Thursday, February 5, 2015

Skin Deep

Part 2 of my Gripping Story
This is a Public Service Announcement.  If you are a member of the League of Very White People, then hie you hence to a dermatologist and get the Once-Over. 
Slick to embiggen to see just how very white we are.

When my skin doctor, Dr Albert Mark Einstein Twain, retired, I found a new doctor.  I feel fortunate to have found a highly competent and personable doc, although to my knowledge he does not frequent the theatre.  Once a year I go for the once-over.  Usually I point out the latest scary-ugly thing on my skin, and he says, “Oh, that’s just a [insert medical term ending in –osis].  That’s nothing to worry about.” 

I went for my annual this January, and for the first time, he looked concerned about a spot – something practically invisible on my face just below my eye.  He had to look through his magnifying-glass thingy three times.  Then, biopsy.  Boom, basal cell carcinoma was confirmed.  This is not a surprise, as it has appeared in members of our family going back generations.  It’s not a kind of cancer that spreads easily, and as long as you get it removed right away, it’s not likely to cause problems. 

The doctor’s office said I should have a procedure called Mohs surgery.  My brother said, “Well, at least he was the most competent of the Three Stooges.”   Leading up to the surgery, I mostly forgot that it was coming up, except for moments of total panic that someone would be slicing my face while I was wide awake. 

I had the surgery on Tuesday, and Dr Moe was indeed very competent.  While he was taking the pound of flesh (okay, more like a microscopic layer of flesh) he distracted me by asking about my children, a topic on which I am willing to go on at length, even when under the knife.  The initial procedure was over in five minutes, so I will have to go back next week and tell him all the rest about my kids.  

After the slicing, before the stitching.

The second part of the procedure was the stitching up.  This was more lengthy (a whopping ten minutes) but quite a bit more disconcerting.  Despite excellent topical anesthetics, I was in no mood for chatting, even about my kids.  I got through it thanks to the prayers of others for me, and by reciting snippets of St Patrick’s prayer over and over.  I also spent some of that ten minutes praying for other people I know who were going through things much more difficult. 

Then the highly competent nurses Larry and Curly bandaged me up, told me my eye might swell shut, instructed me to keep the bandage dry for a week, to keep my head elevated, and to take it easy.  Then they sent me on my way. 

As we were waiting for the elevator to the parking garage, a very good friend from church just happened to walk through the door.  She works in the adjacent building, but I hadn’t realized that until we had arrived that morning.  How wonderful it was to see a caring friend just at that moment!

On the way home, I told my husband that I didn’t think I could eat crunchy food, because chewing might turn out to be painful.  Also, I was supposed to sleep with my head elevated, and therefore, we should go up to, say, a mountaintop.  To sleep in a resort hotel.  With room service.  He said, no, but he would stop off at the grocery store and pick up some mashed potatoes.

Now I can tell you from experience that it is well nigh impossible (hello, Suburban Correspondent!) to keep a bandage on your face dry while taking a shower. I expect to look odd for a while, but hey, my eye did not swell shut. My son says I should wear a mask across that half of my face and go around as The Phantom of the Common Household.

Not too bad a result.  I'm so happy my eye did not swell shut!
I dread the moment when they will pull off the bandage next week.


Suburban Correspondent said...

I'm still laughing about the "well nigh"! The stitching up would have freaked me out, too. I can't even bear to see people getting their eyebrows threaded.

The Crislers said...

I'm so glad you caught it early! I also feel just a tad guilty at being so thoroughly entertained by your skin cancer.

Patience_Crabstick said...

I'm glad you're OK. I've heard of MOHS surgery, but I wasn't sure what it entailed.

Cassi said...

My sister had the same kind of cancer removed (also from very close to her eye) --however we live very far away, so I never saw her during that time. I didn't realize it would take so long to heal, or that you couldn't get the bandage wet for so long.

I don't really understand why your husband nixed the mountain resort, though. It sounded like an excellent idea to me!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Oof. D had Moh's done years ago. It was not pretty, but necessary. He lost a quarter of his upper lip in the process and is badly scarred, but it was his fault for putting off a "cold sore" for 5 years.
I'm glad you are healing without losing vision.

slow panic said...

I leave the blogosphere for a few weeks (ok months) and people go around cutting off parts of themselves! Glad you caught it early and you are healing well.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

A mountain resort with room service... I like how you think! However, I don't think I could stave off the panic while having a surgery on a spot so close to my eye. Yikes!
I would have prayed if I'd known.
My brother-in-law is now dealing with skin cancer, but it's not the kind that can be dealt with by Moe, Larry, and Curly. I'm relieved that yours is stooge-worthy!