I’ve been avoiding going to the dermatologist for… well, more years than I care to admit. I grew up in South Florida, a bike ride away from the beach. My girlfriends and I would go out with baby oil on our skin in a desperate attempt to get the bronzed look that was so popular. My best friend and I were both cursed blessed with very, very fair skin that burned very quickly and didn’t brown much, if at all. We never stopped trying though, even going as far as skipping school to climb out on the roof of her house to burn our bodies to a crisp.
Nearly thirty years later I realize that this was foolishness of the highest order, but that doesn’t do me any good now. My body and even my head is covered with weird looking skin things of varying colors, sizes and shapes. I have dreaded going to the dermatologist because I was afraid of a lengthy process of biopsies and painful removal procedures.
OW has been pushing me to go, especially since we reached our insurance policy’s out of pocket maximum for the year with the NICU bills. So I took a deep breath. And then I took another. And another. Many deep breaths later, I called and made an appointment.
I was nervous and then had to wait for a full hour after my appointment to be seen. This did not ease my anxiety. I was told that I would have a thorough full-body screening and expected it to take an hour or so. Imagine my shock when the entire scan took less than five minutes. Most of those weird, funky-colored, misshapen things are just seborrheic keratoses and aren’t even caused by the sun. They are hereditary and completely benign to my physical being, if not to my ego.
I have a number of red bumps on my scalp that also worry me. The doctor said they were hemangiomas and were mostly harmless (by the way, if you Google this term you will see some pretty horrifying pictures of them on children. Mine are on my scalp only and are the size of a pencil eraser). One is pretty large (the size of a nickel) and looks different from the others. She said they could remove and biopsy it or just remove it. Apparently the difference is whether insurance covers it.
At the last minute I asked her to look at a very small pimple-looking thing on my jawline. I had, in fact, thought it was a pimple when it first appeared a few months ago. I even squeezed the life out of it, to no avail. Now, months later, it is still there and hasn’t changed at all, so I figured it was just an old lady thing. This turned out to be the thing that the doctor most wanted to examine further. She decided to cut it out and biopsy it. Yikes! She used a local anesthetic, so of course I didn’t feel it. I have been afraid to look at it because I don’t know how deep nor how big the wound is. It was apparently bigger and deeper than it appeared on the surface, so we shall see what happens! She said I should expect the results in about two weeks.
As for my icky mole things, they are a cosmetic issue. The doctor called them barnacles and that’s a good description. I hate them. She can remove them via freezing, but I will have to pay cash for this.
She hinted around (and then outright told me) that if I had a particular issue with any of them, like itching, bleeding, etc. insurance would pay for their removal. Wink, wink.
I don’t feel comfortable with lying about something I KNOW is just an issue of vanity. Isn’t this one of the reasons healthcare costs so much in the U.S.? I have at least 14 that are in high visibility areas. It would cost me $185 to have them removed. Back in the DINK days I wouldn’t have thought much about spending that amount of money. I’ve spent more on a pair of shoes. Now is different though. $185 is more than a week’s groceries for my now-tight budget. Should I spend that for vanity’s sake?
Finding the line for this sort of thing has gotten really hard. How much in the way of niceties should we sacrifice now that we have one income and children to support? The money wouldn’t break us, but I feel guilty about the idea of spending it on myself. Does this mean I’ve become a real mom (again)?
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.