You Should Probably Go To The Doctor Now

I have always procrastinated when it comes to medical care.  Actually, I procrastinate in all things all the time and that’s a whole other blog entry.  Today, though, I will admit to you that I am a medical procrastinator and that I come by it honestly.

My parents were also medical procrastinators and so is my sister.  We were well trained.

I made up the term "medical procrastinator" but I am using it with confidence as if it's a real thing.  Did you notice?

I had neck pain for 6 years before finally going to a doctor.  My ex-husband told me to go and it was a strange idea to me.  I just figured I’d live with it.  I just figured that’s how things were now.  It turned out I have moderate arthritis in my neck and 9 months of physical therapy alleviated almost all the pain.  That was 7 years ago.  I’m still mostly pain-free.  Nutty.

My mother might still be alive today if she had seen a doctor when she first began having trouble breathing.  She waited…and waited…until she couldn’t sleep lying down, couldn’t stand to take a shower, had ankles swollen like Fred Flintstone’s.  Months and months of waiting.  By the time she was finally diagnosed with COPD, it was late-stage.  She was diligent about her therapies and survived nearly another 5 years but the damage done by COPD can’t be undone.  The sooner it’s caught, the sooner they can stop the progression of damage.

I know better than to wait.  I do.  And I never wait where the kids are concerned.  I’m kinda the opposite with them.  My first instinct is to rush them to a doctor immediately.

But not with me.  With me, it’s always something.

So…here’s my story about this latest craziness.

OK…see…a small, hard bump appeared on my arm a couple months after my husband left.  I have lots of moles of various sizes and shapes but this one was different.  It appeared suddenly and grew quickly and it felt different from the others.  I didn’t like it from the start.  I mean, I don’t like any of my moles.  I tolerate them.  I also hate the word “mole.”  It’s gross.

I felt from the beginning that this one should be removed.  But I did nothing.

In my defense – I knew that the divorce was coming and that I’d be dropped from his insurance plan.  My fear was that I would have the thing removed and it would be cancer and then it would be a pre-existing condition and then I’d lose my insurance in the middle of my treatment and wouldn’t be able to get private insurance.

So, yeah, the logic was “Just in case this is malignant, I’d better wait.”

DON’T say anything about that logic.  Just shake your head…maybe slap your forehead….it’s OK if you need to put your head on the table for a moment.  I’ll wait.

That was over a year ago.  The divorce took longer than I thought it would.  It was easily another 9 months before I was off the good insurance.  Then I set about finding decent, affordable private insurance.

And I found it.  I found a beautiful, affordable policy…printed on vellum…held by a unicorn…sliding down a rainbow.  The tooth fairy was there.  And Jesus.  And Jed Bartlet.  We sang a Katy Perry medley while dancing in a style that was a little Bollywood and a little Krunk…..

So I procrastinated getting private insurance and I waited until I felt like I had more of a grip on our finances and then I waited until I could maybe find a job with a company that offered insurance but I tried that for months and that didn’t happen.

When I decided to go back to school, I was required to be insured because there is a clinical component.  I was going to get my insurance through the school but it was temporary and expensive and crappy.  So I found some temporary private insurance that was slightly less expensive but equally as crappy.

And then, a week ago, my little friend on my arm started turning gray.  And I found that pretty scary.  So I located a Dermatologist who could see me right away and I made an appointment for today.

During the past week, I did what I always do.  I came to terms with and embraced my worst case scenario.  Well, I wasn’t able to do the WORST case without crying BUT I did embrace a fairly bad scenario where I was told that there was cancer in my arm and I asked them to just go ahead and remove my right arm and they were like “Well, that’s pretty extreme and maybe we could just do chemo.”  And I’d be all like, “No.  I have two little kids.  Just take the arm.”

And then I decided that I wouldn’t just accept being armless on the right, I’d find great joy in it.  Like, I would be super funny and positive about it and whenever I met people I’d say “Hi.  I’m Mama.  I only have one arm.”  And that would give them permission to not feel uncomfortable and everyone would love me for my honesty and courage.  I would make lots of one arm jokes.  Something about paper-hanging.  I haven’t thought any of them through yet but I figured they’d come with time.

I decided that I would create a video series where the one-armed Mama and Bunny tackle household repair jobs as a team.  Three-handed.  Sometimes we’d fail and sometimes we’d succeed but we’d always try and we’d always laugh about it in the end.  We’d inspire people.  They’d figure that if I could do it with one arm, they could sure do it, too.  And Bunny would learn so much about empathy and helping others and she’d learn teamwork from our web series - which would also totally make us famous, btw.  And I’d do speaking engagements about triumphing in the face of adversity.  And Bunny and I would finally get the damn bathtub caulked.  I’d stop putting it off if I needed to do it for the web series!

“If only I had one arm, I could get the stupid bathroom caulked!” was my thought process there.  You understand that, right?  You know what I’m talkin about.  Stay with me.

So they did a biopsy today with a teeny tiny cookie cutter thing and they dropped it in a little jar of formaldehyde or something and they put in two stitches (though I really think it needed three and I’m a bit put-out by their stinginess.)

Oh, by the way, my temp insurance that I pay for monthly?  Didn’t cover any of it.  And it's allowed to consider a whole bunch of stuff a "pre-existing condition" even if it is diagnosed AFTER the insurance policy is active and they won't cover these "pre-existing conditions" at all until August of 2014 - which is 6 months after this particular policy will have expired.

But, right, we don't need health care reform.  It's cool.

So I paid cash for the office visit, the biopsy, and pathology.  (When I say “cash” I mean I put it on the high interest credit card next to my divorce lawyer’s fees.  They can keep each other company for a while.)

If I’d had it removed when I was still married and well insured, I would have paid a $40 co-pay.

Huh.  Live and learn.

Or not.

The results aren’t in.  He’ll call if it’s something bad.  He’s not too worried.  I’m not worried at all.

I figure I’ll either keep on going as I have been or I’ll have my arm taken off and become famous and wealthy.

DON’T say anything about that logic.  Don’t.  I need it.

Just shake your head and close this post and make an appointment to get that thing taken care of.

Don’t look innocent.  You know what I’m talking about.  That thing.  Just get ‘er done.

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