So, when my lip got split and crusty in December I didn't ask Dr. Google. I live in Michigan. It's cold. My whole body dries out and gets chapped. It's what happens here.
I asked my pulmonoloigist in February -- "What about my lip?" "It's cracked," he replied. "Vaseline."
So, it was cracked. It peeled. In April I had my gall bladder attack and was given two weeks of antibiotics from the ER. It cleared up! Yay! Must have been a little staph thing. All gone.
For three weeks. Then it was back. I thought, I'll ask the dentist at my May appointment. But first, I asked Dr. Google. Chelitis seemed to be the answer. The dentist wasn't so sure but there are loads of versions of chelitis. "Ask your primary," says he.
So, I went to the PA. "I think I have chelitis," I said, giving him the wiki printout with all the photos. He gave me a steroid cream. Use it for two, maybe three weeks. I did. It cleared up. For a few weeks.
You know where this is going. In August when I went to the read doc for my physical I said "It's time I went to a dermatologist," )he immediately agreed) which I did last week. Yup. Squamous cell carcinoma -- skin cancer of the lip, thanks to the biopsy.
Now, this part of the story is more or less a good news story. It's fine. It hadn't metastasized, it's treatable, it won't kill you. It probably was due to those years of fun in the sun with only Coppertone oil and only sunscreen (those ages between 16 and 30...) I'll start a course of radiation treatment in a week or so. All will be well. (And if I finish before Halloween, I'll have a great mask!)
A little more disconcerting is a funky thyroid ultrasound. The ENT doc suggested biopsy now or wait nine months and do another ultrasound. I'll let him know in a couple of weeks when I go back but right now I'm inclined to want to just deal with one thing at a time. Still, I'll talk with my regular guy and get his take.
It should go without saying, but I'll say it. If you have something weird, a) don't ask Dr. Google, ask a real doctor and b) do it in a reasonably timely fashion. Nine months is a long time to dally. I didn't think I was dallying, I have no problem with what anyone else told me. But I should have moved sooner and the fact that I was so darned lucky was due in no part to me. Just good luck. And c) don't forget to put sunscreen on your lips!
Life is good. My face looks a little weird but I'll take it. Trust me -- beats the alternative.
I have another essay on this subject that is a little more personal (but not TMI) called Sun Spots and Sunsets at Modern Creative Life. Check it out if you're so inclined! (The theme of this month's issue is light and shadow and there are loads of good essays there -- well worth subscribing to!)