I had the unfortunate luck one day of growing a bump on my forehead. I thought it might have been just a deep pimple or something. But with each passing day it grew in size. After a week of having this “zit,” it had quadrupled in size and was swelling so much my right eye had become puffy. It was getting to the point that I assumed I was either growing a horn or perhaps a second head. (Note picture above was at its biggest when I had to be out of town for two weeks).
It became noticeable even in poor lighting and was distracting for people I’d talk to. It was so visible that I was tempted to make a Facebook page for it and potentially get it started on linked-in because it was getting more attention than the rest of my face professionally. I opted to go to the doctor after realizing that hot/cold compresses weren’t helping. I did my research prior to seeing the first doctor out of concern and within a minute of speaking with her she suggested I visit a dermatologist. I asked if she could just give me a cortisone shot to which she took offense and asked if I thought I was a doctor. I said, “No but I play one on TV” and she promptly left the room.
A week later I met with a dermatologist that looked at it for a few moments and said, “That’s a cyst, let’s try a cortisone shot and if it persists in a week I can send you to plastic surgery to have it cut out. After coming down off my high of validation that I might be as smart as a doctor, I went with the cortisone shot.
The shot did a little to change the appearance of the bump but it was clear after a week, I’d have to see a plastic surgeon. I set the appointment and showed up with the expectation I’d be going under the knife.
After I waited in the waiting room for a brief time the nurse brought me to another room and took my vitals. She informed me the doctor would be in shortly.
Minutes later there was a knock at the door, “Hey man, how’s it going?” said the doctor entering the room. He was younger, a thin and taller than average Asian man with thick dark rimmed glasses.
He called me “man” a few more times as we ran through a handful of questions and before we started talking about the surgery.
“Does it hurt?”
“Does it itch”
“Does skin cancer run in your family”
“Has this appeared before… etc”
I don’t like when employers, doctors, or people I depend on think that using “bro-cabulary”® on me is acceptable because it appears I speak the lingo. That only lowers my opinion and estimations of you. Quite frankly I’d prefer “boy” or “sport” if I have to choose anything as an alternative to “sir” or “Mr.”
He finally sat back and said, “Well Taylor, it looks like you have two options- man. One- we cut it out and you’ll have a small scar. Or you can leave it as it is but there’s a risk of it turning into cancer down the road and it’s possible it might re-occur. Cool?”
Thrown off by the question ending with, “cool?” I steam rolled forward.
“How big of an incision are you planning on making?” I asked.
He made a haggling face and said, “Probably not more than a centimeter.”
I nodded, “I hate for this to be a major problem later, I’ll just bite the bullet. Can we do this today?”
He shrugged, “Sure man, let me see if the operating room is open.”
The doctor left the room and I was alone with my thoughts for a minute. It seemed like the idea of avoiding the possibility of cancer on my face would be the best option considering I already had a reddish bump on the spot we would be operating on anyway.
A moment later the nurse came in and showed me into the operating room. She instructed me to lie down as she got supplies ready. The doctor came in a few minutes later and asked me to sign a piece of paper attached to a clip board. I did and we he began to prep my forehead with a brown alcoholic smelling substance while the female nurse set up the light and put the tools on a stand near my head.
“I’m just going to numb the general area before we get started. This should sting a little.”
The doctor placed a few towels around my face and eyes as I felt a needle hit my skin and a cool sting ran through the upper right side of my face. It’s very similar to getting a Novocain shot at the dentist if you have a cavity.
The doctor squeezed, poked, and prodded. All the while making noises like “Mmm hmm” or “Ah.. mmm.” There were a few long pauses where it seemed like he was confused and was looking at the nurse for comic relief.
I could feel sharp stings as he pulled his hands away from my face a few times and when he dabbed my forehead with gauze. A few minutes later he turned to the nurse and said, “Do a biopsy on this tissue and we’ll close him up.”
As I felt the pin-pricks of a needle entering my forehead I started to count the number of stitches he was putting in. It seemed like a lot more than just two, considering I was under the impression that we would only be dealing with a centimeter long incision. How many stitches would you really need?
“Alright, that will do it.” Said the doctor, “I’m going to clean up and get some paperwork for you with instructions. The nurse will help you out while I’m gone. I think it looks fine.”
The tone he used when he said “fine” denoted that he was convincing himself.
“Looks fine?” I asked grasping for any shred of reassurance I could as he left the room.
The nurse pulled away some of the towels and started tidying up the area around me.
“Mirror?” I said sitting up nearly knocking over the table next to me like the scene out of the first batman movie when the Joker has his face reconstructed.
“I don’t think…” The nurse started to say looking around the room.
I pointed at a turquoise hand held mirror sitting on the counter adjacent to the blood pressure equipment, “Mirror.” I stammered extending my hand open palm towards her.
She cringed a bit and handed it to me.
I pulled the mirror up to my face gazed into it a my own reflection.
“Oh.” I said just barely above a whisper. “Shit.”
“I thought this was supposed to be a centimeter incision. That’s an inch!” I said starting to realize the gravity of the situation.
“Well,” The nurse began.
“There’s four stitches here.” I said brining the mirror closer. “I’d hate to have a measuring contest with this guy. If that’s a centimeter, then I’ve been sporting a foot-long since middle school.” I said getting more worked up.
She laughed but I wasn’t kidding.
“Does this place have the metric system mixed up with something else?” I asked the nurse while fixed on my reflection in the little hand held mirror.
“I have a vagina on my face. That looks like a bloody vagina.” I said looking at her with some concern as the doctor entered the room.
“What happened Doctor?” I asked pointing at my face and setting the mirror on the table next to me.
“Everything went fine,” he said thumbing through a few documents in his hands while not looking at my face. “The swelling will go down soon.”
“We talked about centimeters,” I said pointing directly at my forehead. “This is an inch.” I said grabbing the mirror and looking at it again.
“I’m sure it will barely be noticeable in a few months.” He said handing me two sheets of paper. “We’ll take those stitches out in a week, make an appointment up front.”
The doctor disappeared around the corner as I stood up in disbelief still eyeing my forehead. “It looks like a vagina?” I said throwing my hands up and looking at the nurse for a response.
She shrugged and tore the paper off the chair I had been sitting in and continued to clean the room. I walked out and began to laugh at the absurdity of the entire thing. Though not as extreme as what the joker had gone through in the batman movie, I imagined that I would have had better luck doing it myself while drunk. The idea was counter intuitive. I exchanged what was only a small bump on my face for a more noticeable bright inch long slit with a string coming out of it.. I have a vagina, on its period- on my face… great.