Poetic Justice

One morning this past summer, my wife drew my attention to a small pimple on her nose. I guess anyone would notice something new like that on the end of their nose but, for a woman it is particularly stressful. No problem, it appeared to have a black spot about the diameter of a human in the centre so I figured it might be an infected hair follicle, although hair follicles on the nose seemed to me a bit of a stretch. Anyway, I told her that by tomorrow it would probably be gone.

Tomorrow came, but it hadn’t gone. In fact, it looked a little redder. Ah, I know, it needs a little squeeze to clean it out. I can do that. So I squeezed, but nothing came out. Hmmm, funny, but then I remembered I had had the same sort of thing on the side of my nose a year or two earlier! Mine turned out to be one of those little bumps that we seem to develop with age. I remembered, too, some phrase I had read once, “I’ll take him, warts an’ all!” Yep, it’s just one of those things. Nothing to worry about.

The days went by and my wife continued to complain about the pimple on her nose because sometimes it did seem to be a bit redder than other days. Well, I couldn’t just ignore her concern, a woman’s looks are more important than a man’s so I decided to mention it to our family doctor. Back came the reply, “…As for her nose pimple, you should send me a picture of her nose so that I can figure out what is going on.” which I did. Seeing the pictures, the doctor said the pimple or sore on her nose looks worrisome and that Rosemary needs to get it assessed by a dermatologist to rule out skin cancer.

And so it came to pass that a referral was made and, in due course, we received an appointment for Tuesday, Nov 10. In the meantime, I teased Rosemary about her “pimple” and joked about having her nose amputated, etc. She would laugh, knowing it was nothing as serious as that; but she was worried. Still, I told her it was nothing, just my warped sense of humour. “How will I get there?” she asked. “I’ll take you, of course!” surprised that she would even ask me that question at age 93. Did she think I would put her on the bus?

We didn’t have to wait long in the waiting room before it was her turn to see the doctor. We sat together in his office and he inspected the “pimple”. He put her mind at rest by telling her it was not cancer, and then applied some liquid nitrogen, warning that it would sting a bit. It did. Then he said, “We’ll take another look in a few weeks’ time.” Well, that was good news and Rosemary was obviously, relieved. And so was I.

But I was curious. I asked the doctor what the “pimple” is, saying I guess it’s like the one I have at the side of my nose; just one of those bumps and things that we old people seem to get as the years go by. He took a close look at my “bump” and said,

“No, it’s not like yours. Yours is a cancer!”

What????????????? I’m only here as Rosemary’s driver. I’m just here for the ride! How did I suddenly become the patient? “Is it melanoma?” “No, it’s a basal cell.” whatever that is. “We’ll get a surgeon to look at it. He also works out of this office so you won’t have far to go.” He wrote something on the back of a card and gave it to me. It was for a Dec appointment. Then, we went back to the reception area for “something”, although I wasn’t sure what it was we were waiting for. A few minutes went by and then I heard my name called. I was led deep into the bowels of their offices where I was greeted by another doctor. “What am I here for?” I asked, figuring he probably intended to take another look and perhaps take a biopsy sample, or something.

“I’m going to cut it out.” Yikes! Rosemary was out in the waiting room wondering where I was, and here I was lying on a couch wondering how on earth how I came to be the patient. The doctor was very gentle but that needle sure hurts as it punctured the skin before the freezing started to take effect. I think he stuck that needle in quite a few times… I always seem to need more anesthetic than a normal person; it must be the “wimp” in me. Anyway, finally it was all over. “You’ll have a black eye for a few days. No, you don’t need to come back, the tape will fall off and the stitches will decompose on their own”. We left, Rosemary’s pimple looking none the worse for wear and me looking like I’d been in a fight, taped up and somewhat bloody, bruised and battered.

But the irony of the situation made me laugh and laugh. I had been teasing Rosemary about what they would do, only to get there and find out that I was the patient; I was the one who ended up having surgery. And that appointment card for Dec 15th was for my wife, not me.

As our family doctor said on hearing my story, “It’s funny how things work out sometimes.” She was right about that. In fact, I couldn’t help thinking that it was poetic justice, and the joke was on me. I had done all the teasing, but the last laugh was on me. They do say, “What goes around comes around!” Every time I think about it I have to laugh. And all because of a pimple!

Gerry Wood, Nov 14th, 2020

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