WE arrived at the Palo Alto Surgicenter in Mountain View at 750am, plenty early for my 8am appointment. The excitement got us going early, so being there before the specified time was a breeze. Okay, perhaps ‘excitement’ isn’t the right word. Gnawing nerves, instinctively dreading the arrival of this moment, wishing I was anywhere but here……THAT describes it more accurately!
The doctor got started quickly by drawing on my forehead with a laundry marker. I knew I need not complain about him using a product that doesn’t wash off, since I figured that he was planning on removing the tissues he demarcated. Sure enough, he did just that, He started the actual surgery by loading me up with local anesthesia. Three needles worth to be exact! He was obviously planning on doing some heavy duty excavating!
After he had his first go at my forehead, he sent me out to the waiting room with a patch on my forehead. Nothing could be finished off until the specimen went under the microscope, for several reasons. First, it needed to be identified, to ensure that it was in fact malignant. Then, what kind of cancer is it? I now know that it is a basal cell carcinoma, or more specifically, a multi nodular basal cell carcinoma.
The GOOD NEWS is that basal cell cancers are the most superficial of all skin cancers. What you see is what you’ve got, so once it is removed to the dermatologists’ satisfaction, that is the end of it! BUT, it is essential that the doctor removes ALL of it, every last cell that shows up as malignant under the microscope. Plus, he needs to remove a ‘safe margin’ of healthy tissue, in order to be sure that all the diseased tissue is GONE.
AS A result it was no big surprise when the doctor came out to the waiting room to tell me that he needed to take another shot at removing malignant tissue, since the margin he took still had cancer cells in it.
So, back I went to the OR. He poked around a bit with a probe, and soon determined that MORE local anesthesia was needed. Luckily, this surgical intervention was much shorter, and I was soon back out in the waiting room again. While we waited I talked Glenn into getting me a cup of hot chocolate, which definitely soothed my jangling nerves.
Soon the nurse was calling me back in to the OR, such as it was. In other words, the OR was simply an ordinary exam room decked out with tons and tons of draping! The doctor felt that a safe margin had finally been obtained, so it was time to stitch up the wound. Calling it a ‘wound’ makes it sound like it was something that had happened as a result of an accident, but that clearly wasn’t the case! In any case, it was time to repair the damage that hath been wrought.
Thick black wiry threads were the material of choice. I was warned that the most I would feel during this process was pressure, pulling, and the odd TUG. Mercifully, it was over before I had time to realize it, and I soon had a large pillow-like bandage sitting atop of the stitches. This was the ‘pressure bandage’ that was to stay put for two days. After that point I could remove it C A R E F U L L Y so as to not damage the stitches. Then Polysporin was to be gently dabbed on the stitches morning and night, before applying a loose bandage. This is to be done until next Wednesday, when the stitches will be removed by the nurse at the clinic.