Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sometimes a Boil is Just a Boil, and Sometimes It is a Blessing

So I came home from Dallas in early October, my arm plated-and-pinned back together, and a small red spot on the interior of my calf.

Uh-oh, I thought. Flesh eating bacteria. (Come on, this is me...)

I followed its progress, watching the purple grow to a little bigger than a pencil eraser over the course of the next month. Finally, it seemed to be settling back into my skin and I thought, okay, I will survive.

Then it turned a toasty brown color. I watched it for a few weeks, decided it wasn't my imagination that it was developing a darker splotch inside.

I emailed Marj and said I thought I either had melanoma or old age spots (and didn't know which was worse). Supportive friend that she is, she reminded me if it were melanoma, I wouldn't have to worry about old age spots.

So I visited my PCP who thought it looked like enough of a concern to send me to the dermatologist. Hm, the dermatologist said, it's probably a sebhorric keratosis. What's that, I ask.

An old age spot.

Kill me now, I thought--ever the ungrateful child.

He biopsied it and was ready to dismiss me when I asked him to look at a spot on my eyebrow. Look is the wrong term...nothing was visible but it felt like a little, dried pimple. (Hope you're not eating...oh're all dog people so you're tough).

He biopsied that, too, and called me a couple days ago with the results. The thing on my eyebrow is basal cell carcinoma, the most common and least threatening of all skin cancers. 100% cure rate unless you let it go forever and ever. The only issue is the amount of scarring if it's not removed until much later in its run.

And the thing on my leg? Nothing. Not even an old age spot. Just a little inflammation, even though it looked like enough of a concern for a couple of doctors to say hm, better check this out. As the dermatologist was explaining to me that the brown lump that he had excised was nothing, he had this perplexed tone like...why wasn't it at least the sebhorric keratosis? It sure looked like something.

Of course, you and I know the answer to that. I never would have gone to the dermatologist for the tiny, dry spot on my eyebrow.

Sometimes a boil is just a boil. And hm...sometimes it's a blessing.


Elsi Dodge said...

Isn't God good to protect you that way? I shall think similar hopeful thoughts about my sore knee.

Had supper with a friend last night, who mentioned how much she enjoys reading the "God and Dog Walking" blog! She says walking her dog is the only time she gets time to herself, to think and to pray, without children or husband or grading papers to interfere.

AND, I keep looking at sweet little Sultana, showing her love for you by snuggling with your manuscript, watching your every move with devotion (okay, that's probably a stretch!), and waiting sweetly for you to scratch her under her little chin. (Dolphin told me to write this!)

Janice Freeman said...

Misconceptions about the appearance of early skin cancer are common. Many are actually small, dry reddish spots that persist, and common on the face. If it doesn't respond to an antibiotic cream (applied for a few days) followed by steriod cream for a few days, it may well be a pre-actinic change. This is the earliest form of skin cancer, and is technically not yet skin cancer. A dermatologist can remove it easily by touching it with liquid nitrogen. So if you have a new red spot somewhere, and it refuses to go away, have it checked.

Merry said...

Wow, Kathy! Something similar happened to my husband. He went in for another issue and the doctor said "Let's look at this mole you've had for years." It was basal cell carcinoma, too. Removed successfully. God is good. ~ Merry (BTW, I second the reading of your blog!)

Kathryn Mackel said...

Elsi, as with other cats, Dolphin is running the show. I will say this: when I moved Sultana off my computer chair this morning, she didn't bite me. Well, she did put her teeth on me but she didn't press the issue.

Merry, Janice--good reminders to be vigilant. For me it's sometimes hard because I see wrinkles and sags but one must face the truth, eh?

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

I can relate. A couple of years ago, I had what I'd thought was nothing turn into a huge subaceaous cyst, which is nothing but sure was something before it was removed, surgically. This summer I had convinced myself that a knee injury was nothing, and 4 months later I had to have surgery.

The nothings turn into somethings, the somethings turn out to be nothings...ah, the glory of living.