I had this thing growing on my skin on my jawline. It had been there for quite awhile, but it seemed like lately it was getting bigger. It was longer, and thicker -- I nicked it shaving a couple of times. And it was getting darker.
Which sounds like a melanoma or something, although it wasn't an exact match for any of the pictures I've seen. So, even though I'm on the Republican healthcare plan for people without health insurance (don't get sick, but if you do, die quickly), I decided I'd better see a doctor. Fortunately, there's a cheap (not free) community clinic in our town, so I made an appointment there.
I went there on a Thursday afternoon. And I totally swooned for the receptionist, with her light brown skin, dark brown eyes, glasses, and shoulder-to-elbow tattoos. Unfortunately, "medical receptionist" has too many syllables for me to write haiku about her, although I did manage a tanka. Also, unlike the Checkout Girl, I've actually spoken with her, so she's a human being to me rather than an archetypal muse. So doubt I'll write any more poetry about her. But still. Wow.
Anyway, you're probably wondering if I'm going to die of skin cancer, so I'll stop digressing. (But are love and/or poetry ever really digressions? Or are they life itself, and everything else a digression?)
After I got done swooning and then waited for a few minutes, I got called in by the Jan the paramedic. Why a paramedic instead of a nurse or a physician's assistant? No idea, except it's a cheap clinic, so I guess they take who they can get. But Jan (with a y sound, not a j) was pretty cool. He kind of had that Vietnam-vet-turned-hippie look, with the long hair and the too-shaggy mustache and all. (Although actually he's probably not that much older than me, so I doubt he could have been in 'Nam. I'd lay odds he spent time in the service, though.)
Anyway, Jan took my vitals, got my medical history, took a look at my growth-thingy, and asked what I suppose are the usual skin cancer questions about sun exposure and all that. Which I've had a lot of, growing up in San Diego when people still thought suntans were healthy. And he took it very seriously. Not like "Oh my god you're gonna die!" seriously, but definitely "The doctor needs to look at that" seriously.
The doctor came after a little while, and she seemed pretty relaxed about the whole thing. "Offhand, it doesn't look like a skin cancer," she said. "But we'll slice off a piece and send it to the lab for a biopsy. Even if it is skin cancer, it's very early, and we have a dermatologist who comes in here twice a month. He should be able to get the whole thing easily." So she gave me a local and cut off a little piece. She said it didn't really need stitches, and put a bandage on it. But then she gave me this elaborate protocol for taking care of it so it wouldn't leave a scar. I listened politely, but inside I was going "WTF? I'll wear a bandage for a day and then who cares?" But she meant well.
Before I left, she told me, "We should get the results back on Tuesday. But I don't want you spending the whole weekend worrying about this."
"I won't," I said. And I didn't. Not really. After all, she'd said it didn't look like skin cancer. And I don't believe in worrying. My philosophy is that I'll worry in the time of worrying, not before. And it wasn't time yet. Besides, I'm not sure I care all that much if I die anyway. I mean, I'd rather not, but I guess I've lived a pretty long time. Almost long enough maybe.
Tuesday came, and no phone call. But Wednesday morning, Jan was on the phone. He said I don't have skin cancer. And I was relieved. Happy even. I guess I care more about not dying than I thought. Jan said I have a seborrheic keratosis, which in layman's terms is "an ugly thing that grows on your skin when you get old." So the good news is I don't have skin cancer, but the bad news is that I'm growing old and hideous.
What a drag it is getting old. Not that I'm going to start taking Valium because of it. (Because there are lots of better drugs around these days -- j/k. Although it's true. So I'm told.) And here's a song.
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