Tuesday, September 12, 2006

So...um...has this ever happened to you?

A couple of months ago, Dooce wrote about discovering she had skin cancer. What caught my interest about that particular blog entry is that she described the cancerous bump as looking like a scar. Hmm, I thought when I read that, then pulled up my pant leg to look at the little bump I'd noticed recently on my left knee. I hadn't worried about it, just wondered what it was. It wasn't even as big as a match head, but it didn't look like a mole or a wart or a pimple. What it looked like most was a little upraised lump of pearly-pink scar tissue.

Dooce had apparently had hers for quite some time, so I resolved just to keep an eye on the thing for now. Still, when I went to the doctor for my checkup a few weeks ago, I asked her to recommend a good dermatologist. One of these days, I thought, I'll go check out that little bump and the itchy red rash I know will appear on my right ankle when the weather starts getting cold again. I don't have health insurance; barring emergencies, I go to the doctor when I've accumulated enough complaints to get my money's worth.

So, anyway, I was sitting in the recliner two nights ago, wearing a pair of shorts. Winston, my daughter's Yorkie, was snuggled into my lap. His head was resting near my left knee, but he was wide awake, watching the other dogs and licking me every now and then. As I watched TV and stroked him absent-mindedly, I suddenly felt an intense stinging pain in my knee, and Winston began licking furiously right on the spot that hurt.

I immediately moved Winston and took a closer look. Where the suspicious little lump had been, there was only a tiny round wound, bleeding ever so slightly. I looked at the wound, then at Winston, then I looked at the wound again, then back at Winston. He was sitting right next to me, quietly but conspicuously licking his lips.

What the hell? Did he just all of a sudden take a notion that something edible was stuck to my leg and help himself to a little snack?

I'm still watching that spot on my knee. There seems to be a slightly raised rim around the little scab, so he apparently didn't get all of whatever it was. If it comes back, I'll go to the dermatologist as planned, but I certainly don't want to go now and describe to the doctor how it "used to look."

I'm also keeping a closer eye on Winston. Do you blame me?


  1. Sounds like he was removing it for you. Dogs seem to know when something's wrong-you'd better go get it looked at.

    Last year I had a big, pencil-eraser-size non-malignant cancer removed from next to my left eye (it had been there for several years before I finally got it removed.) I had to go back every three months to ensure it hadn't come back, and I was advised to get a thorough checkup by a dermatologist. I have some very small ones on my legs that I'm watching, if they get bigger I'll have them looked at.

    BTW, I read that post of Dooce's. If she thinks having it removed from her arm was bad, she better hope she doesn't get one next to her eye. It wasn't really painful, but I hate anyone doing things near to my eyes.

  2. Just make sure to keep Winston well-fed. -Ellen

  3. I was going to tell you something similar to what Janet said. I seem to have read things like that about dogs and their intuition. I agree, you better get it checked. Sounds like another health matter to me. We all need to look after each other you know.

  4. RUN, do not walk to a dermatologist! Both my parents had skin cancer on their faces. My dad had a little scab on the bridge of his nose for months - he thought it was just his glasses irritating the skin. Then my favorite son had a pre-cancerous mole removed from his face last year, when he was 17.

    i don't know how to add cool links like you do, but if you google "skin cancer" - yikes! Like Janet and Postlady, I've also heard how dogs have a sixth sense for this sort of thing - some dogs have even been trained to detect when their owners are about to have an epileptic seizure.

    Take care and be well!

  5. Sunflower is right (when has a sunflower ever been wrong?)dogs are trained to smell certain types of cancer as well as seizures, diabetes and other disorders where a chemical reaction takes place or any scent having to do with cell growth or breakdown. when a dog sniffs at an area that already hurts it may be something to listen to. The thing is, dogs that haven't gone through that training are able to do that. I've heard it too many times.

    Not having health insurance is not a good thing. I don't know what I'd do without it so I feel for ya there. HOWEVER there are ways around not having insurance. I'm assuming that your income is higher than what is allowed for Medicaid but there are private programs through for seniors and sliding scale fees that most qualify for. I assume but don't let yourself do that. check into it because you'd be surprised what you qualify for. Most kids now qualify for Medicaid if they are under the age of 18. Family income does not always keep minors from getting that medical insurance. So, there are exceptions. Check into them, Google local senior services, local sliding scale clinics and social services in your area. It'll be worth it.


  6. I agree with Janet, dogs do have a great instinct and by licking the area, even making it bleed he was cleansing it. Their saliva is a great antiseptic too. Go, have it checked out. Don't assume the worst and frighten yourself with cancer though.

  7. Janet, I bet it was scary to have something like that removed from a spot near your eye. And it's comforting to hear it wasn't painful.

    Javagirl, ain't it the truth? I'll give him extra treats if he'll stop munching on my body parts.

    Postlady, I like what you said about the need to look after each other. It's nice to have people to compare notes with about things like this.

    Sunflower, I've googled "skin cancer" a number of times. Everything I see there looks way worse than my mysterious little bump, but I'll get it checked out nonetheless.

    Austin, thanks for the health insurance info, and I will check online to see what's available. It's been eight years since I've had insurance, but any way I calculated it, barring catastrophic illness or injury, it was going to cost me more per year for premiums and co-pays than it would cost to buy my own medicines and pay for my own doctor visits. Other than postponing some recommended but not otherwise indicated diagnostic tests (colonoscopy, for example), I'm getting by okay. If I can maintain my current health status until the middle of 2008, I'll be eligible for Social Security and Medicare. That's my current strategy, anyway. If there's any good part about being "self insured," it's that I get to choose my own doctors. (BTW, the little bump didn't hurt at all before Winston bit it.)

    Sandy, good advice about not assuming the worst. I'm really not worried about it. Even if it should turn out to be cancerous, it's so small now it wouldn't be a big deal.

    Y'all, I really do appreciate your concern and assure you I'll get this checked out in the not-too-distant future. You're very nice to focus on the health issue -- but it's okay to laugh about this, too. From what I've read, I know there are those among you who have the same kind of twisted sense of humor I do. Surely you got at least a little bit tickled about the absurdity of this incident. THE DOG ATE MY (POTENTIAL) LAB SPECIMEN! Isn't that bizarre?

    You can be darned sure I won't let Winston in my house the next time I get a hemorrhoid.

  8. Just don't go around without underpants!

  9. By the way, I don't mean to say it isn't painful-it is when the anesthesia wears off, but not as painful as a lot of other things. I'd say it was about as painful as a bee sting. I took photos of the side of my face (using my webcam) before the surgery and for days afterwards, so I can see how I progressed. The scar was just about healed in about 10 days. I had a great plastic surgeon, now you can't tell anything happened.

  10. "...the next time I get a hemorrhoid"? ooo ouch! ~ as Janet says, keep the underpants on.....:-)
    And is that a grown up version of "the dog ate my homework"
    Sandy :-)

  11. Janet, what a creative use of the webcam. BTW, those small ones on your legs? You want me to ask Kim if she'll lend you Winston for a day or two?

    Sandy, that's exactly what it is, except I think "the dog ate my homework" sounds more believable. LOL!


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