Every year, I head to Morehead City for a visit with my dermatologist. Like a sailing ship, I need to be careened to remove pesky barnacles.
He beaches me on his table for proper inspection. Generally, everything is pretty ship-shape with an issue showing up now and then.
On this last visit, he parted the maze of hair rigging and found something of concern on top of my left ear. I used the term “rigging” because my ears are perpetually hidden under my shabby tangle of hair.
He mumbled a few “hmmms” and said he needed a sample. He also said words I hate to hear from any doctor - “this may sting a little” - as he proceeded to numb the appendage.
He cut a sample to send away for biopsy and said he’d let me know. After not hearing back for a week, I began to suspect nothing came of it.
Chuck Berry sang to me from my phone, “Ring, ring goes the bell!” My doctor’s office was calling to tell me I needed a procedure that was too involved to do in his office so I was being referred to Down East Medical Associates.
I’d be lying if I said I felt good about being sent to another dry-dock but understood he was looking out for my best interests. I did wonder what was so involved he couldn’t do it.
So on the appointed day, I presented myself at Down East wondering exactly what was in store for me. From the get-go I liked these people.
We walked up to the counter and I had a hotel flashback. I requested a room with extra pillows. The lady grinned without missing a beat and said my room would be ready as soon as housekeeping finished with it.
The place was busy with a lot of folks going in and out but the operative term is “in and out.” I learned later they didn’t keep patients waiting. An appointment was an appointment, on both sides of the book. Nice.
Dr. Tommie Canipe did the honors on my ear, assisted by his wife. I guess all physicians learn common terms because he also said, “This may sting a little.” He didn’t lie. It did sting a “little,” like Vesuvius was a “little” eruption.
He whittled away, checking it and whittling some more. It was like doing a hedge, making sure it was shaped just right.
I’d told him up front not to tiptoe around what he had to remove. I didn’t have one smidgen (to use a popular political phrase) of cosmetic vanity. Anyway, my ears seldom saw the light of day.
While the doctor was trimming, his wife good-naturedly complimented me for smelling good instead of like beer as most Chapel Hill alum tend to do. I guess school spirits vary.
And if meeting those extremely nice folks wasn’t enough, the day got better. The Sanitary opened that Friday for their season. My wife Ann and I had a great lunch as I listened to angels singing through my numb ear.
Otis Gardner’s column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.