What feckin’ lies beneath (Mohs surgery, Part I)

Despite the nature of my relationship with him, I really like my dermatologist. First off, he’s an expert in what ails me and the treatment for it, but also he’s friendly, on time and a straight shooter. That being said, I wish I never had to see his face again. His face, incidentally, has perfect, youthful, smooth skin. I went back for a spot on my nose, the same barely discernible spot I saw him for just after Christmas. At that time he whipped out the ‘hornets in a can’ extinguisher and said, “Let’s keep our fingers crossed.” Actually, I knew then, in the recesses of my brain, that that wasn’t going to work. This time he did a biopsy and it came back as more basal cell cancer, of the ‘infiltrative’ type. (Meaning that, although all I see now is a pinprick spot, it’s set up housekeeping under the surface, probably from my chin to my forehead.)

The one person I don’t like in his office is the young woman who calls to give biopsy results. I’ve never met her but she sounds like a cross between Paris Hilton and Shirley Temple. She calls while I’m in the checkout line at Publix and all in one breath says, “Is this Vicki Oh hi and how are you I’m calling with your biopsy results and it’s basal cell cancer and we need to set up an appointment for Dr. Spencer to just take that out so like I’m going to switch you over to like the scheduling person and we’ll see you soon and you have a lovely afternoon Bye!!!!” All in the chirpiest high pitched voice imaginable. To my mind, I would prefer some Irish matron (given the genetic origins of this curse) to call me up and say, “Ah shite, girl, the feckin’ mess is back. Soon nuff, yor face be lookin’ like a potato what’s been left in the bin too long!”

Later Abby called and I told her the news and she said, quite cheerfully, “Well, you still have both your breasts and if you need a skin graft I’ll give you one and then your nose will tan.” She’s a resilient optimistic type. Also, she’s right- I have very little to complain about because things could be much worse. Nevertheless, I would really like to complain about this as a mastery sort of process so I’m considering channeling my misery by writing a series of detailed posts about this particular episode and the Mohs surgery that I’ll have in 10 days- with lots of photographs. I’m thinking that this could actually be a public service sort of complaining because it might help someone get to the dermatologist and not stay home poking at a spot while blithely ignoring the implications- or not going because they are afraid to go. However, not wanting to gross out those of you who could do without the graphic details, I thought I might link to these posts in the sidebar. What do you think?

In other news, I’ve been away because we went north to Chicago for a week. A conference for Rich gave us a chance to stay in a nice hotel right on Michigan Ave. and see friends and then travel on up to visit with Bud. Unfortunately, and not to complain overly much in one post, Rich had brought back what was probably H1N1 on his return from a business trip the week before so I spent most of the week north and the following week with what we have been affectionately calling Swamp Flu. It was an upper respiratory crud that I knew I would get because it’s difficult for certain people to contain their germs as they roll around in bed whining, snorting, blowing and coughing like it’s the end of the world and please bring more homemade soup and some ice cream, too. I managed to not pass it along to anyone else because I have taken to heart how-to-cover your mouth and handwashing sequences on the national news, you’re very welcome.

After that, I got busy felting. The creative juices have been flowing and because, like everything else with me, that seems to happen in fits and starts, I try to take full advantage.Β One area where I perform consistently well is in the kitchen and I’m feeling a little cramped in the galley style one here in our ‘winter vacation home’. While in Chicago I went to LuxeHome at the Merchandise Mart to do a little kitchen planning for the Asheville house. This is pure indulgent thinking but lots of fun. For example, here’s one I liked. I feel I could be an even better cook in a kitchen like this. If I can just convince the Lotto God. As soon as I get the Word I’ll start buying tickets. In the meantime I’m waiting to win the Wolf/SubZero kitchen sweepstakes.


Wrapping up, I have a wonderful YouTube for you. I’m bragging on Rich here. He’s been busy working on his “best of American communities” project with particular emphasis on high schools and colleges. He did this little pilot in collaboration with CBS and the National Federation of High Schools. I think you’ll like it.

17 responses to “What feckin’ lies beneath (Mohs surgery, Part I)

  1. I wish I could write as eloquently as you do about your skin cancers. I recently had Mohs done on my hand and scalp and then two other excisions for squamous cell. I guess I’ve left basal cell in the dust. While it seems like not a big ordeal, by the second day, I had melted in a puddle of tears. Now the stitches are out, and I am looking at the next outcroppings that I’m sure will be biopsied at the next visit.

    I’m meeting a friend for lunch on Saturday on 4th St. If you are home, I’d like to stop by and just say hello. If you’re not there, I’ll stop by anyway and admire your yard.

  2. By all means do the posts and if concerned about grossing out the feint of heart, just link them in the sidebar but DO THEM. They are too important not to and you are amazing and wonderful and a fabulous writer on the topic and just the one to do it up right.

