Friday, September 24, 2010

Blue spots (and I'm not talking fashion trends)

A couple of weeks ago, while scrutinising my face in the bathroom mirror, as you do, I noted a blue mark on my upper left cheek. Quite a nice shade of blue it was, actually. Sort of indigo-ish. Assuming I'd inflicted it with a pen, I rubbed. And rubbed. The pinhead-sized mark remained. It was probably visible only to the eye of its new host. But it was almost certainly melanoma. Not for nothing did my friend and colleague Jim dub me Calamity Jane (although she seems to have gained her nickname on the basis of inflicting considerable calamity on Native Americans But I digress.).

I immediately rang the doctor. She had no appointments until the following week, said the receptionist. Was it urgent? I wasn't sure, I replied, even though I was. Just that I've found this spot on my face.

Ah, said the receptionist in a tone that spoke of keeping a clear head in emergencies. Would I like a nurse to ring me? I would.

But the nurse failed to ring. And for the next 10 days I slipped into a denial partly born of knowing that I'd taken all sensible steps and that, since the medical profession was failing to respond, everything was clearly all right.
I exhibited the blue spot to two friends (who probably deserve better) and both suggested it was a blackhead. They were being kind. We could all see it was blue and we all knew I wasn't long for this world. 

Finally, this week, I got to the doctor. She peered closely at the spot for all of half a minute then returned to her computer, keyed something into Google, and turned the screen helpfully towards me, like travel agents do. Turns out I'm harbouring a common blue naevus (navus in the US spelling). Common? But apparently I can put off listing my funeral music for a while longer.

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