Charlotte seemed to have had some sort of virus over the weekend, perhaps exacerbated by teething. Her ears look fine, which is a relief. She’s back at school.
Yesterday was a logistical nightmare. I’ll spare you the play-by-play, but I needed to get Charlotte into the pediatrician, myself to a doctor’s appointment in DC, and I needed to actually show up at work at some point.
Eventually, I made it to my appointment at the hospital in DC (I hate hospitals, by the way) at their Melanoma Center at the Cancer Institute there. Awesome. All is fine, but I didn’t know that until about 3:00 yesterday.
See, one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2011 was to catch up on all the me-related health stuff I had put off during pregnancy, moving, and, of course, having a newborn/infant/older baby.
Three things were in dire need of attention: my skin, my teeth, and my eyes.
First, I haven’t been to the dentist in 2 years. Sue me. Yes, it’s too long. And no, I don’t floss every day.
Second, I was told—about 5 years ago—by some 22-year-old medical assistant that I have “really decent vision” . . . for my age. Well, every year, I did my annual eye exam and passed with flying colors. Truly, I had really decent vision. And then I just got busy, preparing for baby, moving, blah blah blah.
Now? Now I can’t see squat. It started when I had to have Chris read the Metro signs to tell me when the next train was coming. (And since we haven’t lived in DC in 2 years, you can see how long I’ve been putting it off.)
And then there was the dermatologist. I’ve had 3 moles removed, one of which was on the cusp of malignancy (I forget the fancy medical term), which put me into a higher risk group. I did all the follow-ups and so on, but then stopped . . . .
So, with Charlotte off her 4,590th round of antibiotics and a potentially naïve hope on my part that her immune system would take a break with the warmer weather, I decided to take care of one of these items.
I prioritized according to which was least likely to kill me (eyes) and most likely (skin), and then which one would become most expensive due to procrastination (teeth).
So, skin narrowly beat teeth. I scheduled the appointment with the dermatologist . After waiting in the waiting room FOR OVER AN HOUR, I thought, this is why I put these things off. Doctors—Charlotte’s spectacular pediatrician aside, who never keeps a parent with a wiggly toddler waiting—have zero respect for your time.
The appointment did not go well. The doc started to get all nervous and hmming and hawing. At one point, he covered his mouth and shook his head, closing his eyes.
Never one to overreact, I thought OH MY GOODNESS I HAVE MELANOMA AND IT’S GONE TOO FAR, I CAN’T BE SAVED, WHO WILL TEACH CHARLOTTE HOW TO PUT ON MAKE-UP OR NOT TO MIX POLKA DOTS AND STRIPES AFTER I DIE?
Well, the doc postulated that the hormones from when I was pregnant with Charlotte instigated some freaky changes in my skin and moles. All over (and I mean ALL over) I have little signs here and there that my skin cells might—but might not—be trying to kill me.
So my alarmist doc referred me to the Melanoma Center in Northeast DC, which is one of the leading skin cancer institutes in the country. Yay, right?
I whined. “Is there anywhere closer?” I asked. I live in the country. I have a toddler and a full-time job—is this really necessary?”
The doctor stood his ground, insisting I go to the Melanoma Center. “They’re the best—and I’m giving you the name of the director, so be sure to see him, okay?”
“Listen, if I had my way, I’d take off about 15 of these. But you’re only 30 years old, and I’d rather not whittle you away.”
Ah, appealing to my vanity. Well-played, Doc.
“They have the technology to better determine which moles can be monitored and which ones should be removed. You’ll keep more of your skin intact this way.”
FINE. So after a 6-week wait, I went in yesterday. And I hate to admit it, but the doctors actually were really great. They removed two for biopsies, and the rest were just documented in all sorts of nifty high-tech ways so they can be monitored as I get older and through the skyrocketing estrogen of (hopefully) another pregnancy or two. It took a loooooooong time, but eventually I was on my merry way, over the moon that everything was just fine and under control.
Honestly, I resent how the first dermatologist made it seem like I was at death’s door. Seriously, the guy was telling me how easy it is to just DIE from skin cancer, and was SO dramatic during my appointment. This has been as very large source of anxiety for me in the past several weeks. Sure, I’m pretty darn neurotic, but I can’t shake the feeling that I have to “earn” the good things in my life—Chris, Charlotte, nice home, steady jobs—and so the bad must “pay” for the good. (This is what we call the Dale Opp School of Suffering Theory—everything must be EARNED.) I thought that skin cancer was the PERFECT payment for my happiness.
Well, apparently not. The biopsy results won’t come back for another 2 weeks, but nobody thinks that anything is melanoma. These two were caught extremely early.
So that’s done. Check. Now I need to call the dentist . . . .