Wednesday 4 July 2018

Do a Spot Check

Towards the end of last year I knocked the top off a spot on my nose - I probably scratched it taking my glasses off. Usually I am an instant healer, but this time the spot didn't heal, so a month before we went to Australia I went to the dermatologist to ask her to give it the liquid nitrogen treatment.

After a long inspection she said that she couldn't freeze it off because it was actually over the cartilage, but that it needed to be cut out, and pretty soon. We explained that we were off to Australia within a month, and asked if it could wait until we returned. She said no, and there and then rang a plastic surgeon at the hospital in Chateauroux. An appointment was made for the following week for a consultation, and along we trotted.

At the hospital the process was pretty quick. The surgeon drew some lines and explained the process, which involved cutting out the spot and a tear shaped piece down to the corner of my mouth (along a smile line...), rearranging the cartilage and skin, and sewing me up again. An appointment was made for surgery for a fortnight later, and a reassurance issued that I would be fine to travel a week after that. When we got home we realised that we had no idea of the cost, and made a mental note to check next time.

The following week we we back at the hospital, where I changed into a gown and sat around for what felt like hours. I was then trollied off to a waiting room (where I lay around for hours), and from there to surgery. It was performed under a local anaesthetic and took 90 minutes. Because it had been so long I was starting to get hungry and one stage I could smell BBQ pork, but that was blood vessels in my face being cauterised. Once the operation was over I was wheeled into the waiting room again, and from there back to the ward, where Susan was waiting.

After sitting around for a while I was fed, and we told we could go home, having made an appointment for a check up for two days before we were travelling. It was only when we arrived home we realised that once again we had forgotten to ask how much it would all cost.

I must admit that I felt like elephant man, and once the dressing came off I didn't look much better, with the stitching looking like it had been done by a three year old. Application of plenty of Vaseline helped keep the skin supple, and the surgeon annouced himself happy with his handiwork (and removed the stitches) on our return visit. Amazing when you think it was only 5 days after the operation.

This time we remembered to ask how much it would cost, and were told they weren't sure, but it should be under €100. When we returned from Australia 8 weeks later we were met by the biopsy report that said yes, the spot had been cancerous but there was no evidence of cancer cells 3mm from the spot, and a bill for €18.

So - visit your dermatologist, and have your spots checked. It's no fun, but it's better than the other option.


Ken Broadhurst said...

Good advice, Simon. Glad you had it taken care of. I just had the same experience with a bump on my chest. I had never even noticed it, but as soon as the dermatologist in Saint-Georges-sur-Cher saw it, she said that it was a basal-cell carcinoma and it needed to be removed. That was in January, and she gave me an appointment for the outpatient surgery for June 8! Anyway, she removed it, had it biopsied, and gave me the same news you got. All the cancer cells have been removed. It's a relief. I hope it's true.

Sheila said...

I had the same surgery right on the bridge of my nose.
Cost: $1,500. Insurance picked up part of the tab, but this is a good illustration of the high cost of medical care in the US. And my surgery was done by the dermatologist right in her office.

Ken Broadhurst said...

My surgery, also performed in the dermatologist's office, has cost about 80 euros, including initial exam, outpatient surgery, stitches (5) removed by a nurse who came to my house to do it, and the biopsy fee. 80 euros is what I paid out of pocket, and my coverage for all this by the Sécurité Sociale is about 65% of the total cost. My coverage is free to me because I have a very small government retirement pension in France.

Simon said...

Good to hear you're all clear too Ken. Must admit I was a bit in shock, seeings as how I avoid the sun...

GaynorB said...

I’m shocked by how the small blemish led to such a large amount being cut away. It really goes to show how careful we need to be ind diligent about getting them checked out. Glad it turned out ok for you.

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