In Part I, I laid the groundwork discussing the years of my searing sunburns that led me to the day in December that I had MOHS surgery for the cancer at my eye.
You can read about it HERE.
On the morning of December 7, 2011 I was in the doctor’s office at 8:30 sharp for my appointment to have the surgery done. My father was my loving assistant that day as I would not be allowed to drive myself home after the procedure. As a sidenote: my dear husband has an aversion to doctors and hospitals so I knew he was not the one to be chauffering me around. It wouldn’t be fair to him, but more importantly, it wouldn’t be fair for ME to have to listen to him. Only a father’s love can help you through what I ended up going through that day and I will be forever grateful to him and very grateful that I still have him around. We walk every morning but this was the first morning of what has now been a month that we haven’t walked due to the surgery.
If you recall, the first graphic photo I posted last time showed the results of the first cutting and the size of the hole under my eye. After they patched me up and told me to go out in the waiting room to wait, the first thing I did was turn my camera on to see the results of their labor. I felt like I was punched in the stomach and I showed my dad the photo and the words out of his mouth were: you’re going to need a graft.
- artwork in the doctor’s office, my view from my seat
So after I caught my breath, I looked up and this artwork was what I saw: Does this not remind you of the hole they cut out under my eye? I saw the similarities and pointed it out to my dad and he said: yep, sure does. If you haven’t noticed, he is a man of few words, well spoken words though.
It’s at this point that I really start to freak out inside but not let it show on the outside. I mean, I have a reputation for being a strong girl, so I can’t let my fans down now, can I? Having no desire to read anything I brought to read, I grabbed my laptop because I did have that with me to play Solitaire to help pass the time while I waited. So what you are about to read are the nervous ramblings of a scared little girl. You might want to go get a glass of wine, in case you need to numb yourself while you read my ramblings. 🙂 SERIOUSLY, it’s like I had diarrhea of the rambling thoughts that day, I’m not kidding. You’ll see if you stick it out to the end 🙂
December 7, 2011
Had a good night’s sleep despite the fact that I was nervous. You see, I’m not good with unknowns. I am a planner by nature and know what I’m doing months in advance. Don’t get me wrong, I am also spontaneous and love doing things I like to do at the last minute, hoping a friend will have by chance the same time available as I have. That doesn’t happen often though, so it’s usually time with me doing what I want. Still, I am in control of what I want to do. This however, is NOT what I want to do but out of necessity, must be done. Fortunately, I have my father here with me for support.
I am in the doctor’s office and we have just concluded the first step. Had my blood pressure checked and it was 100/74, a little high for me since I usually run 90/60. Call it nerves. The doctor came in and confirmed the area to be treated and took a photo. At this point my father was asked to leave the room and then she started numbing me up with the needle. A tiny little needle, injecting local anesthesia about 5 or 6 sticks at a time., right at my eye. I had to close my eyes! I have an aversion to needles and usually pass out, but she was real good. She cut a piece out of me, put it on a slide and left while the nurse patched me up. I asked the nurse to take a photo of this step to help document my experience. 10 minutes later, I am out in the waitng room while the specimen is in the lab being checked for any residual cancer in the margins. The waiting game……..hopefully I won’t have to go back for more cuttings. But that is the unknown……if I knew what to expect I could present it to my mind in such a way that it could process and know what to do in response. But, I’m flying by the seat of my pants, learning to be in the moment as opposed to 2 months out.
Maybe this experience will teach me something about taking it one day at a time, which actually makes sense since I can’t really control what tomorrow will bring. It’s never too late to teach an old dog like me a new trick. I am however, looking forward to taking the next several days off and laying in bed. I have given myself that right and start back on Monday even if it goes well!
Yesterday, I did what I foresee as the only thing I could do in preparation for this, because mentally, I had to prepare for calm and well being during the procedure. So I booked a half day at the Luxe Spa
in Lancaster. Let me tell you, what a fantastic idea I must say! I got a full body age reversal scrub, as if there really is something to reverse the aging of this body! HA! It involved a wonderful fruit scrub, the oils and lotions being applied and enveloping me in a mylar wrap. While in the wrap, I had a wonderful scalp massage, which I love by the way, and a facial massage. Any tension I was feeling in my jaw up to that point was rubbed away. Rebecca is awesome at what she does so I highly recommend you getting one. After the scrub, I was whisked away to the massage room of Luis which having employed him the last year as my masseur from another salon, I knew what I was in for. He knew exactly what I needed to relax for today and went to work. I won’t deny that he did inflict some amount of pain on me as we worked out the kinks in my neck and shoulders, the standard kinks that come from making couture draperies and installing them. So if you want a world class massage, please ask for Luis, you won’t be disappointed.