    Photos of this creative streak of felting? πŸ™‚

    Good to see you in words if not in person. *sigh* Don’t suppose you can meet us all for pie at Betty’s at the end of the month. That’s what I’m doing. Meeting for pie at Two Harbors. Hopefully. πŸ™‚

    Okay – am off to see the video. Big hugs. Love to Abby.

  3. Go ahead and gross everybody out…. it’s your civic duty!! Personally, I am of the old school but I see how Mohs can be fine for the face. As a pathologist, I like to be able to have enough to orient and paint the margins and cut in tiny pieces so I can see the margin all the way around. But, basal cell is more tricky than squamous.. it tends to have skip areas… so margin can look clean but it will pop up beyond the margin. Makes you really want to go out and smash all the tanning machines doesn’t it. Still, BCC and SCC are both better than melanoma.

  4. My dad has skin cancer and the same issues keep cropping up. I don’t know if the receptionist for his dermatologist is so annoyingly cheerful though. They should be able to strike a balance between warm and serious. The flu sounds yucky!

  5. Vicki! I was wondering how you are doing. Sorry that the skin thing has reared its ugly head again. I, personally, would be fascinated on a series of posts about the detection and treatment. Like you said, a public service form of complaining. Truth is, I think you are allowed to complain about skin cancer, especially if you are not the complain-y type to begin with. Which you most emphatically are not.

    As for Rich’s project/video– I LOVE IT! That is such a cool concept. It makes perfect sense! Rich looks great. Slim, trim, and smart as hell.

    Stop by and pay me a visit. I have some complaints of my own.

  6. I am sorry to read about your skin issues again, Vicki. I, for one, would learn plenty and would visit every post about your journey complete with photos. I love the video!

  7. Vicki,

    I’ll be thinking about you in 10 days. And before that of course. Holding healing thoughts for you and your lovely skin.

  8. Yes, yes, yes post photos and do an in-depth series on basal cell carcinoma and mohs. I am squeamish about that stuff, but I make myself read it and learn. I’ll have Roger read it, as well. He’s got the perfect skin for that kind of stuff, and it’ll be good for him see what it’s all about.

    Hope your visit with Bud was a good one.

  9. Vicki: Glenn says Dr. Spencer is a ‘good guy.’ Maybe he would appreciate your (hilarious) feedback about the chirpy young woman who calls with the biopsy results. Good luck with your Mohs.

  10. Ok, ok, I will call the dermatologist first thing in the morning. Sigh. Love the video. Even I could cook in a kitchen like that! Did Abby make it to Mexico?

  11. Mohs … been there done that … 3 times.

    My perky dermatologist zapped me with the Nitrogen last week, but no cutting this time … whew!
    Post away!

  12. Do the posts, please. I, too, am blessed with Irish skin and know that someday my nose will fall clean off due to lack of sunblock for my whole life. So, please, do the posts so I start taking it seriously.

    And, I’m so sorry that you have that particular expertise to share. Sucks.

    Greg and I have been passing bugs back and forth (okay, I’ll be honest. He keeps getting sick and passing it to me — I don’t pass it to anyone!). Hopefully that will stop soon. Being sick sucks but being sick in the Summer is evil and wrong.

    Off to check out the vid.

  13. I’ll echo the above. Please do share! I’ve had a sticky note on my desk for weeks to make an appt for some spots I’ve noticed, but I’ve had my head in the sand. It runs in the family too – Mom is dealing with it now. You have done a great service to this community πŸ™‚ I’m dialing as soon as I finish typing. I’m motivated!

    I will be very interested to follow your journey.

  14. Vicki, we all want you to do the posts. I know I could benefit from them (as I do nearly everything about which you post.) I’m sorry that you have to go through this, but it is a very good thing you don’t have melanoma.

    Love that kitchen; I need one too, but I’ll put in a good word for you – assuming you ever stay home long enough to use the kitchen, that is…..LOL

    How’s Bud doing?

  15. Do the posts. Have you read my latest? It’s about a surprise rectal exam. (there now you don’t have to read it) My point it, it feels good to document the process. And in that process (of documenting your process) you will remind others to get up and go see the fecking doctor! xo

  16. Again, I resonate. I had a small spot on my lower right eyelid. Asked my dermatologist about it–he said–Ah, nothing. I figured he sees LOTS of skin, and knows. But months later it was still there–so asked my fam doc. She said–get someone to give it a name.
    To cut to the chase–it was basal cell CA. I was furious–at the dermatologist who so blithely said–nothing. I now see an ocular-plastic surgeon (who knew there was such a specialty) regularly. He is a doll. We talk books for 1/2 hour, then he looks at me through silly scopes. The treatment included one round of Mohs.
    Repeat after me: all will be well and all will be well.

    P.S. Winning the Wolfs/Sub Zero contest–doesn’t work. I tried it. But, hey–maybe you are the winner-to-be.

  17. … and here I thought I was the only person in the world who had the ‘let’s get you in here ASAP nurse’ syndrome. Maddening.

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