cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 12:46pm on 16/10/2013 under
Sometimes, it seems to me as though I've been visited by a series of plagues since I was laid off from my job last February.

First, it was the plagues of animals. My house was invaded by a squirrel entrepreneur who wanted to run peanut-fuelled orgies in my attic, sugar ants who wanted to treat my kitchen as their own private smorgasbord, and ticks who wanted to latch onto my body and suck my blood.

So we dealt with that. We found a wildlife expert to capture the squirrel and relocate him, ant bates that brought the anty hordes under control, and the ticks abated as the seasons changed.

Then, it was the plagues of viruses. February brought the norovirus, which gives you 24 hours of intermittent projectile vomiting and/or diarrhea. May brought an attack of shingles, which is when the chicken pox you had when you were a kid reactivates and makes your back feel as though it's on fire. (Fortunately, I detected the problem early enough that anti-viral drugs halted the worst of the symptoms).

And all year, I've had a mad increase in warts (which are also virus-caused). Most of these were small, pale and flat. But at the end of summer a huge, crusty muffin-shaped growth suddenly materialized on the edge of my left jaw. (It was about 5mm thick and a quarter-inch wide). So I went to a dermatologist to see what was up and to get it removed (not necessarily in that order).

The dermatologist took one look at me, spotted the offending growth before I could so much as introduce myself, and hustled me to a padded table so she could excise it and have it biopsied. She agreed with me that it was probably an overgrown wart, but there was a distant possibility that it could be skin cancer; hence the biopsy. I got elaborate directions on how to care for the resulting wound, which I followed, and it's healing well.

The dermatologist's office called me last week (by then, my doctor was on vacation) with the results. It turns out that most of the growth was a simple, harmless, ugly growth, but there was a tiny bit (probably the bit at the center, with the highest blood flow, though the nurse didn't say) that was a squamous cell cancer. So I'm going to call the doctor this week and see whether there's anything else we need to do, other than to watch the area and see whether any cancer returns.

The moral of this story is that it's important to keep an eye out for unusual developments in and on your body before they turn potentially life-threatening. None of the ticks settled on me because I detected them and brushed them off first, avoiding possible bites and Lyme fever (which can be very debilitating). By noticing the first symptoms of shingles, I was able to get drugs that minimized my symptoms and discomfort. And by running to the doctor to get the growth on my jaw lopped off, I've headed off (I hope) skin cancer.

Here's hoping for fewer plagues in 2014!

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