Saturday, September 30, 2017

Don't Ask Dr. Google

I really do try not to go online when I have a hangnail. You always see the worst thing. And it's scary. All of a sudden you find out you have mad cow disease only really it was just last night's pizza that someone didn't put in the fridge.

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!)

48 comments:

Joyful said...

Oh my Jeanie! So sorry about this news but so glad there is an upside. I understand exactly what you mean about not thinking your are dallying when in fact months can go by before you've actioned something. I always feel I'm keeping on top of health issues but I am usually behind on something. Like you I prefer to deal with one thing properly at a time. Sometimes it doesn't always work out so good. I never even heard of sunscreen for lips. In fact I don't even use sunscreen. I tend to keep all covered up instead.

My name is Erika. said...

Oh Jeanie-This is horrible news but also good news that it isn't melanoma or that it hasn't metastasized. Thank goodness. I think you acted like most of us when we notice something. I know when my husband got sick with his kidney autoimmune disease, we just thought he had some kind of bug, because with kidney failure you don't notice or feel sick until you reach a point where you ar really sick and going into end stage kidney failure. The shock of hearing the diagnosis (for him on a FRiday night at about midnight) and then you think about how lucky you were catch it before he died or what if you had acted upon some little thing and caught it earlier. Guess you can't second guess yourself after the fact but only move forward. My thought are with you and good luck with your treatments. Hugs-Erika

Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, I am so sorry you have to go through this, but I am so glad you didn't wait any longer! And that it hasn't metastasized! I had a basal cell carcinoma on my nose that was removed in February,. It was Mohs surgery where they remove a layer at a time and put under microscope and continue until they get it all. They had to remove two layers, but I didn't have to have stitches which would have scarred more. I have an slight intention, but I am thankful it could have been much worse! Hugs sweet lady and thinking of you!

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

Oh Jeanie - what a lesson you have taught us all. You are so positive about this and I hope you get through this wonderfully and it becomes a distant memory. My thoughts are with you!! -Jenn

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I don't use Google for ANY reason. Never, ever, ever. And I can't believe all the doctors you have. I don't even have a GP, although my friend Sally says I need one. She has about 20 doctors who treat her for each of her phobias, I mean problems.

So glad SOMEONE finally figured out your problem and it is not as bad as it could have been. I will certainly be thinking about you as you go through these trying times.

Valerie-Jael said...

Sounds scary, but glad you did the right thing and got help from your doctor. I have had several skin cancer patches removed in the past few years, and when I see something that shouldn't be there, I'm off to the doctor's like greased lightning! Look after yourself Sweetie! Hugs, Valerie

Joanne Huffman said...

How smart of you to keep asking. Glad you got an answer and very happy it is treatable. Continue to take good care of yourself.

Julia - Vintage with Laces said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your health issues, Jeanie. I'm amazed that none of the doctors you had visited before, send you to a dermatologist. Thankfully your skin cancer was diagnosed before it spread.
Hopefully your thyroid problem is not severe. It may be good to get a second opinion instead of having biopsy now or waiting nine months for another ultrasound.
I love your positive attitude!
Sending you a big hug,
Julia

Bella Rum said...

Jeanie, I'm so sorry to hear this, but very glad that you caught it in time. We have to be our own advocate, don't we? As you know, we've been through the basal cell routine with H, which is not life threatening, but annoying to deal with. I know you will put this behind you very soon. Thank goodness it has not metastasized.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

DEAREST JEANIE thank God you went to the doc. Yeah, I know the feeling. I got a bruise within seconds of scratching an itchy finger; I went to Dr. Google and it was suggested I had LEUKEMIA! HELLO???? So, I went to the real doc. Blood tests revealed NO "L." I also was about to run to the skin doctor the other day for what felt like a scab that had been in my ear for months. I'm ashamed but relieved to say that it wasn't what I thought it was. It was crusted SOAP that never got dislodged! HAHAHAHAHAHHA

You acted as swiftly as you could, you are being treated, and let's celebrate. Be well dear friend.

Rita C. said...

