Little Faith and a Long Scar

The Scar after 5 weeks

The Scar after 5 weeks

In October I realized that the red spot on my forehead was “a sore that won’t heal.”

It turned out to be a basal cell carcinoma, which the dermatologist said was the best kind of skin cancer to get because it wouldn’t metastasize; it would just grow.

But the little booklet he gave me said that basal cell carcinomas can send their roots into surrounding tissues—and the surrounding tissue that came immediately to mind was MY BRAIN!

So I was more than happy to have him cut it out.

I was also just a bit embarrassed, as in “oh, me of little faith.”

What kind of qigong practitioner was I if I didn’t first try doing a bazillion reps of appropriate qigong exercises to see if my body could clear this small, relatively tame cancer?

But I chose the cut-stitch-and-be-done-with-it approach, and I have no regrets, even though I never dreamed that a red spot less than a quarter of an inch across could result in an inch-long scar that would take six months to a year to become “barely noticeable.”

When I was younger, I would definitely have minded having a long, red scar on my forehead.

Now, oddly, I don’t.

I’ve joked that my scar doubtless draws attention away from my wrinkles. It’s big enough that people must speculate–a car wreck? a fall? an encounter with Lord Voldemort?—although few ask.

The secret truth is that I kind of like my scar, even though it bears witness to my unwillingness to give qigong a chance.

During most of the week I had stitches, I wore a bandage over the incision, per doctor’s orders.

But the day before I was to have the stitches removed, I lost my smart phone while walking in the rain. I found it lying in a gutter, dried if off, tucked it in my bra (the driest place I could think of) and walked home again.

By that time, I knew my friend Karl was waiting for me in the park to do taiji. I put the phone in a plastic bag with a bunch of the little silica gel packets from vitamin bottles that I save for storing seeds from one year to the next. I changed clothes and pulled off the wet bandage but didn’t bother with a new one. Karl and I did one round of the long form, and then I went to the Verizon store across the street to find out how much trouble my phone was in.

The sales rep said that if I put the phone in a bag of dried rice for two days, it might well live. Then he asked about my incision, with the five stitches with little black threads sticking out from each one.

He was compact, Asian and intense, and I was sure he practiced some martial art for no better reason than that he was compact, Asian and intense.

I explained about the basal cell carcinoma.

“Glad they got it,” he said. Then he gestured at the incision.

“It looks cool,” he said.

I grinned.

Though it might be a sign of lack of qigong faith, my incision had been blessed.

PS My phone survived.

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