Last week was intense. A few things happened that I’ll be writing about in future blogs, as they need time to percolate. But Friday? Friday was a whirlwind.
I went to the dermatologist to see if the hemangioma had changed over the past few weeks. It feels like it had but since I couldn’t see it, what did I know?!?
When I arrived, I felt like I’d stepped back in time. Leaving the office was someone I haven’t seen in at least 33 years.
Back in my high school days, I volunteered with UCP, United Cerebral Palsy of NYC. Every Saturday, we’d meet and share a few hours with our friends. There’d be music and snacks, games and activities. One member of my group was Jack.* Jack loved dancing, puzzles, and telling jokes. We always had fun.
When my work schedule changed and I could no longer volunteer with UCP, Jack was very upset. That last day was very sad. For a while, I’d occasionally see Jack in the neighborhood. But it’s been decades since our last encounter.
I had just gotten settled in the waiting room. A woman said, “Jack, can you bring this to the woman at the front desk?”
And then a voice I immediately recognized said, “okay.” One word… ONE WORD in his unmistakable cadence transported me back to being 15 years old. I turned in time to see him hand over the form, get his coat, and leave. Struck by the suddenness of a missed opportunity and the absolute joy of seeing him after so many years, I was a bit lost in thought when my name was called. I’ve always wondered how he was. How all of my group has been over these many years.
That’s when my joy ended. My doc examined the monster – it hadn’t changed in size. But I’d nearly nicked it two days earlier (while combing my hair) and it burned. That concerned him. He also explained that, since it was vascular, accidentally opening it could lead to bleeding. So it was immediately decided – by him – to remove it on the spot. Here’s how that conversation went:
“Let’s remove it. You don’t want that on your head.”
“Okay….. so when should I set that up?”
“Right now! Let’s do it now. I’m going to let Dr. J* with the very gentle hands do it. (Proceeds to page Dr. J and someone named Alicia*). Unless you have somewhere else to be… (pause for two seconds) you don’t? Good. Excellent. Let’s do it.”
The only reason I’d have postponed it would be fear. He clearly had my number on that. And I clearly wasn’t getting out of there WITH the hemangioma. So consents were signed, prepping was done, and Dr. J “with the very gentle hands” arrived.
The first words out of his mouth were, “Alicia, I’ll need a forceps with teeth.”
What the heck?!?! I didn’t want to know that. At ALL.
The worst part, he said, would be the injection of anesthetic. That much I knew. It burns at first. But he explained that, once the 15 minutes to let the anesthetic kick in were up, it would only take about 5 minutes max! Time limited discomfort? I’ll take it.
They’d use the aforementioned forceps with teeth to remove the hemangioma, then cauterize the wound to stop any bleeding. I didn’t want to hear anything during the procedure, so I kept my earbuds in. And, as promised, it was over in minutes. I’ll even go so far as to say that Dr. J does have a gentle touch and it wasn’t the worst procedure I’ve ever done at the last minute.
Before I left, I asked what would cause me to develop a hemangioma at 46, especially since they’re generally seen in babies. Dr. J explained that it could be from trauma. Had I experienced any head injuries? (After which fall??) It could be a sign of “over healing,” meaning the immune system goes into overdrive after an injury. It could even be from something as simple as a pimple or bug bite! He asked if that sounded possible, given my medical history. When I relayed that to my husband, we both cracked up. I spend 90% of my life dealing with a body in overdrive. My immune system is scrambled constantly. It makes a lot of sense.
So, the monster is gone! And now I’m treating the wound, (that will scar as an indented crater. Yay weirdness!), twice a day with bacitracin. As this oddity was on the back of my head – lower right occipital quadrant to be precise – I worried they’d accidentally remove a bunch of my hair. He said it wouldn’t happen. But I saw the biopsy jar. 😒 It wasn’t too bad, I was only slightly concerned that I’d get weird looks on the subway for an imaginary bald patch that had been recently cauterized. Ugh.
I’ve also had to break my “no ice” rule. The wound has been slightly irritated, so I’ve used carefully wrapped cold packs on it, but just for short periods. My husband says it looks like it’s healing well.
It’s over! That’s what counts. A procedure without a ton of drama?!?! That’s new. Personally, I’ll take no procedures and no drama, thank you very much. But if we have to do stuff, we have to do it.
So here’s to:
good memories! (may we have them)
no drama (may we avoid it!), and easy procedures (may we not need ANY!)!!
Wishing you a low pain/no pain, low aggravation/no aggravation kind of a week because that’s what we deserve.
Peace and painlessness,
(*names changed for privacy)