Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Skinny Matter

Dear George,

Several years ago I had surgery on a splotch of skin cancer near my left eye. The surgery went fine, and the doctor reassured me that I didn’t need to worry about it. Since then I’ve gone for regular checkups with Dr. Jamali, a dermatologist out in the suburbs. I drove out last Thursday for this year’s appointment. I was a little nervous because I’ve been feeling a little pimple-like growth right where the surgery had been done. I hadn’t paid much attention to it, but, as my appointment drew nearer, I started getting nervous about what Dr. Jamali might discover. One’s eye socket is a lousy location for skin cancer, and, though I’d only been aware of a small surface blemish, who knows what’s going on underneath it. The more I thought about it, the more I speculated that, not only had my skin cancer come back, but it had been burrowing inward and growing in my frontal cortex. While I couldn’t actually feel it inside my skull, I started recalling various instances of strange behavior on my part in recent months, and I was suddenly overwhelmed by the insight that my brain has been invaded by pathological alien forces.

My appointment was for 10 a.m. and I arrived at 9:30. Despite it being a one-physician practice, there were at least a dozen patients in the large waiting room. I decided Dr. Jamali must spend about 5 minutes with each one and that dermatology is a lucrative enterprise. I filled out the requisite form and settled in with a three month old People Magazine. Forty minutes later a staff member called my name and led me to Examining Room 6. She asked me some questions, including what kind of skin cancer I’d had surgery for. I couldn’t remember, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t melanoma. She said she’d go out and that I should take my clothes off, though I could leave my underwear on. She gave me a large folded paper sheet and suggested I put it on my lap like a blanket.

It was nine degrees outdoors and chilly in the examining room too, so I clutched the thin paper blanket around my chest as I sat and waited. About five minutes later there was a knock on the door, and a fortyish dark-haired woman in a white coat entered, followed by another woman in a blue med tech outfit who seemed to be a chaperone. The dark-haired woman introduced herself as Therese and said she would be examining me in advance of Dr. Jamali. She was a nurse practitioner and seemed very chipper and good-natured. I told her about the blemish on my eye socket, and she looked it over. She didn’t think it was a problem, but Dr. Jamali would decide whether or not to remove it. That immediately improved my spirits. Then she had me stand up and remove my paper protective covering. I felt sort of self-conscious standing semi-naked in the presence of two female strangers, but Therese was much more interested in my tiny spots and blemishes than in my general physical condition. She said the various brown spots on my hands and arms were hereditary, and, because of their frequency, probably both my parents had had these. I thought to myself, my mother had virtually perfect D.A.R. skin and certainly didn’t have any brown spots, but I couldn’t really remember for sure.

Dr. Jamali came in, gave me a smile and shook my hand. He looked at my eye socket. At first he didn’t see anything, but then he concluded I had a little wart. He added, “That probably makes you feel good, doesn’t it.” I nodded affirmatively. He gave Therese instructions about freezing and removing the microscopic wart, as well as a couple of other skin blemishes on my forehead. Then he went off to see his next three-minute patient. Therese got a canister with a spray nozzle which contained liquid hydrogen, and she proceeded to zap a couple of spots on my forehead. The freezing liquid hydrogen created a sharp burning sensation, but it was tolerable. Rather than spray liquid hydrogen into my left eye, Therese used a hydrogen-doused Q-tip for that more sensitive location. Then I was dermatologically cured. She advised me to use sun screen and said I should come back in a year to see either Dr. Jamali or her. She suggested that I see her because she has more time available than does Dr. Jamali. I got dressed, signed out at the checkout desk, and made an appointment with Therese for February of next year. I called Katja to let her know that I wasn’t dying, but she was out of her office. I was relieved, although, since I’d decided that my various aberrant behaviors were due to brain cancer, now I’d need to come up with a different explanation. Oh well, whatever it is, it can’t be as bad as a tumor inside one’s brain.



G-Mail Comments

-Jennifer M (2-13): This is a funny one!

-Gayle CL (2-13); I'm glad u r going to live...that makes me very happy;))))). Love to all;)))))

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