Just before christmas i went along to see my GP about a teeny tiny new mole in the middle of back that was (and still is!) itching all day long and driving me crazy.
It is exactly where my bra line is which probably exacerbates it. She had a look and was sympathetic but blatantly unconcerned since it’s so teeny tiny. She asked if i have any others so i showed her my biggest one which i’ve had as long as i can remember but seems to have ‘spread out’ recently. It is located right underneath my right breast in a weird no-man’s land of not quite rib-cage but not quite boob either. So, like it’s friend on my back it is also exactly along my bra line and catches a lot (more so recently since it’s grown)
My GP was a little more bothered by that one and referred me to the rapid access dermatology team to get it checked out. That was on the 21st December so you can imagine my surprise when i received a letter just after christmas with an appointment for new years eve! Chris suggested maybe they’d had a cancellation and i have to say that sitting in the dermatology OPD waiting room at Hope Hospital at 4pm on new years eve i was inclined to agree. It is not, it turns out, the happenin’ place to be on NYE.
Anyway, the consultant asked me a bunch of questions and didn’t even lecture me when i confessed to having used sunbeds as a teenager (God i was such an idiot) Probably because i admitted the error of my ways and told him (truthfully) that i now use my childrens’ Factor 50 suncream!
He had a look at the mole using a special lens and said it was probably fine and my options were to leave it alone but keep a close eye on it and come back if there were any changes or else just have it removed, which was the ‘safest’ option but would leave a scar. I decided that since it’s making a nuisance of itself i’d just get rid and he duly put me on “the list” for removal.
I expected it to be quite a lengthly list so was surprised for a second time when i got an appointment letter through for 10am today.
Suddenly i was nervous. It occured to me i had no idea what mole removal involved. I’ve actually observed dermatology theatres as a student nurse ( i had an 8 week dermatology placement in my 2nd year. And what a barrel of laughs it was too) but that was a long time ago. I knew they sometimes used lasers, but that wouldn’t remove the ‘root’ would it?! Last night i was having visions of them digging around under my boob to get it all out and by this morning i’d almost changed my mind about going. I’d even started to feel a bit sorry for my poor mole- it didn’t know what it had coming to it!
I was seen right on time, which once upon a time would have delighted me but these days appointments are the only peace and quiet ‘time to myself’ i get so i’d taken my Kindle and hadn’t even got through a chapter by the time i was called *sigh*
In theatre the lovely registrar gave me 2 options which TOTALLY flummoxed me as i wasn’t expecting there to be a choice! Either they could do a “shave biopsy” which pretty much does what it says on the tin- the mole is shaved off flat to the surface of the surrounding skin. This is the easiest and least painful option but has downsides because sometimes they do grow back and also the results from the biopsy only reflect what was on the surface of the mole, not what was underneath.
Option number 2 was much less friendly. This involved an incision and cutting the mole out including what was under the surface. It requires stitches and leaves a scar 2-3 inches long. Although the biopsy results are then more conclusive. But she warned that because of where the mole is located the scar can sometimes become raised which is called a “keloid scar”.
I was momentarily thrown because i hadn’t been expected to make any decisions and traditionally i don’t do well making decisions in a hospital gown but i figured that since the whole removal and biopsy was precautionary anyway it seemed overkill to be talking about incisions and stitches and keloid scars. Plus the fact i’d not be able to wear a bra for a few days! So i opted for the “shave biopsy” which the theatre nurse seemed to approve of?! Not sure if it was because it made her job easier or she just genuinely thought i’d made the right decision?!
Anyway i had an injection of local anaesthetic, then came the shaving part and then the lasering (mmm there’s nothing quite like the smell of burning flesh is there?!) Then they dressed it with a ridiculously oversized dressing
and sent me on my way with an aftercare leaflet. My mole is now in a specimen pot and being sent for testing to confirm that it was indeed just a pesky little mole.
Interestingly, in the business of dermatology, they don’t actually call them “moles” or “warts” or “beauty spots” etc, but “lesions” which is absolutely the least attractive way i can think of to describe them.
I have a few other ‘lesions’ to be keeping an eye on, including the damned itchy one on my back which i can’t actually see?! But hopefully they’ll all behave themselves. If not they’ll be finding themselves in a specimen pot also!