I am home from my 2nd out patient surgery to remove melanoma, the deadly skin cancer from my shoulder.
It’s been a day so far.
My anxiety has been out of control, waiting for this last round of flesh removal. Nightmares and mood swings and desperate conversations better saved for when you aren’t fresh out of a cancer diagnosis have been my reality for the last 2 weeks.
First thing this morning my first round of stitches were removed and the area around the initial incision was removed … just to be safe.
The doctor was amazing, literally the best of the best and he made me feel totally at ease after the initial honesty session.
Our talk went something like this:
“This looks like it healed up really well. I didn’t think I would see you back in here, I didn’t want to tell you when you were here but I was sure we would have to send you out.”
He looks me straight in the eyes and continues this heart to heart …
“I was sure you would need a lymph node check, and that means injecting a dye around the area and doing exploratory surgery. That would mean a lot of scarring. I wanted to spare you an initial large one.”
So … he thought for sure it had grown to a stage of disaster and wanted to spare me the fear and extra pain of a larger, deeper incision.
He didn’t want to scare me by telling me when he removed the spot … the spot he thought for sure would be sending me straight to the cancer specialist. He didn’t want to tell me right away.
At this point I’m glad he didn’t. I was already a mess. I can’t imagine if he had told me honestly what he thought in the beginning.
I don’t care about the pain or the scar. I care about being prepped for possible death.
My belly flopped like a fish out of water. I started to see spots and tried desperately to breath deeply and stay calm, at least on the outside.
He had me hop onto the medical table and began the round of local anesthetic. This was painful in itself, a freshly unstiched incision surrounded by stinging injections. Once complete I took position face down into the pillow and waited for the final procedure to be over.
I could feel the tugging and dabbing, I could smell the cauterization and hear the slight sound of sizzle next to my face. It was terrifying and amazing at the same time.
The doctor joked about how many stitches I wanted, he said he aimed to please. We laughed when I admitted I wanted enough to look super bad ass … he said it would be no problem 10 on the underside and 18 on the top.
All mine in honor of my battle. I’ll take them. So much better than any alternative.
I have a chest x-ray, stick removal and a date in 3 months for a body check in my future.
He said he wouldn’t try to tell me to stay out of the sun but that I should be careful and always wear sunscreen. My diagnosis make it very likely I will need to have other spots removed.
Today though all I need to do is be still. The pain is incredible. It’s a mix of burning and deep throbbing if I move my arm at all. I want to sleep but I’m terrified I’ll hurt myself.
I think I’ll take advantage of this prescription and let it all sort itself out.