Saturday, December 31, 2022

Endings and Beginnings

The year 2022 will end in just a few hours. It's always a time of reflection - what was good and what was bad about the year. I guess the bad is that we are still talking about Covid, vaccinations, and the wearing of masks - or not. It's hard to imagine that this virus is still such a hug part of our lives after three years. The United States is still averaging 300 deaths per day, and we have lost 1.1 million people since they first started keeping statistics on the coronavirus.

While many people have resumed their lives as if the virus is a thing of the past, we have remained fairly vigilant in our effort to try to avoid coming down with Covid. There are many gatherings and events that we have stayed away from again this year, including any travel outside the U.S. In fact, we have done limited travel even within our country.

A big motivator for us in recent months was the birth of our first grandchild. It was imperative that we remain healthy so that we could visit her and her parents. It paid off as we were all healthy enough to enjoy her first Christmas with them. This baby girl was definitely the best part of 2022. Everyone told us that becoming a grandparent was even better than the expectations that have been extolled about it. That was no lie. To hold this little piece of your child - a little piece of yourself as well - defies description. We are eager to watch this little gal grow into her own person.

Looking forward to 2023, we have several trips planned with friends and family. We certainly hope that our health and Covid allow those excursions to take place. Our lives have been in a sort of holding pattern for a few years now, and we are ready to enjoy our retirement. Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Medical Staple Removal

Thursday I went in to the plastic surgeon's office to have the Mohs surgery staples removed. I just assumed my plastic surgeon would be the one doing the removal, and I came prepared with a joke to play one him. I bought along my staple removal to suggest he use it to remove the staples. The joke was on me as a physicians assistant came in to take the staples out.

surgical staple remover
The bottom jaw of the surgical staple remover is placed under the staple, and when the handles are pressed they bend the staple and pull it out of the skin. Theoretically, anyway. They do not give you any anesthesia for this procedure. 

The first couple staples came out with little effort on her part or pain on mine. Then she got to the tougher ones, and those hurt! I knew she had a total of 22 to take out, so it was not a fun time. There ended up to be 4 that she couldn't remove, and she had to get my surgeon after all. He did a little clean up on the crusted areas around the wounds, which seemed to help him get the last of them out. It was no picnic, and the larger wound ended up bleeding again. I'm not sure the staples are a better option than dissolvable stitches for wounds in the hair after all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Things are Not Always What They Seem

Last Friday was the opening of a new museum in Charlotte. The Museum of Illusions is part of a global movement of illusion displays. A project that began in Croatia in 2015 is now in over 30 cities around the world. The museums offer an interactive experience involving vision and perspective to help you comprehend why your eyes see things that your brain cannot understand.

We purchased our tickets online ahead of time for the 11:00 entry on the 9th. The museum opened at 10:00 that day. There was no line to get in, and museum staff were readily available to get us started in the museum. At each station there was a staff person to answer any questions, give suggestions on the best way to photograph each exhibit, and to take photos if you wanted one of your group.

Having no idea what to expect, I have to say that all three of us really enjoyed our experience at the Museum of Illusions. It was thought-provoking, and sometimes puzzling as I tried to figure out what I was supposed to be seeing. I highly recommend a visit if it comes to your city, or a city in which you are traveling.

more illusions

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

More Mohs Surgery

two grinches
Last Thursday I went to the plastic surgeon's office. I wore my grinch face mask as it mirrored my mood at having more skin cancer. It was ironic that the grinch greeted me in the waiting room. I was scheduled for Mohs surgery to remove the two basal cell carcinomas they found on my scalp. I had a tiny one in my hair on the left-hand side towards my forehead, and a larger one further back in my hair on the right-hand side. 

Dr. Mu was my surgeon again - she removed the squamous cell and the basal cell hiding below it from my nose in December of 2019. While she was unable to get clear margins on either of these after the first excisions, at least she was able to get all of them in the second cut. The one on my nose took five tries!

After she was done Dr. Freeman came in to do the closings. He discussed the pros and cons of stitches versus staples, and we decided to do the staples this time. I have not had them before, and it sounds just like you think it would. Imagine someone holding a staple gun up to your head and firing away. It took 8 staples to close the one on the left and 14 to close the one on the right. 

Mohs followed by staples
hair loss
I was able to manage the pain with Tylenol, which is good as stronger drugs make me sick. The larger wound did bleed a bit that night, so I covered it with Neosporin and a gauze pad. Though I was advised I could wash my hair after 24 hours, I chose to wait an extra day to do so. A large chunk of my hair came out, I'm guessing from the area of the large incision. I'm not sure why they didn't just go ahead and cut the hair in that spot. While the dried blood came out with the double shampooing, the solution Dr. Freeman used to clean my head before closing up the incisions did not all come out. I can still feel it caked on my scalp. I guess I'll need to pick on it a bit before the next shampoo.

Next week I go back in to have the staples removed. Hopefully that won't be too bad.