Before…..Or After?

Today I had my yearly appointment with my dermatologist, Dr. Householder.  She gave me a good going-over, declared me free of any skin cancers, and then smiled broadly as she said, “It’s been ten years since your first skin cancer, so I don’t need to see you again.  You graduated!”  She smiled broadly and I did, too.  I like Dr. Householder, don’t get me wrong, but it’s nice to be told you don’t have to come back for check-ups anymore.  And today she didn’t even offer me her standard advice concerning what to wear out in the yard.  A bonnet.  Yes, she always urged me to make or find a bonnet, and to wear it whenever I did gardening or yard work.  I just never could go there.  I think Gary was glad for that.

I drove away from her office and thought back to ten years ago when I had skin cancer surgery.  Thankfully, it was not melanoma.  I had noticed a rough patch on the very top of my right ear for a long time, but never thought a thing about it.  It would come and go, bleed and bother me, and then heal some before repeating the same thing again….and again.  Silly me didn’t even think about skin cancer, though with my dad’s history of multiple skin cancers and surgeries, I should have thought of that first.

I ended up in Dr. Householder’s office, where she confirmed that it was skin cancer and that it would need to be removed.  However, since it was on my ear and was fairly deep, she wanted me to see a plastic surgeon.  She had never referred anyone to Dr. Schoonover before, so I was the first.  I don’t even remember in which office I saw him first, but he did schedule me for surgery.  Not long after, I had a decent sized pie-shaped wedge taken out of my ear, the two sides pulled up and stitched together, and was sent home to recover.  I carried with me my appointment date and location for my post-op visit a couple weeks later, along with an awkward bandage on my ear.

The day came for my return appointment with Dr. Schoonover.  This visit was to be at his east side office.  I must explain that in the history of Wichita, the east side has been known to have more of what some locals call “old money.”  It’s like the east side is richer than the west side, or something like that.  I’m from the west side. 

Now, I’m just a simple person.  Not fancy, not rich……but my mother always told me to dress nice when seeing a doctor and so I try to do that.  On this winter day, we had a good amount of snow on the ground.  Therefore, with my khaki slacks and my warm sweater, I chose a pair of practical leather lace-up shoes.  I felt like I looked just fine as I headed over to the east side of town.

I pulled up in the snow-covered parking lot of Dr. Schoonover’s office.  It looked like a nice building…..and then I noticed the sign, the one that said something about aesthetics and plastic surgery.  I walked carefully to the door, stomped the snow off my feet, and walked inside.

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I felt like I had entered another world.  The waiting room was gorgeous, with plush carpet and ornate furniture.  No standard waiting room chairs here, I noticed.  No adult contemporary music playing on the sound system, either.  It was classical, of course.  I signed in with the receptionist who was beautifully dressed and sitting behind a very pretty desk.  And then I turned to take my seat.

Oh dear.  I sat down gingerly in a chair as I tried to get my bearings.  In a corner stood a huge piece of furniture on which there were bottles of make-up and skin creams for sale.  Lovely curtains hung on the windows.  Soft light made everything…..well, soft.  There was a gorgeous table in the center of the plush chairs.

And in those chairs, scattered around the room, were sitting other women.  No one had on khaki pants.  No one had on a normal winter sweater.  No one had on practical leather lace-up shoes.  These women looked very rich…..very well put together……very stiff.  They sat in their plush chairs wearing their wool pants and expensive jackets and leather high heels.  How did they walk in those things?  In the snow!  No one made eye contact and there was no small talk that I remember.  Of course, I was trying to scoot my feet back under my chair as far as possible! 

One of the assistants came out of a room and her shirt was striking.  It was black, and on the front in large and very sparkly letters it said, “BOTOX.”  I really wanted to laugh at that point.  What did I expect in a waiting room that wasn’t just for plastic surgery patients, but was for “aesthetic” patients?  Look up that word.  It means, “Pertaining to a sense of the beautiful.”  That would fit!

And there I sat in my normal clothes, with my leather lace-up shoes under the chair, and an awkward bandage on my ear.  I noticed something else.  There were no magazines.  No Better Homes and Gardens.  No Sports Illustrated.  No Taste of Home. 

But guess what was strewn over the ornate table in the middle of our chairs?  Thick notebooks with pictures in them.  I leaned forward a tad so that I could see them better.  I should have known.  I saw pictures of women and then on the notebooks the words, “Before,” and “After.” 

Aaahhh yes, of course!  And it was then that I wondered if all those fancy women were looking at me and thinking, “She’s a Before.  Definitely a Before!”  HaHaHa!! 

Well, I had what I called an ear lift, for crying out loud!!  That should count for something! 

I was very happy to finish with my doctor visit that day.  Dr. Schoonover was happy with my ear.  Makes me laugh to even say that when I think of what some of those other women were probably there for.  Botox and tucks and trims and suction……who knows?  Oh, and he took a picture of my ear and then of me……my whole face!

I wonder if I was in the After notebook after all?

My final visit with him was at the location of my choosing.  I chose his west side office that was nearest to my house.  It’s called Eberly Farm. 

Yeah, that’s more my speed. 

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