I packed a small bag of essentials to take with me for the "Mohs" surgery. This is a micro-surgical procedure in which the surgeon begins by carving out a small margin of Kirk material surrounding and including any cancerous growth. They put the carved out tissue under a microscope, examine the edges/margins to see if there is any evidence of cancer in the outlying areas. If there is none they cauterize the area and then sew you up with two layers of stitches. If there is cancerous growth out to the margins they go back and make a wider cut. This continues until they get to a zone where the margins are all negative for cancer. The goal is to remove as little skin and sub layer as possible while getting all the suspect tissue.
The procedure starts with Lidocaine injections in and around the area that will be removed. That part scared me the most. I hate injections. Just hate them.
After a quick, five minute slicing and removal of tissue you have to sit, with a bandage on your wound while someone checks margins of the extracted epithelial tissue with the microscope. This took a half hour but fortunately my kind and brilliant spouse had picked up the latest Ian Rankin novel from the local library and packed it into my "go" bag earlier in the day. I pounded through the first 60 pages and it certainly took my mind off the whole ordeal. Go Literature!
The stitching up process is emotionally uncomfortable because you can feel the tugging and pulling of the sutures. But physically the whole area was deadened so there was no real pain. The pain came minutes later when the surgeon confirmed that swimming, and indeed any exertion that raises the heart rate over say, 90 bpm, was off limits for the next 7 days. Especially swimming hard and fast. Thank God I got 3300 yards in that morning.
So, the results in the margins were negative in the very first go. That was great news. We caught this early. Score one for hypochondria. I thought the doctor was incredibly good but that may be because all three of his kids are swimmers at a highly competitive program here in Austin. Seriously though, I trusted my surgeon because he was highly recommended by my regular dermatologist and I trust my dermatologist because he was the prime recommendation from my general practitioner. And I trust my G.P. because he's proven himself to me over the last 30 years. It all counts. Feeling confident in one's care providers eases much of the psychological burdens when you face any medical situation. I feel sorry for those who cannot have that kind of continuity of care.
I was ushered into the clinic at 1:15 and I was in my car and heading home by 4:00 pm. I thought of dropping by Precision Camera on my way home and buying a little something to reward myself for my outrageous bravery but I feared the newly reinvigorated rush hour traffic just ahead. There so much new stuff for L mount users about to hit the market that perhaps it's best, in the moment, to keep some powder dry.
My left cheek will never be the same. But I survived the ordeal and lived to write about it. Thanks for the nice e-mails, texts, etc. All most appreciated.
Now, off to pre-order that Sigma 65mm f2.0 for the L mount and to find a nice couch on which to perch and finish off that Ian Rankin novel.
More to follow...