It was my idea to give it a name. It was the oral surgeon who came up with the idea for alliteration. His suggestion: Freddie Fibroma. It was a way to add a dose of familiarity to the little bump in the corner of my mouth. I wasn't born with it, but I don't have a specific memory of the moment that it showed up. It has been a point of mild concern for my dentist once a year since I started visiting him over the past seventeen years.
It all reached a head last month when, as a part of my regular examination, my dentist noticed that the little bump in the corner of my mouth had grown since he had last made a note of it. It was now five millimeters long, where it had been quietly hanging around at three millimeters for most of the past decade. He made yet another in a series of referrals for me to see an oral surgeon. "It's no big deal," he assured me in the same way that he always had before when handing me the slip of paper with the names and address of a group of more expensive mouth-care providers. "They'll probably just look at it, and they might just lop it off right there."
"Just lop it off." Those words lingered in my mind as I continued to put off making the appointment. What if they found it was connected to something bigger? What if it was the first sign of a creeping melanoma? "It's probably nothing," was the other phrase I heard, and they were the ones that convinced me to make the call. It was a chance, during this lazy summer, to get something that had been on my to-do list longer than my son. Courage.
I drove up to their office yesterday morning, saying all those calming words that I had assembled over the years. If it really was a big deal, wouldn't my dentist have been more insistent way back when? My wait was pleasantly short, and I was led to a small room with no dentist's chair, just a very comfy blue lounge chair where I had a chance to read a few pages of my book before Dr. Oral Surgeon appeared.
He put on rubber gloves, asked me a few general questions, and then proceeded to fiddle with the nub in the corner of my mouth. "It's what we call a fibroma, and it usually comes with an adjective," he began. I flinched in anticipation of the adjective he might use to describe mine. "Yours is no big deal. The fact that it grew two millimeters is a big deal for us, since we deal with things on that scale, but if it doesn't bother you, we'll just a take a picture of it and I'll note what I observed."
Which, it turns out, was no big deal. If it should continue to expand or become unsightly, he explained that it might be worth freezing and cutting it off. For a moment, that idea appealed to me from the sheer standpoint of being done with it. But then I found myself attached to it. "My fibroma," I said, "like a pet." Then I added, "I should name it."
The creeping fear that I had felt for the past few weeks had passed. I know now that I have a bit of scar tissue in the corner of my mouth, and it's no big deal. I may not have it forever, but for now we keep each other company, and that's all we really need for now.