Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t Malignant?
Recently, glowy pregnant Leah over at A Boy and A Girl wrote about how grateful she was for the support system and friends she had found on the internet, and how wonderful the internet can be in the moments where it connects you with someone else who encourages, sympathizes, or just plain listens to you. And for all its faults (just watch an episode of “To Catch a Predator” and you’ll know what I mean), I have to admit that the internet is a pretty nifty thing, and that it’s been a mostly positive influence in my life. For example, I’ve noticed that ever since I’ve started blogging, I’ve been a much more chilled-out person about the things that bother me. It seems that if I can bitch about them here, some of the weight is taken off my mind, allowing me to focus on more important things, like laughing at Reporter O-Faces and Bud Light commercials, watching American Gladiator, and eating Babybel cheese.
Some seriously delicious shit.
But, dear internet, today I am seriously, seriously pissed. The kind of pissed where, when a coworker asks you how you’re doing in an entirely rhetorical tone, you immediately begin to rant in overshare mode, tears welling up in your eyes, voice getting louder and louder, until the uncomfortable coworker mumbles an excuse about having to go to a meeting, leaving you all alone by the copier to collect the pieces of your fragmented mind.
The upside of everyone in the office thinking you’re a psycho: No one will DARE steal your Yoplait out of the fridge.
So, here’s the deal. A few weeks ago, I noticed that a mole on my leg – which had been flat, small, and dark brown all my life – had become raised, red, and painful. Now, I’m no doctor, but I know what I know, and I know that angry, rapidly-changing moles = GET THEE TO THE DERMATOLOGIST, so I immediately made an appointment. After all, I am pretty much a walking list of high-risk skin cancer traits – the most noticeable of which being that I am quite blindingly pale. So very pale. How pale, you ask?
I am whickety-whickety-WHITE, yo.
Now, I don’t have one, singular dermatologist who I see for all my appointments. Since I work near a large university health center, I just go to the large university health center’s dermatology department. There is a whole slew of doctors, residents, and students there, which I don’t really mind because that enables me to get an appointment faster, and also means that in most cases I get the opinions of 2 or 3 doctors/residents/students, and that makes me feel [very slightly] better about the diagnosis I am given. Of course, I always feel a little strange when the students or residents examine me. Not because I don’t trust them (I do!), it’s just because sometimes I feel a little…weird whenever some guy my age (or younger) has to look at a mole on my boob and tell me if it looks OK ( the mole, not the boob) (although I wouldn’t mind input on the boob, either).
Actually, let’s take a little trip down memory lane here to revisit the incident that soured me on the student/resident situation in the first place. During my sophomore year of college, I got mono. HOW I got mono, I still don’t know – although I imagine making out with random frat guys at a bonfire might be considered high-risk behavior for that sort of thing, but WHATEVER. Anyway, I didn’t have a very terrible case of mono, since I didn’t even know I was sick until about Week 12 of Feeling Vaguely Shitty, when I went to the student clinic and the doctor was all “Good Lord, woman! You have mono!” Unfortunately, during the previous weeks of Feeling Vaguely Shitty, I still found it perfectly acceptable to consume fifths of Goldschlager and spend my evenings passed out on dorm room floors, and apparently my body did not find this way of living particularly conducive to healing. So, I got hepatitis. And an enlarged spleen.
But my doctor told me the worst of the mono was over – now I just had to wait for the liver and spleen inflammation to subside. It wasn’t dangerous enough to require being sent home, I just had to take some precautions, which included:
- Not wearing belts or tight jeans
- Not coughing too hard
- Not sleeping on my stomach
Why couldn’t I do those things, you ask? Well, those things put me at risk for RUPTURING MY LIVER AND/OR SPLEEN AND BLEEDING TO DEATH IN MY SLEEP.
You know. No big.
Anyhoo, I had to go back to the clinic for a follow-up appointment a couple weeks later, when I was still feeling kind of crummy. My appointment was at the ass-crack of dawn (probably 10am, but WAY TOO EARLY by my college-age standards), and I knew that the visit would consist mainly of me being topless while the doctor palpated various organs and listened to my chest, which was fine, because my doctor was a very mom-like woman who put me totally at ease. So at ease, in fact, that I didn’t even bother throwing on a bra that morning. Yes, I pretty much rolled out of bed, put on shoes, and dragged my non-underwired ass to the clinic, wearing my ultra-sexy thick glasses for that certain je ne sais quoi.
Sir, please return my spectacles at once!
So there I am, sitting on the paper-covered examination table, ready to go Girls-Gone-Wild for the doctor, when she opens the door and enters the room…along with a student. A male student. A male student who looks to be AT THE MOST two years older than me. And did I mention that he looked just like Bo Duke?
He looked just like Bo Duke.
I was mortified. MORTIFIED. Dr. Mom was all, “My student is going to do your examination today. OK, then, take off your shirt.”
And I did.
And Jesus wept.
And that, dear friends, is why I always get a little apprehensive about residents and students. Pretty soon I’ll be old enough not to give a shit if I need to have a boil lanced off my ass by an entire boy band and the cast of High School Musical, but for right now, I’ll take my doctors old and sexless, thanks.
OK. Getting back on track.
I took myself and my angry red mole to the dermatologist exactly two weeks ago today. I had a grand total of three people check it out (a student, a resident, and one of the main practice doctors), and they all agreed that it would be best to remove and biopsy it. I was kind of relieved to hear that, because although I was getting unnerved by them asking me “Have you ever had skin cancer?” about ten frillion times, I am a Better-Safe-Than-Sorry kind of girl.
