I have a lot of moles. I inherited them. Throughout the years I had them checked, and some have been removed. But in the past few years I’ve kind of neglected the issue. So, I thought it was a good idea to go get them checked, too.
The skin doctor at my HMO was nice but reprimanded me for the neglect. “A fair skinned guy like you with all these moles? You just can’t do that”. So, she said I would have to have some removed and come back in another 6 months and maybe get some more done.
I thought it was kind of sad that in the year 2010, the procedure was this:
Doctor: Do you have a cellphone?
Me: Yup. Why?
Doctor: Do you have a camera on your cellphone?
Me: Yup. Why?
Doctor: Show me how to take a picture on it. Then, you can show the surgeon which one to take off. I’ll write the location here on the computer, but you should show the pic to him anyway”.
She then proceeded to circle the moles she wanted to remove with a pen. Then, with much difficulty, she attempted to take fotos of them with my camera. Remember, this is 2010.
A week later I had an appointment with the plastic surgeon, who looked at the fotos on my phone and at what the skin doctor wrote in her computer. He could not have looked more confused, even with all the botox he was surely pumping into his face. The man couldn’t break into a smile even if Seinfeld was right in front of him.
The plastic surgeon scheduled a date for my surgery a week after I came back from my trip to NY.
So, today is the big day and I’m off to the clinic. As I arrive, I see the plastic surgeon rushing patients into the nurse’s room. He’s got a syringe, and he’s going from patient to patient, infusing local anaesthetic into each one of them next to the moles to be removed. He spends less than a minute with each person.
When he comes to me, the syringe is in the air and he asks: “OK, where is it?”
Me: “I’m removing three today. I have pics on my cellphone, but don’t you have the location on your computer?”
Plastic surgeon: “Just show me”.
Here begins an attempt to show him with my phone exactly which ones they are. And a comedy of errors ensues. I look away as he puts one shot into my chest. This was my first mistake. After a few seconds I realize he put it next to the wrong mole. But he’s already left to get more anaesthetic.
I call out from behind the screen: “Doctor, you put it on the wrong mole.”
Plastic surgeon: “I did?”
Me: “Yes. See? It’s this one”, as I point to the one next to it.
Plastic surgeon: “But this one doesn’t look good either”.
Me: “But this isn’t the one that the skin doctor circled!”
Plastic surgeon: “So, what do you want me to do? Do you want me to take out the other one?”
Me: “You’re asking ME what to do? I don’t know! Which doctor has more say? You or she? I just don’t want cancer! Can you base your decision on that?”
Plastic surgeon: “Then we’ll take out the one I want to”.
He then calls a nurse in to shave off the hair around my moles (I’m a hairy guy…), and tells me to show the nurse which moles to shave. The nurse comes and shaves the moles.
Now I’m told to leave the nurse’s room and wait. After half an hour I’m called in. “The doctor will soon be ready for you.”
I sit on a bed in the nurse’s room, and the plastic surgeon comes out, taking some gloves off. As he sees me, he says I can go into the surgery room. I walk inside, only to notice that an old man, shirtless, was still getting off the bed. Out of respect for the man, I waited a few more minutes so he could leave the room without any pressure – and fully dressed.
I go in, and was told by the nurse to take my shirt off and lay down. She lays on my stomach some sort of black pad, which I later understand has something to do with helping to close the wound before it is stitched.
The plastic surgeon comes in and begins to cut out the mole on my chest. After he does this, he asks the nurse to help her with something, apparently it has to to with that aforementioned black pad. As she does, I suddenly feel a sharp burning sensation on my stomach where the pad is. It hurts. It’s really burning. I proceed to tell them of this pain, and the nurse says: “Oops, sorry. It wasn’t on right. It shouldn’t hurt now”, as she readjusts the pad.
Next, we’re off to the second mole. As the plastic surgeon begins the incision, I feel excruciating pain. He continues to make a second incision – but this time I scream at the top of my lungs: “It hurts!!!!”
Plastic surgeon: “It hurts? Wait a minute”, and then he tugs at a point a bit lower on my abdomen, “does that hurt?”
Plastic surgeon makes a face. “She shaved off the wrong mole”.
So, apparently I just learned how it felt to be carved up while still alive. I didn’t like it.
Me: “You were taking out the wrong mole!?!??”
Plastic surgeon: “Well, it doesn’t really matter. I want to take that one out, too. Look at it this way – you got another operation!”
Me: “But how did this happen???” I’m about to lose it…
Plastic surgeon: “Didn’t you notice she was shaving off the wrong mole?”
OK. So, it’s my fault… At this point I wanted to leave – but seeing as how I wasn’t stitched up and had one more mole to go, I thought it best to not piss off the doctor just yet.
He then proceeded to take out the third and final mole on my arm. He stitched me up, gave me a piece of paper with some care instructions for my wound, and without an apology, without a smile (the botox obstacle?), he sent me on my way.
One of those days I want to forget.
And I’m supposed to get two more out next week.
Don’t think so…