So, today I had a hit and run biopsy. That is to say, I went to the doctor to get a mole checked out and left, umm, how do you say? In tears with a big bleeding gaping hole in my leg?
Yeah. I’ll get to that in a minute, I only wanted to get to another little incident that happened yesterday. Something I thought was like, oohhh, the most annoying thing in the world. Until today’s hit and run biopsy. But I will get to that.
Because yesterday, I was on the Illinois toll road. And for those of you who happen to live in the toll-road-free world,* the Illinois toll road is about annoying as it can be. You stop every few miles to throw some coins into a machine that allows you to drive a few more miles on a shitty-pot-hole-ridden road until you hit the next toll.
And if that couldn’t be any more annoying, the state of Illinois recently decided to do this thing where if you pay cash coin m-o-n-e-y, as of Jan. 1, the toll charge doubles to 80 cents. This is to encourage people to buy the I-Pass. The I-Pass is a little electronic contraption that you attach to your windshield and goes BEEP and automatically charges your credit card so you don’t hassle with coins and such every time you pass through a special toll lane. Use the I-Pass and the toll charge stays at 40 cents. You’re get one bill a month and that is that.
Okay. Fine. So all of the people in the world who use the Illinois toll road on a very frequent basis bought the I-Pass a month ago so they won’t have to bother with coins. And they save 3.6 seconds not having to stop to throw coins. Fine. Good for them. It makes sense. For them.
But there are some of us who don’t use the damn toll road that much, and we are perfectly fine paying an extra 40 cents whenever we do use it.
Like me. I am okay with that. Let the I-Pass users skip the coin lanes and use their own personal little cushy I-Pass lanes, saving them 3.6 seconds and $20 a month. Good for them. We will all live peacefully in our own little commuter worlds.
However, there are still some tolls stations off highway EXITS at which there are no special I-Pass lanes. There are only but two little lanes, both set up to accommodate coin-users and I-Pass users.
This is where the two worlds collide and yesterday, this is where I found myself ready to crush the skull of some Lexus-drivin’ too for school suburbanite.
Yesterday, I got off a toll road exit and I happened upon one of these exit tolls. Fine. I had my coins ready. I stopped. I threw my 80 cents in. The light did not turn green. I threw more coins in. No green.
Normally I would have just blown it off, but I umm, have probably blown about 4 or 5 tolls already in the past year because of similar problems (and that catches up with you, they take a picture of your license plate and mail you a bill for $20 a pop for ever toll you’ve breezed through without a green light, whether it’s a machine malfunction or not) so I waited for a second and threw more coins.
Nothing. So maybe 30 seconds total has passed this entire time. Only 30 seconds, but there are cars behind me waiting. I decided--green light or not I would just go ahead anyway, and riiiiight, RIGHT when I was pulling away I heard someone blaring their horn. 30 seconds and even though I am already moving along, there is horn blaring. Fine. We are all impatient. However, not only is the too cool for Abercrombie Suburbanite behind me blaring on his horn, but he also has his cell phone in his hand which he drops for a second to GRAB HIS I-PASS AND START WAVING IT UP TO THE WINDSHIELD, like HEY BITCH, I’VE GOT A CREDIT CARD I CHARGE MY SHIT TO, AND ME AND MY CHEAP-ASS LEXUS DON’T HAVE TIME TO WAIT FOR YOUR LUDDITE-ASS TO THROW ACTUAL CURRENCY IN A BASKET BECAUSE I HAVE GOT TO GET TO THE MALL BECAUSE NORSTROMS IS HAVING A SALE ON 7 FOR ALL MANKIND JEANS! DUH!
And hell yeah I was mad. Mad not only because it was obvious I threw a shit-load of money into the coin basket so it was obvious it was the toll machine malfunctioning and not me, but I was seriously mad because he thought to wave his dumb ass all important TECHNOLOGY in my face when I had already obviously started to move out of his way.
And it had only been 30 seconds. One Mississippi. Two Missippi … well you get the point.
30 seconds and he’s waving his I-Pass at me, which is not enough because he also has to speed up right behind me, then ride my bumper for another 20 seconds to show JUST HOW OUTRAGED HE IS then speed on by probably talking to his buddy on his cell phone all about Nordstrom sale on jeans and the dumb bitch carrying coins or something.
