“I’m going to cry like a baby,” I told the nurse. “I just want you to be prepared.”
“Don’t worry, you’re only going to feel a slight pinch,” she replied.
Then she pulled out a needle about eight feet long and smiled.
I started crying.
I wish I could say this was a bad dream. But this was my day yesterday. Since July I’ve had a small tiny itsy bitsy little place on the side of my nose that has been bleeding, scabbing over, and then bleeding again. Since that is obviously NOT NORMAL, I finally went to visit my doctor in September. “It may be some form of skin cancer,” he said calmly. “Let’s try to get you into a dermatologist right away.” I think it takes practice to be able to say stuff like that calmly. So I practiced saying, “I may have a form of skin cancer,” several times before I called my mother.
Let me tell you about dermatologists. First of all, it takes forever to get an appointment with a dermatologist. They are all booked up at least three to four months in advance. My sister the nurse said it’s because dermatology is one of the least profitable careers for a doctor. And yet they still have to go through as many years of training as any other practice and take on just as much medical school debt. So not a lot of people pick this line of work, hence the long wait and why I’m already questioning the wisdom of anyone who selects this line of work.
I finally got in to see Dr. Caballero in November. My “little hot spot” on the side of my nose was still bleeding. “It’s just a little thing,” I said. “I’m sure it’s nothing and I’m over reacting.” I was feeling very protective of my nose.
Did I mention it was a very small spot?
But according to Dr. Caballero it did look suspicious and he wanted to conduct a BIOPSY, which is a very scary word that requires practice when using it in a sentence that refers to yourself.
“It will be a small scraping of the side of your nose,” he explained. “We’ll send it to the lab and know in less than 10 days if it is Basel Cell Carcinoma.” And that is how I found myself staring at an 8 foot long needle crying like a baby.
To be honest, while the needle did sting at the beginning, after about 45 seconds the numbing agent went to work and it was much less painful. And there is a possibility that the needle was only about 2 feet long and I was exaggerating just a little bit. Also, I will admit there was a part of my brain that kept telling me this was good practice to prepare me for Restylane® shots, which my girlfriends assure me hurt like hell but are totally worth it.
When everyone was sure my nose was completely numb by poking it extensively with yet another very sharp needle, the doctor went to work. For all the drama the actual biopsy took about 4 seconds. He just scraped a little divot in the side of my nose. The nurse, who by this time had realized I wasn’t joking about the baby thing, held my hand through the entire procedure. I’ve been told that the results will come back in about 10 days and I’ll know for sure if the cells are cancerous. And even if the test is positive, this is a “good” type of cancer, although that is a completely moronic way of referring to any type of cancer.
As the nurse was cleaning up my nose and applying a bandage she assured me that she’d seen much worse behavior in the past. I didn’t bother asking if the other badly behaved patients were over the age of six. When I got up to leave she patted my shoulder and said, “it was nice to meet you.”
“It was nice to meet you too,” I quavered. “NOT!!!”
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