Under My Skin: Late One Evening


It had been a long day. Only three messages needed tending to, which was a relief. Okay, I thought, let's take care of these and go home. "Hello, Mrs. Wiener, this is Dr. Rockoff calling you back."

"Good evening, Doctor. My son is getting new spots. Can I use the same cream that worked on his old spots?"


"Thank you. Should I use them only on the new spots or also on the old spots that went away?"

"If they went away, you don't have to treat them."

"Sometimes I get a red spot on my hand that turns white when I scratch it."

"Maybe that's because you scratch it."

"The cream you gave me worked. Can I use it again?"


"Last time you told me to use the cream twice a day. How many times a day should I use it now?"

"Twice a day."

"For how long?"

"2-3 days."

"And then I stop?"

"Yes, then you stop."

"That's the same thing you told me about my son."

"Yes, I am telling you the same thing about you. Will there be anything else?"

"No, I think that's it for now."

One down. Maybe the next will be quicker. It's ringing. Great, not home! "Mr. Snitzel, this is Dr. Rockoff returning your call. It's 7:00 p.m. Tuesday. Please call my office tomorrow." That's two.

"Yes, Zelda? Mr. Snitzel on line 6, he said he just missed your call? Okay, please put him through. Yes, Mr. Snitzel?"

"You just called."

"Yes, I did just call."

"My cell doesn't work in the house. You treated my wart last summer, and I have another one. How much would it cost to treat that with no insurance?"

"The fee is $100."

"Okay. Also, you treated me with two pills for a fungus. How much would they cost if I have no insurance?"

"Not sure. Would you like to cost it out before I call in the prescription?"

"Could you call it in anyway? I use PVC."

"Which PVC?"

"It's in Boston."

"What street?"

"I think Center Street. Or maybe the one on Oak. …No, Main Street."

"I'll look it up online. There's a PVC at 218 Main Street, one at 346 Main, and one at 704 Main."

"Please call the one at 704, and I'll decide if I want to buy it."

"Yes. Will there be anything else?"

"No, that's all for now. Thanks for calling."

Finally, the last message. Maybe he won't be home. "Oh, hello, Mr. Bluster. You recall the basal cell skin cancer you had on your shoulder last year? This time the biopsy showed another basal cell on your cheek. It's not serious, but it needs to be removed."

"Yes, Doctor. Before I do, I wanted to discuss this."

"Sure, what did you want to discuss?"

"I wanted to know when the first basal cell cancer on my shoulder was discovered."


"Is there a way to know if the recent basal cell cancer on my face was completely removed?"

"It wasn't completely removed. I did a biopsy test to find out what it is. Now it needs to be removed."

"Since I have had two of these basal cell cancer cells, does this make me more likely to get them again?"

"Maybe a bit, but we'll keep a close eye on you."

"Does my risk for melanoma or other cancers go up because of these two cases?"

"Not really. We'll keep a close eye on you."

"What can I do to prevent these from occurring in the future?"

"Take care in the sun and come for regular checks."

"Is the basal cell type of cancer caused by other factors other than just the sun, like diet and stress?"

"No. Will there be anything else?"

"Yes. Who should remove this?"

"A skin surgeon. I recommend Dr. Mosey at Beth Elizabeth. His number is 888-555-MOHS."

"Why can't you do it? Is it very deep?"

"No, but the results are better on the face when a skin surgeon does it. Any further questions?"

"Yes. When should I have it taken out?"

"As soon as you can arrange it. I'm heading home now. Good night."

"Good night, Doctor. If I think of any other questions, I'll call you."

"Yes, you will. Good night."

Good night, Zelda. Zelda? She must have gone home.

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