Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Biopsy

A little over a month ago, I was flossing my teeth like I do every day (several times a day, I'm addicted) and my gum started bleeding in one place. I leaned close to the mirror to examine it and I noticed a little black spot. Huh. That's weird. I tried to think what it could be - something stuck under my gum line? Maybe some blood under the surface?

Then I did exactly what you're not supposed to do. Again. I went to Google and did a search for something like "black spot on gum". The first few things I read sounded okay, but then as I clicked on more links I started to panic. Everything kept mentioning "malignant oral melanoma" and describing it as one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer. I'll be honest - I started freaking out a little bit. I went downstairs to ask my mom or one my sisters to look at it. I called Seth, crying, and asked him what I should do. We decided that since I was due for a teeth cleaning anyway, I would schedule an appointment for when I returned home and have my dentist take a look. After that, I more or less forgot about it.

The day after I returned home, I went to see my dentist. First, thing I did was have new x-rays taken. Then I spoke to the hygienist. I was relieved when he started talking about blueberry stains, but when he didn't have any luck cleaning and scrapping the area he decided to call in the dentist to take a look at it. Dentist came in and examined the area. She said it could be an amalgam tattoo which forms when bits of metal from fillings migrate to other areas of your mouth. However, I didn't have any fillings nearby and nothing showed up on the x-rays. She decided it was best to send me to an oral surgeon to have a biopsy. Great. As she was leaving the room she said, "I'm sure it's nothing. Melanoma usually doesn't show up there." Not exactly what I wanted to hear. I wanted her to say, "That doesn't look like melanoma".

Next, I went to the oral surgeon and he agreed that we should do a biopsy just to be safe. He did say that if it is melanoma, I caught it very early and treatment would probably be minimal. That sounds so much better than "deadliest skin cancer". I was so relieved and overwhelmed that I cried.

This morning they did the biopsy. I was so nervous. It was only local anesthesia but when they injected the Novocaine, I had a panic attack. I hate tasting that stuff. I start to panic that it's going to numb my tongue and throat and I won't be able to swallow, then I can't swallow because I'm thinking about it, and then my heart starts beating like crazy. Luckily, I'm pretty good about talking myself out of those and I was able to calm down pretty quickly. The actual procedure didn't hurt a bit. The surgeon used a laser to close the wound instead of stitches. That DID hurt. It felt like when you have tooth sensitivity and bite into something cold or metal - times 10. My whole body flinched, but it only lasted a second. I don't really have any pain now, thank God.

Now I wait. They said it would take 10 days for the pathology lab to send the results. That seems like a long time. I guess that's just the story of my life right now. It's just like another two week wait, except this time I'm hoping for a negative result. My follow-up appointment is on the 18th, so until then I'll just be hoping and praying that I don't have melanoma.

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