"Actinic Keratosis, also called solar or senile (hissss!) keratosis, is a precancerous skin condition that devlops in sun-exposed skin, especially on the face, hands, forearms, and neck. It occurs most often in pale-skinned, fair-haired, light eyed people beginning at age 30 or 40" (Kaiser Permanente Website, July 2006, Patrice Burgess, MD)
Pool Pussy looks down at the small red blotchy spot on her forearm. Then glances back at the above description.
Yup. That’s it. Actinic Keratosis. Solar Keratosis. Senile Kerotosis? Shit, why is she always senile? Or was it senior? Whatever. She’s not. Unless you ask the stupid lifeguards at Willard Pool. (See previous entry, June something or other...)
Damn. What’s a solar swimming kitty to do?
Go to Kaiser?
Unfortunately, this is the only option Pool Pussy has. Someday she'll move to Canada or some other civilized country where they have non-Kaiser Health Care that is state sponsored. Not gonna happen here in the good 'ole US of A, so in the meantime....it's Kaiser for this kitty!
What a lovely way to spend a beautiful Friday afternoon, but PP feels she’s has no choice. What if It gets bigger? And takes over her whole arm? And then she has to have her arm amputated? Damn. That would make it so hard to swim. She could. She’d seen the woman at Mills that ‘swam’ with no arms and no legs.
Pool Pussy wasn’t ready for this.
So to Kaiser she goes. Calls her dashing handsome helpful boyfriend to take her. Sure he has nothing better to do on a beautiful Friday afternoon, too. Pool Pussy promises to take him to the pool afterwards. Deal.
Fabiola 3b. 3:55 p.m. Pool Pussy and Dashing Boyfriend wait in the air-conditioned Hell that only Kaiser can offer. Chair bound senior citizen asking receptionist if they’ve called for a wheelchair for her. Elderly dapper little man being told by phone wired advocate that yes she knows he’s been waiting since 1:00 p.m. She put a note on Dr. Lax’s door. She’s waiting to hear from him. Yes, he should continue to wait. But he’s read all the 10 year old New Yorker’s—should he wait? Yes, he should. Advocate gets a ring in her ear. "I’m sorry sir, I can’t talk to about it at this time." Dashing Boyfriend nods to Pool Pussy, "How’d you like to have her job?"
Africa American Guy slouched in chair next to us. Shades pulled low. Asleep? Watching? Dark jeans slung low. White T-shirt. Gold chain. He gets called in. Rises and ambles off.
New Yorker Waiting Man hears a name. Shuffles over. No, it’s not his turn. Back to his chair, shaking his head. Two Chinese women step in with timid tired faces, till the teenage daughter gets a text-message on her cell to pass the time.
"This is FUCKING BULLSHIT!" African American Shade Guy stalks back out into the waiting room, shaking his head in frustrated fury. "I’m GONNA DROP YOUR ASS!!!" he hollers out as he opens the waiting room door. "Bye bye" the receptionist calls out sweetly.
Pool Pussy and Dashing Boyfriend laugh nervously. Pool Pussy knows how Shade Guy feels. Been there herself. Wrote a book about it. You can get it on Amazon.com, "The Kaiser Stories."
She hears her name. The tired, unengaged nurse weighs her, takes her blood pressure, temperature. Do you need all these Kaiser details? Maybe not. We’ll skip to the doctor’s visit with Pool Pussy after waiting in the tiny cold cubicle for 45 minutes. (Pool Pussy could be exaggerating the time wait, but exaggeration gets the point across!)
Dr. Shute (Pool Pussy knows she should change the name, but it’s too good) strides briskly in. Smiles professionally. Almost calls pool pussy by her wrong name but looks down at the chart in time to catch herself. Pool Pussy asks after her cats. What are their names again? "Cairo, Egypt, Pharaoh and Ramseys" Pool Pussy loves the Egyptian Cat theme. This is why she chose this doctor. Cuz she had cats on her website.
"So, what can I do for you today?"
Pool Pussy smiles nervously, sticks her forearm out for inspection. "I think all my years of fun in the sun have caught up with me," Pool Pussy sighs.
Dr. Shute looks at the offered spot. Smiles. "How long has it been there?"
"I got this print out off the Internet about "Actinic Keratosis...." Pool Pussy begins.
Laughing, Dr. Shute glances over at Dashing BF as she takes the sheet, "I ask her how long it’s been there and she shows me this print-out. You’re a hoot!"
