Things Not to Say to Someone You’re About to Cut Something Out Of

By Citizen Jane

So, I like my doctor. He’s the same doctor I’ve been going to since I can remember. Perhaps this should tell me something about his age, but that’s not something that crossed my mind when he recommended I get a mole removed.

I’d been away for a while, and since I like to be economical with my doctor visits I had saved up a collection of ailments, some of which, for no reason other than my own personal weird inability to say relevant things, I failed to mention. He acknowledged that he hadn’t seen me in a while, asked what I’d been up to and we made small talk to make me feel like I’m important. Then we got down to business.

Reasons Why I Like My Doctor #1
When asked what he can help me with, and I said I needed prescriptions, he was ready with pen poised to write out whatever drugs I named. (Although, to be fair, I was requesting fairly standard prescriptions. Things to allow me to breathe properly? Tick. Anti-children pills? Got ‘em.)

Next on the list. Can you have a quick look at my moles? I’ve spent a lot of time outside this summer. He decided that I should get one on my back removed because it’s darker than all the rest. I think about the dark mole on my chin but say nothing. It’s on MY FACE; he can a) see it perfectly – I know it is more than clearly visible by the number of people who have tried to tell me there’s something on my face (you know, like food or something. Yup, there is, it’s MY FACE) – and b) would surely mention it if he thought it was a problem.

Not much else happened on this visit other than more things I neglected to bring up. I mean, they’re the kind of things that, let’s be real, he’s not going to do anything about anyway (which really, is representative of how I feel about all doctors, not just mine). Headaches? I’m already drinking water like a dehydrated camel and throwing back some ibuprofen just for good measure. Back pain? It’s from last year’s back injury so I should probably try not to lift stuff (I’m a nanny, should I not pick up that crying three month old baby?) and stop having outrageously rambunctious sex (yeah, right). Lastly, that weird thing that happened to my index finger when I fell on a rock but don’t know how to describe and there’s nothing to physically see? Yeah, exactly.

So, today I turn up for my appointment for said mole removal. He calls me by my sister’s name. I correct him but let it slide. Recently, the dentist also thought I was my sister, and even my mum calls me Julie (although my mother has also been known to call me by both my father and brother’s names before getting to mine. I love being the middle child). I’ve since decided it’s because these professionals don’t realise how old they’re getting and that I must be old enough to be the oldest sibling in the family. This doesn’t bode well for them since I, at age 27, sometimes don’t pass for over 20.

The nurse has got everything ready for the surgery (if you can call it that) and I’m lying on the table bed thing. This is after the doctor left me lying there, shirtless, with the door open in a room at the bottom of the stairs where other patients have to walk by. No one did, and to be honest I wouldn’t have cared if they had, but there’s no need for the jovial foreign guy I can hear talking in the next room to see me half naked, or to shock the poor old religious lady who says “God bless” to the doctor when she leaves.

I’m not a hundred percent convinced that he’s selected the same mole as last time, but it’s on my back and I can’t see so I have no idea. I decide to go with it. I mention the mole on my face. He agrees about its darkness but doesn’t recommend removing it because apparently it might scar horrifically like the last thing he cut out of my back. (A long, boring story about a keloid scar. Or, if I can keep a straight face, a short story about a bullet wound.)

They’re going to do a punch biopsy. I’m assuming this is the fancy way of saying they’re going to cut some shit out of my body. I imagine it being like using a hole punch.

He calls me Julie again for about the third or fourth time and I call him out on it. He apologises and even remembers that she has a new surname, and almost gets it right with a few extra letters thrown in there. I decide not to take up precious space for medical knowledge in his head by telling him that she’s separated now.

But then, by way of explanation for his absentmindedness, he actually says his brain just isn’t functioning today. Wait… what? Things not to say to someone who you’re about to cut something out of. I say out loud that that’s probably not what his patients like to hear. The nurse says she was just thinking that and the doctor says something and I don’t really care as long as it doesn’t turn out I have all kinds of skin cancer. During the procedure they have a chat about hooligans on the road and say that either I have tough skin or that they have blunt scissors. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be funny but they reassure me they are using the best scissors they have. Shouldn’t all the scissors they have be the best scissors they have? Also, why are they using scissors? Don’t they have some fancier medical tool? And where’s the hole punch?

Afterwards he explains about taping it to prevent scarring (because that worked so well on the thing that turned into the hideous gunshot-wannabe scar) and leafs through my file to see if I’m due for a cervical smear. Because there’s nothing a girl loves more than having cold metal implements shoved up her vagina. He’s going through my records from the medical practice I went to when I was living in Southland and reads bits of it out loud.

Reasons Why I Like My Doctor #2
“Achilles… Salbutamol… Condoms… only 24? That was a bit stingy – some girls could probably go through 24 in a weekend!”
I like that he can say things like this and it is funny rather than inappropriate. I thought about mentioning that not only did they only give me 24 condoms for my $3 but that they were ridiculous colours and flavours. I don’t want to smell fake banana flavour when I’m having sex, thanks.

At some point he calls me my sister’s name again and then tries to justify it by saying at least he’s getting it wrong within the same family. I actually don’t really care much that he called me the wrong name – I don’t expect him to have memorised all his patients – but don’t try and make me feel better about it. To his credit, he did manage to call me by my actual name at least twice before I left.

He gives me my mole in a little liquid filled jar in a biohazard bag to take to the lab for testing (you know, to make sure I don’t have all kinds of skin cancer.) What? I have to carry around a piece of myself in a plastic container? I hold it up and peer inside. I don’t know what I’m expecting but there’s my little brownish black mole floating creepily in whatever creepy preserving solution they use for this kind of thing. It has a bit of flesh attached and I feel like I should be more grossed out by this but I’m not. (You wouldn’t be either if you lived with someone who has a stoma bag.) However, I’m not sure I’m up for the responsibility of transporting my apparently biohazardous mole to the lab. I suppose it’s in my best interests to take it straight away so, after going to the post office and buying some shoes, I deliver the sample.

The lady who takes it says my doctor will call me with the results. Hopefully when he does, if he remembers, he doesn’t call my sister instead.

(I feel I have to point out that there are actually a lot of reasons why I like my doctor – like making sure I’m up to date with my cervix-stabbing I mean swabbing procedures – otherwise I wouldn’t keep going to him even though he can’t seem to remember who I am. At least his name isn’t Bob.)

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