Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Mini Facelift for a Cause

March 7
On March 7th, following two weeks of celebrating Jim's big milestone with a cruise and company, I went under the knife to remove the two skin cancers on my head. The plastic surgeon began with the one on my temple as he deemed it the "simpler" of the two. For whatever reason, it takes a lot of local anesthesia to numb anything on me. The shots to deaden the area are no fun, but they beat the alternative. Except that I felt him cutting the first spot. Yelping in pain, he quickly gave me another shot. Yay. The removal went quickly, but the stitching seemed to take forever. Why does it feel as though your skin is being pulled 10 inches away from your face? It doesn't hurt, exactly, but it kind of makes me sick to my stomach.

Moving on to the second one, which was centered on my upper forehead but extending into the hairline, he commented on the amount of nerve endings in that part of your head. "This will be painful," he predicted. I could tell the second cut was larger than the first by the amount of stitches he put in. How does that old song go? "The first cut is the deepest?" Not so, mister songwriter.

Things didn't look or feel too bad when I first got home from the doctor's office. But then the anesthesia began to wear off, and boy howdy! I was allowed to take Extra Strength Tylenol, but not aspirin. And then the cuts began to bleed some. Because they hurt so much, I did not touch them. The post-op instructions say to wash the wounds with soap and water several times a day. No way was I touching them. Needless to say, I did not get too much sleep that night.
March 8

The next day I attempted to wash the wounds despite the pain, and honestly I thought I was going to pass out. I had to lie down between each one. As I mentioned these are my 9th and 10th skin cancers, but I have never had any that hurt me this badly. It may have been a mistake to have both done at the same time as they were competing for the same skin on my forehead, which was stretched super-tight. I think that combined with the swelling added to the discomfort. There was little sleep on night two either.

It took several days before I was no longer taking Tylenol every four hours. The surgeon actually called me on Thursday the 10th to let me know that he had the pathology report. Both of the lesions were basal cell carcinoma, and he had gotten clean margins on them. I was so concerned that he would have to go back in, but this was overall really good news. If you have to get skin cancer, at least basal cell is the least invasive. He asked about the pain level, and I told him it was still pretty bad. He said he wasn't a bit surprised because of all the nerve endings he disturbed.

March 16
I did not even leave the house except for small walks with the dog until Friday, and then only because I needed food. Jim's aunt had died earlier in the week, so he drove up to Iowa to get his dad and sister to take them to the funeral in South Dakota. He wasn't home to help me out, so if I wanted to eat, I had to go to the store. I slapped a bandage over the most offensive looking wound so I wouldn't scare small children, and headed to the grocery store. It was so sweet because the bagger was all concerned about what had happened to me. I suppose I looked like I had been in a car accident or something.

By the end of the weekend I was able to take long walks with the dog again as my face didn't get jarred with every step I took. But it took until the next Saturday before the rest of the dried blood came off and I could use my bangs to cover up the surgical sites.
March 20
At the end of the day, I am grateful that this is only basal cell carcinoma and that I have health insurance and the means to be able to get rid of the cancer. But like Cher says, "If I could turn back time...", I'd erase the time I spent playing outside in the sun as a kid. All these cancer surgeries are a tough way to get a facelift!

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