The Look of That

“I don’t like the look of that.”

I don’t quite wince, although it’s not what I like to hear from my doctor when she’s staring intently at me — well, at my nose, and at two spots thereon that just won’t heal.

A week later I’m sitting sideways on the examining table in the office of another family practitioner, this one with a dermatology sub-specialty. A scalp-to-toe visual scan has identified one more teeny-tiny spot that she doesn’t like the look of. An injection to freeze the surrounding area follows. Now her voice comes from behind me.

“You shouldn’t feel anything sharp. If you do, let me know.”

I start to nod and then decide it would be better not to move around too much. There’s no knife to my throat, but there is one to my shoulder blade. With a nod to my inner toddler, I’ll use my words.

“You bet.”

The activity, thankfully, is all out of sight, but not, regrettably, out of smell. My nose wrinkles.  “Is something burning?”

“Mmm hmm.”

I pause. “Am I burning?”

That gets a laugh. “Yes, I’m cauterizing the site.”

All right then. Hurray for freezing.

In a matter of seconds she finishes the behind-my-back part, and moves to the part that brought me to her office. Having watched my father go through this a few decades ago, I know what to expect: a prescription for a cream that will, over the course of a few days, blister my skin and burn off any pre-cancerous cells.

I know wrong. Instead of her prescription pad, she grabs a canister, plants herself in front of me, shields my eyes, and tells me not to wrinkle my nose.

Several (pshht) blasts (pshht) of liquid nitrogen (pshht pshht) follow. This time, I don’t have to ask if I’m what’s burning. The nose knows.

Five minutes later I’m heading down the eight flights to the lobby, paying attention to every step, as befits my age. Although I feel that I’ve had all the fun I can stand for one day, I reflect that this freezing-slicing-burning and freezing-that-is-also-burning is a small price to pay for healthy skin, and all just another part of being my age.

And I also reflect, not for the first time, that at my age other scans might also be worthwhile. Something by way of a behavioural or attitudinal review, with any questionable bits — anything that, you know, someone doesn’t like the look of — removed while I wait.  Pshht.

But I guess that this is not a case for any kind of medical professional. No, this is more a case of “Patient, heal thyself.”

To be clear, the removal of one basal cell
and two actinic keratoses was innocuous, albeit smelly.


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6 Responses to The Look of That

  1. …and remember, different bits of the body all have their own agendas for healing time. Can’t fight city hall, as it were.

    Aren’t we blessed to have medical science around to fix us up? for free?

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Yes, I remember being amazed that it could take longer for torn ligaments to heal than for a broken bone. It gives you a whole new sympathy for non-life-threatening injuries – they can be life changing. As for our free healthcare, well, I don’t object to paying for it through my taxes. 🙂

  2. Barry Jewell says:

    “I don’t object to paying for it through my taxes”

    It is also great that those in need get to the front of the line where they can be dealt with – either cured, relieved, or made less contagious for the rest of us to contend with.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barry – Akin to the arguments for mass vaccinations to establish “herd immunity,” eh? I wonder what productivity enhancements we have because of universal healthcare.

  3. Tom Watson says:

    I know of what you speak. I have been getting those spots burned, from my forehead, top of head, and from arms, with liquid nitrogen for the past 10 to 12 years. Also had the cream your father likely had—dreadful stuff called Effudex—about 18 months ago. That was, as some might say, “an experience.”

    The good news is that all this can be controlled! As I’m sure that yours will be.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – Thanks for the encouraging words. I’m not really worried about it – the dermatologists seem to have a protocol that works fine. The trick is getting started at the right time. After that, it’s all “maintenance routines,” as we’d call it in facilities or fleet management. But I’m sorry to hear that the cream is nasty. I do remember that my father had blisters and then scabs over most of his face, so I guess that’s nasty enough!

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