Although I don’t believe myself to be a hypochondriac, I’m probably this close to the line: o|
A couple of weeks ago I went for my annual mammogram. It isn’t just the physical act of having someone ram one’s boobs into a pasta machine that causes anxiety, then there’s the wait for the Official Letter. I know there are places where they tell you on the spot, but mine isn’t one of them.
The Letter came about three or four days after my mammogram. Everything was copasetic. Great! But later that same evening as I was enjoying a bubble bath, I rubbed the washcloth over my right breast and felt a little sting on the right underside where it was hard to see.
I felt it. There was definitely something there.
After I dried off, I stood before my lighted mirror with the magic Big Eye to the 12th power that can make anything scary. Sure enough, in the middle of an orange-ish mole I’ve had for ages was a raised, round black spot. When I touched it, there was that little sting again. Also, the texture of the entire mole had changed. It was now dry and wrinkled, like a peeling sunburn.
I put on my robe, went to the den where I sat down between Dearly Beloved and his TV ballgame. I opened my robe.
The shock on that man’s face. . . ! NOTHING gets between DB and a ballgame except the occasional nap.
“Look at this,” I said, pointing to the spot. “What do you think it is?”
He sighed, picked up his jaw, and looked at the spot.
“Hmm. I don’t know. How long has it been there?”
I shrugged. “My mammogram was fine.”
He looked closely. It WAS worrying.
We looked at pictures on the computer. Plenty of photos of black specks on brown moles, but none looked anything like mine. My spot was hard and round, like a BB. We decided I should call the doctor on Monday as it was obviously fast growing. It hadn’t been there the week before.
Later, I found myself scratching at the itchy skin around the black spot. It was rough and dry, almost like a scab over the entire mole surface. The texture was so dry, it felt like I could peel it right off. I told myself I shouldn’t mess with it, then promptly started picking at it gently with my fingernail. A bit of it relaxed and I nudged it along, loosening it like a piece of old Scotch tape. It came off in one piece. Weird. It looked like a clear plastic dot with a black thing in the middle.
It WAS a clear plastic dot with black thing in the middle. It looked like a peppercorn. The technician must have stuck it there to mark the mole for the radiologist.
Now I’m all for people being good at their jobs… so good they can sneak a dot on a mole without the molee feeling it. I think it would be nice, though, if they’d remove it. Or at least make mention of it!
People who grew up when I did, in the 50’s, have probably had more than their share of radiation. It’s a wonder my feet haven’t fallen off from all the x-raying they had in the “fluoroscope” at the shoe department of our town’s department store.
We not only stuck our feet in to see our bones in our Buster Browns when we were buying shoes, we played with ’em while our mamas were buying their shoes. They were as accessible to kids as a gumball machine, so I’d check my feet after ‘the picture show” every Saturday, hoping they’d grown enough to require a new pair of Mary Janes.
Some of those machines were still in use in the 1970’s and even 80’s. They were banned state by state and quietly removed from stores. I think they were invented by the guy who went on to invent the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile.
Here is one of the very early ads for the technology. It’s enough to give Manolo Blahnik the heebie jeebies.
You know, the “imaging department” where I had my mammogram could even have added a line or two to that Official Letter:
Your mammogram was clear. So was the black dot we stuck onto your mole. You may remove it now. Nothing to worry about. Just a little piece of rubber from an old Weinermobile tire.