I went to have my moles scanned again today at the unwieldily-titled Hong Kong Skin Cancer Diagnostic Unit (HKSCDU) in Des Voeux Road, Central. Unlike last time there was no feeling of euphoria when I left: it was a different nurse who immediately made me feel uneasy as she seemed so unsure of what she was doing. Initially she said tentatively that she wasn’t sure if she could identify the moles that were previously scanned. She couldn’t work the camera and we had to give up on getting my five suspect moles photographed; and when she scanned my moles and tried to mark where they were on my body on the body outline provided in the software, she kept marking them as being on my right arm instead of my left so we had to go through the whole process again for each one (scan the mole with the little handheld scanning “gun”, press too hard so it hurts and arguably distorts the mole, wait aeons till the software loads the photo, mark where the mole is on the electronic representation of my body for easy identification). She casually described one of my moles as “suspicious”, which didn’t inspire much of a sense of well-being; and she had such an air of timidity that I began to wonder if she’d ever done this before. (I had to bite back the sarcastic remark “First day in the job?”)
The problem was that I was feeling increasingly disagreeable, and I knew that I was intimidating her, and as I intimidated her, she became more nervous, and as she got more nervous she made more mistakes (at one point the poor women said “I’m not having a good day”). I just couldn’t help it, though: it’s bad enough subjecting yourself to the uncertainty of submitting your moles for examination in case one of them has decided to mutate, and seeing your potentially-cancerous “lesion” appear on screen at 1000 times its usual size – the size of a small plate, in fact - and the magnification making the hairs on my arms appear like big black cables, without having someone ineptly squeezing K-Y jelly (used for the scanner) all over your arm as they fumble with the technology and nervously chit-chat about how suspicious my moles look.
As I write this I feel somewhat guilty about my absolute inability to empathise with her muddling and wonder whether someone reading this might immediately conclude that I’m a bad-tempered curmudgeon. But I think that professionals should be, if nothing else, professional. Not only that: I am paying HK$2000 per mole to be reassured. That aside, I resolve henceforth to comport myself with better grace under pressure.