Saturday, February 23, 2013
When in doubt, freeze it off
“Dude! What happened to your nose?” A middle grade student recently asked me.
Yes, it seems that some young people that age have very little in the way of tact. One of his fellow students said, “Shh! That’s rude!” I knew exactly what he was asking about.
On the bottom, right side of my nose is a divot—a smallish crater. It’s shown here in a very unflattering picture of my nose:
(Side note: when I took this photo, I labeled it “nose pic.”)
Why does it look like someone took a scoop out of my nose? Because someone did, sort of.
A couple of years ago, I had what I thought was a zit forming on the bottom of my nose. Growing up, I had acne pretty bad, and even now that I’m 40ish something I still get them time and again. I didn’t think much of it until it wouldn’t go away. Even worse, it would scab over, the scab would fall off and it would start to bleed.
I’d never experienced anything like that before, and so I decided to have a dermatologist check it out. After looking it over, she said, “Ah, it’s a precancerous lesion.” I think it’s a safe bet that no one wants to hear a doctor say the word “cancer” in any shape, size, or form. “Don’t worry,” she said casually, “We’ll just freeze it off.”
Perhaps I’m alone in feeling this way, but I don’t relish the thought of having any part of my body frozen off, for any reason.
A moment later, she came back with what looked like a can of WD-40. “Hold still,” she told me unnecessarily. The sensation was odd. At first, it felt akin to having an ice cube placed against your skin. And then, the pain began. I felt my eyes start to water and I grabbed the side of the examination table quite tightly.
“Wow,” she said. “I think you’re the first man I’ve done this to that hasn’t cursed.”
I looked at her with my watery eyes and said, “I just didn’t do it verbally.”
She and her nurse laughed. And then she gave me the instructions, “The area will scab over and then fall off. Don’t pick at it.”
“Got it. No nose picking.” She and her nurse laughed again. I handle pain with humor.
Sure enough, the doctor was right. The scab fell off on its own. However, in its wake, it left the crater I noted earlier—something I wasn’t expecting. It’s kind of under my nose, so it’s not glaring, but still, it’s not normal. I notice it every time I look in a mirror. But it’s part of me now.
So, how did I respond to the student that pointed it out in front of the class? I told him, “You know how Pinocchio’s nose grew bigger when he told lies? Well, as it turns out, when you say rude things to teachers, part of your nose may fall off. I learned this the hard way when I was your age.”
He didn’t say another word the rest of the class.