My medical trifecta

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, bam, bam, bam! First it was a visit to my dermatologist, second came my ophthalmologist and lastly I saw my dentist.

My dermatologist checked a mole I spotted on my back via a mirror. I’ve had skin cancers over the decades, 40 or 50 eruptions. Yes, really. With one exception, a slightly more serious squamous cell carcinoma, they’ve all been basal cell carcinomas, a manageable form of cancer. You slice it out, and that’s the end of it.

Why do I have this problem so often? It started decades ago, and I imagine my youthful life as an unofficial sun worshiper in the sunny southeast of the United States played a role. If it wasn’t my bareback days on Florida beaches, it was my bareback motorcycle rides in Louisiana. Oh, the lovely suntans I sported. I could have passed for a “person of color” most summers, perhaps gotten into Harvard due to affirmative action. And a scholarship.

If Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren can do it, why not me?

I speak cracker dialect!

I have a good dermatologist here on the mountaintop, a young woman. She took me on time, no wait, concurred with my diagnosis, laid me flat on my stomach, and sliced it off. She asked if I wanted a biopsy, and I said no.

She left me with two stitches. The consultation and minor surgery cost about $90 U.S. I paid cash.


Tuesday afternoon, during our weekly shopping jaunt to the nearby state capital, I visited my ophthalmologist to ask about special glasses for night driving. I have mentioned here previously my failing night vision.

Turns out my problem is cataracts, especially in the right eye. The cataracts are not extreme. It only affects driving at night. I still see fairly well during the day though I have noticed it’s not like the olden days. So Tuesday next week, I’ll get laser surgery on the one eye. The one-eye cost, including an anesthesiologist, is the peso equivalent of $1,400 U.S., and I’ll pay cash.

An internet search reveals that the cost above the Rio Bravo runs about $5,000 to $6,000 and even up to $10,00 per eye. Another example of how Mexico is superior. I’ll report back next week after it’s done. I should see the keyboard better.

I’ll almost certainly do the other eye soon.


And lastly, today was the dental visit. I have a hygienist in the state capital who does the best cleanings I’ve received in my life, and during a visit recently she pointed out a cavity that needed excavating.

Instead of returning another day to the dentist she works with, I opted for my dentist here where I live, both for convenience and cost. Last week, she repaired the cavity, and set another appointment for today when she replaced two aging fillings with new resin, making me look fine because they were on my front teeth.

Price for the complete filling and the two replacements: the peso equivalent of $85 U.S., so again I paid cash. I am considering buying health insurance now, but who knows? I’ve been sailing fine without it for two decades. Maybe I should buy some before I die.

The skin game

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UV detector from Amazon in the United States. Right to my door.

I USED TO BE a sun worshiper, long ago when I was young.

In those faraway summers, in Georgia, Florida and even later in Puerto Rico, I was mostly naked outdoors and by late June I could have joined Black Lives Matter as an angry soul bro’ had that disreputable band of brothers existed way back then.

But starting when I was about 45, the proverbial chickens started returning to the henhouse with roosting on their pea brains. Skin cancer. In the decades since, I’ve had at least 50 basal-cell carcinomas removed from my flesh.

The most recent five — yes, five — were excised last week, surgically and biopsied.

We now have an opaque glass roof over the entire upstairs terraza that we recently had renovated, an upgrade that continues to this day. Two guys will be here today applying a fresh coat of amarillo villas, which is a fancy way of saying yellow.

A few days ago, two canvas curtains were installed in two sections of the new zone, and more perhaps will follow, depending on how the rainy season behaves. We will also install a sunblock net with a nice design on the bottom of the new glass ceiling.

Recently, I ordered a handheld device that measures the sun’s UV rays. I got it from Amazon. I was pleased to discover the new opaque glass roof reduces UV a lot but not to a 100% safe degree, and that’s why we’ll install the sunblock net.

I want to be able to sit out there worry-free. UV is obscenely high here due to the combination of latitude and altitude.

Basal-cell carcinomas are visible and very slow-growing, giving one lots of time to deal with them. Melanoma, of course, is the Bad Boy of skin cancer. I always knew melanoma was the least common form of skin cancer, but I was surprised to learn this week it makes up only 1 to 2 percent of skin cancers. It’s quite rare. But can be very deadly.

With luck, my skin cancers will continue to be basal-cell carcinomas because they appear to be increasing in number as I age. This is common, I have learned.

Let this be a lesson to you, boys and girls. Don’t walk around bare-assed in the summertime, and if you do, apply sunblock. And don a big sombrero.

But no matter your skin tone, stay out of Black Lives Matter.