A new mark popped up on my hand, and it wasn’t a sun spot. I noticed it three weeks ago. “I’ve gotta go to the doctor,” I kept hearing myself say. I called last night and was in first thing this morning. “This doesn’t look normal,” I said. “Look how it dips in the middle.”
I was shown to a room, handed a gown, told to disrobe–everything except your bra and underwear. Both my parents have had skin-cancer. Never melanoma, just your run-of-the-cancer-mill squamous and basal cell skin cancers. So, this morning, in the snow, I stripped down to my lace unmentionables and tried to remember all the patches of skin that might need a thorough looksie.
There was a knock at the door. Come in. Shit.
An alarmingly handsome doctor walked in. As a general rule, I prefer unremarkable doctors. Not hairy nut-finder ugly, just normal. I never want the hot doctor. It’s not that I’m more self-conscious around one, or that I’m suddenly tongue-tied or hesitant to ask random questions. It’s just… deeply distracting. What I’m suddenly thinking as he examines my face… he must be looking at me seeing every single thing that needs improvement. He’s Adonis, and I’m the boar.
I’m thinking of Botox and fillers and lasers. Botox to lift the brow and raise the lid, to smooth the 11’s between my eyes; fillers for the hollows beneath my eyes, for where my face has lost its volume; lasers for the sun spots marking the temples of my face. I walk in worried about cancer, and now I’m Narcissus.
“I’ll tell you what this is,” he says of the asymmetrical marking on my hand, “It’s totally benign. It’s cosmetic not cancerous.” He says some medical term and scribbles it on a pad for me to google later. Says it can crop up occasionally. They don’t know why. But good that I came in with my fair skin.
Dermatologist offices are the only place in the world where I receive praise on my whiteness. If I ever feel like shit again about how pasty I look, I’m going back. “Obviously you take care of your skin,” he says. “Yeah, ’cause I’m as white as shit, I know.”
“With your fair complexion it would be catastrophic if you weren’t as diligent as you are.” I’m Snow White.
Once I’m no longer worried that I have cancer, I ask about the fillers. “You would benefit from them,” he says. “You’d need about $1800 worth, but I’d do it in three sessions to build the volume gradually, and it would last you for several years. And if you don’t end up liking it, there’s an enzyme I can inject that will dissolve them. Believe me, I do a lot of that for people who’ve gone elsewhere and had an aggressive fill.” Sigh. I’ll think about it. But for now, I leave the appointment with a script for Retin-A (the higher dose is soon to be released as over-the-counter), a numbed hand with a band-aid from the biopsy, and another script for the slight Eczema patch on my shin and one on the inner crease of my left elbow. And in my haste to put my clothes back on, I completely forget the piece of paper with my diagnosis. I’m better off. I’ll only drive myself crazy, assuming the benign bit cropped up as some symptom to a dormant incurable something or other.
Then, I headed out for a manicure and pedicure, and in another hour, I’m getting my hair chopped off because I’m now beyond Country Western Singer hair. Self-care and preservation for the boar. Sometimes you really can put lipstick on a pig.
*For the record, this is what it ended up being: Granuloma annulare