Last week I suffered the embarrassment of having mole removed. The mole in question lost the battle when I could no longer tolerate its insolence. Smack-dab in the middle of my back, ripe for rubbing against my bra. And once surging pains began to shoot down my back when I’d lean against anything, I called in to the professionals.
I had to call five different dermatologists before I finally overshared with a receptionist, who after telling me the next available appointment with the doctor I’d called for was in two months, offered up that another derma in the building had an opening in two days. I told her to book it, I couldn’t wait anymore, and I didn’t need to know why he was the only one without a wait list. (I briefly considered canceling when it dawned on me that they might want to weigh me since all medical professionals love to do that…then I realized ditching the mole would technically make me lose weight. WIN.)
I showed up for my appointment and I was taken back to the examination room. A small, eastern European nurse asked me questions and entered my answers into the computer.
Nurse: “Does zee mole have any bleeding?”
Me: “Uhhh…I dunno. I don’t think so. I haven’t noticed any blood.”
Nurse: “Does zee mole appear to have changed in shape, size, or color?”
Me: “I can’t really say. I don’t get a chance to look at my back very often.”
Nurse: “Does zee mole work for an enemy nation and intend to sell secrets for a profit?”
Nurse: “Just a leeetle dermalogical humor.”
And so went the questions. Once we finished she instructed me to take off my top and put on the paper shirt she was fetching. When she opened the drawer where the gowns were stored, she kept digging toward the bottom. My insecurities set in like a flash: could she have really sized up my boobs and been searching for the largest paper sheath they stocked?
The nurse pulled the curtain around the table to give me privacy (hah!), and told me the doctor would be in shortly. I changed and waited awkwardly in the not-quite-opaque blouse I’d been given.
The doctor came in and got right down to business. He looked at the mole, told me it appeared to be normal, and asked me the same exact questions the nurse had. Literally, I was giving the old, “I can’t see my back!” answer all over again. I don’t know if the nurse had just pretended to enter my responses or if they just wanted to see if I could keep my story straight. Then he took a picture of the mole on a digital camera and proceeded to show it to me.
Doctor: “You see the top? (Zooming in) Do you see how there are scales? It’s scaly.”
Doctor: “Yeah, it’s perfectly normal. Don’t worry.”
Sure. You just described something that grew out of my body as “scaly.” I won’t give it a second thought. I won’t silently freak out and compare myself reptile getting ready to shed its winter skin. Me, worried? Nah.
In an effort to calm his nerves told him I’d had moles removed before. I didn’t want him thinking I couldn’t handle a little snip on the ‘ole back. He said there were two ways to do it: lancing it off the surface of the skin or cutting it out and stitching me up.
Me: “Why would you need to cut it out?”
Doctor: “Because it could have roots. Like a tree. If we don’t cut it out and it does have roots, we risk that it could grow back.”
Once I was done throwing up in my mouth, I responded that whatever he thought was necessary would be fine with me. Who am I to argue with a professional? In one minute flat I was signing a liability waiver for the surgical procedure and preparing for the worst.
He pinched my skin in order to” distract me from the pain” of the sting of the local anesthetic. This is a favorite move among doctors when doing painful things to patients who are awake. Why they think trading one kind of pain for another will decrease the level of discomfort is totally beyond me. Thankfully it was over really quickly.
He stitched me up and we went over the aftercare instructions. He repeatedly kept telling me that I couldn’t do pilates for the next two weeks or I might risk tearing the wound open. Not once did I mention that I do pilates, because I don’t—so I can’t help but wonder if it was a subtle hint or a weird compliment. I agreed there’d be no pilates, canoeing, or weight-lifting in my near future.
He let me go with a handshake, a reminder to wear sunscreen, and a pretty hefty payout from my insurance company. I left wishing I could bleach my brain clean of the memory my scaly, rooted mole had left behind.