Spot That Won't Stop Bleeding Is Cause for Concern
Looking in the mirror and cursing yourself out is not a good way to start the day, but that is what happened yesterday. I had put a band-aid on a biopsied spot that kept bleeding, but I had neglected to put Vaseline on it. When I took off the band-aid, it stuck for a second or two…and off ripped some skin.
Some spots are worrisome, some are annoying, and some are a combination of both. Add to the broth, the frustration of having trouble getting through to the dermatologist, and you get a stew that can make you stew.
My dermatologist was never that easy to get through to, and now, with the pandemic, it is even harder. She is a specialist who really knows my complicated case, plus as a person I really like her. Yet she is in Boston, 90 miles from where I live, and some people have said why don’t you get a doctor closer to home. It’s a good point, but I guess inertia is keeping me from doing it.
Efudex and Calcipotriene spot treatment
Months and months ago, I showed her a slightly raised spot on my left cheek. It wasn’t flakey like my squamous cell carcinomas, but it wasn’t quite right. She said to use a combination of 5-fluorouracil (Efudex) and Calcipotriene (Dovonex) for four days instead of the longer period of a week or more for just plain Efudex.
It didn’t react. A couple of visits later, she gave it a zap. But it persisted.
At my visit last month, she said she better biopsy it. At the same time, she biopsied a flakey spot on my chest. The spot on my cheek was just an actinic keratosis, while the one on my chest was a squamous cell carcinoma in situ – just on the skin.
Moving to just Efudex spot treatment
She said to treat both with just Efudex, two weeks for the cheek, and four weeks for the neck. But I had to wait for them to heal first.
The neck healed without a problem. The cheek spot continued to be cheeky. It bled for a while before looking like it had healed. I applied the Efudex. The one on my chest is only getting a little pink. The one on my cheek got more than the usual degree of irritated. Then by accident, I nicked it with my finger. It started to bleed again.
Difficulty contacting the dermatologist
I talked to a nurse who said to send a photo to an email address she gave me for the practice. Three days, no answer. I sent it to the doc’s email. No answer.
I had to figure out my own treatment. I put on a band-aid alternating Vaseline and antibiotic. (Except for when I forgot). I called the dermatology office today and jumped through the hoops (press 4 and 1). The person who answered the phone said you can’t leave messages. This is new to me. She said I had to go to Patient Gateway (the patient portal) and leave a message. I wrote the same thing I wrote in my email.
Try, and try again
Frustrated to the point of tears, I emailed the nurse practitioner who takes care of me on the leukemia side. She paged the doctor to my phone. The doctor called later that day. I told her the story. She said she moved and apologized for the delay.
She said the biopsy was clean. She didn’t think it was anything, but since basal cell carcinomas do sometimes act that way, I should let her know in a few days if it doesn’t begin to heal. She confirmed that I was doing the right thing.
Later that day I got a call from a different person at the dermatology office. She was calling to set up a check-up. I told her I was upset that person #1 said I couldn’t leave a message. She wanted to know who it was, because, she said, that wasn’t the policy.
I wish I had written down the person’s name. If there is a moral to the story, it could be to take down the name of everyone you speak to. Also, if you can’t get the answer you want, keep trying in other ways. Still, it shouldn’t take four days to get an answer, and you shouldn’t have to “fly solo” when you are concerned about a spot on your skin.
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