30 seconds because he, like everyone else in this goddamn world, is BUSY and IMPORTANT and he’s got a Lexus and cellphone and I-Pass (gag gag) to show it, baby!
Don’t I know it? Don’t I KNOW how 30 seconds is important?
Which brings me to today’s hit and run biopsy.
Yeah, there’s a mole I’ve had on my arm for quite some time now. It’s kind of dark and sketchy looking. You know, you take a good look at it and it just screams Melanoma!
That is, it just screams Melanoma if you’ve taken to using the Google Images function, whereby if you type in MELANOMA it brings back about a thousand sketchy looking images of melanoma moles galore, that of course look similar to your sketchy mole after you’ve, oh, I don’t know, looked at these images a thousand times like I have been this past week.
You see, about a week ago I was in the bath enjoying a book checked out from a the local public library when a business card dropped out of its pages and landed in the bath water. Obviously, the previous reader had used it as a bookmark and forgot about it.
I fished the piece of paper out of the water to find it was the business card of a local dermatologist. It had his name, number, address etc. On the back, was written JUSTIN 10:30.
So, I read the card. And since I was, you know, naked in the tub and all, I glanced at my upper arm and there it was staring me in the face, that sketchy mole (that is, it was staring me in the face if you believe in that sort of lazy literary technique where moles and such can take on those crazy people qualities, like, you know, STARING.)
So there I was with that mole staring at me, because I am just lazy enough to use such a lazy literary technique, and I am no hippie, but I immediately thought, wow, maybe this is some sort of hippie-dippy sign telling me I should get this mole checked out.
Okay, what I initially thought was something along the lines of, “wow, Justin, hope that acne clears up!” But then, I kind of took it as a hippie dippy sign where I should probably see someone about the sketchy-arm-mole.
And after I dragged my waterlogged self out of the tub, I went to my healthcare providers’ web site to see what kind of dermatologists where in my network.
And wouldn’t you know it, Justin’s Dr. Waterlogged Business Card was first on my healthcare providers’ list.
So apparently taking this as some hippie-dippy sign, I called last week to make an appointment with Dr. Waterlogged Business Card for what was eventually today. And after spending the entire week working myself up into a total worry, what with Google imaging giving me the benefit of hyperactive self-fucking-diagnosis, I managed to work myself up into a big ball of stress up until this morning.
You know, when I finally went to see Justin’s dermatologist. And you I am not sure how everything worked out for Justin, but I am now certain KISMET is bullshit and any signs from above should only mean PROCEDE WITH CAUTION because holy shit. Justin’s Dr. Waterlogged Business Card was just about as Bull-shitty as any other Dr. in the USA who is running an EPO business as opposed to you know, actuallyhelping people.
That is to say, I got there on time. I filled out the proper paperwork. I ponied-up the debit card to pay the $20 co-pay in advance. I waited patiently as a good patient should. Then when it came to one-on-one Dr. Waterlogged Business Card time, it all went to hell … I mean HELLO US HEALTHCARE!
Dr. Waterlogged Business card came in, said hello, offered me up a cold and clammy and very overly-moisturized hand because, hey, he is a dermatologist and good skin moisturizing is his business! No matter how creepy it is!
Then, without pause he immediately launched into his 60 second pre-rehearsed speech about sun = bad, sunscreen = good speech.
“Now,” he said, “any of those moles on your legs? Yes? Okay, here is your paper gown I will be back in a minute.”
30 seconds later, the door opens again and he comes in all, Naked, scared and vulnerable, yet? Good! Okay! Now where is that mole?
Me: Uh, on my arm here?
Doc: Oh, yeah, that? That’s just a scar. Looks like a mosquito bite that didn’t heal properly or something. Hey, while I’ve got you here, let’s just grab your arm and start looking around. Okay right arm good. Naked back, good. Left arm. Good. Okay anything else you want me to check out?
Me: (total afterthought) Umm, there is this sort of mole thing only my thigh, I think it might be a skin tag or some…
Doc: (lifts gown to expose naked thigh) Okay, well that. (Raises an eyebrow) We probably need to take a closer look at that …
Me: Umm, okay …
Thinking, “take a closer look at” might mean you know, actually looking at it closely as opposed to whipping out a razor to SHAVE IT OFF without much warning.
