fatting the calf

The day started in an atypical way for me and far more usual for most. I woke at a decent hour and had breakfast - eggs and toast. I had asked for them last night in lieu of a blindfold and cigarette. I was in a decent mood if somewhat sleepy. Having eaten, we took off for the dermatologist's office.


Maybe a little explanation is in order. A bit back, I had noticed an unusual freckle on my chest. It didn't look malignant or anything, just slightly larger and irregular in size. Considering my whiteboy heritage (Didn't get the Cherokee skin, only the cheekbones - and was-blond hair/blue eyes cries out "Damage my skin, Oh harsh orange globe!") and the family history of cancer, I had it checked out, which lead to a fun biopsy with a dermal punch. It soon scarred over, but the biopsy came back "pre-cancerous" so I made an appointment, and my day had come. It probably wouldn't have turned cancerous in years, and it could still be benign in thirty years, but I don't gamble on those odds and stakes. Once malignant melanomas get over a certain size (15mm if I remember correctly), it basically means you're dead, no matter how many rounds of hack, burn and poison you go through.


The doctor came in and gave a few reassuring words and a shot of xylocaine. I always think it's funny how medical workers try to reassure "This won't hurt much." I've got a 4mm hole in my ear, you think they'd realize I can probably deal with the pain. After giving it a little time (stuff works fast!), she gave me a shot of epinephrine. I could feel the solution pressing into the flesh, so I imagine it'd hurt a bit without the painkiller. I approve of vasoconstrictors, bleeding isn't fun and the dermatologist hates the sight of blood. She left to give it time - the longer the wait, the less bleeding. I just waited there for a while and chatted with the assistant when she came in. Her daughter was going off to college, so we discussed that for a while. She was also going up to Portland for a vacation, and asked me for interesting sights. Dr. Wada came in at that point and started to get ready. I laid down, head straight up, and started to get anxious about the painkillers. She offered to shave my chest so I wouldn't have to deal with the most painful part of the procedure, the bandage, but I passed. I think people who shave one part of their body while leaving others hairy look strange, and my arms would certainly offset the chest. Not to say that discrete trimming isn't sometimes a good thing. She then put a sterile cloth with a small hole in it over my chest with a request to keep my grubby germy hands off of it. I tried to relax and tell the assistant about the flower gardens in Portland as she started to cut. Beats thinking about England. My voice gradually became less and less tense as my body was reassured it wouldn't hurt - my head knew that, but it's hard to convince the old fight-flight reflexes sometimes. I could hear the noise of the instruments clacking and feel the pull of the stitches, but the relief at getting it over with drowned out any squeamishness. At that point, I started to get curious, so I craned my head up and looked into my body. She had cut a pointed oval into my chest and I could see yellow fat at the bottom of the cut. Thanks to the epinephrine the reddish flesh wasn't oozing blood. I watched her start to sew it up and had to lie down again when my neck started to get tired. Very surreal.


After she was done with both the internal stitches (the delicate translucent strings gradually dissolve) and the external stitches (those ugly black strings get taken out three weeks later) I got off the table. I left after picking up aftercare instructions that I'd never pay attention to. I am not going to put 70% rubbing alcohol on wounds, nor am I going to put Neosporin on it for months. Where the hell did they come up with this? Alcohol dries out wounds and kills fresh cells. I almost feel like telling them how wrong this is, but my knowledge is mostly from body modification and a smattering of medical readings - don't want to be one of those obnoxious dilettantes that tell professionals off when they don't know anything. Of course, that doesn't mean I'll take their instructions. Dr. Wada also told me to avoid exercise. Too much movement risks traumatizing the chest wound and causing keloids or other hypertrophic scar growth. At that point, I just wanted to get home fast. My mother asked if I felt so poorly that she had to stay home. I appreciated the concern, but the day I need someone to baby-sit me in my weakness is the day someone needs to take me to the hospital. I'm definitely a Stoic] in the Sufferer/Stoic comparisons of dealing with illness. After I got home I called Jane and had a short talk. She perked me up a bit, tho she didn't have anything profound to say. I headed upstairs and started to play F Zero X by myself. I have to take back my earlier (August 6, 2000) slam on the game. I was just frustrated by being whipped by my brothers, though I still find the turning and the cartoony design objectionable. But it's got its good points as well, and the hyperkinetic feel of the game is definitely fun.