Monday, March 9, 2015

Mole

Moles animal graphics

I spent hours this weekend digging for information about moles. Not this kind. The other kind. But I like this picture better… (Good thing I keep my blog in English. This would not work at all in Swedish!)

Most of us probably have several different kinds of spots here and there on our body. Just lately there’s one of mine that I’ve been wondering about a little (not that I think I have any special reason to fear malignancy, but there is definitely some kind of suspect activity going on). As I can’t even see it properly myself, I decided to contact my health care centre.

This means throwing yourself at the phone at 8:00 am, and if lucky, you will be given the possibility to press buttons, and get a call back later.

Sometimes when not urgent, I’ve tried calling later in the day. I did try that last Monday too. But then I just got an automatic voice telling me “we have no more appointment times”. No option given of getting through to a live human being for further inquiries.

So Tuesday morning I sat watching the clock with the phone in my hand, ready to push the call button at 8:00 on the dot…

Punctuality in this case paid off; and I received a return call rather promptly. I explained my errand the best I could, and after a bit of mumbling they squeezed in an appointment with a nurse on the Friday. It was made clear it would just be a nurse. If something was to be done about it, then a later appointment would be made with a doctor. Okay by me; it seemed like a reasonable enough routine.

So on Friday morning I saw a nurse. She took one look and then said she’d go and see if there was a doctor available. (Can you feel your pulse rising? I could!)

Then she came back and said alas there was no doctor available. After a moment of hesitating silence, she then asked if I could wait half an hour – she might be able to get a doctor to take a quick look then? I said yes, no problem. (Keep calm…)

Then she turned to her computer to try and work some magic there. The system evidently did not let her do what she wanted to do. She humphed again, said sorry, then told me to wait again, and disappeared again down the corridor. (How’s your pulse now?)

Then she came back with another nurse instead for a second opinion. Their joint assessment then suddenly seemed to be that there was no need for a doctor neither then nor later – as far as I could understand, because the shape of the thing is still round. I was still adviced to keep a plaster on it though (as I had been doing, on my own initiative, for a week or two already).

(So am I to keep a plaster on it for the rest of my life?)

When I showed some hesitation, they added that I could call again “later”.

Me: Er – how much later? 
Nurse: (hesitating again)… In April?

Bewildered, I asked if they could not just book me in for a later appointment with a doctor? (like in April?) But apparently they could not. No explanation. As far as I could gather, this had more to do with presently ongoing changes in their computer system, than with any actual needs or worries of the patient. (Just the thing to make one feel safe and cared for…)

Adding further to my confusion, it seems that the “assessment of spots” I had seen listed among their services on a website does not actually yet exist. Nurse 2 said that there are plans for such a surgery. Nurse 1 seemed surprised at that. (And there I was, thinking my appointment with her was actually part of it!)

All in all I left feeling doubly confused about health care organisation and not very reassured about my mole. (Even if the thing is not planning to kill me, I’d still like to have some idea what it thinks it’s up to.)

Sooo… I might try and call back sooner than April. But I do think I need a few days to recover mentally first (and get my blood pressure down), before I make the attempt.

I guess in the meantime the mole will just have to remain undercover. * (Shh!)

Mole Investigator Using A Magnifying Glass

* In espionage jargon, a mole (also called a penetration agent, deep cover agent, or sleeper agent) is a long-term spy (espionage agent) who is recruited before he or she has access to secret intelligence, and subsequently works his or her way into the target organization. [Wiki]

19 comments:

  1. I hope all is well.
    I was thinking of sea defences. The things that stop waves crashing into harbours. It's a good thing you don't have one of those.

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    1. Oh, that's one definition of 'mole' that I missed, Adrian. No I certainly hope I won't be needing defences quite as massive as that :)

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  2. You must act. Do not wait. There must be some sort of private doctor that you can see somewhere in your country. Or else go to another country for advice. I have travelled about 2000km each way at times in order to see a really good skin specialist. Facilities where I live were limited.
    If you are concerned at all about a mole have it checked immediately. Melanomas can be treated successfully if caught early. And plain moles and marks do develop into melanomas sometimes. I am not a doctor, definitely not a dermatologist, but I have skin cancers of various types.
    It is much much better to over-react than to end up dead from such a simple thing. You will be pleased when the skin specialist says that there is nothing to worry about but come back the same time next year.
    This will cost money, but less than endless worrying. A loan is cheaper than a funeral.
    Put your mind at ease by solving the problem.