Whoa, Jeanie! SO glad you're getting it taken care of, but shame on all those professionals who previously sorta dissed it! I hope you're going to a Mohs trained dermatologist; if not, do read Dr. Google on that so you can be informed. I've seen the work of mohs-trained dermatology - if it's ever needed - and it is beautiful! I'm heading to mine for a checkup this week, thank you very much. I've been wearing DCT lip balm with spf for about 25 yrs now....doesn't correct prior damage, but protects me now.
Just got my bloodwork back on thyroid this week - readings out of range for first time in # years, so will up my meds dosage. There is (hypo)thyroidism all through my family, and one sister who had the surgery for partial removal.
Take care....now, I'm jumping over to the referenced link. Thanks for sharing.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Jeanie, I am so glad you saw a dermatologist and are getting treatment. It is not good to dilly dally when it comes to your health. I hope all heals and goes well with your lip and the thyroid. Sending my prayers and well wishes. I have gone there to Dr. Google and he can be scary. Happy October, enjoy your day and new week!

Pam Jackson said...

Oh wow....sorry to hear but glad you are so positive about it. I have so many skin issues that there is always something. But I am afraid of stuff like this so I have things checked sooner than waiting for a bit. Glad you are healing and it really don't look that bad right now.

The French Hutch said...

Dear Jeanie, This is bad news good news info. The bad of course is it's there but the good is it is treatable and you are fine. Yes, you are. Indeed lucky. I am like you an only want to deal with one thing at a time but the older I am I want to take care of anything immediately! Sorry you are going through this and you will be in my thoughts and prayers. We want that beautiful smile to have quick recovery.......hugs dear.

Linda @ A La Carte said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I try to be timely in checking things out but sometimes I say, oh it's nothing just aging. I'll be more proactive. Good luck with the treatments. You have a great attitude and lot of us praying for you. Hugs!

Marilyn Miller said...

Oh life's twists and turns. Take care, dear friend. Soon this will be past. Wish I could come and hold your hand. Keep us posted on the process and also the thyroid issue too. That word "cancer" is always so scary, it takes our breathe away.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I am so glad it hasn't metastasized but it's still a scary thing to go through. I hope that radiation isn't too hard on you. It's good that the doctor is being thorough.

You raise a good point about being persistent when something isn't right. I learned that in the months leading up to my RA diagnosis. I had started seeing a doctor in May for pain in my elbow and it was misdiagnosed as tendinitis. But the chiro I was seeing couldn't seem to fix the problem and they could not figure out why my thumb joint was impacted. Meanwhile the pain got worse and worse and then I went home in August and my mom saw how I would cringe with pain when walking down the stairs in the morning and she said - this isn't right, you need to go back to the doctor and get some answers. She was a nurse so she suspected RA. But it took her pushing me to go back to the doctor and ask them to run as many tests as they needed to so they could figure out what was going on. I had my RA diagnosis within weeks of going back to Charlotte.

But back to the subject at hand - I hope your lip heals soon! Take it easy, my friend!

I need orange said...

Yikes. Glad you are ok. I know how easy it is to assume something will go away.

The Sketchy Reader said...

I'm happy you caught it when you did. The treatment will be over soon! I've been through the entire thyroid drama, and so happy it's behind me! I love your pretty smile....and your point is well taken about Dr. Google!

Polly said...

Oh Jeanie, I’m so sorry to hear your news, very glad you caught it in time and that it hasn’t spread. Thank you for telling us about it. I have lots of moles around my body that I keep an eye on and get my skin doctor to look at the ones on my back regularly. I hope your thyroid is ok. I will be thinking of you and send you hugs and very best wishes for good results all round x

Silver Willow said...

