Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Nose Knows

I don't do "maintenance" on my car anymore. Nor on my rental house. Not even in my office.

Maintenance these days is all about my subtly aging body. I have been hyper-aware of my age ever since I hurt my foot in July while doing acrobatics and tumbling. It wasn't that I hurt myself because of my age. But it took a lot longer to heal than I wanted.

So my adventures these days consist of making sure the rest of my body isn't falling apart: trips to the eye doctor, scheduling a time to see the dentist, and the most fun of all: mole check!

My people are fair-skinned. The German/Russian blood seems naturally averse to the sun and what it can do. So, every couple of years I notice a new spot on my skin and think, "Was that there? Should I care that it looks raised? Please, please, please don't turn into one of those warty looking growths on my neck with hairs coming out of it to make it look like a tiny tarantula lives on me!" Which neurotically sends me to the dermatologist to just shed my clothes and say, "Just look at every square inch of my skin and make sure I'm all right! If you need to cut something off, just go for it."

No need for incisions. And no, there's no cancer or anything. I just get the routine talk about the importance of sunscreen and wearing long sleeves in the sun ("even when the weather doesn't call for long sleeves"--to which I nod and think, "I live in L.A. and you think I'll wear long sleeves in July? You're nuts.").

The only blemish--if you will--is a weird red spot on the side of my nose that is beginning to make me think I had a Red Hot glued to my skin. So I keep pointing at it while I am being examined and say, "What about this? What's this? Hey, do you know what this is?"

Two doctors look at it and have a conversation with each other in what seems to be Latin before one of them picks up a can of what looks like those "cans of air" you buy at Staples. One puts a paper towel over my right eye and the other says, "This might tingle." And then I feel a cool breeze that quickly becomes a sensation I can only guess resembles having an icicle stabbed in my nose. I start to squirm. "Tingle" is not really the right word. "Totally irritating" seems more appropriate, along with, you know, "stabby."

And then they do it again.

"Wow, whatever this alien thing on my nose is, it clearly won't just die," I think to myself as I resist the urge to grab the can and turn it on them.

"There!" One of them says brightly. "It should crust over and fall off soon."

Me: "That's ... good?"

Doctor number one: "Yes."

Doctor number two: "It might turn brown. Don't pick at it!"

Me: "Do I need to, like, monitor it, or something?"

Doctor number one: "No."

Doctor number two (to number one): "We don't want him to look weird for any of his holiday get-togethers."

Me (in my head): "Well, freezing off a blemish on my nose right before the holidays sure accomplished that."

Doctor number one: "No."

Doctor number two: "If it turns another color, call us."

They leave me to get dressed, glancing at my nose in the mirror, wondering about the advice to measure all my moles and have "a friend" take photos of the big ones so I have "a record" of them.

Who wants to volunteer?

3 comments:

Barbie said...

Have a friend take the pictures for a record? Um, that's their job! I'm surprised that they were able to keep the Rudolph jokes at bay!

Michelle J said...

If the nose scab attracts too much unwanted attention, you'll just need to distract/dazzle the eye with a Wal-Martian holiday sweater. ;)

Steve said...

Mikel,
As someone whose skin is fairer and more pale than yours, what you had is called an actinic keratosis, which basically means an unusual patch of skin that could, over time, develop into skin cancer. The doctor used liquid nitrogen to freeze those skin cells, causing them to die, and that pretty much takes care of the problem. Another word for the procedure they did is cryotherapy and it's incredibly easy and noninvasive, even if it's temporarily uncomfortable. I had one on my scalp removed earlier this morning, so you're in good company. The liquid nitrogen freezing is much easier than if it becomes more involved, in which case a doctor, usually a dermatologist, has to physically cut the nevus (freckle) off, and they usually have it biopsied so make certain it's not cancerous. I've had that done a few times, as well. Good for you for getting your skin checked regularly - I do it once a year.