By Wyatt Earp | November 27, 2009
It started by fighting Philadelphia rush hour traffic at 6:30am. I had to be in the office by 7:30, so it was an early start. We arrived at the doctor’s office, opened the door, and saw a packed house. Apparently the doc performs many of these Mohs surgeries during a average day, and there were six or seven other patients in the room with us.
Strangely enough, the staff moved quickly. The doctor’s assistant took me into my room, put me on the chair and explained how they were going to cut me open like a Thanksgiving turkey. The doctor came in and made a few magic marker lines around the cancer and left the room. His assistant gave me the local, courtesy of three needles to the forehead, and we were off the the races.
When the doctor came back, he moved quickly. Since the cancer was so close to my eyes, I couldn’t see a lot, but I heard everything. That’s not as nice as you would think, especially when you can hear them cutting into your face with a scalpel and snipping off parts of my skin. There was a lot of blood, enough for the doc to ask if I had high blood pressure. When I said no, the assistant asked, “Are you stressed?”
Um, no, I just love having surgery for skin cancer. OF COURSE I’M STRESSED!
Once the piece of cancerous skin was removed, the assistant bandaged me up and took me back to the waiting room. I looked like I do above, and was startled that the bandages were so large. The techs had to scan the removed skin for cancer cells before they decided if they were going to sew me up or go back and cut some more.
I was lucky. All of the cancer was removed from the area, and they could start the plastic surgery. The doc said that he was going to borrow some skin for the plastic surgery. I wanted to say, “Feel free to take some of it from my stomach,” but self-control got the better of me. Then came the good news. For the plastic surgery, they have to make the original wound about three times larger than the original incision. My original cut was round, which does not heal well. The doc needed to make it “fish-shaped” for the skin to line up properly. So again, they sliced.
I’ve also got an uncovered pic of the wound below the fold in case you’re interested.
Yeah, that’ll be a kickass scar!
Once that was done, the doc had to cauterize the wound. Let me tell you, there is nothing worse than smelling your own burning flesh. It was pretty nasty, but necessary to stop the bleeding. Once that was done, the doc stitched me up – an even dozen closed the wound – and bandaged me high and tight before sending me home.
As I said, the doc didn’t prescribe any painkillers, so Tylenol will have to do. The pain is noticeable, but not unbearable. At times it feels like there is a knife in my skull, but that feeling comes and goes. Guinness would help, but my paperwork says I can’t have any alcohol for two days. The wound has to be cleaned and dressed twice a day until the stitches come out – next Wednesday – and I cannot get the area wet. Showers are now an adventure, as I can’t get my head or face wet.
The good news is that the cancer is gone, and that trumps anything else I have to deal with. The doc’s name is Stephen Greenbaum, and he is absolutely awesome! Probably saved my life.