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Friday, November 16, 2012

In which our hero says: Owww

Previously on "Midget Invasion": I had a weird scab on my nose that had been there a very long time. It wasn't very big. In fact, it started off very tiny, but grew and grew until it was about the size of a pencil eraser. Finally, I went to the doctor. A biopsy ensued, with a month of waiting, and the results came back. Skin cancer, and it looked like squamous cell, which is super rare in a woman of my age. To read the unabridged versions of this part of the story, go back to the two blog posts before this one.

So, when we left off, I had a referral to a surgeon, and didn't know what was going to happen next. This week, it all happened. Well, back when I first met the surgeon, he wasn't convinced it was squamous cell, and thought it was basal cell that was just really pissed off. Basal cell is still rare in someone of my age, but not quite as jaw droppingly rare. We scheduled the surgery, a Mohs procedure, which is where they numb you, cut out what they think will get it all, and then have you sit and wait while they test it. If they didn't get it all, they come back and cut more. The idea is that it actually ends up taking out less tissue than the traditional treatments, where they just cut out a huge margin to be absolutely sure.

This past Monday was my Mohs. They shot my nose full of lidocaine, which is a party in itself right there.

Then they stuck this to my hand:


Does anyone know what that is for? Anyone?

If you said "It's a grounding pad so when they cauterize your tissue they don't accidentally electrocute you." Then, you get a gold sticky star! It's an annoying thing, too, because if you've ever felt the sticky stuff on the monitors they put on your chest when you're in the hospital, the whole thing is made of THAT, and it's on your whole hand. My sensory issue self was not pleased.

So, the surgeon comes in, they drape my face, and he begins. He cuts out a piece he hopes will get it all, and then the resident cauterizes the bleeding part. Getting to smell your own flesh roasting is always such a fun experience, especially when it's on your nose, so you have no choice but to breathe it in.

Here is a picture of the first chunk they cut out. Click at your own risk. This is graphic, and gory, and Midget Invasion is not responsible for any fainting, vomiting, or heads hit on desks. http://flickr.com/gp/10455228@N00/043461

 The nurse comes in to dress the wound, and then I sit and wait. I brought a book which I attempted to read, but I was way too distracted. I paced the room, visited the restroom a few times, paced the room some more, and read all the pamphlets and inspected the medical equipment.

Finally the surgeon comes back in. "Sorry, but we need to take more." Sigh. More lidocaine, more sticky grounding pad, more draping, more cutting, more smelling my own flesh burning, more nurse bandaging, more waiting.

Shot of the second chunk they took. Same warnings as before. Gore ahead: http://flickr.com/gp/10455228@N00/3w0Ux2

This time I wait longer. I visit the restroom some more, try to read some more, and then try to straighten the pictures on the wall that are crooked, because it's been bothering me the whole time. As I'm adding the finishing touches to the straightened pictures, the surgeon comes back in. Huzzah, they finally got it all! The nurse bandages me up just like it is. I have a plastic surgery referral, so they leave it open for him to deal with. Finally I get to go home.

The plastic surgeon is very nice. He looks at it, and offers to put me out for the repair, which won't be until the next morning. I decline, because the hubby had to leave the next afternoon. We part ways, and then the next morning I go back to the hospital for the third morning in a row. The surgeon once again offers to put me under, but I promise him I won't bug out on him. They prep me, and then the real fun begins. More lidocaine injections. Massive amounts this time. 

An aside-if you've never had lidocaine injections, just imagine fire ants stinging you and injecting rubbing alcohol into an open wound. If you can imagine what that feels like, then you've got the idea. 

He numbs up my entire nose, down the sides, and a large chunk of my forehead, too. The wound is so big, that he has to cut more to close it. He also tells me he's not entirely sure if it's going to work. That he might have to do a more extensive repair where they cut all the way up my forehead to bring a flap down. He tells me if we end up doing that, I'll have to be put out. 

I lay there while he cuts and pulls, and chatters with his resident and nurse, deciding how best to avoid having me look like something out of a horror movie. (Too bad this wasn't right before Halloween, it would have greatly improved my zombie costume!) Finally he decides that if he only cuts a little of my forehead, he thinks he can make it work. He warns that it will be tight, but should loosen up over time. (He was having to pull the skin from the sides of my nose up really hard, which in turn was pulling my cheeks under my eyes pretty tight, too.) 

He finishes, throwing steri-strips on for good measure, and then tells me to get the stitches out in a week, and get more steri-strips put on, because he's worried the wound could pull back open again. Here I am as soon as he sat me up. (No idea how many stitches and in what configuration the cuts are in. I forgot to ask.)

Me: "Omg, I look like one of the vampires from Buffy!"

I go home, the hubby fills my prescriptions, and I proceed to spend the next 36 hours absolutely and completely miserable. The pain was awful, the swelling got WAY worse than this. (Sorry, no pictures of that. I was too busy trying not to die. But to give you an idea, that swelling you can see on the sides of my nose spread out under each eye. That eye on the left was really hard to keep open at one point.) I couldn't even stand up to go to the bathroom without having to fight throwing up. I had to go cold turkey off the pain meds they had prescribed, because it just made the nausea constant.

Last night, I was able to sit on the couch for a few hours without keeling over. This morning I woke up feeling almost human. Almost.

Now we spend the next few weeks hoping the stitches hold, the wound doesn't reopen, and that I come out the other side of this looking halfway decent. Whee! I'll definitely blog again when we hit the next phase and the stitches are out and you can actually see the incisions. I bet you're all looking forward to that.

Moral of the story? SUNSCREEN!


Jim Lehmer said...


And no, I didn't go look at the pics. I'm a wimp that way. I'll leave it to the medical professional in the family to check out and tell me about it.


At least your kids should believe to wear sunscreen now!

Mrs. Dixon said...

whoa! You were super brave!!! (I looked at all of the pics!) Yikes! I'm glad that ordeal is over for you!

Meghann said...

Thanks! Although it's not totally over. Now that it's happened once, and so young, I'm at a really high risk of it happening again. I'm being followed by dermatology, and they said if I make it 5 years without a new one, then they won't have to follow me as closely for a while.