A Menagerie of Outspoken Opinions on Science, World Politics, and Geek Culture

Monday, May 24, 2004

Worrisome Weekend

When I got home from work on Friday evening there was a message from my dermatologist. "Please call us so we can go over the results of your biopsy". Gulp. They don't call unless there's a problem.

You have to understand that I grew up in Florida; we've lived here since I was six. Every year between March and October I'm in the sun. A lot. I go for long bike rides. I hang out in pools. I go to the beach (though not so often as I did when I was in my teens and twenties). I go camping and tubing and canoeing. I'll put some SPF 16 sunblock on if I'm going to really get some exposure, but if it's just for an hour or so I won't usually bother. I keep a fairly deep tan all through the spring and summer ... it's not really intentional, it's just that I do a lot of stuff outside and the sun in Florida is strong.

I go to the dermatologist once a year. She looks me over, slices off a couple moles that seem like they might someday get revolutionary ideas about cell division, and then she tells me to stay the hell out of the sun. A couple days later I'm pedaling my bike down the Town & Country Greenway sans shirt, getting browner. What can I say? I'm stubborn.

So the dermatologist calls at 2 pm on a Friday, over a month after my appointment. I had totally forgotten about the entire business; they are supposed to call you with 10 working days if there's a problem. 10 working days at the most. After two full weeks you're in the clear!

"Please call us so we can go over the results of your biopsy".

Sure! Right Away! 6 pm on Friday evening I'm talking to my dermatologist's answering machine, which has lots to say about office hours and how to find the new medical center but very little on whether or not I'm dying of skin cancer. Shit. Couldn't they have been more specific? Or called me at work instead of leaving a message at home? Or waited till Monday!?!

Friday night: Worry. Worry. Worry.

Saturday: Worry. Blog. Worry. Have dinner and drinks with some friends, watch the Lightning bump off the Flyers. Worry.

Sunday: Sleep in. Worry. Watch The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers (extended versions both). Worry.

Monday: Worry. Rush to work, call dermatologist's office immediately upon arriving. Worry while I'm on hold. Talk to the nurse. "Both moles removed from your back show a little bit of the beginnings of atypical-ness. How are they healing?" They healed just fine weeks ago! "Okay, good. In these cases we just keep an eye on the area, so the doctor wants to see you back in three months".

So, I'm not dying of skin cancer. No melanoma, no carcinoma, no skin grafts or massive doses of chemotherapy looming on the horizon. Just a couple moles that were indeed starting to head down the road of mitotic independence. Not any more! Now the little bastards are in a specimen jar over at the USF medical center! Hooray for medicine!

Add to grocery list: Tube of SPF 32 sunblock. To be applied liberally whenever I step out of the shade for more than 15 minutes.