I'm so sorry that you are having to go through this but so happy it's slow moving. P.s., I vote a quicker follow up on the wonky thyroid ultra sound.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Hmm. Firstly, you look after yourself as best you can. That's the most important thing. Bear in mind I'm British and, possibly, have a different take on things; plus we don't know each other. So - I needed to look up 'hangnail' in case you meant 'hangover'. I need to tell you that I went to the Quack (doctor) recently with an ailment - and it takes a lot to get me to go, it really does. Well, he was looking up what the problem might be on Google! Really. Anyway, he suggested some things that might help - 'though he also said I could have an operation if I wanted one (no thanks). So, checking things out when I got back (on Google) - every site I came across said (more or less) "whatever you do, don''t do X" - which is what the doctor suggested I should do. I have an appointment with the witch doctor next week. Pah!

Wandering Wren said...

Oh, Gosh Jeanie, I am sorry to read this and how understandable given it has come and gone. You present a good lesson though, in persistence, I am glad you are on top of it now and may the same be true of the thyroid issue.
Take care
Wren x

Ms. K @ Write On Thyme said...

So sorry to hear this but... so glad you've gotten it taken care of! And you remind me, it's time for me to make that appt for the dermatologist. Several things need looking at. Good for you for getting in there. Happy Fall to you!

Maggie said...

Well Dr Google got it wrong, as he often does, but now you have a correct diagnosis and treatment plan in place I feel sure your wonderfully upbeat outlook will knock this on the head once and for all.
Take care, lovely.

Victoria Zigler said...

Glad you're OK, but sorry you had to be an example of why you can only rely on self-diagnosis to a certain point. Hope the treatment you'll get over the next few weeks is all you'll need for the issue.

Lynne said...

Jeanie . . . oh my!
Yes to the doc . . . and not Dr Google . . .
I try to do the same, but you know . . . inquiring minds . . .
I am dealing with a little saga as well . . .
Too lengthy for here . . .
Happy you found the answer and are “on the path” to healing . . .
Hugs dear one . . .

Tammie Lee said...

I am so glad that you will be ok. Still no fun to go through.
I suppose you will be going to your dermatologist more often now. I have to go 3 times a year. Not fun, but just what needs to happen.
Sending healing light.

Barbara Fisher said...

Dear Jeannie, well I like the good news much better than the bad news, and I’m very glad it’s treatable. I’m sure you hear it all the time, but I had exactly the same thing only on the top of my right ear (don’t forget to put sunscreen on your ears!). It was removed, along with a little of my ear – all good. It's gone. I'm well, and I know you will be too.
It would be good to get the thyroid checked out when you can. Maybe deal with both things together just to speed it up a little.
Thinking of you, sending lots of love, hugs and good vibes!

Danielle L Zecher said...

I'm sorry to hear this, but very glad that you're going to be okay. I'm very good about using sunscreen, but I've never thought about my lips. I definitely will now, so thanks for sharing that tip.

I'm so sorry you had gall bladder issues. I hope that's resolved now. I know that is just plain miserable.

I hope all goes well with your radiation treatments!

Quiltmoose - Dagmar said...

This is a delicate issue! I have also often made the experience that doctors are overreacting and advise to undergo surgery on issues that then disappear without treatment. Difficult to find the right way! In your case I am glad that you finally get a proper treatment! Get well soon!

Tracy said...

Oh, Jeanie... so VERY, very glad your lip cancer is treatable, and all will be well with that! Pity it too so long to figure it all out, though... I must admit I don't think about my lips enough. Eyelids either. I should put sunscreen on those! VERY much hoping your thyroid issue will not be a big issue... Keep us posted when you can. Praying for your health... and that all will go with with treatment! ((BIG HUGS))

shoreacres said...

I use lip sunscreen when I think about it, but I'm going to think about it more often now. And I have an appointment for my occasional "lookover" by the dermatologist now. I'll have here look at a strange little place on my leg, too. I don't think it's anything, but you never can know, and it's different than anything I've had. So -- time to check it out.

Google's great for information, but not so good for a diagnosis. I often use it, especially for things like how to treat bumblebee stings. :-) But for the big things? A real doc is always best -- and sometimes a second opinion (or third) from them. Happy healing!

Pam Jackson said...

Just dropping in the check on you. Hoping things are going okay with the lip and all. Take care.

Sandra Cox said...