Look, I really do know better, I know what biopsy means, but what went down happened so fast, even the “logical, I know better me,” didn’t have time to think.
The nurse walks in carrying a few things and talking about “shaving” and I am thinking, “shaving? I actually shaved my legs and my arms just in case you needed to…” because no one actually said anything about “shaving.”
“Closer look?” Yes.
Doc :okay just lean back …
Me: Umm, okay … hey! Is that a needle…err, syringe?
Doc: Yep, this will just sting a liiiitle bit …
Me: Umm, hey where did that needle come from? Yeah that hurts, what are you doing? (I.fucking.hate.needles!)
Doc: We’re just going to do a biopsy …
(This, by the way is the first time he mentions the “b” word. I mean besides never mentioning needles. He puts the needle down and grabs something else, which turned out to be a surgical razor, not that I knew that at the time.)
Me: Umm, is this going hurt?
Doc: Is what going to hurt?
Me: whatever you are doing… is it going…
Doc: (like he is distracting a five year old) Is what going to hurt? What do you mean hurt? Hurt?
Me: the …whatever you are doing? Is it going to hurt?
Doc: Okay! All done! We will call you in about a week with the results!
Dr. Waterlogged Business Card gets up, leaves the room. The nurse slaps a tiny band-aid on my bleeding thigh.
Nurse: Okay, so, keep that dry for 24 hours …
Me, thinking what? Dry? What the hell just happened?
But I say: Keep it dry? I actually swim a lot, can I go swimming tonight?
Nurse: Nope not tonight, okay make sure you clean that twice a day.
The nurse sets a piece of paper and a couple of ointment packets on the chair by my coat.
I really wish I was kidding or exaggerating about how that all went down. But I swear, I am not. Except for the initial “scared naked part.”
I was left sitting half naked on a doctor’s table with a tiny band-aid covering a big gaping-bleeding hole where the ONE, what-I-thought-was-a-nothing-to-worry-about-not-so-sketchy-mole used to be. I was stunned. I mean it. Stunned. I was literally – literally! Sitting with my mouth agape wondering what the hell happened.
I couldn’t even speak. I couldn’t even say how confused I was; I couldn’t even say WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED?
But apparently, even though I couldn’t say the words, my face said it all. My face was apparently screaming WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED? And apparently the nurse saw and could read what my face was saying.
How do I know? Because the nurse stood at the door, took one look at me and said, “You can think about it in the car.” And left the room.
Left the room without another word.
Oh, and that cancer you might have been worried about? You can think about it in the car.
YOU CAN THINK ABOUT IT IN THE CAR!
Oh, the fact that we just shaved off a big honking piece of your skin without even warning you, and now you area bleeding a lot? You can think about that in the car!
Oh, I know you probably thought you’d walk out of here without any problem but look! We may have found something! And we won’t discuss it at all because you can think about it in the car!
If you have any questions about what we may have found or if it might really be anything to worry about? Why don’t you just g’head and think about that in the car, k?
Oh, and while you’re at it, you know that friend of yours whose sister just died from skin cancer last year? Why don’t you just go ahead and THINK ABOUT THAT IN THE CAR, TOO!
You. Can. Think. About. It. In. The. Car.
I would like to say I started screaming, yelling and you know, ripping up the “hang in there!” kitten posters on the wall until everyone came rushing into the room so I could start demanding answers about what the fuck just happened.
I would like to say I threw a fit yelling, “I WILL NOT BE DISMISSED!” before everyone left the room without at least being asked by Dr. Waterlogged something like, “Do you have any questions?” Because you know, not ONCE was that uttered in the brief time I was there.
I would like to say I did the right thing and stood up for myself, and at least asked more questions because I should have.
She left, and I burst into tears.
And of course, I got dressed and left without looking anyone because I was crying.
No wonder they have you pony-up the visit co-pay before you go in to see the Doctor! The nurses at reception don’t want to have to wait for your credit card to go through while you stand there crying! That might make them feel uncomfortable!
Look, I have heard all of these stories before. I have. I know this dumb hit and run healthcare happens. I know it is my responsibility to do the asking because That Is Just How It Is.
