Snip-Stitch-Patch-And-Go is a lighthearted story, with meaning, on a topic that many adults have had experience with. I hope you enjoy it.
My dermatologist laughs when I tell her that my twice yearly visit to her office is part of my weight loss program. She, having caught my early stage melanoma some years ago, aggressively snips away anything that remotely looks suspicious and sends it off to the lab.
My derm has the fairest looking, buttery skin on the planet. I doubt she’s ever stood in direct sunlight for more than thirty seconds. She tells me, “Kevin. As someone who’s on the water in boats, you should be wearing sun-block year round.” Of course I should. But somehow the idea of smearing or spraying on a layer of gook before bundling up in layers for a wintertime row with my teammates doesn’t thrill me. But then, as my team’s coxswain, I’m responsible for everyone’s safety while on the water too. I can see it now saying to the guys in the boat, “Avast, (stop rowing) rest your oars, and here. Put this on.”
In truth I’ve shared with my rowing pals that my dermatologist has likely saved my life with her good eyes and thorough exams. And apparently that was all they needed to hear. My skin doc now sees several of my teammates for their routine skin exams.
“This will pinch and burn,” says my pain management specialist as he numbs me with one needle, so he can follow with an even bigger needle to shut down rattled nerves along my spine. During the procedure I lie there hoping my doc has gotten a good night’s sleep and that his vision is better than mine.
Occasionally, when more extensive treatments are needed, code word for invasive, they put me out which is fine by me. But not before I get to chat with the anesthesiologist. She wears distinctively unique looking scrubs, different from the pain doc and nurses, and a cool-looking surgical cap. Before they give me happy juice, which is before they turn the IV faucet on, they give me forms to sign and ask me for the ninth time to say my name and date of birth. (Do they think I’d sneak in here for chips and giggles?) The lady in the cool cap says, “I don’t get paid to put people to sleep, I get paid to wake them up.” I’m guessing that was a line intended to help me relax.
I do wake up. And since it’s a cheery day-surgery center, everyone is happy and I get dressed and sit for further observation. They check my DOB again, but this time from my wristband. They ask me if I’d like crackers and something to drink. I order scotch and they just laugh.
Making Eye Contact
I have an ophthalmologist and a Retina Specialist just to rounds things out. They work in the same neighborhood, in my eyes, but one hardly mentions the other. They speak different languages and wear different styles of white coats. They both have cool machines that beep and have eye drops for every occasion. Every three months my retina guy gets into the needle game too to improve my right eye’s vision. I’m grateful for his good aim and we’ll just leave additional details unsaid.
Eye docs have people who have people. I feel cheated if I don’t see at least three techs before a white coat arrives. There’s the assistant to the assistant who holler’s out my name in the packed waiting room and asks me what I’m here for today. “What the hell do you think I’m here for today?” I think about saying but don’t. Staring at my chart, mind you, she asks, “Your date of birth, Mr. Lee?” Maybe she thinks my DOB has changed since my last visit? Whatever. I chuckle while passing the nicely framed Patients Rights and HIPAA Laws statement mounted on the wall, thinking, next time l’m bringing markers to edit that statement.
Sitting in the exam room chair the assistant has me reading letters and numbers from an electronic gadget on the wall. It’s competitive. I’m competing against myself from my last visit. Even if what I’m seeing looks like fly poop they want me to guess a letter so I do. She pivots and starts entering stuff into the computer. She leaves and another tech arrives in lockstep.
Tech two is wearing a different kind of uniform and pulls an assortment of instruments up to my face. With a finger she points, “Look here, don’t blink.” I hadn’t thought about blinking just yet but since she mentioned it, all I want to do now is blink. In a few more minutes we ran out of machines to have me look through, so she too, turns, starts keyboarding away and then leaves.
Finally, Maria, the high priestess of eye technicians walks in to take good care of me. She’s been with my doc even longer than I have. I’m talking decades. What Maria says goes and everyone knows it. Her uniform is smart-looking, deliberate and trim. Bowing, I hear, is practiced by others as she passes. We laugh. She checks everyone’s work that’s’ been in to see me. The doc arrives and Maria remains to assist. My eye doc finishes, ignores the computer, then leaves and yes, Maria checks his work too.
I Get To Go
I go and with gratitude for each practice of medicine. I’m keenly aware that melanoma can kill and I’m here thanks to available health care. I think about the scores of people living in pain who won’t walk no matter the treatment. And today I see each face of each person I love, aware of my blessing and privilege that sadly is beyond the reach of so many.
Text by Kevin Lee. And no, I didn’t take the photo…even I’m not that old!
Your comments in the comments box below are always appreciated. (Please!). Also, to read additional nuggets on this topic please visit my Rise Up Quotes page called Regarding Doctors, Medicine and Patients .
Regarding my pain management doc. His name is Dr. Pradeep Dinakar, and I receive treatments at Brigham and Woman’s/Mass General Health Care Center located at 20 Patriot Place, Foxboro, MA 02035.
Dr. Karen S. McGinnis, with Hawthorn Medical Associates is my dermatologist. And if you’re lucky enough to live anywhere near me, you can look her up. Last I heard though she was not taking on any new patients. But if you whine a bit, I’ll bet she will!