Oh, sweetie, I'm sorry you're having to deal with this but relieved they are getting you squared away. Toes crossed on the thyroid. I'll be anxious to hear what you decide to do.

Shelia said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear this, Jeanie! I know how it is when something happens and we don't think it's much. I'm sure we would all have done just like you and tried to treat it ourselves. I'm glad you're getting the correct treatment for it now and pray you will recover really soon! I would never have thought to put sunscreen on my lips! Blessings, my friend.
Shelia ;)

Sketchbook Wandering said...

That is quite a story, and thank you for sharing what you learned...Wishing you a speedy resolution! You look great, even with what looks like extra lipstick on...

Today I went to the doc (assitant) because of mystery bites on my back. Guess what? She Googled photos of bug bites which of course i'd already done earlier.

La Table De Nana said...

A friend we have ..that we see in Fl..he lives in PA..had this also..and I must say his was something else..Jeanie..you would never know..his lips are exactly the way they were..thick and beautiful.
I thank you for reminding me about my lips..we should..thank you.
I am bad..I Dr Google all the time..and once Dr Google knew before many drs did.:(
It's not fun and amazing and wonderful getting past being 50-60-70..
I am sure many go along w/ nothing..but many don't.

I was a Coppertone/sun reflector iodine tanner for a few yrs..

My girls and their Littles always have sunscreen and that is great!
Take care..
I am so happy I have hobbies..it sure helps concerns..I bet you are so happy too to be able to get lost in them.
A Godsend.


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness I am so sorry to hear this but glad you caught it in time! I too am guilty of using google for symptoms of what I think are not a big deal thank you for the warning!

Sandra Cox said...

I love the Pie Fixes Everything and so true:)
Hope you're having a day filled with sparkle.

Red Rose Alley said...

Jeanie, I'm so sorry to hear what you're going through. I was wondering what that was on your lip, and then towards the middle of your post you told us, and it was upsetting to me. But so thankful it's treatable. I do hope your thyroid ultrasound turns out well. I am thinking of you and sending comforting thoughts and love your way. And you still have one of the sweetest and warmest smiles I've ever seen. : )

~Sheri

Mary K.- The Boondocks Blog said...

Jeanie I am so glad to hear that it is minor. I too had spent years in the sun those coppertone years. I will be praying for a speedy recovery.

Summer said...

So sorry to hear this, Jeannie. Hoping for the best and glad it is has not gone too bad :)

Katie Mansfield said...

Oh dear. I'm so sorry to hear this. I'm so glad that you are getting treatment. Good lesson. Dr. Google can be a scary thing.
I'll be saying a prayer for you, dear.

Jeanne Washburn said...

Oh my goodness Jeanie...I am so sorry that I have been out of the blogging world for a bit and missed this...I am so thankful that you are taking care of this and you will be fine. I know it's scary. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

AnnMarie aka Vintage Junkie aka NaNa said...

I have never heard of cancer on your lip! Oh my! I border on hypochondria when it comes to something different on my body. I never want to go "too late"! So happy to hear there is treatment for your lip, and yes, I agree, one thing at a time. I love the pictures in this post!!

Jenny Woolf said...

I am sorry to hear about this, Jeanie. I am glad you're getting treatment and I am sure it will clear up. I see from the post above that you've decided to get the biopsy done on the thyroid too, jeez this stuff is no fun at all but I am sure you are right to do it.

Sally Wessely said...

First of all, I'm so sorry about this. I really am upset for you. I am so thankful you didn't dally any longer, but, as you said, you didn't think you were dallying, and you did ask professionals. I just wish one of them would have sent you to your dermatologist. We do get into potential trouble when we consult Dr. Google, don't we?

My mother had a very aggressive form squamous cell carcinoma on her scalp a year ago. I kept telling her to go to her dermatologist, but she didn't go until it kept getting bigger. She did have to have it removed because it was spreading rapidly. She had this done at age 100. I will spare you the details of how much was taken in the mohs surgery. She came through it with flying colors. I know you will too.

Thinking of you as you begin your treatments.

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