Friday, February 12, 2016

Visit To My Dermatologist



That time again folks, a visit to my dermatologist to remove a precancerous growth from my face.  I continue to pay the price for the Folly of my Youth, baking myself on the beach seeking that ever elusive tan. 

Of all the dire warnings we received in our youth from going straight to Hell if we smoked weed to the perils of unprotected sex perhaps the most accurate is the danger of baking oneself on the beach.  Oh yes, I was one of those fools, who early spent the morning lying supine on the beach, baking my supple bod under the ultra violet cancer causing rays of the Sun. 


Me, foolishly baking tanning at Rehoboth Beach 1964 - yes, I am THAT old!

Thirty years ago this year (yes, it was THAT long ago) I first visited a dermatologist.  That was when I worked at a big bank in Philadelphia.  During my lunch hour I took a walk down to Thomas Jefferson University for my doctor's appointment. Coincidentally, my doctor at that time was also of Chinese ancestry as is my doctor now.  What are the odds?




I had arranged an appointment because I noticed that every time I shaved my left cheek would hurt.  The doctor examined my face and told me my face was covered with actinic keratosis lesions.  "What in the world is actinic keratosis?" I thought.  Well, he old me they were pre CANCEROUS lesions.  

There is was.  The dreaded "C" word.  I was so taken aback that I had to sit down.  He explained to me that while actinic keratosis lesions are not cancerous they could lead to cancer.  He also told me that, for the rest of my life, I would have to see a dermatologist every six months.  This was thirty years ago folks. And with few exceptions, I have been seeing a dermatologist.


Me this morning after the biopsy was taken from my left cheek

But first he had to treat all the lesions, most of which were not noticeable to the casual eye, with a topical chemotherapy treatment.  Basically, this was a chemical skin peel of my face.  And folks, I'm here to tell you that was one of the most painful procedures I've ever had in my long life.  The only medical problem that has been more painful was my passing of kidney stones and folks, NOTHING surpasses that pain level. But this topical chemical skin peel was pretty painful.


That's part of my left cheek in the little vial next to the forceps

I had it done over the New Year's holiday.  My face looked like raw hamburger.  I was scaring folks with my appearance.  I remember standing on the platform at Suburban Station and people would take one look at my beet red face and give me space, like I was contagious.  

It took about two weeks for my face to heal.  The good news was that I had all new skin on my face, felt like a baby's ass (not that I would know).  The bad news was that I could never lay on the beach again.  Come to think of it, that wasn't really bad news.  I was always bored laying on the beach anyway.  The bad news was that I would always have the cost (and there were years that I didn't have insurance so all those dermatologist visits came out of my shallow pocket) and inconvenience of finding a dermatologist for the rest of my life.  Another chunk of my freedom gone.

Most visits to my dermatologist over the years I've managed to get out of their office without having chunks of my flesh either being burned (dry ice) or cut (for biopsies).  However, in recent years I almost always have another piece of flesh taken off of my once prime bod.  These days this old bod gives up a little more sun baked flesh to the dermatologist's laboratory.  And this morning I was asked if my damaged skin could be on my doctor's new website warning of the danger and damage of prolonged sun exposure.  Of course I gave my permission.  Just another instance of my image living on long after I'm gone (this along with my brief appearance in the audience of "The Price is Right!")  

My good doctor dug out a piece of my left cheek this morning for a biopsy.  I'll know the results in about a week and a half. Been here before folks.  Always got a pass from the cancer.  Hopefully I'll get another pass. 






Afterward, to cheer my spirits we stopped at the local Walmart.  Shopping and watching Walmart People always cheers me up.  I'm never disappointed when I slum it up in a Walmart (listen to me, like I'm NOT one of THOSE people). 

8 comments:

  1. Ron - just glad you are getting this looked after. And the facility looks nice and clean - and not overly busy. In Toronto it is such a pain often going to a clinic. I know when I was very young I burned quite a bit - and then as a kid I would work often shirtless out in my uncle and aunt' s fields on their farm. Luckily I've not had any repercussions from that. Stay well.

    Pat

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    1. Pat,
      I am lucky to have a good doctor (Dr. Chang) who is close by at a clean and not overly busy facility, at least for me. I was talking to him this morning and he was showing me all the photos he's posted on his new website of the many different types of skin cancer he is treating on his patients. His facility is very busy but he always takes me on time. Maybe it's because I have an early morning appointment and he has a well run facility. I used to go to the VA (Veterans Administration) in Wilmington. When I went there I had to wait months to even get an appointment and once I was there I was always in a roomful of patients and waited at least an hour or more before one of the students (not even the same doctor) from Thomas Jefferson University saw me. One good thing, once you got in at the VA and they saw you, you were treated well. It was just the long time to get there. They only took patients once a month and you had to make your appointment months in advance. I guess if we had a total run government run health facility, that would be the case for any medical appointments. That's why so many down here (in the states) are against socialized medicine.
      Ron

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  2. Well, I certainly hope your biopsy turns out A-OK.
    I spent the better part of my life worshiping the sun (a California addiction) and I'm paying for it now. Those brutal rays eventually catch up with us.

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    1. Jon,
      All my previous biopsies have been negative. I hope my luck continues. If I only knew way back in my youthful days that I would be paying this price today I never would have wasted all that time on the beach. How stupid I was.
      Ron

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  3. Randy in NEB5:02 AM

    Ron, I've done the same thing you did. I got very bad sunburns about a half a dozen times in my teens and 20s. Last year at this time I saw a doctor for spots on my face that wouldn't heal. The doctor gave me some cream called "Fluorouracil". Twice a day for 6 weeks. Is that some of the same meds you're using? My face looked like I had flash burns from a nuke blast!

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    1. Randy,
      Yep, same thing. It's called "topical chemotherapy". It burns off the upper layer of your skin. I had so many spots I had to do my whole face. My face looked like I had my head in s gas oven and lit the pilot light and was blasted. Very painful burns.
      Ron

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  4. I remember the hot sunny days of the 60s from the same place. I turned a nice golden brown. Now I am also having to deal with precancerous lesions. My GP has taken care of everything so far, but it will soon be time for the dermatologist. You are right in that of all the things they told us not to do, getting a tan wasn't one of them.

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  5. All docs is quacks.

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