Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Health Concerns

When I went in to see my long-time dermatologist Dr. Braun, who pioneered Mohs surgery for basal cells and operated on Ronald Reagan’s nose, I dreaded the diagnosis and surgical treatment for the lesion that suddenly appeared next to my nose last week (not the actual picture above). I was convinced it was yet another basal cell.

Because of my damaged skin, the result of frying in cocoa butter on the Florida beaches in my youth, I see two different skin specialists a total of four times a year. And in between, I often find things of concern.

This was one of those “things”, a strange spongy lesion that seemed to come from nowhere one day last week. It had that pearl-like look that basal cells often have. So I called for an appointment. The receptionist offered me his first appointment – in November. I politely said that would not do and asked to be worked in this week instead, since I have been in that office too many times to count and greatly subsidized his 3 children’s Princeton educations. So I was one of three “walk-ins” who helped fill his waiting room yesterday.

To my delight he speculated that the thing I worried about was actually an inflamed seborrheic keratosis. To be sure he removed it and sent it to pathology for confirmation. If he is correct, the surface excision and a small Band-aid will be the end of this one, instead of the Mohs surgery which would have resulted in an inch-long incision with stitches.

Today’s medical inquisition took me to an oral surgeon. Three weeks ago as I was savoring a particularly acidic tomato from the local farmer’s market, I felt a sharp pain in my right jaw. It is greatly improved but still noticeable when I eat acidic food of any kind. My doctor Deborah said it was probably nothing to worry about. But the endodontist who did my recent root canal and my dentist both seemed anxious that I see an oral surgeon about it. Undoubtedly they were concerned about a stone or a mass that might be causing the pain.

So today I saw Dr. Emery, who didn’t really come up with a good explanation for the pain and instead decided I must have xerostomia (dry mouth) because neither of my parotid glands is pumping out a lot of saliva. He said it is common in people in their fifth and sixth decades – yikes, I’m almost in my seventh decade when put that way. (My friend Reya speculates that this could be caused by the radioactive iodine treatment I had a couple of years ago.) So what do you do for "dry mouth"? Hydration, plain and simple. Maybe that’s why I am always carrying a water bottle these days.

In any event, I have now addressed everyone’s concerns (including my own) about my current state of health. I will see Dr. Peck (the melanoma specialist) next week for a routine visit and then I can rest easy for another couple of months.

This getting old is quite a bitch sometimes!


Blogger Kristin said...

I'm completely over visiting the doctor for a while, but the appointments never cease. I'm glad that everything seems to be normal. Or fairly normal. Or not bad.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Yes, I hear ya! There's hardly a week goes by that I don't have a specialist appointment of some kind. I'm having ear surgery on Sept. 11th because I haven't been able to hear out of it since late March! It's not draining and I'm getting a tube inserted. And that's just a minor thing!

Good luck.

7:48 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- I'm so glad you came through your recent health crisis OK.

MOI -- My son had ear tubes when he was very young. They made all the difference in the world for his hearing. Good luck with the procedure!

10:45 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Let's hope the bioposy comes back benign (most likely it will).

It is amazing and somewhat disheartening to watch our bodies slowly wearing out. Slow healing is a major downer.
Funny thing is, although I am only 41, when I look at people in their 20s, I think how young the are.

10:02 PM  

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