I’m sorry I’ve been more or less MIA these last couple of days, especially with so much exciting sh*t going on, but I have a note from my doctor. I’ve been having a little tussle with skin cancer on the middle of my left shoulder blade, and it’s not fun. Therefore this warning.
The sick thing is I’ve had this f*cker for more than 20 years! Teri says I already had it the first time I took my shirt off in front of her. Which means that my own kids must have seen it any time we were at the beach, or the pool at a hotel. It’s not like it was microscopic. It was about the size of a quarter with the edges pinched in.
With the damn thing sitting about 5″ down my left clavicle, it’s not like I could see it. And nobody paid attention because the little spud never actually did anything! It didn’t hurt if I sat down, not even on a hard back chair, it didn’t hurt if touched, or when I pulled my shirt on or off. It was just another mole or wart. Which I couldn’t even see.
Then a few months ago it changed. If it snagged on my t-shirt, it stung, and a steady trickle of blood down my back. Same thing if the water in the shower hit on it. But it still didn’t hurt, so rub a little Neosporin on it, the pressure of the band aid stopped the bleeding anyway.
And about three Saturdays ago, all hell broke loose. I woke up at 9:30 am, sat up, and my side of the bed looked like I had been the guest of honor in a snuff flick. I was a paramedic for three years 40 years ago, and I was grossed out. Trip to the ER. An hour and a half in the waiting room, the doctor strolled into the examining room, said Hi, pulled the band aid halfway off and said, Better call a dermatologist, looks like skin cancer. And I should know, I’ve had it on my face twice. Then he put the band aid back on and strolled out.
Dame fortune finally smiled on me. When I called the dermatologist on Tuesday, they had a last minute cancellation and I was able to be seen on Thursday. Dr. Jimmy walked in, took one look, and said, Well, that little bugger has been getting a free ride long enough, let’s get it off of there. They used Novocain on my back, Dr. Jimmy sliced the lesion off at the skin line, then scraped some tissue for a biopsy. Then he used a surgical soldering iron to cauterize the surface, and home I went, being told it would be about two weeks for the biopsy report to come back. It stung, but no worse than skinning your knee sliding into 2nd base.
Two weeks later I got the phone call. The wimpiest, most common form of skin cancer, which fortunately didn’t spread. And this Wednesday I went in to deal with it.
No Bueno. More Novocain, and lots of it. Dr. Jimmy made a four inch incision, and scraped and scooped both sides, as well as the bottom. Then his assistant clamped the wound closed while he put 12 stitches in it. I go back in a month to get the stitches removed, more Novocain, and a needle with sharp round edges goes in to take another sample for biopsy. This time when the Novocain wore off, it damn near took a Bud Light IV to get through the next three days.
Look, you guys know me by now. I’m not out for pity here, it is what it is, and hell, it could have been one helluva lot worse. But being basically a shut in, you all are more than just a bunch of anonymous readers, you’re my virtual family. And you’re obviously a lot smarter than me, which is why you gleefully correct me when I screw up.
So please, I beg you, pay heed to my warning. Even if it doesn’t hurt, or seep, or bleed, we should all have a pretty good idea of what a goddamn wart or a mole looks like. So no matter what, even if it just doesn’t feel right, or doesn’t look right, get to a dermatologist. If you’re wrong, your visit buys you peace of mind. But if you’re right, the earlier you catch it, the smaller it is. And the less of the scooping and scraping I had to go through will be your cross to bear. If you’ve never listened to me before, and you never do again, please listen to me this time! And as Jose Diaz Balart says every day, I thank you for the privilege of your time.