This blog will combine two of my least favorite things: talking about myself and sharing photos of myself. The only reason I am willing to do both of these things publicly is because, in the long run, it will save me from telling the same story over and over to people, which is worse to me than putting it on the interwebs.
The following blog contains pictures of a somewhat graphic nature. If you’ve read my blogs regarding my motorcycle collision back in 2011, then you should be fine with a few iPhone pics without any blood in them.
Back in June of this year, I attempted to make an appointment with a dermatologist for my yearly skin cancer check up. Having recently switched insurance providers because of the frugality of my employer, I am now a member of Kaiser Permanente (an HMO), where I was told I could not see a dermatologist until I saw my primary care physician, then he would have to determine whether I merited a referral to see the elusive dermatologist. Jumping through hoops is one of the signature moves of an HMO, and there is never a direct line from point A to point B.
So I jumped through hoop number one and scheduled a physical with my primary care physician. All was good, but I mentioned that I wanted to see a dermatologist, and he said his nurse would take a picture of any concerned spots on my body and send them to a dermatologist. Once again, I was not able to just make an appointment with the specialist, even after jumping so successfully through hoop number one.
Pictures were taken, time went by, and eventually I was honored enough to receive a phone call from this elusive dermatologist. She did not like what she saw in one of the photos, so I was now allowed to schedule an appointment with their department. Granted, by the time this happened, it was now October (four months since I tried to see one on my own). I went in, she cut a chunk of my cheek out where a mole had lived forever, and she sent it off to the lab.
The lab results came back positive, and I officially became a statistic of a melanoma patient with skin cancer. Fortunately, it was just that one section, but the piece removed was so deep it required further surgery to be sure that everything bad had been taken out.
All of a sudden, I was being told that time is of the essence, which of course it extremely ironic, because if Kaiser had just let me see the damn dermatologist back in June, then this talk of time would be irrelevant and I would have been healed by now. I also found out that the doctors on Maui could not perform the surgery I required and that I would have to fly over to O’ahu to have a specialist perform this delicate procedure.
More of this precious time slipped away, as I had to go to O’ahu to meet the surgeon, get information on the surgery, and figure out when it could be performed. Emily and I had our trip to Houston scheduled for the following week, then Thanksgiving, so now the surgery was pushed back until the beginning of December.
The surgery was this whole big production involving nuclear medicine, radioactive dyes, multiple incisions, and removal of five lymph nodes in two locations on my head and neck. Had I taken it a bit more seriously, I might have found myself a lot more scared and nervous than I was at the time. Fortunately, I try not to take too many things in life seriously, and in this case, I think that was a positive aspect.
Moving forward, the surgery was performed, I was released the same day, but we stayed on O’ahu overnight and revisited with the surgeon the following day. He was happy with the incisions and the way the skin around them was healing. He suggested we stay on O’ahu for a week, in case the results of the surgery came back positive and he had to perform another surgery, but as soon as we left his office, we went straight to the airport and caught the next flight home to Maui, where I proceeded to sleep for nine hours, versus the three the night before.
A day later I got the great news that all the material taken out of my face and neck had come back from the lab as negative, meaning no cancer. So life is good, things will eventually get back to normal, and I will have some killer scars to add to my life’s story.
I have included the photos below, so enjoy them if you can and know that no pain pills were consumed by me. The stitches are due to come out Wednesday, December 12th, so wish me luck!