So the resident removed it. It was gross. Lots of bleeding. She gave me about 4 stitches. Ew. She told me that she would call me with the results within 2 weeks (regardless of what the results were), and then I would need to come back to have the [gross, disgusting] stitches removed. She was really, super nice, and we actually had an entire conversation about yoga before she gave me her business card and sent me on my way. I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing. Well, as good as I could feel with a nasty mid-calf wound, which bled through the band-aid AND MY TAN PANTS on my way back to the office which was ENTIRELY sexy and professional-looking, let me tell you.
“Sure, I’ll pull these files for you right away, sir, just as soon as I STOP THE PROFUSE BLEEDING FROM MY LOWER EXTREMITIES and hey, why is the room getting dark?”
I’ve spent the past two weeks cleaning and bandaging that disgusting motherfucker of a wound, patiently waiting to hear back from the lovely resident about whether or not the moles on my body are planning a full-scale revolt or are just kind of disgruntled. I actually gave her a call and left a message the day I got my stitches to ask her a question about what would happen if, in fact, that little sum-bitch mole turned out to be a live one…but she never called me back.
I mean, sure, I know she’s busy…but I have a question. About cancer. And I’m her patient. It would have been nice to have gotten a fucking call, is what I’m saying.
Then, earlier this week, I had a message on my home phone from the doctor’s office (fun fact: I provided the doctor’s office with four – count ’em! FOUR! – different phone numbers at which to reach me), and I thought “Whew!” and also “Shit!”, because I knew this was the call I was waiting for.
But no. No. OF COURSE IT WASN’T. Know what it was, though? An automated message reminding me of my Thursday appointment. Because GOD FORBID I inconvenience THEM, the people who can’t fucking bother to tell me whether or not I have CANCER on my FUCKING LEG. I musn’t dare show up 5 minutes late to my appointment! Horrors!
At this point, I just KNEW I wasn’t going to get my biopsy results from these fuckers in the amount of time they promised. In the past year, I’ve had three blood tests/biopsy situations (including this one) and each and every time, I’ve had to call and badger the doctor’s office for my results. The best part? They people at the doctor’s office always act CONSISTENTLY irritated with me when I call to ask whether or not I have cancer/thyroid problems/a hatchet embedded in my skull. What the fuck is that about? They’re the ones being total pricks about giving me my results – why am I being treated like I’m the asshole here?
Getting angry…need to decompress…take deep breath…look at baby bunny…AAAHH.
This morning, I headed back to the dermatology office to get my stitches removed (thanks to the handy automated message reminding me of my appointment!), and I was determined not to leave that place until I had my lab results in hand. The nurse took me back into the examination room to remove my stitches, and asked me a few questions:
HER: Did you get your biopsy results yet?
HER: (raises eyebrows) No?
ME: No, and I’m getting pretty anxious to know, since it’s been a full two weeks…
HER: They’ll probably call you today. Or tomorrow.
ME: Is there any way I can find out while I’m here?
ME: I called the doctor but I haven’t heard back. Is there another number I can call that would be better?
HER: I don’t know. I don’t think so.
ME: Well THANK YOU, my dear, this has been OH SO VERY HELPFUL. By the way, I may or may not have hid a bomb in your waiting room. I’ll let you know in two weeks whether or not it’s active. Or will I? Who knows! Ha ha ha! See how much fun this is?!?
OK, so that last part didn’t happen, but you can rest assured it happened in my head. When I got back out to the front desk, I asked the staff there the same questions, and got pretty much the same response, but this time with a lovely sneer, which was quite a nice touch.
I walked back to my office completely frustrated and feeling helpless. I’ve left the resident another message, but I’m sure she won’t get back to me. Every other number I call gets me an automated menu or a person who tells me to call the doctor. It’s nothing but goddamn dead-ends and buck-passing, and seeing as how I’m assertiveness-challenged in the first place, I really don’t know what to do next. HOLY SHIT, you guys, should it be THIS hard just to find out whether or not I have something wrong with me?! Shouldn’t this be the easy part? Why can’t I go get drunk on my lunch hour? Just this once?!
HoST has kindly offered to call the doctor’s office on my behalf, and I probably will ask him to if I don’t hear anything by the end of the day. On one hand, I hate feeling like I need a MAY-UN to go fight my battles for me, but on the other hand, he’s really fucking good at getting what he wants by being polite but firm.
Huh-huh…I said “firm.”
Also, at this point it’s not even 100% about the test results anymore. I mean, yes, I want to know what the fuck is going on health-wise, but I think my main issue is with people in the health care industry. Do you think any of the people I’ve dealt with would be so cavalier about my biopsy if it was THEIR biopsy? Or their kid’s biopsy? Of course not. Look, I get that a job is a job, and sometimes when you deal with the public you just get sick of people yammering and bitching so you kind of tune out and put the defenses up – but, in my opinion, that is not a luxury that people in the health care industry have. If you don’t want to deal with people and their shit, you shouldn’t be working there. Your job is to take care of people and be sensitive to their needs. If you can’t do it, get the fuck out, but don’t stick around openly not giving a shit about people’s health care issues when THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE GETTING PAID TO DO.
And for all those people in the health care industry who are kind, sensitive, responsive, patient, and caring: I salute you. It takes a very special kind of person to be able to look at vaginas/open sores/broken bones all day long (and HOW do they handle that shit at 8am? I can barely deal with CAT FOOD at 8am), and if you can do those things while also remembering that there is a real, live person attached to that vagina/open sore/broken bone, then you are truly amazing.
But for all you asswipes who treat patients like they’re a flaming bag of poo found on your doorstep, do us all a favor and go work in a customer service call center* with the rest of the world’s colossal pricks.
“Hi, my name is Lisa. I’ll be sighing, rolling my eyes, and pretending to transfer your call while actually just disconnecting you today.”
*I have worked in a customer service call center. We were assholes, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.
She’s right. Total assholes.
Entry filed under: Taste my Backhand.