Pool Pussy doesn’t think it’s so funny, but whatever. She’s at Kaiser.
"So, I’ll ask you again, how long has it been there?"
Pool Pussy shakes her head. "I honestly don’t know. I think a while...."
"You’ve been complaining about it for several months," Dashing BF offers.
Pool Pussy glares at him.
Dr. Shute shakes her head as she continues to smile. "Any family history of skin cancer? Melanoma? Basil Blahblah..."
Pool Pussy shakes her head, "Well, no melanoma, but my mom and my sister both had some spots removed and...."
Dr. Shute laughs, "Everyone comes in here telling me how such and such a relative had a spot removed and now they have this spot and ohmygod it must be cancer or precancerous, but lemme tell you something, nothing is precancerous, it’s either cancer or it’s not..."
Pool Pussy nods. This makes her feel so much better.
"So, I’ll be happy to refer you to Dermatology. They’ll be happy to take a look at it."
"What do you think, Dr.?" Dashing BF asks anxiously. "Is it something for her to be worried about? She does have a tendency to worry."
Dr. Shute chuckles. "Nah....I don’t think it’s anything to worry about, but I will give her a referral to Dermatology. They’ll be happy to look at it," she repeats.
This definitely doesn’t make pool pussy feel any better.
"Now, I can’t give you a print out right now, but would Monday, July 31 work for you?"
Pool pussy works at the stupid college on Mondays, but is so stressed out she’ll figure out something. "Er....sure...I hafta work but...."
"Great. So, your appt. is with Dr. McDermotitis (PP did make that name up) at 3:30 p.m. Get there on time. They get very cranky otherwise. They’ll do a full body scan at the time."
Pool Pussy copies down the appt info on the back of the Actinic Keratosis Print out. Feels anxious about the prospect of a ‘full body scan’ with someone she’s not having sex with.
"Can I go to the pool though, in the meantime?" PP asks anxiously. What the hell is she gonna do if the Doc says no? She can’t live without the pool! It’s her sanity preserver!
"Sure, just don’t go in the middle of the day. Go after 3 in the afternoon when the sun isn’t at its height."
Pool pussy nods. She can do this. Though it’ll be hard in the fall when the pool is only open during lunch time. Hell. It’s all so cranky! PP never wanted to be one of those Berekeleyites that are afraid of the sun! "The sun is not my friend," JC, her ex’s pale friend always says. PP sighs. She loves the sun. It warms her. She’s always so cold! What’s she gonna do without it?
Be very very very CRANKY!!!
"Y’all have a nice afternoon." Dr. Shute smiles broadly. She’s had it with Kaiser for the day. Back to her cats and her dog.
"What’s your dog’s name again?" PP asks before leaving.
"Cool. I knew he hadda good name."
"And what are your cats names?" Dr. Shute asks to be polite.
"They’re literary artistic names: Pablo Picasso, Sylvia Beach and Dorothy Parker."
PP nods, murmurs a bye bye and a thank you before she and Dashing BF follow the doc outta the little room.
Thankfully out of Kaiser and at Mills. 5:15 or so. Way after peak sun hours, PP steps around the murky puddles in the busy summertime lockerroom. Spies the Lovely I in her Tropical Mismatched Bikini slathering on sunscreen. Thinks how she’s here late too! Usually they both go at the noon time hour. Wonders what’s up?
"HI! You’re here!"
Lovely I turns, startled, then grins! "FINALLY! We waited all afternoon for These People to pick up ART and they said they were gonna be at our place at 1, and so we waited and waited and then at 3 they call and say they’ll be here at 5 and so again we wait and wait and they still don’t show up so at 5:05 I call ‘em and say, "I GOING TO THE POOL! I’ll be back around 7, do you think you can make it by then?"
She laughs. Pool Pussy joins in.
"Wow!" LI exclaims. "It’s so nice to know someone who the first thing you do is go GGGRRRRRRR!!!! for 5 minutes before even saying ‘hello’!
" Yes, it is!" Pool Pussy agrees. Feeling 100% better now that she’s at the pool and privy to an ART RANT.
This is why she swims!
Grinning, Pool Pussy dons her long sleeved UVA 50+ shirt and follows the Lovely I. out onto the deck into the enchanting afternoon post sun zenith light, nearly tripping over a tiny tot in a hot pink bikini before spying an open lane and nabbing it!