Friday, February 8, 2013

Are You Giving Yourself the Best?

Today I had my 3 month skin check with my dermatologist.  Actually, it was my 2 month, 2 week checkup, since I moved up a little early due to the lovely new beauty mark over my lip.

 So, since it was skin check day, I did what my fellow warrior suggested at Respect the Rays. I circled all the marks I was most concerned about. I always leave the doctors’ offices forgetting to ask questions. ALWAYS. So this way, at least if I forget, the circles will draw her attention to them. 

I asked Mr. LSM to help with some of the circling, and he got a little carried away.  I, too, almost got carried away. I was recently asking my 3 year old what it was she enjoys SO much about writing on herself. Well, today I got a little reminder of the power you hold with your pen in hand and your skin as an empty canvas. I won’t question her again.

I've been visiting my current dermatologist office and seeing the Physician’s Assistant since my surgery to remove my melanoma in July.  I left my former dermatologist’s office, the office where I got my diagnosis. For the entire 10+ years that I went to that office, I only saw the actual doctor once. It was for an appointment about my hair loss.  He was never EVER available for any of my other appointments for skin examinations, nor did I ever even see him in the office. I always saw his PA. I am extremely grateful for her finding my melanoma (after I went in and told her to remove the mole on my neck), but I felt that this was just not the place for me if i want to stay ahead in my war on melanoma. 

Much like parents who make sure their child has  the latest Xbox, but could care less about whether their child can SPELL Xbox...
Or the Real Housewife who gets a non-surgical, fat-reducing machine brought into her home and eats a slice of pizza while sitting under it...
Or the mom who makes sure to stop off at Starbucks on her way home from the dermatologist’s office, but doesn’t bother to stop off at the store to buy toilet paper her home, which currently has none...  I absolutely know NO one like this btw.
These people aren’t necessarily BAD people, but I am quite certain their priorities are in order.  

My former derm’s office focused on beauty, Botox, and hair implants. 

 If you want to look like a Joan Rivers, they can help.
If you want to live as long as her, probably not.

Here’s what I think are signs of a great dermatologist’s office (and what I happen to love about my new one):

Reading Material:
How can you not totally ADORE this book all about the spots on your skin??? I think everyone (elementary age and up) should either own this or at least read it over a few times. I am thinking every one of my kids’ classrooms will have one donated by me all through their elementary school years.

A Space Heater:
Ok, so this isn’t the end –all, be-all of determinging whether you have a good derm, but I mean come on, who doesn’t get a tad bit chilly when sliding down into your unmentionables? Those paper gowns aren’t thick at all.

Posters on the Wall:
Notice the view from the patient’s chair.
I am a reader, and I will read the back of a shampoo bottle to occupy  my time if it’s all I have available (This usually when I am taking my 5 minute bathroom escape every evening. The only place and time I can sort of get a few moments peace.)  So had these posters been up in the office of my previous dermatologist, well, maybe I would have known about the E in the ABC’s of skin cancer and gotten my butt in there a lot sooner-like a year sooner- to have my “suspicious” mole removed. This would have drastically decreased the chances of my melanoma getting into my lymph nodes or blood stream.

Priority on the Patient:
My PA takes time to listen to me. She is not at all annoyed if I come in with 100 circles on my body. She knows what I have been through and she will "humor" me, even if I do sometimes appear totally nuts. 

She asks about different marks, “How long have you had this?” She checks under my unmentionables. She checks my scalp. She looks between my toes and my fingers.  She examines me ALMOST as good as I would examine myself. Also, when I go in with a concern, like the mark on my lip, she takes it serious. 

Importance of the Patient:
As I mentioned earlier, in my new dermatologist office, the doctor has always been there when I have visited. Twice now, he has come in to help my PA with a concern she had about a mark on my body. Today it was my lip. She noticed the mark had gotten darker. She thought removing it was a good idea when I asked, but she was also concerned about where the mark was located and how I will look after. She asked the doctor to come in. They could have just said, "Screw it. You need it cut, and it's a yucky place to cut. So deal." But together they determined the best way to remove it  in order to leave me still looking like a decent human being ( and somewhat of a pretty mama).

All of these things make a huge difference when it comes to my health, to my life. So it is important that i make sure I treat myself to the best. We all deserve that. 

Final notes: 

1.  In case you ever wonder, getting a needle stuck in the top of your lip hurts like a MOFO!!! I can take a lot. I've had needles in my eye lid, needles in my neck, needles in my back, and I took this one like a BOSS- make no mistake of that- but I can't lie, it stung inside my heart a little. 

2.  The dermatologist said by looking at the mark, he was pretty sure-99%- it is benign, but given my history, why ask me to wait and watch. Why stress me out when I do need to? Removing it was the right thing to do and me wanting it removed was the right way to think, regardless of the location.  It feels good to have doctors on your side.  I should get the results in about a week.

Thank you for reading. Until next time, practice safe sun...and give yourself the BEST of everything!

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