Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You Should See The Other Guy

By Martha Reed

I decided to make some changes in my life this year and one of them was to really take an active part in maintaining my health – make a real effort with nutrition and exercise, schedule all my checkups and appointments, etc. The surprise was when I arranged for a casual skin screening and my PCP didn’t like the look of some of my moles. Now, I should mention that I am the Queen of the Mole People - always have been – and some of these spots have been with me for as long as I can remember. The eye-opener this time was that she didn’t like a couple that were on my face.

Usually, when I get a mole removed, I schedule the outpatient surgery, close my eyes and go to my inner happy place in my mind and come out when it’s all done. The actual surgery nowadays is down to a science and is about as uncomfortable as getting your teeth cleaned, meaning not really. Bing, bang, done, I’m out the door and back to work with 400 milligrams of ibuprofen singing in my veins. Yesterday morning, however, I had to lie down on a table and let them pick up a scalpel and come at my face.

I’ve been trying to figure out why have someone come at my face is any different that pruning something off my back, knee, hip, or upper arm. I can’t tell you why, only that it is. The weird thing – for me, anyway – was that this time it was a surgery where I stayed awake. Every other time I’ve gone into an operating theater I’ve been unconscious. This time I walked in, was introduced to the team (strange?), everyone said “Hi” or “Good morning” as I was led to the table. It got very surreal after that and that was way before they gave me any Percocet.

I lay back and one half of my brain was directing me to retreat to my inner “Happy Place!” “Happy Place!” while the other, writerly, side was trying to take in all the details on the off chance I might be able to use them in a story someday. The pristine white room, the surprisingly narrow surgical table, the bright chrome lights in the ceiling. My conscious self was trying to get me to LEAVE THE AREA (in my mind) while the other part of me was listening and recording everything that was being said around me. There was a real War Between the States going on inside my head at approximately 10AM.

One of the very, very kind surgical nurses asked me where I worked and then started quizzing me on any people we might know in common. The courteous, trained side of my nature tried to answer her questions while the other side struggled with controlled panic. The two surgeons stitching my lower lip started discussing Cubs baseball and I wanted to ask them if they were really focused on the right topic just then but thought better of it. I know that I was just another random patient and that it was just another day at the office to them but it felt weird to become an object. After they started laying surgical towels over the parts of my face that they didn’t need (like across my eyes) that’s pretty much when I checked out.

That’s the report. Any further details for a future story will have to be fiction.


Annette said...

Martha, I hear ya. I've had two suspicious spots removed from my face. One was dead center on my nose. In both cases, my doctor opted to freeze them off, so no surgery. Still, it's different when it's your FACE that's getting hacked and marred. Too bad none of us were smart enough to use sunblock and wear hats when we were kids.

Here's hoping for complete healing and a speedy recovery.

Joyce said...

So far, I haven't had any moles removed. I must have inherited more of the French and Scottish genes than the Irish and German ones. I don't usually burn, either.

You'll be back to your beautiful, bubbly self soon!

Thanks for the clip from one of my favorite movies!

Joyce said...

Annette, remember using baby oil and iodine?

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Hope you're better soon!

I thought I was Queen of the Mole People! Guess I'll have to abdicate now...

Mystery Writing is Murder

Martha Reed said...

Don't forget the parental injunction to "Go out and get some sun!"

That was the wrong advice for someone with my heritage - I got my skin from some branch of the family that didn't tan - I only burned. I'm willing to nominate SunScreen as a miracle cure!

I'm trying to find a silver lining - like another day off today and hopefully getting more of Chapter 20 done.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I'd be worried about those doctors too. Cubs fans are the most tortured fans in all of sports.

Wishing you well, Martha.

Martha Reed said...

Wilfred, it's just as well. If they'd started discussing Steelers football or the Pens I would have had to chime in. With the Cubs I felt safe to say nothing!

queenofmean said...

Wow, so there are others claiming to be Queen of the Mole People. Who knew?
I'm like you, Martha. I don't tan, only burn if I'm not wearing sunblock. I've had a few moles removed myself, but not from my face either.
Hope all is well and you're feeling better soon.

PatRemick said...

Although it doesn't sound quite as dramatic as your experience, Martha, I had Mohs surgery on my face to remove a small mole (who knew something so small could lead to a gazillion stitches?) and in this kind of surgery, they don't stitch you back up right away but make you go walk around somewhere for about an hour while they wait for the pathology report to see if they got enough of the margins. If they did, as fortunately was my experience, they then stitch you up very nicely and you hardly have a scar. If they didn't, they go back in and cut more, and keep checking until the margins are good. You can imagine how the folks in the small downtown reacted to seeing me walking around with a big bandage on my head during the waiting period....
Two weeks ago I had robotic surgery for another issue -- NOW that was a weird experience... and I believe blogworthy at some point. Anyway, my sympathies on your most recent medical adventure....
Do you think it was the baby oil and iodine? I sure blame it for my skin cancer fun.

Annette said...

Pat, my mother-in-law had that same surgery. Twice. The first time, they got everything the first try. The second time, they had to go back more than once to get it all.

We didn't walk around town, though. We just sat in the waiting room.