Health posts are becoming a frequent feature on this blog, but if people don’t share their stories, others won’t know to share theirs. I’ve written about finding a lump, my mental health, my eating disorder but this time, it’s something that I’m unsure about.
I’ve had a mole by my nose for as long as I can remember. Dad calls it my beauty spot.
Over the past few months, I’ve noticed it change shape, size and colour and worried about it for a while. One day, I noticed it tingling and decided that it was time to get it checked, especially given my history of being a delicate flower!
I have an amazing relationship with my doctors because my family had been going there for 30 years so, if I go in with an issue, they investigate it. We’re the type of family who only goes to the doctor when it’s absolutely necessary and I think they appreciate it.
When I told the doctor that I was worried about my mole, she straight away said she’d refer me to dermatology.
I thought that she’d say to keep an eye on it so I was incredibly relieved when she didn’t question it.
I’m used to Outpatients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, having been there a few times over the past year or so; first for my orthotics, then my pre-operation screening.
That doesn’t make it any less terrifying, especially doing it on my own. Again. My mum and sister work full time so can’t take time out to come to my appointments (who cares that I’m 27?!) so all of my appointments are done on my own, even the biopsy of a breast pump while in Australia.
I saw Dr Shah who was lovely.
She took a look at my mole with a magnifying glass-thing and said that there were a few things that she wasn’t worried about, and a few that could signify something else.
She said that moles are normally pinkish in colour and can change with age. She also mentioned that the tingling and pigmentation were not so common, then asked me what I wanted to do.
I wasn’t expecting that.
I think we, as patients, just do what we’re told, and not always asked what we want to happen.
I said that I was worried because I was constantly aware of it, so she nodded and said they’d remove it so they could do a biopsy.
Easy as that. I was so relieved that I thought I might cry.
They actually have a photo studio in the hospital!
I’m talking, a chair in the middle of the room, lightboxes hanging from the ceiling and a very professional Nikon camera with really hefty lenses. Yep, I didn’t think a hospital would have this kind of set-up, but I guess it makes sense.
The photographer took a shot of my face, showing the location of the mole, then a few close-ups. She even had to push the camera into my face to get a picture of the mole itself.
They’ll use the photos to show before and after the biopsy, plus they’ll use them to teach students about what to look for.
It wasn’t until I got on the bus to work that the reality hit me.
Firstly, I just asked for another medical procedure. Which meant more pain, more time in the hospital (no matter how short), more recovery, maybe more painkillers.
I promise I don’t have a medical fetish where I love being in hospitals or getting operations (if that’s your thing though, you do you, just be safe). I just seem to hoard all of my illnesses until I can’t take it any more and they’re all treated at the same time.
It’s also typical that I’ve just started a new job so now they’re going to think that I’m always ill.
Next, I realised that something that has always been a defining feature on my face is about to be permanently removed.
When one of my nieces was a baby, she would touch my mole when we had a cuddle. It’s almost like it’s part of me. That might sound really weird but imagine yourself without something you’ve had for a really long time. Imagine waking up and not seeing that thing.
Have I Made A Mistake?
Dr Shah gave me an option to leave it or get it tested. I thought that a biopsy would be done, a small sample of the mole, not the whole thing removed.
Sat on the bus, Ed Sheeran came on my Spotify (damn you, Ed, you always know when to pop up…) and it hit me that I was about to lose something unique about myself. Something I had always hated but could live with, something I often forgot about (like the colour of my skin). The problem with a mole in the position mine is, is that once you’re aware of it, you’re self-conscious for a really long time until you just forget about it. I can forget I have it for weeks, then it’ll tingle or I’ll scratch it accidentally and I’m super aware of its presence.
I’m constantly aware that it’s raised and is speckled in colour, but it’s part of my face. I’m going to look different without it. But how different? Will it completely change the way I look? Will I look like something’s missing?
Moral of The Story
Even if you’ve had that mole for years, keep checking to make sure it doesn’t change.
If it changes shape or colour, then go to the doctors. It’s probably nothing, but it’s better to get it checked.
You’re not on your own, I’m with you in spirit.