I had a mole removed on Monday. It all started a few weeks ago after showering one morning before heading out to a doctor’s appointment about something else entirely. As I dried my skin I happened to look down at the mole on my abdomen, the one that had been looking strange for while, when ‘SHOW THE DOCTOR’ boomed loud and clear in my head. It had never occured to me to do that — I’d noticed the changes but never actually cottoned on to what that might mean. Our bodies change — it’s just part of getting older, surely?
So I showed the doctor, he referred me to the dermatology department at Hammersmith Hospital and on Monday I found myself having local anaesthetic injected into my flesh before a patch of my skin was removed along with the franken-mole. I was given three stitches — my first ever — and sent home to wait for the results of the biopsy.
As with most things, I’m doing my best to take this in my stride. if the results are clear I just have to continue being vigilant with my skin and regularly check my moles. If the results are of the more scary variety I’ll need to a have a much larger patch of skin removed and we’ll take it from there. As of right now it could go either way.
I was planning to write a post about this when I had the results, but, of course, this is blocking any other posts I had planned. Sharing photos on Instagram and Facebook, and hearing about others who’ve been in this situation — some many times before — has been really helpful. I spent my childhood getting burned to a crisp so have always been careful to use sunblock ever since, especially in my twenties when 10 years with an Italian meant 10 years of visting his family under the scorching summer sun. Slapping on the SPF has been the bane of my life as I really can’t go into the sun without burning. Now i’m grateful I persevered with it.
I tend to view my body as merely the vehicle that gets me around — I’ve never really identified it as ME. This has resulted in life lived from the neck up, only paying attention to my body when it stops working efficiently (which is a lot of time when you don’t take care of it). The extra book-baby weight that made me feel like crap; the RSI that’s plagued me for years; the suspected gluten intolerance; the PMS; the overly sensitive skin that blisters at the slightest touch. It’s all an inconvenience that makes me like my body even less and convinces me I got short-changed in the DNA department.
And human bodies are just so biological. Viruses can attack them. They swell and bloat for seemingly no reason. They age and stop working properly. Moles go renegade and need to be cut off. This is all coming at a time when I’m already feeling a bit sensitive about about ageing. In the last few years my body has definitely started changing. It’s quite shocking to appear to be losing the resilience and invincibility you thought you had when you were younger. To realise the morning creases on your face are still there in the evening. And let’s not even speak of the sagging and drooping and general unfirmness of it all.
I experience the world through my senses — sometimes too much — but rather than this be about the body it’s simply information that’s fed back into my brain. So it’s time to join my head and body back together, to accept that while I’m here this IS me, sags creases and all. And i don’t know what this looks like yet, because it’s not as simple as join a gym and start drinking green juice. But I do know I can’t just think my way into this.
In extremely related news, I’ve been planning my next tattoo, the one that will mark the beginning of my 40s (37 days to go!). It’s not lost on me that I’m planning to indelibly change how my skin looks again while also tending to my first ever scar. I’m actually really psyched about having a scar — does that sound odd? I view it as a badge of honour somehow, a marker of my ability to look after myself, even when that brings permanent physical change. There are the scars we choose and the ones that are thrust upon us. Until now my scars have all been held inside me — for the longest time during my bereavement I wished I had scars on the outside to show how much my life had been changed by his death. It didn’t seem right that I looked the same when my insides had been rearranged forever. Now, in the smallest way, I bear proof of time passing that goes deeper than laughter lines and the odd grey hair. Somehow these three little stitches have woken me up to how disconnected I’ve been from mySelf. I want to stitch myself back together: head, body, heart and soul. I’ve no doubt there will be more stitches to come, if not now then at some point in the future, so best I start now, with the things I have some control over, while I wait for the biopsy results I have no control over at all.