I went to my doctor for an annual physical. I was fine. Yeah, blood pressure was too high, thanks to the deadly combination of heredity, job stress and white coat disease. I was still the editor of the newspaper at the time; I could have been hyped up by any number of things.
I asked him to look at a dark, raised spot on my temple. Like a mole, but a mole that hadn’t been there a month ago.
“Hmmm,” he said, and he scratched it with his fingernail as if it were a piece of dirt. It wasn’t. It started bleeding. “I think I’ll take a piece of that for testing. Or, how about I cut it all out and I send it for testing?”
“What is it?” I asked.
He said it could be basal cell carcinoma, precancerous keratosis or nothing. “Probably nothing,” he said, “but who knows?”
Yeah, great. Take it all.
He had me lie down on my side, and he placed a white paper cover over my head. The “probably nothing” was on the same latitude as my eye and about an inch away. A hole was cut in the paper where he’d have access to it. He numbed me and started cutting. I didn’t feel anything but some tugging on the skin. I was fine.
Then he started talking:
“Let me tell you what I really don’t like about the paper,” he said,
“Doc, let’s not,” I said, “while you have that scalpel an eighth of an inch from my brain.”
“Oh, right,” he said. “One slip and I’ll be on the front page won’t I?”
“We both will,” I said. “And neither of us will like it.”
He was quiet, the removal was uneventful, and the lesion was nothing.
As it turns out, he didn’t like the way we covered kids’ soccer, of all things.