This morning I got up at the break of dawn to have a part of my body removed.
See that thing on the side of my neck? It's not there anymore. It was a giant mole that I've had since I was a kid, right there on the side of my neck. It was quite a bulbous thing, so much so that once a child too young to yet grasp social graces asked me if I had a tick on my neck.
I noticed that the mole had changed shape over time. It had gotten bigger, its edges more ragged. It was bigger than a pencil eraser and had multiple colors throughout. If you are playing along at home, these are all the signs of a potentially malignent mole that could signal skin cancer.
I waited wayyyyyyyyy too long to have a doctor look at it, but when I finally did he assured me it wasn't cancer. He was sure of it.
"But that thing is pretty gnarly, so if you want to get it removed, I would. Does it hurt? Good. Then it's covered." And with that my doctor handed me a business card for a dermatologist and instructions on how to make an appointment.
That appointment was this morning. I took the bus downtown and walked to 450 Sutter St, which happens to have one of the most stunningly gorgeous lobbies I've ever stepped foot in. An elevator to the 14th floor sent me to a waiting room with a view of Coit Tower and pamphlets about how injections of Restylane are what I need to get a perfect pout that is 40% upper lip, 60% lower lip, 100% willing sex goddess.
After a brief wait I was escorted into a physician's room where a physician looked at my garish mole.
"My gut says it isn't cancer, but last week I said the same thing to another guy and his biopsy came back bad news, so you never know."
She said it with a smile. Then she told me how this whole removal process was going to go down.
"I'm going to give you a shot in the neck. It's an anaesthetic. Then I'll use a blade to slowly scrape the mole off."
That's when the fear and dread set in. They wanted to scrape a mole from my neck with a blade, and I wanted to run out to the elevators and not look back.
"That sounds painful." I said it with a smile.
"The anaesthesia is the worst part."
"You mean the shot to the neck is worse than the scraping with a blade?"
Then she came at my exposed neck with a syringe!
She was right that that was the worst part.
She took a blade to my flesh and less than a minute later that disgusting mole was in a device for made for transportation and off to a lab. Then she closed up open blood vessels with some device that emitted a weird smell (science!).
"We're done, by the way," she told me. Then I issued a platitude about the fear always being worse than the thing itself.
Before I left I was given a prescription for a lightening cream for dark spots on my face. The ones I didn't know I had.
And that was that. In under two minutes a woman in a white coat removed a part of me I've seen in the mirror every day for decades. Now it's in a glass tube somwhere waiting to be biopsied. Waiting to be dissected to tell what might lie ahead.