So, we headed back to our old stomping grounds in Georgia for some Jace time, some friend time, and for an appointment at the VA Clinic in Atlanta for me.
Getting to be of an age where skin issues take on some importance, especially after so many younger years without a whole lot of protection against the sun, when something changes shape, size or color on my exterior, I'm on it.
While in Gunter Hill COE in Alabama, I noticed that what once looked like an age spot was get darker (almost black), larger, and thicker. Sent my primary care physician at the VA in Georgia a couple of pictures, and a few days later I had an appointment at their huge clinic in Atlanta. The appointment was set for about 3 weeks from the day I requested it; not bad.
Meanwhile, life went on. We finished up at Gunter Hill and headed towards our two week stay in Florida. Meanwhile, the spot continued to grow larger to about the size of a dime, and turned almost black completely black. Then, with a week to go before my appointment, it started shrinking. No drainage of any kind; it just started getting smaller, although it remained darker than normal. By the time my appointment day arrived, it was almost back to normal size. Thank God I had pictures to show the docs at the VA, or I would have looked like a kook!
My appointment was scheduled for 1300 hrs. Got there early to process COVID-mandated paperwork. At precisely 1300 hrs they called me back into the examination room. A perfectly marvelous and friendly PA by the name of Sabrina took all the usual vitals and got me set up for the examination of 3 different areas I wanted checked out.
A good twenty minutes later, I had 1 primary and 3 residents all staring at my head and knee. Lucky me, I had come on the day when residents were training with the primary dermatologist! So now only did I have 4 people staring at my vanishing problem area, I had 4 people looking at my iPhone to see what the fuss was all about. Multiple views using a hand-held magnifying glass, multiple questions from the primary to his flock, and it was determined that one of the three was no problem at all, one behind my knee didn't look like a problem, but since I was scratching it and opening it up it should be removed, and the mystery area was undetermined; but that a biopsy should definitely be taken of the site. The suspicion from the primary was that he wouldn't be surprised if I had a “foreign body invasion” (bite or sting), but that the lack of any drainage made it curious.
Now I'm officially a medical oddity in yet another area, in addition to my one-in-a-million circulatory system setup.
Barbara thought that it was (once again) entirely appropriate given my nature.
Twenty minutes after the primary's grilling, the resident who drew the short straw (or maybe the long straw due to my being a “medical oddity”) numbed both areas, removed the spot behind my knee and took a healthy-sized biopsy from my head. Sufficiently sealed and plastered with copious amounts of gauze and tape, I'm handed a wound care kit capable of taking care of things for the next few days with a promise that I'll get the results in the next couple of weeks.
Fast forward a week and a half, and I get a voice mail from the VA with the good news that nothing bad was found in either biopsy and that I'm good to go. There was also a follow-on call a couple of days after the procedure to check in on me and my condition.
Many of you who know me know that I am not a fan of government-run anything. There have also been a lot of negative stories about the quality of care veterans can expect to receive in many VA clinics and hospitals across the nation. While my experience could be a result of lower patient traffic due to COVID-19 restrictions on certain in-person visits now being handled by tele-medicine, I can honesty say that my visit and procedure done at the VA Clinic in Atlanta was every bit as good as any private medical facility. My hope is that my fellow veterans receive the same care across the country as well.
Medical oddity taken care of, it's now time for Barbara and me to visit a city we've always wanted to see, but never had in the 29 years of living south of the Mason-Dixon line – Charleston, South Carolina.
But that's for my next report.
We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're living the ultimate retirement experience - traveling the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, playing golf and stopping at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.