Finally my beloved adopted country has grown the balls to pass a healthcare legislation that will cover the over 30 million uninsured who had to make do, up to now, with no care or with last resort emergency rooms. That’s the story that is being played over and over on the radio as I am on the way to a dermatologist’s office. How apropos. My insurance has become quite unaffordable and I recently switched to a policy offered by my workplace that is not as good but a lot cheaper.
A few days ago, while washing my face, I felt a bump on my temple that I could have sworn was never there before – upon further inspection, it turns out to be a mole that used to be flat and that, in a matter of weeks, has gotten as big as a raisin. Being the super hypochondriac that you all love and care about, I dialed a dermatologist I last saw three years ago. I am not squeamish when it comes to blood, wounds or gory procedures and I am not scared of pain – I am, more simply, scared of dying a horrible and protracted death. Aren’t we all? The problem is that I refined my hypochondria into an art form and I sympathize with and relate to Woody Allen who, I forget in which movie, is convinced to have brain cancer because of a headache. I am that way too which is an insult to my good health (so far) and to all the people who actually suffer from terrible diseases. In my youth, despite having no desire to ever marry, I fantasized marrying a doctor so I would have someone close by who could satisfy my endless list of symptoms and do it for free. Luckily, I found a wonderful doctor I didn’t have to marry and who has been my GP for the last 14 years. Unlike my mother, he humors my hypochondria and even personally calls me at home to let me know my yearly blood tests are fine because he knows that no call or some cryptic message from a nurse would throw me into fits of panic.
My dermatologist is in a tony office in Beverly Hills so it’s no surprise that the patients in the small waiting room run the gamut from abnormally thin and sublimely coiffed ladies well past their prime and some teenagers trying to cover their acne with baseball caps. Oh, and the young turk in the grey suit, glued to his blackberry into which he whispers “Baby, I love you” (I am not making this up) and loudly complains to the front desk for the long wait. He obviously doesn’t see doctors all that often. When his highness finally sees me, squeezed in between some Botox patient and a lady walking out with an armful of costly products, he looks at my mole and pronounces it needs to come off. Two injections, a knife and the chicken smell of cauterization later, I am on my way with a noticeable band aid peeking out through my hair and the sentence that “It’s probably benign but we’ll do a biopsy and will let you know. Call me on Monday”. It’s that “probably” that is going to hang around my brain all week long – when it comes to my health I am not into the risky business of probability.
Surprisingly, though, I am still in a good mood knowing my taxes will go up but the welcome outcome to my shrinking wallet is that someone I don’t know, upon washing her face and discovering an unusual growth, will be able to do what I did today. It’s a lot easier to be hypochondriac when you can afford it.