I’m sure it doesn’t surprised you to know that many of these blog posts start as strange situations or thoughts that I have, and then I call Stephan on the phone, and we laugh and talk about it some more, and then it becomes a whole blog-worthy situation in my mind, and then later I write it up.
So—ok, I guess I should start out this story by saying that three people in my family have had skin cancer and that I am super-pale and very paranoid about how statistically probable it is that I am going to get it eventually, so I spray myself with SPF 80 sunscreen every single day before I go out, and yet sometimes I still notice suspicious- looking spots, and I go straight to the dermatologist (I have at least one in every city) and force them to cut it off. I am very cut happy, I don’t care what you think about this—I just believe you are better safe than sorry. If you want to take a “wait and see” attitude toward your own dermatological situations, though, more power to you.
Anyway, I’m getting to the point—I noticed a suspicious looking spot a couple of weeks ago, and because a) it didn’t go away, and b) the afore-mentioned paranoia, and c) a good friend of mine had a similar spot and it turned out to be basal cell carcinoma, I decided to go see a totally new dermatologist in Connecticut, because I was pretty sure my guy in NYC couldn’t get to me in time to assuage my growing hysteria.
So--Monday morning, I drive to Connecticut, the new dermatologist takes one look at me and compliments me on my lack of sun damage, and then says “that spot is fine—it’s nothing, we’ll keep an eye on it.”
Ok, you already know I’m going to make him cut it off anyway because I have no regard for his medical authority. But also? I notice he has a slight stutter.
Now is the time for me to mention that people with speech impediments make me nervous, and it’s probably not because of the reason you think— speech impediments themselves don’t bother me at all. In fact, I get nervous because once I notice that someone has an issue that might make them different, I immediately in my mind go into this paroxysm of sympathy for them about how hard it must have been for them throughout their lives, and how self-conscious they must have been (or still might be), and how I just want to treat them like everyone else, and how what they really want in their life is for things to just be normal and to blend in and for people not to notice them, and this whole ethos makes me so nervous that I start to get self-conscious that just from trying not to focus on it so much, maybe I will slip up and imitate them or otherwise make them uncomfortable, and this will bring back years of trauma for them and make them think I am just like all those schoolyard bullies that taunted them, when in fact I am the exact opposite of that—I am so accepting and want them to be so comfortable that now I am freaking myself out and making myself uncomfortable. Yes, I’m sure this all makes perfect sense to you, and that now you can understand a little better what goes on inside my mind. Yiiiikes!
So, the dermatologist—he stutters. And now I am hyper aware of this, and he is a conservative dermatologist, whereas I am an aggressive dermatology patient who is not going to leave until this suspicious-looking spot has been removed and is in the lab where it can’t hurt me anymore. And the more I explain to him about my skin cancer family and the more he argues that it’s a totally benign spot, the more nervous he is getting, and the more he is stuttering, and the more I am exhausting myself trying to keep myself in check and not slip up and say something that sounds like I am trying to make fun of his speech impediment, and you can see how the cycle of crazy perpetuates itself.
Finally he gives in, maybe because he is tired of arguing with me and wants to move on to his next patient. He cuts off my suspicious spot (yowch!), off-handedly mentions that the scar that this procedure is going to leave behind is probably going to be more noticeable than the original spot (don’t care! Keep cutting!), and we part ways. I wonder—is he as nervous and self-conscious as I am? Does he really have a stutter, or do aggressive patients just make him nervous so he trips over his words? Am I overthinking this?
I can’t speak for the doctor, but the answer to “Am I overthinking this?” is always, 100% yes. For the record, I’m sure he was right about the spot being benign, but I still don’t feel guilty. Better safe than sorry! Oh, and you know the minute I get that “You Are Cancer Free” postcard in the mail from the lab, I will run right back to this blog and report it so you all know I’m ok.
And with that, please have a nice weekend, and remember to wear sunscreen!