Aug 10, 2009

No Worries, It's Not Leprosy...

..but I am allergic to Band-Aids and Neosporin.

I had a mole removed a week and a half ago. It used to be on my neck. I had had it--along with its fraternal twin, located on my belly--as long as I can remember, and neither really bothered me until they became comfort objects for His Highness. Sometime around a year old he found each of them, and with each one I explained it was Mommy's mole, and thus they were forever christened "Mommy Moh?" and finally it came to be that whenever I picked up or held His Highness his little paw would find its way to one of the Mommy-Mohs and rub it for good luck. Incessantly.

This was cute and endearing for about five minutes, after which time it became rather tiresome. And then there were the few and isolated, and yet so vivid, incidents where he laughed the sinister laugh, and tried to remove a Mommy-Moh for me.

I decided they had to go.

This decision was made in the middle of my enchantment with the Littler One, and was followed quickly by another decision to wait until after the Littler One was born. There wasn't any reason I had to wait, except that I wanted to be my sane(r) and happy(ier) self which, truth be told, is more of a reality when I'm not enchanted. Enchantments come in a variety, and some enchantments are glowier than others.

Fast forward to a month or so ago, when I visited the doc on base about it. Long story short, he gave me the option of having the moles "shaved" right there in the office. This would have been no problem for the one on the belly, but it gave me pause about the neck one. I mean, there's a lot of important stuff happening in the neck. Even with a superficial procedure, I was a little nervous about sharp things anywhere near the vicinity of my jugular vein and whatnot. Plus with the shave, they basically just clip the mole right off, so there's a chance it'll return in an equal or lesser form. The doc offered to refer me to a dermatologist, though, which I thought was very sporting of him, and I decided to do both in one fell swoop.

Referral, calling, appointments, blah blah blah, bringing us to two Thursdays ago. I went & met Dr. Seitz, and told him all of the above. Yes, all. He took a look and said the trouble was that they were both a safe and reasonable size & shape, and therefore insurance probably wouldn't cover their removal, unless of course one of them was "irritated," and then he could probably remove one with no problem. This he said with a special emphasis, and it got me to thinking about how "irritated" the neck one felt a lot of the time, and so he removed it for me.

He was very nice, "got" my humor, and ridiculed me only minimally on my needle issues. He did a very good job, too. I barely felt the needle for the numbing, and after that it only felt vaguely like he was twisting a pencil eraser against my neck. I kept a don't-ask-don't-tell policy throughout and talked about other random things instead...except when I heard the "clip-clip" and commented that that was an interesting sound, knowing what it was he was clipping. I don't know what people normally talk about when they are having little bits of themselves removed, so I don't know if his half-smile was along the lines of "That's an interesting thought," or "You're really good at distracting yourself as a way of coping with your phobias," or "Wow, you're a talky one," or "I'm smiling so you don't know that I'm completely ignoring you so I can concentrate."

For her part, the nurse, Carol, held my hand during the needle part and provided all the interested responses to my commentary. Hers was the type of personality that I love to encounter, especially when I need my hand held. Kind, but not afraid to joke with me either.

I asked what the chances were of the mole returning, and the doc said, "Well, we went pretty deep--into the subcutaneous fat--so I don't think it's possible." Cool. Then three stitches, boom, done. "Keep it covered, use this antibiotic gel every night," etc. He also said if the other mole is "irritated" in a year or so, and I want him to dig it out (instead of having it shaved by the base doc) to let him know. He gave me the beginnings of a little bit of faith in the Cheyenne medical community.

The next day we were off to Idaho for the weekend (another post). I brought along a few Band-Aids and the gel they gave me. I asked the Cat Daddy if it was normal for it to itch, and he said yes. He said a little more than "yes," but to protect the obnoxious I won't get into it. I don't often have things cut off & stitched, so cut me some slack, that's all I'm saying. It kept itching and stinging after a couple days, and the still, small voice inside me said "this can't be right," but I went with it, because the still, small voice has been wrong on occasion. Even after I tried the fabric Band-Aids it got redder and itchier. I got some Neosporin super-cream...and then some little crusty guys showed up...and then on Monday I told the Cat Daddy, "I'm calling my doc." I showed him the site, and he said, "Ewww, what happened to your neck?! You need to call your doctor about that. That's not right." At least we agreed on that. We both suspected I was having a reaction to the Band-Aids, and when I thought back to events surrounding getting my ears pierced as a kid, I wondered if I might be allergic to the Neosporin as well. Talking to my doctor's office pretty well confirmed this, so I took off the Band-Aid and stopped putting anything on it. I was a little concerned on the flight home that I might be getting a fever, and therefore maybe it was infected...but after a nap I felt better and not at all feverish. And the Cat Daddy had the good sense to ask if the area was hot, which it wasn't, so I felt more optimistic that I wasn't being taken over by hostile bacteria.

