“I wonder if you could take a look at my wart,” I said.
Admittedly, it was not my finest opening line.
I took my glasses off so the doctor could see the ugly-looking spot near the corner of my eye. I said wart with a wrinkled face just to let him know that I wasn’t happy about having it. Witches have warts. Gargoyles too, along with evil stepsisters. I did not want a wart.
And, as it turned out, I got my wish.
He got his little torch and pointed it at my face.
“Oh that’s not a wart, that’s skin cancer,” he said. I’m pretty sure I grabbed his desk at this point for support even though I was sat down. “But not the bad kind,” he added.
My first thought was, ‘there’s a good type of cancer?’ but he went on to explain he thought my spot was a basal cell carcinoma which, unlike a melanoma, is unlikely to have spread to other parts of the body. As if realising that my life, or rather Freya’s life without me, had just flashed before my eyes he attempted to put me at ease. “It shouldn’t really even be called a cancer but it is. The key is getting to it quickly. How long have you had it?” He asked.
“At least a year.” Looking at photos later I discovered it’s more like 18 months. “I came to see the nurse a couple of months ago and she told me it was a wart.” I said, as if that explained why I’d left it so long.
I was there for a smear test but, as she’s always so nice, I thought I’d ask her about a couple of funny spots I’d had for a while; one on my eye and one, as I had to get naked downstairs anyway, on my leg.
She seemed more concerned about the one of my leg, looking it up in a medical book and coming to the conclusion it was nothing to worry about. I even said about my eye in a sort of listen to me being overly dramatic way: “I was worried it was skin cancer.”
“Oh no,” she said. “But you might want to see the doctor and get it removed purely from a cosmetic point of view.”
But who has time between being a mum and work to spend half an hour playing phone roulette in a bid to get through to the appointment line only then to be told they are all gone for the morning and “can you ring back after lunch?”
The only reason I finally went (managing to book an advance appointment online) was because the “wart” was growing ever so slowly and it felt like it was finally pulling on my eye.
“Right, you’ll need to be seen at the hospital as it’s so close to your eye.” The doctor said, grabbing his dictaphone.
“Dear etc etc. Stop. New paragraph. Thank you for seeing this patient who is 39 years old. Stop.”
It took all of my effort not to butt in there. Did he really think the fact I’m nearly 40 is more important than his belief I have the good kind of skin cancer? The inverted pyramid I was taught by a kindly news editor long before I did my journalism training popped into my head but I felt it was probably the wrong time to bring it up, especially, you know, as his job is to save lives rather than write about them.
As I left the surgery I gave myself a talking to. If I was going to get it surely the good kind of not really cancer was the best case scenario? There was no need to go overboard on the dramatics. This was essentially good news. Some how this didn’t seep all the way in though and I had some horrible dreams for a few nights. I suppose that’s only natural.
At the start of November I saw the consultant – a plastic surgeon, no less – who confirmed the diagnosis. He was even more reassuring than the doctor, drawing me a nice picture of my eye and how he was going to cut the non wart out.
“Should have it done in half an hour,” he said. Maybe I should have asked if he could do a few more nips and tucks if he had time to spare?
So yesterday I went to the day procedure unit at 2pm and was home by 6pm. It was probably my best experience of hospital treatment. Everyone was lovely and I got a packet of biscuits to eat before I left.
I currently have a fair number of stitches and wonky eyesight. That spot, and another one on my eye-lid that could be the start of a new one, have been sent off somewhere to be looked at. Hopefully he got it all, if not I’ll have to have more treatment.
What will be will be. I think the past few years have taught me that worrying doesn’t do any good. I look at all the life events I’ve been through and I know while some of them have been bad they could all have been worse. Plus, it was just the kick up the bum I needed to get some things done – finally completing couch to 5k and “winning” my first NaNoWriMo (posts to come on both).
It has also become apparent what Freya’s future career might be. I’ve had lots of plasters (just bits of tape) placed on various parts of me to “make me better” and she has been patting my back (while occasionally trying to touch my stitches) and repeatedly saying the comforting words “calm down boy”, in much the same way she talks to her rocking horse.
Doctor or vet?