Saturday, May 27, 2017
Crazy Carcinoma Day
I went to the Royal Free Hospital yesterday to deal with that lingering spot on my forehead. Here's what I imagined would happen: I would walk into the clinic, be seen by a dermatologist who would quickly zap it with some liquid nitrogen, and I would leave.
That is not what happened.
Instead, I was told to get entirely undressed and put on a hospital gown. Then I was seen by a dermatologist who examined not only my forehead but everything else, too. (No other suspicious spots, thankfully.) Then the dermatologist, who agreed with my GP that I seemed to have a small basal cell carcinoma, said that I would have minor surgery, probably that same day, to remove the spot. I asked whether they could freeze it off, and she said freezing wouldn't allow them to get enough "margin" so surgery was required.
Then she said she wanted to confer with a colleague, and left the room. In came a medical photographer (!) who took photos of my spot with a variety of lenses. I signed a form saying they could use these photos not only for my records but also, I think, for instructional purposes.
The dermatologist returned with her colleague and a visiting doctor from China (!!). All three of them examined my spot. The colleague advanced the theory that it really was just a keratosis, and not a basal cell carcinoma at all. He suggested doing a "punch" biopsy, removing the lesion and testing it. If it's a keratosis, nothing more need be done. If it's a carcinoma, I'm supposed to go back for the minor surgery.
So that's what happened. Local anesthetic, and now I have two stitches and a star-shaped bandage on my forehead, and the lingering possibility that I'll have to go under the knife. I still don't really get why they couldn't freeze the thing off, because I'm pretty sure that's what happens in the states, but I'm not a dermatologist so what do I know?
Everything is complicated, right?
When I finally got to work, with a gauze pad and "plaster" (aka Band-Aid) over my star-shaped bandage and stitches, the kids were very concerned. It was nice to be asked whether I was OK. Made me feel appreciated! "Routine dermatology," I shrugged.
Here's the good news of the day -- the rescued fig tree finally, finally seems to be doing something. Tiny, tiny little nubs have appeared along the branches. I'm sure these are leaf buds. Stay tuned!
(Top photo: An ornate gate near the Royal Free Hospital.)