Yesterday marked my two year anniversary since my hysterectomy. Normally on ‘important-to-me’ dates such as this I spend a bit of time reflecting but I was too busy mentally preparing for my dermatology appointment.
I’ve had a freckle on my eyelid, above my lash line for over a year. A couple of weeks ago as I was removing my eye makeup I noticed that it had a raised feeling to it. I called my husband to come and look at it. Sure enough, it looked significantly different than it had just weeks prior. The color of it had also changed and it had grown very dark in color. I called my dermatologist’s office to see if I could get an appointment.
“You already have an appointment in August for your bi-annual exam,” the receptionist said. I explained to her that I had a rapidly changing mole on my eyelid and needed to see the doctor as soon as possible.
“The earliest I can get you in is August 6th,” she said. We went around and around for a while until finally I asked for my doctor’s email. “I’ll just send a photo of the mole and if he thinks I can wait until August, I will.”
Her response: “We aren’t set up to receive email.” You’ve got to be kidding. “What is your fax number?” I asked. She gave it to me and I sent a fax with my photo attached and addressed it to my doctor. The copy came back with a photo that was nearly black; my eye was unrecognizable. Great.
My last ditch effort was to print out a photo of my eye and send it priority mail directly to his office. I got a callback the next day with an appointment set for June 5th.
I spent the next several days wringing my hands and awaiting my appointment. I knew what he would say as I’ve been through this a dozen times.
Sure enough when he saw me he stated that it needed to be removed and checked for melanoma. The many times I’ve been through this conversation and subsequent ‘mole-cutting’ ceremonies I’ve been left with small chunks of skin missing and stitches. This was my eyelid. Near my eyeball! I became disheartened.
“I could block out some time and do this in my office but I think you should likely see an eye surgeon,” said my doctor. The only catch was that it would take a bit longer to get an appointment because the surgeon comes into town only twice weekly from Chicago. “Would I be sedated if you did it here?” I asked, hopefully.
“No, I’m afraid not. I’d numb your eye with some drops and slip a plastic shield under your eyelid and then…..”
I already started shaking my head. “I can’t be awake for this,” I said, starting to panic. I suddenly felt like a bit of a coward as I let my fears dictate my decision. I thought of my friend Sal who had an abdominal hysterectomy with an epidural as her as her only form of anesthesia. She was awake for the entire thing. Oh, how I wished I had that kind of courage. But I don’t. I get very squeamish when things go into my eyes or my ears. I’ve been that way since I was a child.
“It’s fine. I think you’ve made a good choice here, and the surgeon is extremely good. He will do a great job and everything will be fine.” Everything aside, I truly love my dermatologist and I trust him completely. He’s been saving my life for many years now and I just needed to realize that if he felt I shouldn’t wait he would have said something. So……I wait.
Hopefully I will have an appointment on the books early next week. I have no idea how this will happen, if I will lose part of my lid or whether I’ll look like a pirate for a while with my very own eye patch, but until then I’m trying not to let these images grow into something too big to handle. Still, I worry if this will now be something that I’m going to have to encounter on a regular basis for the remainder of my life. I know very well the dangers of melanoma; I know someone who has died from it, and I also know that my risk of developing it in my lifetime is fairly high.
Logically I have a complete understanding that I could just as easily die from a car accident or choke on a carrot stick; but I’m not constantly being tested with minor fender-benders or repeated Heimlich Maneuvers then, either.
My distraction over all of this has caused me to nearly ruin two separate paintings this week, so this morning I pulled out a clean sheet of watercolor paper and just started painting. Remember when I told you that my artwork was like a visual diary and that one only need look at my work in order to get a glimpse of how I’m feeling? Today’s work in progress was no different.
I love the fact that I can pour my emotions into my artwork; I feel very fortunate to have that kind of creative outlet. However, I need to make a point to spend more time discussing my feelings out loud. I’m finding that I’m not very good at that. Outside I am vibrant with beautiful aquamarines and deep sunset corals, but many times, inside I am a swirl of putrid greens and jaundiced yellows. This has come from my years of continuous studio work and spending so much time alone. I’m afraid I’ve regressed in this area of my life and I need to seek some balance. Like this painting, I am also a #wip.