‘Liver Spot Love’

Warning! This blog contains material that may be offensive to the eye! That’s right, you are advised to read further with caution.

What you will see here is not life-threatening nor harmful, nor toxic or contagious. I promise you will be okay if you choose to continue reading.

photo(7)Hark and behold!! It’s a middle-aged hand sporting a gigantic liver spot! Well, age spot. I’m not sure where the term ‘liver spot’ came from except that liver is about the grossest thing one could think of to eat and so “liver spot’ (being the color of liver and seemingly as gross) perfectly describes this thing on the back of my hand. Yes, that is my hand you are looking at here. A harmless ‘genetic skin disorder’ is what a dermatologist diagnosed me with about 10 years ago, when I went in to see him wondering if I might be stricken with melanoma.

Last week I took our daughter to her dermatologist. He’s been treating her for a couple of years with antibiotics and topical solutions to clear up her skin and he declared her “much improved” with “keep up the good work” and “keep out of the sun!” Then he turned to me, gestured toward my hand, and declared, “Maybe I should have a look at that!” He leaned in with his magnifying glass to peer at that spot on my hand. I was a bit startled. He was giving me his time and attention at my daughter’s appointment? He must be genuinely concerned. “Good, that spot on your hand is okay,” he concluded.

Gross, ugly, unlovable liver spots!

Gross, ugly, unlovable liver spots!

“What about these on my leg?” I inquired, propelling my outstretched left leg in his direction, granting him clear access with his eye instrument to three more sizeable liver spots. (I was wearing a short ‘skort’ and white v-neck t-shirt, the outfit I’ve worn about 50 times this summer. It’s twin outfit is in the dirty clothes.)

He peered at several spots on my leg through his instrument, and declared them ‘okay.’ Then he engaged me in a lengthy discourse about the dangers of sun exposure, like, any sun exposure. No sun!! I argued about vitamin D, that, the way you mostly get it naturally is through sun exposure to the skin, and I make sure to get plenty of sun exposure in the summer, especially because I live in a northern climate. “Food sources contain scant amounts and otherwise you’re stuck with taking supplements,” I argued.

“That’s right!” he exclaimed. Then he shared his personal pro-health regimen: He applies 15 SPF sunscreen on his face every morning and wears at least 30 SPF sunscreen plus a hat to protect himself if he spends any time outdoors in the sun. 15 SPF sunscreen on his face every morning to wear to … his office job? What, is he worried about sun exposure in his 10-minute car ride to work? This doctor is all of 35 years old and I admit he has nary a freckle on his lily white face. What about his vitamin D? Not to worry. He takes a 2000 IU supplement every day, available over-the-counter.

“Come on!” I argued. “Surely some sun is good for you!”

“It causes cancer!” he retorted. He handed me a couple of pamphlets to ‘read over carefully’ when I got home. Concerning cancer, I already knew that excessive sun has been linked to both basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, which are both highly treatable. It says right in the pamphlet (published by the American Academy of Dermatology) that when found early and treated properly, the cure rate for both cancers is over 95 per cent. Melanoma is the scary one. And probably my biggest fear with age spots (other than being viewed as some kind of leper by paranoid anti-sun freaks) is that they may mask the appearance of melanoma. Plus, to quote from the article above, “Some people wish to have these spots removed as they consider them unsightly; this can be done by cryotherapy or laser treatment.” Cryotherapy? Really?

Well anyway, I’m a die-hard sun-worshipper, come liver spots or not. I have an older sister egging me on here. She has been doing extensive research to support her theories on health involving Vitamin D and the sun, low vs. high fat diets, statins use … and challenging many of our society’s current hard-held beliefs on these subjects. Check out her blog post about sunscreen. She is my sister, but she also happens to be a Graduate of MIT- with her B.S. in Biology and her PhD in Electrical Engineering. She is very passionately trying to get the message out that sun is GOOD for you. Albeit, sun in moderation – 15 minutes a day will do.

And if you are the least bit concerned about the swine flu you might check out this link and give it some thoughtful consideration. Even if you are a dermatologist or doctor spilling out to your patients what you learned in medical school. By the way, my daughter’s dermatologist did say that if you get a blistering sunburn then it increases your melanoma risk by 17 per cent. I’ll have to do some research on this, but nevertheless, I am not advocating blistering sunburns. Hey, I got a sunburn on my back when I was 17 that peeled three times and resulted in sun poisoning. I can’t change that. My body is getting older every day that I am alive. I am alive! – those are the operative words here. And I’m trying to muddle my way though the murky medical corridors of our health system which seems to be seething with misinformed advice. Somehow I will make good healthy choices for myself.

How about, for starters, I learn to love my liver spots?

photo(8)Here we have a kinder, gentler image of my liver-spotted hand which, you see, is still able to play ‘punky monkey” with ‘Rudy’ our miniature poodle.

Kind hand.

Gentle, sun-loving, liver spot. 😉

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One Response to “‘Liver Spot Love’”

  1. Abraham Matacale Says:

    We all know the dangers that the sun can bring, but if we are honest, most of us tend to ignore them. We think that the skin conditions which can occur through sun damage such as skin cancer will never happen to us and so we simply carry on regardless. We know exactly how to prevent these conditions from happening, but we do not know how to treat them once they do occur. So how exactly do you treat an existing skin condition?,

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