Before I went to Bologna in May, I had what appeared to be a tiny pimple on the crown of my head. I could feel it when I shampooed my hair, and my hairdresser noticed it when I had my hair cut. Brad looked at it. No big deal.
It seemed a little bigger and wasn't going away, so I decided to have a doctor check it out. Not as simple as you may think. We have Kaiser Health Insurance. I HATE to go to the doctor. Aside from my annual mammogram, I haven't seen a doctor in 2 years. I called to make an appointment with my GP, and learned she has left Kaiser, or the desert, or whatever. Fine. I'll get a new doctor, because God knows I can't see a dermatologist without a referral. Appointment made for July.
See new snippy GP who says, in 2 seconds, "Oh, that looks like skin cancer. You need to see a plastic surgeon in Fontana." (Fontana is 1 hour and 15 minutes from here.)
May I point out that there is a plastic surgeon on EVERY CORNER in the desert. There are more facelifts, etc. done here than ANYWHERE except Hollywood. (She says a regular dermatologist can't do it, because head bleeds a lot, and you'll need a surgeon to "stitch you up".) Appointment made with plastic surgeon in Fontana in August.
I am freaking out, will not go outside in the sun, only swim after dark. Who puts sunscreen on their HEAD (except bald guys)?
I buy a hat in San Diego at Pinot and Ponies. Wear it whenever I am outside. HATE it. It makes your head sweat, and have "hat hair"!
I drive to Fontana to see the surgeon. He is kind and patient and answers all my dumb questions. He says it is NOT Melanoma, and we can wait until I come back from Italy to do a biopsy. They will give me shots in my head to numb it, then take a sample, stitch it up and wait a week for the pathology report.
I might as well interject how I feel about having my head TOUCHED AT ALL!
I won't let my hairdresser shampoo me or blow me dry. It is torture enough to blow my own hair dry each day. I HATE doing it! I won't let Brad touch my head. No one touches my head. I would rather go to the dentist than have my hair CUT!
Then he explains EVERYTHING that COULD happen.
Best case: basal cell carcinoma
They would do the shots in the head to numb me, then cut it out and stitch me up. I could do this in a "procedure room" and be awake, OR in the O.R. with an IV to make me loopy, or they could put me completely out with general anesthesia. I need a valium just THINKING about it!
More serious: squamous cell carcinoma
Then they need to cut a BIGGER, DEEPER margin. He showed me the size of an egg with his fingers. Then the hair doesn't grow back, and there is a permanent bald spot.
Scalp skin doesn't stretch that far, so they would take skin from my NECK, and do a skin graft. YOWEEEEEEEEEE!
I go to Italy and wear the damn hat in the sun. I have "hat hair" at dinner. I hope for rainy, cloudy days. I try not to think about the upcoming biopsy when I get home. I eat well and drink plenty of wine. I have a great trip, but the thoughts are there daily.
I light candles in every church in the Veneto I am near. I try not to be scared, but I AM scared.
7:30 a.m.:The doctor's office calls and says he is out sick today, but his PA, Brittany, can do the biopsy. The voice says Brittany is very good, and very gentle, and everyone loves her. She says Brittany did a biopsy on HER. OK, I want to get this OVER WITH! Brad drives me to Fontana at 1:00 They won't let him come in with me. I have two therapy "stress toys" with me: a heart and a brain. I could squeeze the hell out of them. Did I mention that I've never had surgery? (except my tonsils out at age 12).
When I got there, my blood pressure was 165/98! (when I left it was normal)
Brittany WAS a doll and she was very gentle. They covered my eyes with a towel for the bright lights pointing at my head. The shot wasn't my funnest moment, and it burned, but I was fine. My head was numb, numb, numb! The rest, I didn't feel, and the whole procedure took 20 minutes. We went out to lunch. My friend, Roxanne, came that evening and I was sore and didn't sleep well, but no bleeding, and I felt better in the morning. It was great that I had a distraction, and we ate well. I had goopy, greasy, antiseptic junk in my hair for a week while I waited for the results.
I had to go to an all day training in Riverside. There were lots of "team-building exercises" (relays, charades, dancing, etc.). I kept my phone on ALL day. In the car on the way home, my phone rang, and it was Kaiser with my results. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Hansen, but the biopsy was INCONCLUSIVE. We will call to reschedule ANOTHER BIOPSY!" WTF?
I tried to speak with the doctor, but he was at a conference in Toronto. I tried to speak with Brittany, but she was "on sick leave". Great. We were back at square one, and STILL don't know a thing. After speaking to 2 advice nurses, and 3 scheduling people, I got an appointment for another biopsy on October 19. I had my stitches out.
I had them print me out my lab report. It said, "NO signs of carcinoma." "No malignancy". I asked everyone WHY I had to have another biopsy? They all said, "They will go deeper this time".
I rescheduled clients for next Tuesday. I rescheduled all my interns' supervision. I worried some more. Didn't we start all this in JUNE? Why do we still know nothing in OCTOBER? It FELT like life was on hold.
Yesterday, the nice surgeon called.
He said, "Mrs. Hansen, I see we have you scheduled for another biopsy next week."
I said "Yes".
He said, "I'm sorry, but I have been away at a conference. I just got back and am reading your lab report. There is NO CANCER. We don't need to do another biopsy. How is your head now? "
I said, "It is fine. Just a little scab where the stitches were."
He said, "Come and see me in 3 months, or call if you have any problems or questions. I am canceling the biopsy. I'm sorry they put you through this. I'm sure it was no fun the first time, and you don't need to do it again."
I LOVE THAT MAN! WHOO HOO! Santa can cancel the wig shopping! I am SO relieved!