I had an appointment Monday morning with a new dermatologist. I'd had a pesky cold sore near my mouth for months that
wouldn't heal. Not healing is getting to be a semi-permanent condition for me as almost any cut to my skin results in an infection. These infections are more frustrations than serious problems although they have caused at least three trips to the emergency room in the last year. They are part of what I live with as a result of the non-critical form of leukemia I've had to at least 15 years.
So, the cold sore. I can't see my regular dermatologist, a warm and friendly man, because he's too busy. I'm seeing a woman I think I can identify by name. I think I saw her last time I had an infection on my foot. I'm wrong. She's new to me and has very cold hands as she shakes mine in greeting. I launch into my description of not being able to treat the cold sore and she stops me. "It's not a cold sore," she says. "It's skin cancer (not melanoma)." She takes a biopsy and asks me to undress so she can look at every other flake and bump on my body. She takes another biopsy on my back and zaps me with liquid nitrogen all over my face.
None of this is life-threatening. However, it does remind me strikingly of my own mortality. It has been at least three years since my last biopsy, though I've had more than my share of bits of flesh removed over the last 15 years. I'm depressed for the rest of the day, having been reminded none too gently that this body will not carry me forward indefinitely.