I hear it all the time from my retired mother and stepfather. They are way on top of their healthcare, and visit doctors regularly. They are always talking about Healthcare As Business and All the Bullshit that Goes Along With It and how you Have To Take Charge of Your Visits and such.
But you know, sometimes you just think, hell no! I’m solid! I can handle the bullshit! And apparently I thought I was prepared for anything because if anything I really, really do know how to speak my mind.
I’ve called bullshit on a million other things in a million other situations. But I slipped. I let it happen. And it’s shitty to think that I have to say I let it happen. But I did. I should have done something to at least make it more comfortable for me. I know.
Instead, I left angry.
Angry initially because of the obvious, and now, totally angry because I just said something dumb like, “I let it happen.”
Baby! I know you hit me because I let it happen! I’m sorry Philly lost the Super Bowl baby, I let it happen!
And you know, all that bullshit.
And for the record, I do realize that there MIGHT have been reasons why he hurried through the process like he did. Maybe he’s had weeping and questioning people in his office that have worried unnecessarily and nothing he could say could make that week of lab results wait time better.
Maybe there wasn’t much for me to worry about in the first place, so he just did what he did and was trying to be as nonchalant as he could about it because there is really nothing to worry about.
Maybe it was the most completely grotesque display of melanoma that he’d seen in a long time and wanted to wait a week before we discussed funeral plans.
Or maybe he had a full fucking waiting room full of teenagers whose eXtreme acne was going to keep them out of their Ivy League colleges of choice and their parents were paying a lot so they could just. not. be made to wait.
Or maybe baby, get the belt because the Philadelphia Eagles lost the Super Bowl and it is my fault!
I don’t know, and I don’t care. I am still angry.
So, I am obviously just typing away, getting through this dumb anger and will soon write an angry letter later and not go back. Because I will write it. And I won’t go back.
And honestly, I think it will all be okay. Not that it makes anything better, but I really do think my initial worry may be nothing.
I honestly, at this point, think the shaved mole that is now sitting in a lab somewhere is nothing. And even if it is a little something like, oh cancer, it might be okay because that shaved bit o’ skin was actually a new mole that just popped up in the last 6 months or so, so if it is something, I am sure it is “something” that was caught early enough.
I really do feel okay about all of that.
But now I have to wait a week and just think about all the bullshit. You know? The bullshit like how everyone in this world is in such a fucking hurry. From the asshole on the toll road who couldn’t wait 30 seconds before he laid on the horn SOLID to let me know that I was getting in his way, that he is of the I-pass world where things are fast, baby! And get in the slow lane! How can you expect to get by in this world living like you do? You deserve to get run over!
To the bullshit where even a Doctor has about 30 seconds or less to try to take care of people or something, because baby, that is how it IS today! This is a crazy fast-paced world and you’ve just got to deal.
I don’t know. But I’ll tell you one thing, as sad as it is, I wish the Doc’s office was actually like the I-Pass Vs. the Coin Toll situation, because I would have gladly had paid double the co-pay just to be able to fucking take my time with the whole process. I would have paid double just to be able to sit for a minute and ask some questions or you know, something.
But you know, even if I tried that it seems there’s always some asshole in line behind you or in the waiting room screaming louder and kicking more and paying more because his goddamn time is more important than yours.
And fuck, that makes me crazy.
And yes, I am sorry to put these two lousy instances into a Bill Bryson/Garrison Keillor glow of, “Gee, golly, y’all - remember when times were simpler? When people took slow Sunday drives and Doctor’s did house calls, and there was fucking common decency in this world?”
Because I don’t mean to. And normally, I don’t think like that. But fuck, people. The Hurry? The Hurry of it all, of everything? It is going to kill us. I swear, it will. And even if it doesn’t do it right away. It will.
You know, eventually. It will.
* when I lived in Minneapolis years ago, there was some sort of state legislature or something trying to be passed on the good people of Minnesota where they tried to instate toll roads. The Minnesotan gov’ment was all, “look it will only be for awhile, the roads will be repaired with the funds and then after that we will get rid of the tolls!” You fucking people of Minnesota rock, because you were all, “Umm, yeah, that is what they said in Illinois a million years ago, and look! They still have tolls! Fuck you gov’ment, we’re not falling for that crock!” And you didn’t. Good for you Minnesota!