Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Surgery and the Big 500

Yes, our sweet baby has to have some minor surgery. It's nothing big, but you know, bring on the worry. Last winter, probably around January or so, Jacob got a tiny little mole on his lower left leg. It was very tiny and the first few times I saw it I thought it was dirt or fuzz or something. It has always been very dark. It was nearly black and has now settled into a very dark brown. It's ever so slightly raised, and it has been growing at a pretty steady pace. At first I thought it was growing just because Jacob himself was growing, but it became pretty apparent in the last few months that it was growing at a faster pace. It's now 4mm in diameter. When we went for his two-year well visit, the pediatrician suggested we take him to a dermatologist to get it checked. Some moles like that are normal, but some aren't. No sense taking any chances. It took me forever to remember to call, and we finally had our appointment this morning.

I figure that our time with the doctor cost about $8 a minute (or more), because we had a $40 copay for about five minutes with the doctor. It may have been the quickest doctor's appointment I have ever experienced. She said that the mole is probably a Spitz mole, which happen quite often in kids. They're often dark in color and grow quickly. They're generally harmless, but they do send them off for testing, just in case they're one of the few that turn out to be abnormal. In any event, they're recommending that Jacob's mole be removed. It'll be a quick outpatient procedure, but because he's a squirmy toddler, they'll have to sedate him. It will be quick, but still...it's scary. Sedation is sometimes one of those wildcard things that can cause problems out of nowhere. And while 99% of the time things go fine, it still weighs on your mind. Oh, and did I mention I have no idea yet how much this will cost? Let's hope it's just another $40 copay and not some crazy surgery copay...or else we'll be paying a heck of a lot more than $8 per minute, I bet. Not that money matters in this situation, but it's just one more unknown at this point.

I'm trying my best not to turn into a crazy, hysterical parent. I know full well that stuff like this is routine and he'll be fine. Complications from anything--sedation, infection, regrowth, or God forbid, cancer--are all probably pretty rare in a scenario like this. He's a healthy kid who's worn a ton of sunscreen, and despite a family history of skin cancer (my dad has had numerous minor ones removed), the odds of this being something serious are small. But you always hear the stories of exceptions--where something seemed so minor, so routine, but suddenly it's a larger than life complication. You can't help but think a little (if only to guard yourself from seeming completely oblivious to the possibilities if something does go wrong) about the chance that it could happen to you. Parents worry regardless, and things like this just add fuel to the fire.

Right now I'm worried about how much it will hurt him, how much the stitches will bother him after, how he'll react to the anesthesia, how I'll react to seeing him going under (seriously, I've heard parents talk about the creepiness of the moment kids go limp), how he'll be when he comes back out of it, how the scar will look, and of course, whether or not they'll find something irregular in the tissue. And if they do, what that would mean, if anything. I'm sure at least some of my fears will be calmed when we meet with the surgeon. Of course, that isn't happening until the week of Thanksgiving, so I'll have plenty of time to either relax and not think about it, or let it stew 'til I'm nuts. We'll see which way things go.

As I was driving back from the appointment (I had a lot of car time this morning--into the city, back to Greece to drop Jacob off, and back to the city again--I almost hit rush hour traffic twice! I chose to take the backroads and avoid it the second time), I couldn't help but think of my "perfect" little newborn baby. One of the things that struck me most about Jacob was how natural and untouched he was when he was born. I mean, I guess he wasn't all that natural for long, considering he was born using a vacuum and had a giant bruise on his head, and then spent his first week hooked up to so many machines, being poked and prodded. But everything that was on him--his hair, skin, fingernails and toenails--was fresh. The nails all had ragged edges, just as they had developed in utero. His skin and hair were so soft. Other than those needle pricks and the bruising, he didn't have a stray mark on him. He was perfect in his natural state. But time went on. I trimmed his nails and cut his hair, and all of the bumps and bruises of babyhood came along. For so long he only drank milk--first my milk, then formula as well--the purest food available. And when it came time for solid foods, I tried so hard to keep them natural--fruits, vegetables, very few processed foods--until his appetite for those was exhausted and we eventually caved in to less natural foods that I felt like were tainting Jacob's perfect little system. But it happens. And now a piece of him will be cut out and shipped off to a lab. It's just a small piece, but it's a piece that's been part of him in some form since he was born. And now he'll have a scar. It's just weird to think about. But think we will, for the next two months.

In other news, if my calculations are correct (or at least, if Blogger is counting in-progress posts as a post), this is blog post #500. Over the life of the blog (nearly 33 months), that amounts to a post nearly every other day. Not too shabby, considering I wasn't sure I would make it a couple months with this blog, let alone all the way through pregnancy and over two years into parenthood. I am very proud of what I've created here, and really appreciate its presence in my life. Not only is it a personally written history of our little family, but it also serves a therapeutic purpose. Take my last post, for example. After I wrote that one, I felt a little better about things. It's nice to let some of the frustrations out and sort through them, and not feel like I have to put up this hard shell and keep it all inside. Honesty can be a little dangerous and embarrassing sometimes, but I think for the most part it's come out okay and I can at least say I've presented an honest account of how our lives have progressed. I don't know what I'll ever do if Blogger disappears, though I've often thought about running off and printing it out somewhere. Maybe I'll just have to print it in batches at home, in B&W, even if that won't do the pictures justice. But I'm happy it's here and hope to look back on it for years to come. Yay for post #500!

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