Coping with Reality: Dermatologist Visit Edition
Last updated: April 2023
"Everything off but your underwear, gown open to the back. We'll be back to get started in a few" - who knew these words would become as second nature to me as they are to my doctor?
We all know the signs, the ABCDs of melanoma. We know what to look for, how often to check, the lighting to check in, and the angle to hold our phones for a picture to send to our family members for a second opinion. This is our life, the life of a melahomie.
My battle after NED
I have noticed many people stop telling their story after the initial diagnosis. I've found most of my battle has come in the months and appointments after NED. I find it increasingly difficult to remember on the first of the month to take pictures of my moles, in the same light, same time, same angle, same distance, everything. It may not be important, but if I can't compare my moles approximately, I can't compare them at all. I live away from my parents, so once a month, I ask my mom to look me over as she would be able to tell a difference better than I would.
We've all been trained to look for new, merging, color changing, uneven border, moles. I'm 23. Most of my moles haven't even come in yet. About every 3 months, I notice a "new" mole that is growing and changing color. Although I know it is more than likely a new mole, it doesn't stop me from emailing a picture of it to my dermatologist to be sure. I know that if I don't get her approval, for the next 3 months I won't sleep waiting for my appointment.
The anxiety and peace of a dermatologist visit
My dermatologist is a fantastic person and I trust her eyes like no one else. I'm filled with a mix of peace and anxiety when I walk into her office waiting room. A sense of "ah, finally!" and "oh, finally.." I always wonder if she realizes she holds the power to take away my good night's sleep for the next 10 days as well as my ability to focus on my normal day-to-day life. I even get anxiety about what to wear to my appointments when I have to go to work right after. If she removes a mole on my thigh, I want to wear comfy clothes. If she removes it on my arm, I probably should wear no sleeves, but it also my be cold in the office so maybe instead, I'll wear a baggy shirt. The list goes on and on!
Waiting for biopsy results
It's the little things that don't get talked about much. It's the constant anxiety after a mole is removed of when I'll get the phone call and where. I worry just leaving my phone in my purse that I won't hear it ring and I'll have to play phone tag with a nurse. What if I'm in public and they give me bad news? It's the little things that can consume the peace in your mind. I know in the grand scheme of things, these little things only last for about a week - 2 weeks, but the little things add up.
I pray for anyone reading these and saying, "same" that you find peace and are able to sleep well tonight!!
Do you sunscreen in the fall?