Monday, July 26, 2010

My First Stitches- Warning Some Yucky Pictures and LONG

  Many of you have heard my worrying about the little bumps on my left arm. They appeared  over a year and a half ago and kinda looked like ingrown hairs.They didn't go away with time and a few months ago the one on my lower arm appeared to be getting bigger, but I didn't want to overreact so I didn't do anything. Then it continued to grow... not huge but to me it was obviously larger than an ingrown hair. I still wasn't motivated to look any further into it as I was afraid of being a hypochondriac, plus who wants to waste money to be told it's nothing. Besides I had googled "skin cancer" images and found this, and my spot looked nothing like any of these spots so I put off my worry.
Then I read this blog entry in one of the blogs I follow and his shiny pink mole while larger than mine looked too familiar.  So Jim and I decided I should have them checked out just in case if for no other reason than to quiet my fears.
A friend of ours is a nurse at a local doctors office and recommended several dermatologists and cautioned me to be prepared to wait 8 weeks as that was very common. I made some calls and actually got an appointment only three weeks out. For the past three weeks I have been very anxious about what the doctor would say/do. You know how you over play every thing in your head... no just me huh? Well anyways I went back and forth between being convinced it was nothing to fretting over possible procedures and when/how they would be done... surely they wouldn't do them then and there right? I also decided I might need to document the change in them in case the doctor just wanted to monitor them so I took some pictures. Not really the best pictures but it's hard to get a picture of your own arms.
The first is my lower arm (larger spot) and the second my upper arm (smaller spot).
Today was my appointment and although Jim thought he should go with me I assured him they wouldn't be doing anything but looking at the spots today and he could go back when and if they decided to do anything further. It was the usual fill out tons of paper work and wait doctors appointment, luckily I had my new book to read while I waited.
The wonderful nurse came in and talked to me about my medical history and the history of my spots. She gave them a quick once over, gave me a sheet on protection from the sun's harmful rays, and told me the doctor would be in soon. Again more time for reading my book (see also a good way to avoid anxiousness). The doctor came in, listened again to my history of the spots. I again explained that they appeared over a year and a half ago, that they didn't bleed if you scratched at them and would grow back, as well as the fact the lower arm one had recently begun getting larger... which was my main concern. He asked some more questions, looked at my face, neck, and arms. Then he began talking about my spots reciting back the facts that I had told him and adding in some facts I tried to commit to memory (I should have had my notebook or tape recorder). He said that while spots like this are common and called dermatofibromas and 95% of them are harmless 5% are not. He also cited that due to the fact that they were pink instead of  flesh colored and recent growth he would like to biopsy them now rather than wait until later. I agreed that if for nothing more than to know they were not harmful and to have smaller scars I would prefer sooner to later. He began to explain that the nurse would use a local anaesthetic to numb the area and he would take a 3mm biopsy of each spot which would then require 2 stitches each. I think I surprised him a bit when I interjected "You would do this today?"... he assured me that if I would be more comfortable I could make another appointment and bring someone for moral support. I agreed to go ahead with the procedure.
 The nurse had me move to what looked much like a dentist's chair but with more padding and no arms and again went through the steps of the procedure. She promised she wouldn't hurt me with the anesthetic and at my request showed me the punch that would make the biopsy... mistake! It looked huge! However, she didn't lie it didn't hurt one bit to be numbed. The punch biopsy however... I didn't feel the top one at all but that may have been because I was distracted by the pain from the bottom one. I looked down to watch him pull the two little pieces of skin from my arm and see the holes in my arm. The nurse asked if I was taking any aspirin as she tried to stop the bleeding... I laughed as I told her no and joked that "I guess it bleeds after all" (my nervous jokes... not so good). And then it was time for my first stitches. They use a little fishing hook type thing. Again no pain on top just a bit of tugging, but I definitely felt the second bottom stitch. The nurse let me know they will have the results in 2-3 days, and that in two weeks I can get the stitches out. She also advised that I need to buy tea tree oil cream as you can't use neosporin on puncture wounds, and where I may find it. So this afternoon I sought out the proper supplies
This store did not have "Tea Tree Oil Cream" just "Tea Tree Cream" which was not what was listed on the paper I was given and I was not messing this up as it said the wrong ointment could be "caustic to the wound". So I went to Vitamin World and found "Tea Tree Oil Cream" which is actually the same as what I found at the first store but I am much more comfortable with exact wording here. I also got waterproof Band Aids. I'm really not wanting any infection here either.
So far here's what they look like. It throbs a little and I feel tugging. You can see the white around the top one... I think it's because the skin is tugging and agitated... it's hurting the most right now. I wish I had a visual of how large 3 mm is to share as well.
Jim and I are optimistic we will get positive results in a couple days. The doctor did also mention that if it is something that it is early and shouldn't take much to correct. I am much more calm about my fears now... happy that I have taken the necessary steps either way. Hopefully these will be my last stitches for awhile and they are already on the mend.

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