On about January 25, 2018 I noticed that I had a new mole on my right shoulder. I was very concerned that this might be a melanoma because it had an irregular shape, color, and surface.
I knew that I should try to get this mole looked at and removed by doctor right away. A week later I began trying to find a dermatologist in Dickinson, North Dakota where I have lived and worked for the past five years, a town of about 25,000 people.
I found out that there were no dermatologists in Dickinson, but there was a dermatology clinic in Bismarck, the state capitol, 100 miles away. When I telephoned this clinic, the Mid Dakota Dermatology Clinic, I was told that the soonest available appointment was 6 months away.
Six months wait to see a dermatologist is way too long if you think that you have melanoma, the most fatal form of skin cancer if left untreated. I tried telephoning other dermatology clinics in Bismarck, but these other clinics had a similarly long wait.
I then telephoned a dermatologist that I had seen eight years ago in Idaho, and his office had appointments available each week in February. I made an appointment for February 21, in order to be able to plan being away from my job in Dickinson.
I knew that this was more than a 12 hour drive back to Idaho, and more than $300 in fuel for the round trip. Due to the snow and ice covered roads, it took me 16 hours to get to where I was going in Idaho.
At the dermatologist’s office in Idaho, the check-in patient paperwork took me 4 minutes to complete. The medical assistant then took me to an examination room and spent about 3 minutes talking to me and photographing my mole. Then the dermatologist came in.
The dermatologist looked at the mole on my shoulder for less than one minute, he then said that this is either a mole or a squamous cell, neither of these have the ability to spread cancer throughout your body, so if I were you, I would just get this frozen off, and this whole visit will cost you less than $100.
It took this dermatologist less than two minutes to freeze this mole, and then I was done. It took two minutes to pay the $99 bill using my debit card.
This whole dermatologist office visit from when I arrived there to when I left, took less than 20 minutes. It was no big deal.
I have had the experience many times in North Dakota, that what are normal ordinary things to do in other states, can hardly be accomplished in North Dakota. If anyone has ever seen me sometimes characterize North Dakota as being backwards and primitive, this is why.