Barb

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A Visit to the Dermatologist

Be like the Teva Diva of Heels and Tevas—not like the Uber Driver. Watch those spots and get them early.

Barb here.

The other day I took an Uber ride out to my physician’s office. Charles (his real name) is an older gentleman, retired, married to a younger self-employed woman. (You find these things out when you talk with people. Lynnelle is always kind of amazed with how I engage pretty much everybody.)

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A Cautionary Dermatological Tale

I mentioned I was seeing the dermatologist to have him look at a couple of suspicious (and I suspected “pre-cancerous”) spots and so the rest of my sunlight exposed body could be perused by a professional spotter of things cancerous and pre-cancerous.

“Do you know that for skin cancer now, they remove it and go test to see if they got all of it and come back and cut some more if they didn’t get it all?” Charles asked. This type of scary stuff is not really necessary when one is going to the dermatologist. I may have murmured “No,” and Charles continued.

“The last time I was in for a spot on my nose. I got in at 7 AM and he cut me 7 times. I didn’t get out of there until 7 at night.” Ugh. “Yep. They freeze ya, but after a while it doesn’t work. The last time he came in to cut more I told him it was his last try. So I think he took a larger hunk that time. This is a big skin doctor practice and they have a whatchamacallit working with them.” I pondered. “Lab?” “No. Well, yes, but that’s not what I meant.” After two more false leads we settled on plastic surgeon. “Yep. That’s it. She was nice enough. Came in to the room took one look at the hole in my nose and said, ‘I don’t know if I can cover this.’ I told her to do her best. Problem was, the freezing thing no longer worked on me so I felt every stitch. She did a good job, though.”

Yes, one part of me wanted to ask him to take me back to the marina, but I persevered, knowing that this visit was to prevent cutting down the road.

My Voluable Dermatologist

My dermatologist has a main office in Jacksonville and a part-time office in my physician’s practice where we’d met a couple of times when I did some professional work for the office. He’s a fast moving, fast talking, no holds barred kind of doc. I like him. (Which is a good thing, or I might have injured him.) Once we established that we knew each other, here are the things he said while I was largely silent. (Rare, but it happens.)

“Oh yeah. That’s precancerous. We’ll take care of that.”

Hey, here’s another one.”

Looking at my face, “That’s a mole, that’s a mole. You have a lot of moles. Age spot. Age spot. That’s an age spot, too. How old are you?”

61.

Oh. Getting up there.

“HEY!”

He ignored that and moved on to my legs. “Mole. Mole. Mole. You have a lot of moles.” We’d established that. I do. “What’s that?” “Oh, I nicked myself shaving this week.” “Guess I can ignore that, then.”

He checked my shoulders and down to my bra from the top of the Fresh Produce dress I had chosen for easy access. Once he seemed to be done, I said. “Do you mind just lifting my dress and checking my back? I’m never sure my husband knows what to look for.” “No problem. I do this all day,” he said as he whipped up my skirt. And a few minutes later, “Just a lot of moles.”

He used that freezing spray on both moles. (Cryotherapy.) Told me they would “Be as ugly as hell for a couple of weeks.” And I was done.

Most entertaining and effortless medical procedure I’ve had in years and after the cautionary tale from my Uber driver, this is an appointment I’ll be sure to make on a regular basis—even when I get “up there” in age for real. (Whenever that occurs.)

So, Heels and Tevas Tribe, we love you. Please remember to get your skin checked on a regular basis. Know your body and know what to look for. In my case, I’ve had these exact type of bumps in the past and I recognize them quite easily—which does not mean that I’m complacent about checking for other types of skin cancer.

How to Be a Neighbor Lady

I grew up in small towns in Maine, and my folks certainly taught me how to be a good neighbor but I didn’t learn how to be a Neighbor Lady until we purchased our home in South Portland. There, Laurel, our back fence neighbor, took me under her wing. I can’t remember when we started using the terms “Neighbor Lady” and “Neighbor Lady in Training” but I was at that point working from home and a bit more available.

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Neighbor Lady Training Goes Up a Level

Laurel had befriended a younger couple who’d moved to the area after the husband had become disabled due to a chronic lung condition. I would greet them as they walked the dog, the once strong man riding in an electric cart. As his condition worsened, Laurel asked me to prepare a meal or two, and to walk the dog and I readily agreed. Laurel kept me up to date and I knew she spent part of the nights with the couple as his time neared.

One morning, as I returned from an errand, she called over the back fence to let me know that he had passed in the night. We talked a bit, and she said, “She wants to have a wake at home and I told her we would do it. You OK for tomorrow night?”

Um? One deep breath and I said, “Of course. What are we doing?”

“Making a bunch of food, setting it out, greeting folks at the door, keeping the dog out of the cookies. That kind of thing.”

That’s kind of a lot, I thought. And I have a long To-Do list and … this woman just lost her husband.

“Let me know what you want me to make and what time to be there. Do we need napkins? Are we taking our own dishes, or does she have enough, or are we using paper? I’m in.”

And I was. After setting up, I mostly tended the buffet and prevented the dog from eating all of it while family members and close friends could grieve and share stories. 

Hidden in a storage box back in Maine is a “Neighbor Lady Certificate” for that moment when I learned that one of life’s most precious gifts is the opportunity to step in and do something necessary when someone needs you. Once again, I thank Laurel for providing that lesson.

–Midlife Musings and life hacks; this will be a regular segment for Heels and Tevas as we share our own musings, lessons learned and about those who taught us. The wise diva knows that she has much to learn and that not all continuing ed is found in classrooms.