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    1. I'm just letting off a bit of steam, Louise, as part of my way of dealing with it. Our medical system is based on national health care and tax-funded insurance. (See for example https://sweden.se/society/health-care-in-sweden/.) For the most part I trust it, even if the bureaucracy can drive one mad from time to time. We are a very orderly people, and if you try to jump the line, you're usually just referred back to follow the routine procedure. Which is why it is probably the best strategy to just watch it for a while and see what happens. I don't really doubt that if it gets worse or even remains unchanged for too long, I will get a re-assessment.

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    2. PS. I don't think myself that it's melanoma.

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  3. i am sure if they thought it was bad they would have said so.. the first nurse and her reaction scared you as it would me.. but since there were two trained nurses, i would not fret about it.. i don't think they would let you go if they thought you were in danger from it. that said... dealing with health care is enough make us NEED health care.. the mental kind

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    1. You seem to get my meaning how I feel about it, Sandra - thanks! :) I'm trying to be sensible, talk myself out of panic, but not take it too lightly either. And I do believe the nurses had that same intention too, they were probably as frustrated as me about the 'system' and not enough doctors. But two nurses better than one.

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  4. I have trouble with moles, precancers and about anything that can grow on your skin. I don't go to my regular doctor to have these diagnosed and treated, I go to a dermatologist. If my insurance didn't pay for it (but it does) I'd pay for it myself. There is no price tag on peace of mind.

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    1. Both the health care laws and insurance systems are different here compared to the US, Janet. Basically the law is that everyone should have the same right to necessary medical care whether rich or poor. When it comes to purely cosmetic surgery though, you must turn to a private clinic and pay every penny.

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  5. Awww, I am so sorry! I can believe how frustrating this must have been. I'm sure my blood pressure would have soared. This is no way to treat patients! Go to Google, you can get lists of what to look for in suspicious mole, and pictures. I have done this before. One sign is that the edges are uneven and not smooth and round, or if it changes color. Phil had one on his neck that turned white, he thought it was nothing because it didn't bother him. Turned out it was cancer. Not that yours is, but keep that appointment in April! This time maybe you can get an actual doctor.

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    1. I google everything, Ginny - maybe too much for my own good! So better have two nurses look at it than nobody. Even if they don't have the same authority to diagnose that a doctor has.

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  6. Goodness, what a story! Poor you! Aren't there any dermatologists in your town where you could book an appointment? That would certainly be my first step.

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    1. Primary health care is always the first step here, Meike.

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  7. As the lady with the little lump on her nose from melanoma surgery can I just urge you to follow up in April. In my case it took a specialist to make a positive identification although I suspected my mole wasn't 'ordinary'. I'd be comforted by the two nurses but, really? put a plaster on it? That's a treatment I've never heard about before. Best wishes.

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  8. Thanks Pauline. The plaster is just to protect it from irritation by scratching etc. I don't think the nurse meant it otherwise, any more than I do myself. If it goes from strange to more worrying I will call back sooner.

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  9. Please don't start to panic until you know what you're dealing with.
    I would give the health centre a call back in a week and see if I could find a sympathetic nurse that could squeeze in an appointment for you to see the doctor....it will be okay.
    If that does not work out I would make it my business to befriend one of them or maybe one of the junior doctors on staff....a basket of brownies perhaps?
    It will be okay.

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  10. Thanks Virginia - you make me smile :) A basket of brownies would certainly be a novel approach to trying to get a doctor's appointment here... I think I'd probably best try some of the more boring standard procedures first ;) At the moment I'm trying some patience so that I can add something next time I call. Like: It has changed, or it has not...

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    1. Don't go calling trouble by saying it has changed. Putting that out there into the universe may come back to bite you in the you know where.
      Maybe tell them it feels a bit different or something else vague but don't go "putting your mouth on yourself" as we say here.

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    2. Virginia, that's a saying I've never heard. Luckily I'm not superstitious. As I see it our bodies go through changes all the time and I don't know why the universe should have any objections to the word. (And if it still does, it should know that in contacts with health care I'll be speaking Swedish anyway...)

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