So this story is embarrassing, but, hey? Isn’t that the best kind of story?
Every winter, and summers now too since I am on the boat so often, I get severe chapped lips. And I mean, cracked, bleeding and scabbing cracked lips. I am working on getting better at leaving good quality lip chap EVERYWHERE so I never have an excuse, but that also means a lot of it winds up going through the washing machine and I just can’t bring myself to use it after that. Doesn’t it get all soapy after? Blech!
All Spring 2018 I had a nasty scab on my lower lip from a crack that kept opening up. You can seriously see it in photos! It sucked! At some point in July-ish, I noticed the scab was gone but a good sized brown scar remained. It was large, mottled light and dark brown, and unsymmetrical enough to send me to the Dr in Ahousaht for it to be checked out. Once again, we had a visiting Dr to the coast. We get them often here. He wasn’t able to give me a definitive answer to whether or not it was worrisome and due to my own and my family history of atypical, precancerous and cancerous moles he wrote a strongly worded referral to a dermatologist.
Ironically they were not taking new referrals and firmly told me that when I called later to confirm the appointment time. But I had an appointment, which certainly surprised the receptionist.
In mid-september Lennie and I travelled to Nanaimo for my appointment. We killed sometime in the mall before I went in. The nurse(?) who took me to my exam room offered a full body exam as well as my booked exam for my lip. Heck yes! It’s impossible to get into a dermatologist for a full body scan. She told me to undress and the Dr would be in soon, along with a med student from UBC. She had left a stack of what appeared to be paper towels on the chair but I couldn’t fathom how to cover up with those, and was I really supposed to be nearly naked when I met these Dr’s for the first time? How awkward would that be if they weren’t expecting it?!
I ended up taking off my boots and sitting patiently, still dressed. The med student, a male(!) came in to check on my lip. He asked again about the full body survey which I said “Yes please! The Nurse told me to undress, but I didn’t want it to be awkward when you came in!”. He chuckled and said it was no problem. He had to go confer with the real Dr anyways. I could get undressed now.
“Do I cover myself with these things?” I asked, pointing to the papers. “Yup!”.
Little did I know it was a paper BLANKET!!! What the heck! What happened to gowns?
Anyways, that embarrassment aside, the Dr came in with her student again. Thankfully the supervising Dr was a lady. Call me old school, but I definitely prefer a female presence when getting nearly naked! She examined my lip and very matter-of-factly told me she was going to do a biopsy. Apparently she sees marks like this often. They are just on the cusp of looking like something worrisome, so she likes to biopsy them to be on the safe side, but so far none have come back with a bad result.
Leading up to this appointment I had completely convinced myself this was a scar and I was going to be berated for wasting everyone’s time. I hadn’t even let myself consider she would do a biopsy and forgotten about what my past biopsy’s entailed. She quickly did the full body exam. All good. (Yay!!!)
Before I knew it, her tray was set up and the numbing needle was coming my way.
UGHHHHHH. That was Un-Com-For-Table! UUHHH. I was actually moaning as she injected the liquid. Immediately my lower lip puffed up. I should have taken a selfie. I looked ridiculous!
Then the little skin-hole-punch thing. Just some pressure. No biggie. She was talking away to the student on why they use a 3mm sample over a 2mm one. Apparently after punching the sample out they have to use tweezers to remove it. 2mm samples tend to get crushed at this point and the lab gets grumpy at them.
(I’m totally getting that “oooh I don’t feel well” feeling in the pit of my stomach right now as I write this!)
This was mega uncomfortable. And it wasn’t so much that it hurt, just the thought of digging at my lip to pull off this layer of skin was knotting up my stomach. I knew it was bleeding a lot. I couldn’t feel it. But when the med student was instructed to begin blotting it and the gauze came away soaked. Oh I knew!
Then the needle and thread! Oh yeah! Last time I had a biopsy, on my back, there were stitches involved. But this time I could see it. Now my head was light. And I was sweating. And Hot. And Oh God. I know this feeling.
“I’m going to faint”, I managed to croak as she tied up the single. stitch. One. I couldn’t handle ONE stitch!
“Knees up, lay down” she barked. Code something or another was called out the door for a wet cloth to be brought. They had this system down, it was clear. So maybe I wasn’t the only one to react this way! That was a relief. The door was opened for more airflow.
“Can I call my husband in? My phones in my jeans pocket”. She graciously retrieved it for me and I told him to come in and ask for Delores, the Nurse who knew where I was.
Oh boy, I bet I was a sight. red swollen lip, flushed skin, messy and sweaty hair. Ugh.
That cloth felt so good though. And all through this I was just wearing my paper blanket!
Slowly I began to feel better. I had been left in the room alone with Lennie by this time. Oh and a cup of sprite for a sugar boost. I redressed and felt well enough to head out. Not without a selfie of my new look and an update to my Mother though.
“I was wondering how you would handle [a biopsy]”, she replied. Thanks for the vote of confidence Mom!!!!!!
The Dr had told me to expect a call in two weeks with the results.
We spent the night at Mom and Dad’s and we had a really good laugh over the paper blanket debacle. “That’s what they use now. Haven’t you seen one?” “Never!” I replied. My brother’s girlfriend agreed, she was still seeing skimpy gowns at her clinic. I guess our Dr’s aren’t with the times like Mom’s is!
A week and a half later I came home to a voicemail, reassuring me that everything was ok and my “freckle” was nothing to worry about. I am pretty sure it is a scar from that scab that lasted months and months, but hey, if it’s as benign as a freckle, I don’t mind what we call it!