Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My 'primary care' doctor's visit ... (#1) ...

... was yesterday morning at 8:30. I had not been looking forward to going, but HAD to if I wanted to get this 'primary care' thing established and Wellcare's (my ins.) requirements met.

My history of visits to a doctor -- ANY doctor -- is sparse, to say the least!

A dermatologist has probably been the most frequented in the past thirty years.

'Emergency' surgery 15+ years ago to remove the world's ugliest growth (my description, not the doctor's) on my left wrist which had been exacerbated by my constant picking at it, trying to make it go away. Worse yet, I kept putting off calling a doctor about it because I was absolutely positive that I was going to lose my hand! (Isn't the imagination just the most wondrous thing??)

I don't even remember his name now, but he had the most wonderful manner about him! I think I got his name out of the phone book, initially, but it was a fortuitous choice. What WAS disconcerting was the fact that he kept calling various other of his colleagues into the examination room to see this monstrosity.

He said, "Helen, this has to go, and we're going to take care of it toDAY! First, tho, I'm going to take a biopsy to see if it's cancerous. The results will dictate what all has to be done."

At that point, having already resigned myself to whatever the doctor said had to be done, I was pretty darned composed all things considered. I waited for the lab results (they had a full lab right there on the premises). Negative! (?) He removed the ugly thing and put a large bandaid on it. (!!!)

What I have on my left wrist kind of looks like one of those old smallpox vaccination scars. I mean, it's there, but you have to be really looking for it!

He was concerned that, as a taxicab driver, my already sun-damaged skin (from MANY years of trying to be beautifully-tanned) was being constantly exposed to the sun, particularly from the left side. He advised me to wear long-sleeved shirts/blouses, collar raised to try and protect my neck, and recommended the highest possible sunscreen for my hands and ears. He gave me some lotion to try and cut down on the number of 'bumps' appearing on my fingers, and I took to wearing gardening gloves with finger tips that I had cut out. (Can you imagine such a thing in this Houston heat?) He advised me not to scratch. That's like telling a cat not to cover up!

Nevertheless, I did as he recommended. To this DAY I wear long-sleeved shirts and stay out of the sun as much as I can. Whatever yardwork I do is either done at night or on the opposite side of my townhouse from the sun.

A couple or three years ago, I tried to reach him for another visit. I was a little concerned about an area on my left hand that didn't seem to want to go away. And yes, I'm guilty. I'm a scratcher and picker, what can I say? However, I'm now a much more selective scratcher and picker. Not bragging here, just stating the facts, OK?

He was no longer in Houston. He had relocated to Hawaii. Lord love us, he must have more customers than he can possibly handle down there, wouldn't you think? All that sun. All those people trying to be 'gorgeous'. The thought of any of that makes me almost want to throw up ... truly!! (I feel entitled to make these statements just from my own personal experience, you understand?)

I asked the answering service, "Whom do you recommend?"

Enter Jennie Duffy, who practices at the Medical Center. LIKED her. Long story short, this one was cancerous. Removed. Bandaid. Scar about 1/3 the size of the one on my wrist. No recurrences or further outbreaks. (Guess who was not scratching or picking, either?)

I saw her several times over the next 1-2 years. Each time she found something that needed some attention ... freezing, cutting out, whatever was required -- mainly on my face and, again, on the left side.

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