On Monday I have my annual skin cancer checkup. I go every year because it’s a good thing to do or so my dermatologist says. I have been lucky and not had any problems but you never know.
My dermatologist is part of a gigantic group of dermatologists. In fact, it’s impossible to go to a dermatologist outside of this practice as there aren’t any in this area that don’t belong to it. As a general rule, I am not fond of big-scale medical practices.
For one thing, it’s run like a big business. I’m not saying that’s bad but there are at least 20 to 30 non-doctor-type people and I never see the same ones. You can never get to “know” any of them nor do they “know” you. Every time you go you must show your documents to prove who you are. Then they ask you embarrassing “zit” questions out loud.
It’s very busy. It’s not unusual to be double-booked and end up waiting 45 minutes out front and then another 15 to 20 in the cold examining room.
Why is it that examining rooms are so cold? Winter or summer, it’s always cold. For this exam I will need to strip off every piece of clothing (including my nice toasty warm socks) and put on a paper (yes paper!) gown which has the warmth of….um….nothing!
Last time I went, I took a small fleece throw to cover myself up until the doctor came in. What happened to those flowered cotton gowns? White is such a harsh color to wear in those extra bright rooms!
Someone who is not the doctor comes in first and asks me a bunch of questions. She enters it on a computer. Just when I think that’s all done, the doctor comes in and asks all the same questions. I think it’s a test to see if I am still sane after the long wait and cold temperatures.
After a certain age, things grow on your skin like barnacles on a boat. Some are like mushrooms and they only grow in the covered, dark, hidden areas on your body. No! Not there! Usually in the armpit or lower back or neck areas.
Some bloom like flowers on your face or neck only they are not pretty. Each year I go in and have a bunch of things removed. By the end of the year, I have a new crop. They come in just like potatoes or better yet…cherry tomatoes – perky little ugly spots resistant to all those “special creams” that you use in hopes that they will go away on their own. They don’t.
Some have color and some are just rough. Some are raised and some are flat. Some require lasers (think cha-ching $$) and some can be frozen off with that canister device. By the way, that treatment does hurt. Maybe not as much as brain surgery but it still hurts.
None of that is free or covered by any insurance. There was a day when they would remove skin tags without charging. It takes less than 5 seconds. However, it’s not life threatening so no one really cares. Except you. You have all these wiggly things on your skin that get tangled in your necklaces or get irritated by collars. Doesn’t matter. You don’t die from that stuff.
I draw a picture of my body and mark the spots to be removed. (No, it’s not anatomically correct! that would be gross with my artistic skills.) It looks a lot like those body targets they use for practice shooting. If I’m lucky I will get them all but usually one or two “go missing” until after the appointment. Then they show up in a prominent location bigger than ever, content knowing that they have another year of life.
Over the weekend I will pack my bag for the trip. I will need the fleecy throw, maybe I’ll throw in some fuzzy socks, my Kindle for the wait (I should load up War and Peace) and my body charts. My appointment is for 8:40 a.m. I wonder if I should pack a lunch too.