Friday, August 4, 2017

Why does water keep coming from my eyes?

When my son Ben was little I once asked him why he was crying and he explained, "I'm not crying, but why does water keep coming from my eyes?" I'm not sure why he would have thought crying was a bad thing that he needed to deny as we never told him "don't cry" or any of those other emotionally stifling things parents tend to say to their kids, especially boys. His insistence that he wasn't crying had more to do with his constant need to contradict or challenge whatever I said. And I suspect it might also have been a reaction to the inability he had to control his tears. They came, whether he wanted them to or not. And it was pretty hard to deny them to his mother when the evidence was written all over his face. Crying? I'm not crying. That's just water coming from my eyes. 

Back in June I saw the doctor for something that was nothing, as is so often the case. I can't tell you the last time I went to the doctor concerned about something and it turned out to be anything. It makes me not want to go to the doctor at all for fear of being perceived coo-coo for cocoa puffs.  

While I was there, I asked her about an ugly brown spot I had on my chest, and she told me it was just a result of getting older. (Why is every physical problem that concerns me these days just a result of getting older?) Well, that prompted her to get out her magnifying glass and look over my back. (I felt silly as she did this, like she was just humoring the poor old hypochondriac.) She found a brown spot, like a large, misshapen freckle, that also had a little pink on one side. "It's probably just an age spot, but let's get you to a dermatologist to check it out." Okay. We both know it's nothing, I thought, but let's hear it from a dermatologist. 

I took my time making the appointment, but the Monday after I got back from vacation I saw a dermatologist. I actually saw the PA, a delightful woman named Julia. She did a biopsy, just to make sure, but she assured me it was most likely just an age spot. (Of course.) They would notify me in two weeks. So, I waited for a postcard or text message. 

One week later, I received a call from the dermatologist's office. Julia needed to talk to me right away, and no, she couldn't just talk to me on the phone. I had to come to the office that day.

Well, it turns out I have a melanoma, stage 1B. When she told me, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I never would have noticed this. I can't see my back and it wasn't bothering me. I don't see a dermatologist, ever. If my primary care physician had been in the room I would have kissed her. Thank you, thank you, Dr. Wills, for seeing this and telling me to check it out. It's early enough to treat it and the prognosis is good. Whew! Next I will consult with a plastic surgeon, set a date for surgery, and this will soon become an insignificant footnote in the story of my life.

Julia called me late that evening. She wanted me to come in the next day so she could do a full body exam. So, I went back, and this time she found something else. It's a piddly little mole that is exactly half brown and half white, as if someone had drawn a line down the middle. She sent it off for a biopsy. Yikes! I had no idea all this stuff was happening on my back. 

With a jam-packed week at the church, I've hardly thought about any of this. Well, there's that awkward time every morning when our Parish Administrator, Sue, has to change my dressing because, as someone who lives alone, I have no way of seeing or reaching the more recent little hole in my back. But other than that, it's life as usual... Okay, I've also spent a little time researching the word melanoma online, because that's just what I do. But everything I read gives me the reassurance that we caught this in time and all will be well. 

Last night, when I came home from a long day, I watched an old episode of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" to help me unwind and end the day in a happy place. It was the one where Georgette has her baby. I didn't recall ever seeing it before. A very funny episode! When it was over, I turned the T.V. off and bawled my eyes out. Then I happened to realize that throughout the week I've caught myself tearing up over random things that normally wouldn't phase me. 

Hmmm. Why does water keep coming from my eyes?

1 comment:

Kathryn Haueisen said...

What a beautiful and poignant description of what I imagine would have been a terrifying set if events. Thank you for sharing it in such an upbeat way.