Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Simplest of Surgical Procedures!

Nothing is simple. Everything means something. At least in my life , it does.

About six months ago I went in to get my eyes checked. It was my first appointment with Dr. Tran, who had given Evan his first eye exam a few weeks prior. I liked him, so I made an appointment. Dr. Tran is a cute, young Asian guy with a pleasant, sincere demeanor. He is gentle, and from what I saw of him very professional in his treatment of his patients and staff. He is calm. Calm is good.

During that appointment he dilated my eyes and noted the appearance of what could be glaucoma. He established a baseline with a couple of tests and I made an appointment to be checked again in six months. He also told me that he could remove the wart from my eyelid.

"The what?!" I asked. "You mean the mole, right?" He informed me that what I had lovingly referred to most of my life as "my eye-mole" was a wart. This news slightly agitated me, but I took the six months between appointments to adjust myself to the idea of life without what he more gently called "the bump" today. Thursday, after receiving the great news that I do not have glaucoma (!!!!!) I made an appointment to go in today and have it removed.

You see, the eye-mole-wart-bump used to be cute. It was a small brown mole near the outer corner of my right eye, on my lower lid. I can't remember a time that it was not there. Most of my boyfriends liked it. I liked it. When I was twenty-one and in college, one boy in particular liked it. He was generally enthralled with my moles. I had a couple on my belly, a couple on the back of my neck, a sprinkling on my back, one under my left breast and a smaller, flat one on my posterior. "God, they are so sexy" he said, every time he got a chance to visit them. He said he liked the one by my eye because it reminded him of the others.

I have more moles, or skin tags as the doctor calls them, than I used to. Tiny ones have sprouted in the moist places under my breasts, in my armpits and in the creases where my thighs meet my groin. I don't appreciate them the way I did the originals, which have been on my body since my age was in single digits, at least. The new ones are a pain. I associate them with the age spots that are showing up on the backs of my hands, and the changing texture of my skin. These tiny flaps of skin sometimes get rubbed by the underwires of my bra and feel raw and sore. Once I cut one off with a razor blade because it had gotten caught on my bra so many times it was hanging on by a thread.

A few years ago, I don't know how many, I noticed that the eye-mole-wart-bump had gotten larger. It was no longer an adorable little bump. It had started to take on miniature cauliflower-like properties. It had lost its symmetry and started to hang down a little. It looked blobby upon close inspection. It wasn't something anyone else would really notice, since I had to put my nose an inch from the mirror to see the changes, but it bothered me. At some point it started to irritate me even when I could not see it, and it was visibly larger than it was when I was young. I could feel it sometimes, hanging there. It was especially a bother when I ran, or jumped. The shaking motion made it tickle and itch. Putting eyeliner on was more of a pain that it had ever been.

Today I watched with my one uncovered eye as the needle gave my lower eyelid two numbing shots. I saw Dr. Tran's latex gloved hands moving around so close to my eye that they were blurry as he cut the eye-mole-wart-bump off. I didn't actually realize he had removed it until he told me. The base was larger than he had initially thought, so he put two tiny stitches in. I kept watching as the yellowish-white suture thread moved around in his hands, twanging slightly like a tight-wire as he tugged the stitches securely. He was focused and careful. He scratched my nose for me with a q-tip when it itched, so I would not contaminate the area with my fingers.

As silly as it may sound, I feel a loss. This cosmetic feature, that has been on my face, and been a part of my identity for most of my life, is now in a small plastic jar of preservative, next to my typing fingers. It floated at first, but has now sunk to the bottom. I can see the bloody spot where it was attached to my body.

It hurts a little. It hurts physically, but mostly it hurts my psyche. It reminds me of a time that the men I chose to spend time with thought I was sexy. On the other side of that, it reminds me of how I used to need men to think I was sexy, because I really didn't. It reminds me of my grandmother- the one who gave me this genetic predisposition toward sprouting bumps. I don't think I would be here today if it were not for how much she loved me. I can't think about her without thinking about how I will always miss her. It reminds me that I am getting older, and the parts that were an asset at one time, are starting to become a potential liability. This day, during which I allowed the severance of a small part of my body, has come right after a weekend with good friends, during which I talked through more layers of letting go of my almost non-existent marriage. A little part of my identity is gone with the eye-mole-wart-bump, as is a bigger part of my identity as a wife and partner. Healing is happening. In place of both will be a bit of scar tissue, and a spot of normalcy and freedom.

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