Ah. The annual pilgrimage to the dermatologist to have my yearly review. The doctor carefully making notes of the changes that my aging skin has decided to make. It’s a much needed activity – especially with my fair skin and all the times I’ve been badly burned – but it’s still slightly humiliating to strip naked in front of whatever 12-year-old is newly on staff to let him take a long, slow look at the paleness interspersed with freckles and moles. Seriously, I have a lot, so it takes a while to complete this exam.
My mind kinda turns to a loud buzz as I listen to him murmur “hmmmm” under his breath and ask questions like “how long has this been here?” Now, I look at myself every day but I have no idea when any mole in particular popped up. I didn’t exactly write about it in my journal. So, I think about saying something like “It’s older than you, but not quite as old as my high school diploma.” I’m continually amazed by how young everyone is these days. People born in the 80’s should still be babies… not driving around and holding down real jobs and checking out my moles for crying out loud. I have a feeling that words like “whippersnapper” will be entering my vocabulary very soon.
Doogie continued his excruciating journey perusing my skin. Along the way I pointed out things that bothered me on an aesthetic level, which I felt no embarrassment in doing since the walls were covered with BOTOX ads and leaflets about cosmetic surgery. Apparently, this joint was all about being pretty, which made me turn my thoughts to the possibility that maybe Doogie wasn’t 12 at all. There was a very real chance that my doctor was actually a senior citizen. He had access to all sorts of fillers, after all. He could be as smooth as he wished.
The loudness of his voice broke my fantasy about the secret closet they had on site… where they all went at the end of the day to plump up any sinking holes in their face or freeze off any age spots from their hands. He said “I’m worried about two things.” He pulled out a blue felt marker from his pristine white jacket and yanked the cap off, making a loud pop that pushed my head back as if a firecracker was begin spent. He made a circle above my left breast around some skin had been flaking. I knew he was going to target this area. I was prepared for that. But then he leaned down and circled a mole on a toe of my right foot. You know, the toe wedged between the “one who had roast beef” and the one who cried “wee, wee, wee all the way home.” I stared with disbelief as the blue line materialized around the offending spot. No! Not that one! My mind cried out as his muffled voice explained about the irregular shape. The uneven color. The possibility of *gasp* cancer.
I didn’t really hear him though. I was in shock. I’ve had this mole for as long as I could remember. It had always been there. I’m sure I’m glorifying it to some degree but I’m pretty confident that this particular mole was how I learned my left from my right. Without that mole I would not know how to walk. I wouldn’t have known how to perform in the marching band. (Oh, Okay, I wasn’t that good of a marcher anyway.) But I am an excellent tap dancer. And I know that mole had a defining role in that success. Now, the “little piggy who had none” would Truly. Have. None.
Doogie’s assistant motioned for me to get on the table. The doc came back in and froze the area above my left breast. I also encouraged him to freeze an area on my left arm. Nobody really ever saw that particular mole but I still didn’t like it. I figured if he was already at it, what would a couple more squeezes on the old liquid nitrogen bottle hurt? So, while he was freezing me, his assistant was numbing up my toe for the “procedure”. I couldn’t believe that they weren’t going to give me a few moments to say goodbye. No final respects. No last tender moments. He went straight from freezing me to cutting away on my toe. Doogie’s head was in the way of me seeing what he was doing. I saw a few nasty tools that he was using but felt nothing. I was numb. Numb to the physicality of it all and numb on an emotional level.
I’m sure you’re thinking that I’m overreacting, but I’m being truthful here. I was in mourning. Technically all of my moles are a part of me but there are just some that are more dear to me than others. I can’t liken it to becoming disfigured or losing a limb or anything like that. It’s drastic to no one but me. But that doesn’t lessen its impact. I’m affected. Deeply.
For now, I have a painful reminder in the way of a scab. My dear old mole really was in an unfortunate spot. Now that it’s gone I’m not able to wear many of my shoes until it’s healed. I’m not able to bend it at the joint. I have to be very careful until the scab goes away. Until the hole fully closes. Until there’s no reminder left.
Isn’t that always the way? Things that we’re so used to… we never think we’re going to lose them. And then, one day, they’re gone. We’re left with the shock. The disbelief. The hole. Then a scab forms and the healing begins. It’s really tender and there’s a constant reminder of the hurt but in actuality it’s healing. It wasn’t good for me. It could have been potentially hurting me. But I was used to it. It felt safe. Now that it’s gone, it is truly for my own good. For the betterment of my health. I will move on. I will get used to it. The hurt will dissipate.
And then, someday, I will be able to look back on it with a certain fondness. Until that day comes, I will miss it desperately.