Friday, October 29, 2010

...22 stitches

About a year ago I made an appointment with a dermatologist for a full-body check. My friend Kathryn had recently had surgery for skin cancer, and she wanted everyone in her circle to get checked out. (Kat is fine--surgery took care of it, and she has just a small scar on the back of her arm.) My doctor found nothing, but agreed that given my age, coloring, and the amount of time I have always spent outdoors, having a base-line was a good idea.

A little over a month ago I felt something on the back of my left arm. I took a picture of it so I could get a good look. Hmmm...it looked odd. A couple weeks later I took another picture and promptly made an appointment. The "thing" was changing, growing, and itchy.

The doctor looked at it, said he wasn't sure, but decided to do a biopsy anyway. A few days later his office called back and said it was a non-life-threatening form of skin cancer...squamous cell carcinoma. Surgery was scheduled, I arranged for a sub, and tried not to worry too much. I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to pain.

On Wednesday morning I got up early, drove to Walla Walla, and had the "thing" removed. There is a reason I am an educator and not in the health care profession. To say I get queasy very easily is an understatement. I couldn't see what was going on with my arm since I was curled in an awkward position, but I could hear and smell and feel more than enough. When it was all over I drove myself home and crashed on the couch before the local anesthetic wore off.

Thursday was actually worse. I was to change the bandage, but the one they put on was stuck like super glue to my skin. I confess I was close to tears when it finally came loose. I took another picture of the site--and was totally unprepared for what I saw. What had originally been a spot not any bigger than the tip of my finger was now a 2 inch wound! Yikes. (I won't be posting the picture--I wouldn't be able to stand looking at it and don't want to subject anyone else to it either.) The doctor had told me there were 22 stitches in all, inside and out, but what that would look like didn't really sink in until I saw the picture.

Today I was back at school and hyper aware of my arm. A coworker (who didn't know why I had been out) reached out to give me a playful swat on the arm. I quickly dodged his hand, and kept plenty of space between myself and students in the crowded halls.

Thanks, Kat, for encouraging me to find a dermatologist last year. Really, in the grand scheme of things, this was very minor. I'm grateful for my good health and know my arm will heal quickly.

4 comments:

The Old Bag said...

A little scary nontheless! Glad you caught it!

jeff said...

It is scary, and seems to be more common lately.

Doozyanner said...

If anyone asks about the lovely scar I can always say I got it in a bar room brawl in my wild and crazy youth. Ha!

arlenehagey said...

And those of us who know you, will believe you, uh huh.