Monday, January 18, 2016

Off, off, damn spots

I have been telling people that I had a nose job as a way of explaining the bandaid across the bridge of my nose. It is near the spot where you usually got a pimple right before a date in high school. It is making me cross-eyed.

It is covering a spot I had biopsied at my visit to the dermatologist on Thursday. She also biopsied one on my cheek as a possible squamous cell cancer. I have had these before. It is par for the course. (Now that I write that, I am wondering what it really means, but it sounds fitting.) I hope I don't need a Mohs surgery on my nose. I'll find out this week.

A young resident actually did the biopsies while Dr. Lin supervised. I forget her name. Something with an R, so let's say Roberta. She called me ma'am. I said to please call me Ronni. She said, "You can call me Roberta." I'm not sure why this annoyed me, but maybe it's because she looked like she was about 10 years old.

She came in first to examine me and look at all the raised spots on my hands and also at some on my wrists and neck. I told her I was applying a cream called Carac once a day. I have so many creams, I forget what I am supposed to do with which one. When Dr. Lin came in and "Roberta" gave her summary, she said I told her I had applied the cream once. Jennifer – Dr. Lin – said that wasn't going to be very helpful. "I told her once A DAY," I said. Like I said, annoying.

Jennifer said I could hold her hand while the resident did the biopsies. I said I wished she could transplant her smooth hands onto me. Afterwards, she froze some of the spots. When they heal, I am going to apply a stronger chemotherapy ointment called Efudex to my hands and my wrists. It is going to turn them bright red but hopefully will help clean them up. This is important because the spots can be precancerous.

For the same reason, she scheduled me for another photodynamic therapy, or PDT, for my face. That is the procedure that basically fries the top layer of skin, which later peels as though you have had the worst sunburn. I said I wished she could do it on my hands. She said they could, but the ointment will work better.

Even though I am on a small amount of prednisone – 1 milligram a day – it seems to be the culprit. Melissa said my liver enzymes looked stable so when I go back to see Dr. Alyea in two months I will bring up the subject of stopping the prednisone. Again. Bringing it up doesn't mean getting off it. But we will see.

With all the serious side effects and other problems that people have, I feel silly stressing about my hands. Maybe it is because they are right in my view and it is hard to not look at them. They are the only sign that something has happened to me. The sun exposure from playing tennis doesn't help. I lather on sunscreen and even bought sun protection gloves but I probably didn't wear them enough.

Sometimes when I'm stressed (I'm sorry, this is gross), I don't even realize that I am picking at them. When Katie catches me doing it, she says, "MOM!" I have been told that people are not staring at my hands or even giving them a thought. I'm sure that is true. Trying to let it go. Maybe I'll start a new trend of going back in time and wearing ladylike white gloves...with my tennis skirt and sweatshirt.

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