A few months ago I had to take my daughter into the pediatrician’s office for her 5 year shots. The doctor did a regular examination as well and I happened to remember a mole my daughter has between her toes that’s in the shape of a straight line. The doctor took a picture of it and referred us to the dermatology department for them to take a closer look.
The dermatologist determined the mole was fine, and decided to check out the rest of her body. Freckles here, moles there. She focused in on a small collection of freckles on her body and decided that my daughter might have something called neurofibromatosis.
“What is it?” I asked. The pediatrician was oddly vague, explaining it as a genetic disorder.
“But like…what is it, exactly? Are there any symptoms besides the freckles?” Again, the pediatrician talked around it, and wanted to refer us to the genetics department for further testing and counseling.
“A lot of children who have it tend to have abnormally large heads. They also will sometimes be developmentally delayed.” My daughter has a pinhead and is smart as a whip.
“Hmm. That doesn’t really match.” I countered.
“And I know, this is a really embarrassing question, but I just have to ask. Is there any chance you and your husband are related?” She queried.
I looked at my daughter and back at the doctor. My daughter is brown. I am white.
“Uh, no. My husband is Indian.”
By this time my daughter is jumping up and down singing and dancing. No amount of scary parent glare on my part will make her calm down. She is anxious as hell and we leave with her terrified of her freckles. We go home and I Google the diagnosis. Terrifying. No treatment. No cure. I measure her freckles. The diagnosis doesn’t seem to add up. I don’t call the genetics department. I don’t take her in. I’m not going on another rollercoaster this year if I don’t have to.
Fast forward to last week when a strange, dark growth appears on my daughter’s eyelid seemingly overnight. Fear envelopes me. Oh my God, was the dermatologist right? My daughter is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Will she be covered in horrid skin growths? Was Jay’s death just the beginning of a long line of horror?
I took a picture and sent it to the dermatologist. “Here’s the beginning of another bullsh** ride,” I thought. I zoomed in on my iPhone to look at the growth more closely. It was surrounded by tiny blood specks, the growth taking on an odd shade of blue. It didn’t look like a mole. It looked like a tick.
A TICK! IT’S A TICK! THANK CHRIST, SHE MIGHT ONLY HAVE LYME DISEASE! THAT’S CURABLE!” We spent the better part of the afternoon trying to find someone at Kaiser who had the stones to take it out of her eyelid. “Opthalmology,” they said. We sat for what seemed like a year in the waiting room, only to finally be called in so that they could take a moment to give her a vision test while a blood-sucking, disease carrying insect burrowed further and further into her eyelid. The doctor did ultimately take it out, with her on my lap while I wrapped my arms around her teeny 33lb frame. After a few moments of sitting completely frozen, it was out. No growth, no neurofibromatosis, and likely no Lyme disease, it was gone. I got the species identification results of the tick this morning: “Dermacenter species not a vector of Lyme Disease.” Awesome.
I am always, always looking for another shoe to drop. I live in a world where there is no control. I feel like I saw the underbelly of the universe and I can’t unsee it. I hate people who believe that good things happen to good people. But this time, in this instance, things turned out well. And I’ll take it.