This all helped me in my need to let go of control and allow the doctor to do what she does best. You know, what I tell my clients, that I am one of the best at what I do and to allow me to show them, to relinquish control to me and know that in the end, they will have a product they will be so happy with that they will want to share it with their friends, family and neighbors! So now I have to swallow my own medicine.
And so, I am sharing my experience with you, because I want to tell you that you must stay out of the sun for an extended period of time or if you have to be in the sun, please protect yourself! All those years as a young girl, thinking that having the deepest darkest tan was the ultimate in being beautiful. At the time, I felt very beautiful, a bronzed beauty (beauty is in the eye of the beholder, mind you) and didn’t care that I was using baby oil to accelerate the tan, year after year after year. I had many sunburns and crusty peeling skin but the most damage was done to my face. And I have been getting annual skin checks every year for the past 20 years and at 48, I am now on my third basal cell carcinoma.
And you would think that after all this, it would make my sister and brother run to the dermatologist for a check up since we all did the same thing. No, unfortunately, it hasn’t. That’s why I am documenting this with photos and words. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, trust me, this first pic just told me a story. It’s not pretty and much bigger than I first imagined, although, with the unknown I didn’t really know what to imagine. The optimist in me wants to think that this first round will be all that’s needed, and I can go merrily on my way because in my world that is usually what happens. The doctor explained to me that because of the site of the cancer, it is near the tear duct and that’s another reason we had the ocular plastic surgeon involved. I wouldn’t want to be perpetually crying now, would I? Although, when I’m having a moment, it would be so convenient because I could just blame it on the cancer that affected my tear duct! HA!
How nice, I just got a text from a friend wishing me well. I have received many messages on Facebook from friends and family wishing me well and that has gone a long way too. Friends have offered to cook for me so wow, a girl could get used to this! I love my bedroom, so have made a nice little cocoon to get comfy in, with my featherbed, down blanket and cats! The feel of soft warm fur as my cat lays at my head and the soft purring and curling up with my other cat as he lays in the curve of my stomach. Cats are so intuitive so I’m wondering how they will react when they see the bandage on my face! I will probably freak them out, no doubt and they will run so I will have to talk first so they know it’s me.
Still waiting…….been half an hour at least………not good at waiting……….thank goodness I decided to journal and keep this mind occupied while waiting…….
10:41 now. As I was tiring of waiting, I was called back again for some more cutting. There was more that neeeded to be taken from the margin headed NW (northwest). Seems it’s wider than originally thought. Hopefully this time we got it but now I’m in the waiting room again playing the waiting game. Not feeling too comfortable at the moment. After seeing the second pic, I’m thinking I just might need a skin graft now, but novice that I am at this, I could be totally wrong. How I wish I was wrong….OOOOHHHH! Dad is patiently waiting, reading a magazine, we didn’t get our walk this morning like we usually do so I’m sure he would rather be out doing something else. I’m also wondering if I didn’t gross him out by showing him the pics of my eye. While I don’t have a problem with it, he might be more sensitive to this than me.
I think my sensitivity level has lessened greatly due to the fact that 2 of my cats have come home with severe injuries requiring surgery and I had to play nurse. With Tiger, the cat that came home with a mauled back foot, and by mauled, I mean two toes missing, broken and missing bones in the foot, a hole where flesh used to be, tendons hanging…….I think you get the point. I really wanted to throw up when he came home in that condition but remembered he was counting on me to get him to the vet asap! So I put my natural desire to pass out and get sick aside and rushed him over. After a month of surgeries and daily debriding and laser treatment, he now has 2 1/2 toes. It made it much easier for Tiger when I accompanied him each time for the treatments, so I was at his head to talk to him and keep him calm while the assistant held his leg still for the vet to do what he had to do. Trust me, there were moments when I caught a glimpse of that poor foot that I wanted to pass out. In fact, a couple times I felt the rush of heat and sweating that accompany my passing out and I had to do a major talking to myself to “buck – up sister” and “get ahold of yourself” because my cat needed my attention to be fixed on him! Not to mention the vet was busy and didn’t need to be picking me up off the floor. And so I think it was good practice for today. I can look at the pics objectively and tell myself that’s not really me, it’s a model that looks like me with this hole in her skin at her eye. And then I look closer and I see it really is me, warts and all! It all changed in 10 minutes with a scalpel.
