This is another dementia check.
Last year my sister and I flew down to Pensacola to visit my brother.Â One thing that came up while we were down there was a family history of melanoma. I think my brother Bill first mentioned it on a previous visit, “Have you had a melanoma yet?” I didn’t think much of it, but when I found out that both of them had been diagnosed with that particularly nasty form of skin cancer, I thought it might be a good idea to get checked out. When I mentioned it to one of my doc friends, she told me I definitely should get checked because there was a strong genetic predisposition for the disease. That doesn’t mean that you necessarily have the genetic marker, but you’re more likely to, and thus more likely to have a killer mole. I’ve always had lots of moles and I have one in particular that pretty much constantly itches and it’s positioned just inside of my right shoulder blade, in the most unreachable place on my body. So I made an appointment with a dermatologist.
I made the appointment months ago, probably long enough ago for any existing melanoma to have spread and killed me already. Then about a month ago, the called me and canceled the appointment. We rescheduled. I have to tell you, things like doctor appointments end up on the bottom of one of the piles stacked up in the messy desk of my mind. So late last night when I crawled into bed my darling wife Rebecca, half asleep, asked if I had an appointment in the morning. “I don’t know, do I?”
“It’s on the calendar.”
“Yeah but I thought it was rescheduled.”
“It’s on the calendar.”
“Did I forget to move the date?”
“It’s on the calendar.”
So I got out of bed, stumbled down to my office and checked the calendar on my computer and saw it right there, Dr. Olson, 8:45, January 25. “Wow, thanks Beck, glad you reminded me.” Something I find myself saying disturbingly often. In my mind, 8:45 am is not early, I rarely sleep past 6, so I didn’t set the alarm. Naturally, I slept until 6:30, but I wasn’t concerned, that should be plenty of time. I made a pot of coffee, poured myself a cup, and went through my morning routine, skimming the sports section and checking my email, to see what advances have been made in the science of penis enlargement. No panic, even though the weather was looking bad. We were getting a light dusting of snow on top of yesterday’s thaw and rain, which makes things very slippery. I came out of my morning haze and glanced at the clock. 7:30. Knowing that I would be baring all very soon, I had to get a shower in. Now I was starting to get concerned. I told myself not to worry it was past rush hour and Highway 100 which is pretty much a straight shot to the clinic, shouldn’t be backed up.
Highway 100 was a parking lot. It was now 8:20. There was no way I was going to make it, particularly if I stayed on the highway. I don’t know if it’s the same everywhere, or just in the Twin Cities, but commuters tend to stick to their routes no matter what, so when traffic is bad on a main artery, you can often make better time on the back roads. I jumped off at the next exit, not entirely sure of the route I needed to take. B likes to say I have a lousy sense of direction. I disagree, but that’s another blog. Combining dead reckoning, hazy memory and luck, I slipped into the clinic using a backdoor route, without a single wrong turn. And I was only 15 minutes late.
Or 30 days early, depending on how you look at it. That’s right, I hadn’t moved the appointment on my calendar, and I wasn’t scheduled to show up until next month. My doc wasn’t there but the waiting room was empty, probably because all the other patients were still sitting on Hwy. 100, so they would squeeze me in with another doctor.
So they put me in a room and I stripped down to my shorts and put on the requisite ridiculous gown and waited for the doc. The doctor I was originally scheduled to see is, if I remember correctly, a very attractive woman and naturally I was just a little bit nervous about that whole I’m naked and you’re not thing. There was a knock on the door and the new doc popped in. She looked liked she was about 20. She could have been one of my daughter’s friends. Now I’m not that modest of a person, but there’s a certain awkwardness to being closely examined by a member of the opposite sex, particularly a much younger one. The awkwardness was mixed with a little bit of a smirk. Her manner was reassuring as she carefully checked out the landscape, explaining what the various irregularities on my surface were and that none of them of the dangerous variety. She had covered all the territory that wasn’t covered by my shorts.
“I’m going to look at your buttocks now, is it OK if I take a look?”
“Sure.” Down came the boxers and then almost instantly back up.
“Is there anything you want me to look at in front?”
I literally had to clench my teeth to keep the inner class clown from jumping out of my mouth. “Ummm, no.” was my snappy comeback. I’m sure she was quite relieved. It was bad enough that she had to look at my feet, the poor thing is probably scarred for life.
In the course of the examination, we talked about the itching mole and another weird protrusion, and decided, although they were harmless she would remove them by freezing them with liquid nitrogen. Now, we all know that medical personnel like to prepare you for sticks and pokes and jabs by saying things like, “This might cause some discomfort” or “This might sting a bit” So when she came right out and said, “This is going to hurt,” it got my attention. And she wasn’t lying. I asked how long it would hurt, “Just while I’m doing the procedure, it kind of burns.” She was lying. I tell people that the Year of the Knee greatly increased my capacity to ignore pain, but lets just say that I feel a new bond with animals that have experienced branding irons. Driving home it felt like the cowboy was still poking me with a red hot Lazy S. Fortunately my knee doctor has me pretty well armed in the pain killer department.
Which explains this long, rambling post.