Most of my non-working, non-sleeping hours last week were spent trying to finish up this year's PDF snowflake booklet to benefit the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
But not Tuesday.
On Tuesday, my beloved Lizard took the day off to take me for my annual mammogram, as well as a bone density screening and a mole screening.
When all was said and done, we still had three hours of daylight, so we took a little ride up Waterton Canyon. Such a thrill, now that The Lizard is working every weekend. We don't get many chances to ride together these days. So even though I'd just had four moles removed, we decided to take full advantage of the time together.
About two hours after we got home, the anesthesia wore off, and I had a three-ibuprofen sledgehammer pounding on my eyebrow. The doctor had told me my arm would feel like road rash. It never hurt, except for during the numbing shot. I wonder if having real road rash just a few inches from where the two moles had been caused the new mole hole to seem like no big deal.
The next morning, my eyebrow was significantly better; felt as if someone had taken a bite out of it. Well, I guess someone did...
That mole had first appeared maybe the day before Thanksgiving. I was so annoyed when I realized it wasn't another zit (which also is annoying, but at least zits go away) because it was on my face. I couldn't stand it!
The blasted thing grew and grew and grew every day. To me, it was uglier and uglier and uglier every single day. It was the first thing I saw when I looked in the mirror, and every morning, it had a degree of redness to it. I assumed I scratched it in the night. Because, by golly, it itched! Sometimes, it even hurt!
I did a bit of research around Christmas and learned people my age aren't supposed to get many new moles, unless they have excessive sun exposure.
Well, during an event like Ride the Rockies, I certainly do get excessive sun exposure. But I use sunscreen. Particularly on the arm where two of the other now-removed moles once resided. My family physician had been checking that pair every year because he didn't know at first it was two instead of one, and they were asymmetrical, a naughty no-no. Once he realized they were not quite twins, he continued to check them because of the color of one.
My family physician retired about three years ago. I did my annual exams only at my new gynecologist each year since then. I was dragging my feet picking a new family physician. I never asked the gynecologist to check my moles. So I was about three years overdue.
The new mole didn't get excessive sun exposure. My sunglasses, which I wear whenever I go outside in daylight, completely covered that area of my face. When riding, my helmet provided even more sun protection.
I didn't like this new mole. Not one bit.
I began the search for a new family physician in earnest, then noticed in the beginning of January that the new mole on my eyebrow was hard and scaly. And still growing astronomically. (To me.) In just six weeks, it had grown larger than the soft, non-troubling mole at the top of my nose that has never given me any grief since it first appeared in my teens. Back before I wore sunglasses. Back when it was okay to get new moles, as long as you kept an eye on them.
My new mole had become scary. Terrifying, actually. I knew this was not the appropriate behavior for a safe mole.
I made an appointment for the same day as my mammogram and bone density test because I'd already been able to take that day off.
The bone density test and mammogram procedures went without a hitch. I'm still awaiting results (perhaps today!), but I don't expect any complications this year.
My new family physician asked the story of my newest mole three times. She suggested we just go ahead and take any moles that concerned me, which I found so refreshing! I love this new attitude toward moles! Just take them. No sense in worrying about them. Those suckers on my arm would be history! No more worrying!
My new doctor asked if I'd be okay with a scar above my eyebrow. I told her I don't even wear makeup; the scar would be preferable to what seemed to me the blimp-sized aberration this mole had become.
"Are you sure you're going to be okay with a scar? I'm concerned about this mole, and I don't want to waste any more time trying to get you in to see a dermatologist, who might be able to leave you with less of a scar."
Her statement got under my skin just a bit; I'd already been worried. That's why I made the appointment. To have a doctor concerned about this mole, too, was a bit unnerving. Oh, well, it would be gone in a few minutes, and that would be the end of that. Three stitches later, we were on our way!
As we rode our bikes, I felt a million pounds lighter. I have been trying to lose weight, and I've actually had a bit of success. But the weight off my shoulders, or more specifically, my arm and my eyebrow, was palpable. I felt so free and so liberated!
I racked up 20 Charity Miles in Waterton, and I felt as if I was on top of the world.
Two days later, I got my first results.
That eyebrow mole was indeed basal cell carcinoma.
Last week's moles were the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth I've had removed over the years. The eyebrow mole was the first bad boy I've ever had. All of the rest were just moles.
I am so relieved and so thankful I was able to get rid of this nasty bump. And I guess now I'm glad it was on my face. Would I have noticed it if it was anywhere else? Would I have paid attention?
I don't know.
I have strict instructions now to pay close attention to all my moles, and I am to report any new moles as quickly as I can.
I can live with that.
Literally! I. Can. Live. !!!
I will live to see another day. I will live to ride again!