Yesterday I went to the dermatologist to have a worrisome spot on my arm checked out. It’s been around for a year, and being a self-diagnosed hypochondriac, I naturally had convinced myself that it was cancer and that because I had foolishly waited a year to see the doctor about it, the cancer had spread and my arm would have to be cut off.
The doctor took one look at the spot I had spent so much time worrying and obsessing about, and said, “Ah no, that’s just a little sun spot. I can zap it off your skin right now if it bothers you.” He reached into a drawer behind him.
With no time to gather my thoughts about the amputation I wasn’t going to need that day, I was now staring at a gun-like object pointed directly at the sun spot (which is really just a nice way to say age spot) I had grown accustomed to staring and obsessing over each day.
It didn’t seem right to treat this piece of my body so unceremoniously. I had watched it from its infancy as a tiny dot on my arm. I had noted its growth, watched it morph over time into something that gave me dread at the mere sight. How could the doctor expect me to so quickly part with this intruder on my body I had spent so much time with?
Seeing my hesitation, he prodded, “It’s really quick and no big deal. I’ll get rid of it right here.”
I took a deep breath, relented, and with no time for a proper goodbye, watched the doctor point the gun at my spot.
*ZAP* went the gun, and suddenly my arm was painfully stinging from the icy-hot steam. Now my arm looked like a curling iron had attacked it.
“Just treat it like a scab,” the doctor informed me, with no feeling for the little spot that was now forced away from existence. “The scab will be gone in a couple days. Anything else?”
Not realizing that two spots on my face were the same thing as the spot on my arm, I showed him my age spots. Not yet 30 years old, those two little spots that cropped up beneath my eyes a month or so ago have really been a sore sight for my eyes. I fully expected the doctor to prescribe a cream that would minimize the spots’ appearance.
“Well, you can do a chemical peel for $95, or I can just zap them right now,” he said matter-of-factly, again with no feeling.
“Zap them right now?” I don’t know why this surprised me, with my arm still stinging, the gun still in plain sight, and the trigger-happy doctor still in the room.
“Yep, you’ll have bruises for a couple days in their place, but this gun will just zap them right off.”
I hated those spots, but again — change (even when it’s for the better) has never been something I embrace.
He held the gun closer while I hemmed and hawed, and finally I agreed. “I’ll have bruises?” I timidly asked.
“Yep, you’ll look like you’ve been beat up. You ready?”
I squeezed my eyes shut and again felt the sharp sting of the icy-hot steam. On my way out, I glanced in the mirror and saw that my once-faint age spots had been replaced with the appearance of curling iron burns. Now they were the most prominent feature on my face.
When my husband arrived home, he said nothing of my leopard spots, although I knew he had noticed them. I made it easy on him, and started the conversation.
He agreed with me that they were very noticeable, but he told me they made me look cute. We’ve had enough conversations that he knows I want the verdict of my appearance delivered straight-up. No sugar-coating; just tell it to me straight.
“Yeah, you look cute,” he insisted. “You look like football players with the eye paint underneath their eyes.”
This morning, I noted no change in the appearance of my cheeks’ war wounds, so of course I’m worried they’ll become permanent residents on my face.
Not to worry. I know that 1. my husband weirdly thinks I’m cute, and 2. I have a ready explanation for any curious people: I’m on my way to play football.