Wednesday, March 31, 2010


This morning, I went to the dermatologist. I expected the visit to take 10 minutes, but then, I remembered to ask her about a weird bump on my nose. She looked at it, found a second one, and decided to biopsy them, mostly to be safe. After all, I have a family history of paleness. More importantly, my mom had skin cancer a few years ago, but all that really meant was she had a small tumor removed from her nose, and some reconstructive surgery performed by a very handsome plastic surgeon who she was just aching for me to meet.

I can imagine being very very nervous before a biopsy, running various worst-case scenarios through my head. But this biopsy came about so suddenly that I didn't have enough time to get nervous.

I was surprisingly fine with the shots of lidocaine and the first biopsy, right up until I caught a whiff of the scent of my own flesh being cauterized. Then I felt the second biopsy, and had to smell the burning flesh all over again.

Once it was over, I got up off of the table, and went to go get my purse and the post-procedure care instructions. I felt the room spinning, and went to go sit down on the chair. That was the last thing I remember until the doctor, the nurse, and the assistant were all standing over me. I had no idea when it was or where I was, and it took me a good 15 or 20 minutes to begin feeling like myself.

Vasovagal syncope. Common faint.

My mother would have seen this one coming from a mile away.

Mom used to joke about me passing out at doctors' offices. The story always went something like, ". . . It was just a shot. Then I looked across the room, and Dara's eyes were rolling around in her head. I got there just before she fell down. . . ."

I always took it as a thinly-veiled insult, implying that I was a girly little wuss, afraid of the sight of my own blood.

Sometimes Mom took a bizarre pride in my fainting episodes. "I told the nurse that Dara was no good with needles, but she ignored me. And of course she missed the vein. So, after Dara passed out (as expected), she threw up all over the sterile equipment tray."

The worst, though, was the time it happened when she took me for a pedicure at the beauty school and they cut my foot. That one led to an emergency room visit, a lot of fluids, and a whole host of lectures about the interplay between low blood pressure and dehydration. So, since then I try to drink more water and eat breakfast, yadda yadda yadda.

Today, when I got home, I commented about the event on Twitter and Facebook. Which led to some panicked friends, and a panicked phone call from my brother, about how I was supposed to let him know BEFORE any medical procedures.

Now, hours later, in the comfort of my own house, the idea that it might be skin cancer is slowly sinking in. But that's not the worst part. The worst part is the idea of going through this alone -- without my mom holding my hand and warning all of the nurses that I am a fainter. It made it all easier.


girlvaughn said...

I have never passed out, scary. Glad you didn't hit your head or anything!

I went to the dermo once and the doctor looked at a bump and said "Oh yeh, that's definitely cancer."

I was like don't you wanna biposy it BEFORE you diagnose me with my worst fear? It turned out to be just a bump, not cancer, but it totally scarred me and now I hate going to have anything looked at.

sending positive thoughts for a non-cancery test results.

dara said...

The scariest thing about being a fainter is the idea that one day, I'm either going to pass out in the car or pass out and hit my head. The second scariest thing is when you come out of it and have no idea where you are or when it is or what you were doing.

I'm relatively certain that this is nothing and that the doc is just being careful because of my family history of this exact kind of cancer. And while I hate being a whole "good cancer" vs. "bad cancer" person (see this week's PostSecret), if I'm gonna have cancer, I'm totally voting for skin cancer on my nose (and a good plastic surgeon to give me a cute new schnoz!) instead of pancreatic (or stomach or uterine or ovarian or lung or breast).

Anonymous said...

oh yeh, I saw that on PostSecret too... I agree with you!


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