I have a very low risk tolerance for the virus. I do not want to be in a small place with other people who may have a high risk tolerance. I do not want to be someplace where people are not wearing masks. I prefer to be outside. With a mask. At least six feet away from you. Because the only thing that has changed is that there is less infection and more hospital space. And that is because of masks and social distancing. And while I would love to go back to normal. I really don’t see that happening any time soon. Until there is a vaccine. Or a cure.
But this week I did things that I would not have done last month. I had a dermatology appointment that I did not go to. I like to have my skin checked annually. I have a lot of moles. And not the cute kind in your garden. So I called and made another appointment. They gave me one at three in the afternoon. In my heart, I knew that I should have asked for a different day in the morning. But I didn’t. I got there and there were no signs on the door telling me to wear a mask. The woman at the counter took my temperature but there were no signs in the office telling people to socially distance. There were already two people in the waiting room. I did not want to sit next to them. So I sat in the entranceway, technically outside of the office. I really should have just said that I would wait outside since it was a beautiful day but I didn’t. And I sat there for half an hour. A couple came in and the woman had her nose hanging out of her mask. I wanted to punch her. Remember. Low risk tolerance.
I could feel my anxiety rising the entire time. I almost just left. But I had paid the $40 co-pay! They finally called me back. The woman asked if I would sign a small pad. It was to give the doctor permission to do a biopsy if she thought I needed one. I just signed. My doctor may have retired as I was seen by a young woman. She was good about looking at all of my skin. I pointed out the moles that I suspect. And there was one. She said that she would just take it off so that I would not have to come back in three months for her to look at it. I am relatively certain that it looked the way that it has always looked. But I said okay. Because you are in your underwear and a paper gown. And she just cut it out and put it in something and said that it would be sent somewhere to be looked at.
On the way home I cried. It was all of the anxiety. And it was that part of me, that had been with me my entire life, had been unceremoniously cut from my body and sent off. And it is not like I loved that mole or anything. I am probably better off without it. But it was a part of me. And now it is gone.
For some reason, I had another appointment today, with my primary care physician.I almost cancelled. I did not think that I could be a giant ball of anxiety two days in a row. But my appointment was the first of the day so it already felt safer. When I got to the office and went up the stairs (I drove because I was afraid my temperature would go up if I ran there and they would not see me). There was a nurse in front of the door to the waiting room. She had on a mask and a shield. She took my temperature before I was even allowed inside. When I got inside, there were a lot of signs regarding social distancing. They had put a small bench seat in front of the front desk in order to maintain distance.
I waited about five minutes and was taken back. The nurse also had on a mask and a shield. We talked about things. How we both think that you will catch the virus on a plane if anyone has it. Even if there are masks and social distancing. When my doctor came in she had on what looked like an N-95 mask, with a surgical mask over it and a shield over that.
I really like her. I recommended that she watch the K-drama, Crash Landing on You. She told me that she would be able to suspend reality because she watched Bollywood. I did not think to ask her for a recommendation but I should have. We mostly discussed my mental health. She thinks that I am depressed. I am certain that is true. She recommends talking to someone. Or she could write me a prescription. I am not ready for that. I could see that happening when it gets cold out again. I can’t imagine all of this pandemic and then freezing. She told me that if I go to get my mammogram, I can tell them to call me in when they are ready to see me and I can wait outside. She also looked at the excised mole site and cleaned it, regooped it and put a new bandaid on it. We scheduled an appointment for October. I will be getting a flu shot then.
I left the office and I did not cry. I had felt relatively safe the entire time I was there. And they had hand sanitizer to use on the way out. Granted, I did not lose any of my body during that appointment but I think that if the dermatologist’s had made me feel that comfortable, the entire mole procedure would have been less traumatic.
I will eventually go for my mammogram but I need to take a break. Build up some risk tolerance. Because nothing has changed. There is a virus. And it could kill you. No matter your age. Or your health status. So I am going to try to keep healthy until there is an effective and safe vaccine. So wear a mask, or you won’t be seeing me.