After blogging yesterday morning, Karlene and I drove down to the Medical Center and checked-in for the 9:00am surgery. They actually took me in almost immediately after I arrived. The surgical pre-op nurse had previously told me that the procedure could take a few hours and that waiting around was part of the process while they test the removed tissue in the Lab, so I should bring a book, ipod or something to do. So I did – I came prepared. Neatly packed into my new Diesel “Man Bag” (a Christmas present from my wife) was my son’s Sony PSP with a couple of movies for my viewing pleasure.
I was very happy with the surgery team. Two friendly nurses prepped me and then Doctor Lee came in to “jack-o-lantern” my face. Lovely thought, eh? They covered my face with a sheet that had a small hole cut in the middle of it for the surgery area. They then apprised me that there would be a little stinging sensation as they applied the local anesthetic. Needles in the face – another lovely thought. Next, the doctor said he was removing the affected tissue, which actually seemed to take very little time at all. He communicated exactly what he was doing throughout the operation, which I appreciated. Then he said that they were cauterizing the wound and that I might smell something like burning – Uh, yeah, I smelled something like burning flesh and it was mine! Then they patched up my face and said that they were off to test the flesh that they had just excised from my right cheek. This is where the waiting came in. Movie Time!
About 45 minutes later, they returned with the good news: “No more cancer!” Even though I was suddenly and rudely interrupted in the middle of my movie time, I was still both relieved and elated by the encouraging sound of “we got it all.” I was thankful to God and the Doctor (NOT one and the same) and I really didn’t want them to cut into me again, anyway – which is what they would’ve done if the lab results from my piece of face weren’t clean and cancer-free. Then came the fun part – the closing.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, anesthetic that is administered into my person tends to wear off more quickly than the normal allotted time for the normal average person. Something about the fact that I’m not normal is the kind of thinking that my family reinforces -- often. So, as they are beginning to cauterize – again -- and suture the wound, they notice that I am squirming. “Can you feel that Mr. Smith?” Doctor Lee asked. How could you tell, doc? Was it the tears flowing profusely from my eyes, the fingernails deeply embedded into the vinyl of the operating chair, or was it just the screaming that gave it away? He then said; “Would you like more anesthetic?” I replied that I LIVE for anesthetic! Okay, so that may be a bit of a writer’s embellishment. I actually told Doctor Lee that the pain was uncomfortable, but not unbearable and that I would rather not get another needle stuck into my face (especially after the infamous fish-hook surgery with Doctor Pain that I am still dealing with on a daily basis -- see my blog from September 2008; "The Big Catch") so I chose to “tough it out.”
So, they cut ‘n pasted, sewed-me up, burned me again (just ‘cause they liked it) and then duct taped a huge patch on my face and said; “You should be able to go out and have a normal rest-of-your-day.” Are you kidding me?! In what universe can I walk around with a bandage on my face that could impress a makeup artist from “Phantom of the Opera?” But, I gave it a shot, anyway. Karlene drove me to the Credit Union so I could cash a check and I went in and frightened the Tellers. They asked me if I got mugged. (They really did ask me that -- I am not making that up! The "mean streets" of Torrance...) I replied “Yes, by my DOCTOR!” They said; "Oh, thats OK then!"
The entire operation actually took less than 2 hours. It was probably more like 90 minutes. In spite of myself, I think they did a pretty good job. Then again, what do I know about what is or isn't a good job at this juncture? I'm not a doctor, nor have I played one on TV (Actually, come to think of it, I DID play a Doctor in a Soap Opera Spoof Video a few years back). But I digress -- let's get back to my surgery.
Maybe, I should re-think that "good job" statement. I just removed my bandage, slowly and quite painfully, from yesterday’s surgery. It’s not pretty. Yikes! Looking at myself in the mirror, the first thing I said was my favorite line from the classic Frankenstein movie; “I’ve created a monster!” Hopefully, I won’t become known as Scarface, but there you go. See for yourself. Yes – it hurts. Enjoy the view – it will be covered-up when you see me.
Well, I’ve gotta run – er, walk – well, maybe lie down. Talk to you later.
I’m counting-down: 7 days and the stitches come out!
“Karlene – Where’s the Advil?!”