OT: Back in the saddle. But not galloping yet. Trying to follow doctor's orders.

The post op mug shot. I would smile but I don't want to disturb the stitches...

A confession: I have the most severe medical procedure phobia of anyone I know. At times even getting a flu shot will cause me to feel woozy and faint and needing to be horizontal.Anticipation of a blood test is fuel for a pre-week of anxiety and worst case scenario thinking. So when my dermatologist told me I needed to have a squamous cancer growth removed from my face via surgery I went (metaphorically) looking for a bottle of Xanax. The next big mistake I made was watching a video about the procedure. It was supposed to be preparatory education but instead it was like being alone, in a house hundreds of miles away from civilization, late at night during a thunderstorm and watching the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" in a double feature with "Rosemary's Baby." Oh sure, toss in some footage from the original "Alien" movie for good measure. And it would all be happening to me which made it all even more scary.

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...


rob/smalltalk productions said...

been there. done that.

it is good for you to take care of yourself.

(at least that was what my most wonderful wife told me!)

as a distraction let's talk...cameras!

how about that new fuji xs-10?



stay well.


Bill Pierce said...

Glad you are well.
HOORAY !!!!!!!!!!

SW Rick said...

I don't see the "Austin P.D." overlay on the image- did you clone it out? :)

Be well!


scott kirkpatrick said...

One scrape did it, huh? That's good news.

Roger Jones said...

It gets better faster than you may think. I had a procedure called Rezum done 9 weeks ago and it was no fun, in and out of the doctors office in 45 minutes with a reduced prostate. Ended up in the ER 3 days later with a 102.4 fever of unknown origin. Downside of the ER visit was I knew all the people that helped me as I worked with them for 25 years. Moral to story, you'll be back at it in a few day. Rubbing vitamin E oil on the wound helps reduce scaring and it will heal faster.

Be safe it gets better.


Ray said...

Chicks dig scars. You'll be OK.

JerseyT said...

So glad to hear the positive result. You are now cleared to gain weight w/o your normal exercise. Hey, it's Christmas season.
You can now override your CFO and shop guilt free at Precision Camera!

Michael Matthews said...

Camera stores can have unpredictable effects on blood pressure. Stay out of there.

jiannazzone said...

Glad to see you come out intact.

Jon Maxim said...

Congratulations Kirk. I had the procedure done a few years ago in an area that looks suspiciously close to yours. Within a day I had pretty well forgotten about it and now am unable to find exactly where it was done.

Happy, speedy healing and, if memory serves me well, my doctor recommended lots of coffee (preferably Intelligentsia), tacos and chicken fried steak (hard to find here in Toronto but you may just luck out).

Thanks again for your wonderful blog.

Jon Maxim

Unknown said...

Ahhh, Kirk, I've share your anxiety about the Mohs, and I hope yours comes out as well as mine. Photo tip: ask your doctor to send you the JPEGs of the slices. I've shared mine with the classes that I teach.

Anonymous said...

From a fellow needle hater - kudos for riding through the procedure.
Glad to hear it was successful.


Steve Blader said...

Be well, Kirk. We're all pulling for you.


Anthony Bridges said...

I'm glad things went well Kirk. Hope you heal soon.

Mike Marcus said...

About 4 months ago I had the same thing done to me, relatively speaking, about in the middle of where your hairline meets your forehead, but for me, it was about 5 inches in front of my rear relocated hairline. I assume my need for this procedure happened due to living next to, on, and in a lake as a kid before sunscreen became a thing. When the compression patch was put on my incision, the nurse said, "There, now you are a unicorn." Your patch is much prettier. Don't fret, I healed up nicely, hardly a scar. I bet yours will do the same.

johnbabineau said...

I don’t know...
Maybe a little more gauze around the head,
an old pipe and a fuzzy hat?
Yes. The ear thing!
Vincent van Gogogh!
How do you say “Get well soon” in Dutch?

Pedro CorĂ¡ said...

Glad to hear everything went well!

I share your issue with medical procedures to a point that I am preparing myself for the COVID vaccine since April. For real.

Btw, nice blog. Just found it and I will return!