So here I sit….waiting…..it is a rainy day. But it’s a perfect rainy day to be having a procedure like this done. I don’t have to think, I just have to be. I’m allowing my doctor to be in control……new territory for me. And I’m looking forward to what I will be getting for dinner later on. My friend Tina stepped up to the plate and offfered to bring me dinner. Fantastic! I did my dishes last night so my kitchen is clean. A real treat since that is not usually the norm. My mother is a clean freak, and maybe as a kid that drove me nuts, because she would have us polish the leaves on the plants with oil! Yes, I’m not lying. I am the oldest so probably my baby brother doesn’t remember this so don’t ask him, he’ll tell you I’m nuts. He’ll tell you that anyway though! 🙂 Anyhow, I think I rebelled because I did not get those genes and I can live with a little dust and clothes stacked on the chair in my bedroom, dryer and maybe even the washer. I am blaming that pile thing on my mom, because even though she is a clean freak, that woman has piles. And depending on what room she is cleaning, the piles will get moved. But you know, if that’s the worst thing, I’m pretty fortunate that I can blame her for that, it runs in the genes after all! No, ADD runs in the genes and that is all part of it.
I digress, where was I again? Oh yeah……waiting…….maybe I’ll text my sister now. It’s 11:04. Oh, I just got called back again. Oh no, here we go. I’m back. Good news this time, we got it all with the second cutting. Whew! They placed some erythromycin cream on the wound, placed a pressure bandage over my entire eye and I’m good to go. I am free to go! Got a copy of my pathology report for a biopsy taken from my back left shoulder a couple weeks ago. Evidence of dysplasia in melanocytic cells. Another pre melanoma removed and disaster averted.
Had a nice lunch with dad and taking a cup of tea at the house with mom till I have to be at my 3:30 appt with the ocular plastic surgeon. However, during lunch, my local anesthesia began to wear off and I’m starting to feel some discomfort. I have 45 minutes yet till I leave so maybe I’ll kick up my heels and nap on the couch.
I am feeling so loved right now because a lot of my Facebook friends are leaving me such loving warm thoughts. It’s nice to be surrounded by friends and family when going through this. And you know what I just thought, what I’m going through is nothing compared to what some are going through right at this moment so I really need to keep this in perspective, yet allow myself to feel vulnerable which is not a sign of weakness, but rather allowing those around me to comfort me because it’s what they want to do. I do the same with my friends, always ready to help so now it’s my turn to be the recipient. It’s not an easy thing for me to be dependant upon others. I am a strong woman and forge ahead in the face of adversity and I have had my share of adversities. Life has trained me to be strong and I’m very glad I had good role models in my family. My grandmother and my cousin Linda are perfect examples. I jokingly refer to Linda as “the Woman”.
It’s our thing!
My aunt Barbara just called to check on me. Another role model to look up to. How sweet, she said she wished she could be here and I wish she could too because she would pamper me and baby me just like my mom. However, only moms will shave your legs for you in the hospital when you have been admitted on an emergency basis because your cat bit you and the infection is spreading up the arm so fast you could die from it! But that’s another story! But that’s what my mom did, because who in the world thinks about random stuff like that happening when you have hairy legs? I’m sure the hospital staff has seen it all, but not my hairy legs! HA!
So, anyhow, aunt Barbara thinks they’ll just sew it together and it will be ok. Wish she is right but because I am young, very young to be having this problem compared to most who are in their 70’s and 80’s, my skin is too taut so I really am preparing myself for a skin graft. As I sat in the waiting room, I looked around at the others who were in there for the same procedure. Guess what? they were all in their 70’s and 80’s. If I were 70 or 80, my skin would be so loose around my eye that they could sew it together without the need of a graft. So, the question is: do I wish I were 80 or am I glad I’m 48?
10 more minutes till we leave for the plastic surgeon. To say that I am a little nervous is an understatement. The pain has been gradually increasing as the local anesthesia wore off so I am tolerating this on my own at this point. Hurry! Get to the other surgeon fast, I need this puppy numbed up so I can’t feel it anymore. I have seen the hole in my face. Where will they take the skin from? Can I get a tummy tuck too? I will be reporting back later when I get home and am surrounded by my cats and in my featherbed. Until then……
DID YOU ACTUALLY GET THIS FAR WITHOUT TAKING A BREAK?
And that’s how I finished the journal that day. I never got back to finishing it because of what happened next. And that will be the subject of the next post, the plastic surgery part of the day.