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  • Alexandra Hillenbrand

health

For a person who is so afraid of living, I am sure afraid of dying. I am petrified of having to anticipate anything happening to me for which there is no solution. Such as getting a medical diagnosis for which little hope exists. Or when Dunkin Donuts didn't bring back their pumpkin cream cold brew for fall. It's like, how does one even begin to wrap their mind around these sorts of things?

Last week I watched a movie where someone died of cancer. Obviously, in the morning I was feeling hyper-vigilant regarding my health. Otherwise categorized as severely paranoid. I studied my most notoriously suspicious mole and noticed she had grown at least 0.1 millimeters. I texted a picture to my medical school sister and asked, "Does this look concerning to you?" To which she replied, "It does look a little sus." How heartfelt. Naturally, my heart dropped into my ass and I dialed my dermatologist, miraculously scheduling an appointment for 8 a.m. the next morning.

I'd like to classify myself as a recovered hypochondriac-turned-medical researcher. See, I used to believe that every headache was a tumor and every chest pain was a heart attack. Turns out, I was just drinking three large iced coffees a day and zero liters of water. After a doctor's visit regarding a concern I had over a supposed neurological disease in which I had worked myself up so badly I had developed a fever, I was exiled from the rational thinker community by my parents. I left my pediatrician's office with a clean bill of health and a sheet full of therapist's numbers.

At this point in my life, I've had one success in diagnosing myself - when I had skin cancer. For this second-wsecond windind of dermatology-related anxiety, I was convinced I was an expert. Via very long-winded and painstaking research, I decided that I either had a normal mole or melanoma. But, because I was anxious about the movie and about a plan I had made, I was leaning towards melanoma. My dermatologist and I agreed to do a biopsy on the mole, for my peace of mind and for the sake of my medical history. Probably, so I would never call her office again.

As of this morning, it had been over 10 days since my appointment. And well, my dermatologist made it a point to clarify to me that "no news does not equal good news." My heart was literally in my throat as I read Google responses that a biopsy's results would be delayed if they required further testing. Aka, if the mole had been malignant. Aka, I fervently called the dermatologist's office. No answer. I called a second time. No answer. I tried to set it aside, but it wouldn't rest. 2 hours later, I called again and left a voicemail where I laughed to myself over my insanity for having called thrice.

Finally, around 4 p.m., my phone rang. I dropped my laptop and ran to get my phone. The voice on the other end of the line was stoic, solemn even. I thought to myself, oh damn, this is it, isn't it? Well, at least it's been relatively pleasant.

"Alexandra? We just received your biopsy results and it looks like you have a compound nevus." My stomach turned - this sounded serious. She continued, "Which is basically just a fancy name for a mole. No further treatment is necessary" Hey lady, might I ask what is it you have against me? To play with my blood pressure like that is absolutely foul. After almost being sent to an early grave by this woman, I bursted out in glee. "Thank god!".

So, God bless that I don't have skin cancer. However, this was the 'anxiety of the moment' - the one that my brain was hyper-fixating on. Let's pray she doesn't find a new one to wrap her little spidery claws around. GodI'm feeling pretty relieved. Before the biopsy was completed, I was only halfway nervous. Once I was in wait for the results, I was anxious every day. I even answered every spam call I received, just hoping it might be my dermatologist calling to put me out of my misery. Spoiler alert, a lot of people named Susan work in telemarketing.


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