Meaning, my body’s life. Interdependent with that, is that of the life force the body acts as a vehicle for: the heart/mind as Buddhists like to call it. That true nature of wisdom, compassion and emptiness that makes us up when coupled with the body. All of that was thrown into stark relief when my doctor said, “That has to go.”
I was at the doctor because I needed my prescription re-upped. That required a physical. The physical uncovered the mole. The mole that was the target of the doctor’s order. Not recommendation, her order. She was already describing it into her recorder. She turned to me and asked, “Any history of sun exposure?” A pause. No smile, no wavering of any kind, just waiting for the answer that I knew coupled with the description of my mole, wasn’t a good sign. “Twenty years as a carpenter, so yes,” I reply.
The date was set, no other comment, and off she went. Really?
That got my mind racing a bit. My heart rate too, and likely spiked my blood pressure a bit, which is why I was in there to begin with. So I went to WebMD for a little info, which led to other places. Turns out that I have few of the signs of having skin cancer. Less than 50%, and it doesn’t run in the family. So I was a little relieved.
So in I went for my biopsy. I was shown all the tools, had the procedure explained, no big deal, done in an hour. The needle puncture and injection caused more pain than anything. So off I went with 2 stitches in my back. Off my body piece went to the pathologist. Time to wait…
For what seemed like an eternity. A little more reading and I was certain that what I had would be benign. I can do a little more to improve my health, and I’ll be fine. I chose not to tell anyone, except my partner who accompanied me to those biopsies. I had conferred with other cancer patients and they all said not to until you have definite information. That isn’t easy.
I was in the bathroom (yea, that’s exactly right…) of a local coffee house when the call came in from the doctor. “We want another biopsy. The pathologist stopped just short of calling it cancer,” was what he said, and after that I don’t recall much. I was stunned. Whatever I had certainly was not nothing. It was serious.
Serious and severe as it turned out. Severe Dysplastic Nevus (SDN). I do think that’s medical-ese for Crazy Assed Mole (CAM). Now they wanted a bigger chunk of me, and yes, being without insurance, that will take on a literal and figurative meaning.
Severe Dysplastic Nevus is where 50% of all melanoma comes from. I perused a lot of web sites then, and discovered that quite a few people get it, and it turns into nothing. So the second biopsy was really just a means to make sure that they got all they thought they were seeing the first time. The odds were still in my favor.
I won’t share the details of what it felt like to have someone cutting you while you’re awake. Even my partner, who knows how weak kneed this EMT is, had moments she couldn’t watch. I want to leave you with this instead. When I shared the results with the doc that diagnosed the CAM in the first place, she said, “Thank God we caught it.”
Yes. We caught it. I wasn’t getting it. I had gotten it, but we caught it. I suppose I could extrapolate that many of the reasons I had it, I also caught and reversed, and this was just the manifestation of it. That mind set helped me frame correctly my circumstances around this Dysplasticity. Reaction is removing it. Prevention is not getting it.
As I mull over what an SDN means, I think about how vulnerable life is. I wasn’t looking for the mole, someone else found it. Yay for that interdependence. I couldn’t see it. In one brief moment, my vulnerability became apparent. Since then, I have started looking at a lot of my life, particularly that one moment we can’t escape. I have too much I want to do before that moment arrives, and I have decided that even if it is a crazy assed mole that makes the period for the end of my life story, from now on it’s going to be a crazy assed life.
What’s your story?