Does it mean I'm getting old if, every time I go to the doctor, I leave something behind? Not my keys or my phone -- those I seem to remember. Instead, I keep having to abandon some small part of myself.
At first, it was just my dermatologist. She'd take one or two little slivers of skin each time I went to see her (which was every six months for the first two years). I'm rather fair-skinned and freckle-y -- that combined with some bad sunburns in my wild and crazy tanning youth makes me a prime candidate for regular skin checks. For several years, she'd take the sliver and call me a couple weeks later to say it was "all clear."
Then last summer I went in for my annual check and mentioned the spot in the middle of my forehead, which I assumed was a persistent pimple left from my pregnancy. I figured she'd give me a cream and send me on my way. Instead, she peered at my forehead and said, "Hmm. We'll need to biopsy that, but it looks like a carcinoma."
I'm sorry, did you just say "biopsy"? And isn't "carcinoma" a fancy word for "cancer"?
Long story short, it was in fact a basal cell carcinoma, which I later had removed by a Mohs skin surgeon who seemed startled to see someone young like me in her office. Once she cut out the layers of cancerous cells from beneath the pimple, I was "all clear" again. The small scar that stares back at me each morning is my reminder to put on sunscreen.
Now it turns out my dentist wants in on the action. When the hygienist noticed a red spot on my lower gum at my check-up last month, my dentist told me to watch it for a few weeks and call him if it wasn't gone. Probably nothing, he said, but keep an eye on it. A month later I was back in his office getting a referral to a periodontist.
Second long story short, the periodontist removed the spot -- probably nothing, he said, but let's biopsy it to be sure.
Ahem, "biopsy"? Again?!
He called on Friday to tell me it was inflammatory epithelial and fibrous hyperplasia. Also known as a pregnancy tumor. Which sounds scary, but actually means it's nothing but some "overgrowth" in my gums caused by the raging hormones of pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Thank goodness there aren't any doctor appointments on my calendar until September.