She clapped her hand over her mouth.

"Kristy! Nuh UH! I dated him for a while in college. He's our age and he's hot. Crazy hot. ...As in, render-you-speechless hot! And the way he looks at you and his voice, it's just, I don't know...hot."

HOT.

Fantastic.

Just what you want to hear about the person who will be performing your full-body mole search.

Kill me now.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

LOLOLOL!!! Kristy, girl you can write!!!

I am sorry to hear about your mole, but I cant wait to hear the story!! You say what other ppl wish they had the balls to say! I just love that you are so open and honest!! Truly that is rare in a person...most ppl just fake along trying to appear like they are Mr. and Mrs. Perfection or try to get you ...jealous about their house or car or kids or travels or whatever they wish everyone else wanted of theirs. Sorry, I digress....Back to subject....

I love that you share honestly and openly with all your thousands of fans...yes fans!! Truly you have fans girl!!! I joined facebook so I could read your writing when you virtually disappeared off your blog. You are so gifted and so many days, you bring a smile to my face and I know you barely know me.

And I feel your pain on the skin inheritance...while i'm not as fair-skinned as you, I always always wanted that nice light brown, 10 minutes in the sun and you are now tanned, skin.

~Donna

Russ said...

Well, I can do your mole search ;)

Kritter Krit said...

Donna,

Thanks! You and your super-sweet comments made my day. *hugs*

Russell,

Um...? Ick!! I mean, how helpful of you. ...I mean, ooo, baby. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Cheech,
Though I enjoyed your story, I doubt it's going to be nearly as dramatic as you envision here. But then I'm a bit more understated about these thing since I'm usually on the other end of the knife. Like someone once said, "Minor surgery is surgery on someone else." Keep me posted.
Love,
Faf

Anonymous said...

I guess things like this just run in our red headed family :) When we returned home after our Mena Christmas trip, Heather had a call waiting from the dermatologist's nurse that she needed to call. Well, she had to return the next day because she had a mole cut off the week before that was irregular, not cancer but could turn it if left there and she needed more skin removed. She had to return to Georgia with stitches in her back.
I'm praying for you!!
Aunt Becky

Not quite the Bradys said...

So sorry to hear about the C word. man- if it's not one thing it's another.... :(

I get keloids too. I don't know about yours, but mine ITCH incurably like a stray hair from hell. I hope that yours don't. Either way, talk to the HOT Dermatologist about them. Mine injected some of the nodules last year with steroids and they shrank and *WENT AWAY*. Yep. You read that right. Now, there is a risk because steroids will also cause thinning of the tissue at the site thus making it easier to damage the place in the future and develop- keloids. Nasty little cycle. It is worth the conversation though. And for the year I had before new ones appeared, it was totally worth it to me to not have the constant itching.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your distressing news. But definitely count me as one of your 'thousands of fans'..you have GOT to write books!! Meanwhile, wishing you good luck with the dermatologist...'hot' or not.

Joyce Tipton

Anonymous said...

I just wet my pants!!!!!

~Sarah

Jamie said...

Kristy, I don't know how you can be this funny when I am sure you are worried sick. I would be. You are in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

We're here for the process, which I'm sure you will detail in hilarious paragraphs. I'm delighted that the nurse says you have nothing to worry about. Of course, she didn't mention the mole-mapping with Hot Doc.

Rachel

Jen Forbes said...

Kristy,
Just popped in to get caught up and I got a good laugh/slight scare. You'll be fine, I'm sure.
Russell is a perv...
Lvoe,
Jen

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