But the next day that part of my neck was approaching a desert-reptilian texture, so I called again and said, "Can I please come in? It just looks bad." I can't say for sure, but I'm almost certain they were thinking, "Ah yes, these nervous-types, they just need some reassurance." Which is true, I am a nervous-type, and I was in fact looking for some reassurance. What they didn't know, however, is how many hang-ups I have about asking to "just come in," and how stubborn I can be about sticking things out without "troubling" the docs.

So I got there, and showed them, and said "I think I'm having a reaction." And they took a look and said, "Holy smokes, you're not kidding, that looks terrible!" Which ironically enough, reassured me. At least I wasn't over-reacting. So they told me to keep it uncovered, and they gave me a sample-size bottle of some nasty stinging spray (a steroid; hydrocortizone-esque in nature, I believe) to use once a day. They even fanned my neck with "Newsweek" while I in-hissed my way through the stinging (you know--that inhale/hiss one does when something stings). I thought that was nice.

Ooh, and then Dr. Seitz told me I could test the allergy theory by putting a small amount of each offender on my crelbow (inside of the elbow, "Friends" fans) to see if it would react. Relief, reassurance, and a science project, all within one appointment. You really can't go wrong at the dermatologist's office.

So I went home and dabbed a bit of Neosporin on my crelbow, and by the end of the day...nothing happened. Ah well.

By Friday morning the time came for me to get the stitches out. The doc asked how I was doing as he took a look. I said, "It's better, I think." He replied, "What are you talking about, it looks a whole lot better!" So they removed the stitches, pronounced me awesome, and the doc defied me to find the scar by next spring. I was kind of sad to leave, as I was starting to make friends with everyone there, but such is life with the good docs I suppose. They make it so you don't have to go back.

By Friday afternoon I was amazed to discover that my crelbow itched, and there appeared tiny red dots, exactly where I'd put the Neosporin three days before. Success!! Sort of!! I spent the weekend with that little spot itching, but it was worth it. Next will be the Band-Aid test. I'd never had a reaction to a Band-Aid before, but I'd never worn them on the more sensitive areas like my face/neck before, either. It got me to wondering what else I could put on my crelbow to see if I'm allergic. Hmmmm...

So now when I absentmindedly reach up to touch my mole, I feel only the remnant of the incision...and the Band-Aid-shaped rash. And when His Highness goes for the area to rub Mommy-Moh, and finds that it is still missing, he says "Mommy-Moh all gone?" and I say, "Yep, the doctor took it off." Part of me wants to say "Bwuahahaha, no more Mommy-Moh for you!!" But that wouldn't be very nice. Besides, there's still the one on my belly, which he all-the-more-frantically locates now.

Blankie? No. Bear? Of course not. Not even a pacifier. My son has his Mommy-Moh. But only one now, which is faboo...


linda t said...

Great story... I mean, not great that you had a reaction... but glad it turned out well.
We had a nurse come to our home yesterday for life insurance purposes... so she could take blood and stuff. I was reminded again that neither Randy or I have needle issues... which is sorta cool... cuz I always think needles should bother me... but they don't. I guess that's a good thing.

RichardB said...

Did you have to face Obama's Death Panel?

prochaskas said...

You are so awesome. And so are those docs.

Smiller said...

Cadence had a lovey part of my body that was a little more...X rated. Let's just say it was something exposed while nursing. I learned very quickly that twice makes a habit and spent the next year removing tiny fingers from my...anatomy. Elyse got a blankie from about the 2nd day of life.

As far as your allergy testing, I have this picture of you walking around with substances dripping from your arms. "SkerriB, why do you have peanut butter and diaper cream on your crelbows?" To which you reply, "Science!" Nerds come in all shapes and sizes. :D

Sonia B said...

You can test random hair removers and hair dye in your crelbow, they even tell you too! So it must be ok, right?