12 May 2006

Personal Ick Factor: 7 out of 10.

Although I know that writing blog posts about dreams and medical problems isn't a great idea, I'm going to do it anyway. I wrote about some odd dreams a week or so ago and today I'm going to describe a medical thing that I went through.

Once upon a time, I was 15 and in my school's drama club. I had a small non-speaking role in our spring play, and while at play practice, was sitting on the scaffolding that was stored backstage. Hearing my cue, I jumped up and promptly missed a step off of the scaffolding, thereby giving myself a lovely wound on my shin, which besides hurting like the dickens, left a scar that I still have today. About a week later, near that same spot, I noticed a little brown bump, kind of like a mole, but not a mole, exactly. I thought that either I had a new bruise or a new mole and never really gave it much thought.

Fast-forward about 15 years, to last year, when my mother had a bout of skin cancer. Her skin cancer was a small bump on her nose that had changed color. They removed it, no worries, no chemo, and warned her to use lots of sunscreen and keep an eye on things like that should they change size, color, or do anything else weird. OK, duly noted, thanks! I thought about my leg bump at that time, but since it was still the same color and shape, and didn't hurt or anything like that, I left it alone. About 3 weeks ago, my bump started to itch. Lots. I actually broke through the skin by scratching at it in my sleep. And the color had changed from a brown very similar to Crayola's brown crayon to a sickly greenish with some brown bits. Not good. I called my family doc, someone I've known forever, since before he was a doctor, and explained all about my bump. Since it wasn't really raised up from the skin like a mole, I expected that he would refer me to a surgeon to dig it out. (First ick factor.) No, he thought he could get rid of it just fine in the office, which is A-OK with me. I'd MUCH rather deal with him and his office staff than have some outpatient surgery.

Today was my appointment, and ick-s number 2-7 are all about how he really dug this thing out of my leg. The easily grossed out should probably not read the rest. Fair warning has been given!!

First, the nurse had a look at the spot, and assured me that she though he could get it out without referring me to a specialist. Then he had a look at it while the nurse shuttled in and out of the room with all kinds of sterile supplies that I was very careful to not look at....scissors, some weird tweezers, two packets of sutures, a syringe (which is what I really ought to not look at, because I haaateee needles) a scalpel that he wouldn't let me see, and what seemed like a huge amount of sterile sheeting. Then there was also a specimen bottle, cause they need to ship this thing off to the lab after they remove it to make sure it isn't skin cancer. 2nd ick factor, the thought that I might end up having cancer. Fan-fucking-tastic. Oh, and the nurse brought in Novocain.

They covered my leg with the sterile sheeting, which had a hole in it just a wee bit bigger than my bump. They rubbed the spot with alcohol, then started giving me shots of Novocain. Damn, that shit burns. And the bump is right near my shinbone, so the skin's pretty thin there. I lost count of the number of shots. I had a knitting book in my hand and was determined to not look, but who was I kidding? I looked, and asked lots of questions. He made 4 straight cuts, all around the bump, boxing it in. At the tail end of the last one, I felt the knife and said, "OW!" and he said, "You can feel that?" Yup. So he gave me about another 4 shots of Novocain and then started to remove the bump. I stopped watching for a bit then, but he snipped the skin and used the weird tweezers to pick up what he cut out. 3rd ick factor, hearing the snipping and knowing it was my skin.

He explained that the two types of sutures were because he needed to build back up what he took out, and one type of stitch goes in the sub-cetaceous layer of skin and the other goes into the dermis. Maybe I'm crazy, but that kind of thing is interesting to me. I watched while he began the sub layer of stitches, then noticed how much the spot was bleeding and was freaked out (4th ick) and looked back at my book. When I looked again, he was working on the dermis layer of stitches, and was using the weird tweezers to hold the skin while he stitched. Ick, again. That's 5. He gave me about 11 stitches, all told. The little teeny tiny needle they used for the stitches was really cool. A curved tiny little thing, as long as I wasn't really paying attention to the fact that he was punching through a layer of skin for every stitch, it was really cool. He put 5 in the sub layer and 6 in the dermis. That’s another ick, because I’ve never had stitches before unless you count the self-dissolving kind I had when I had my wisdom teeth out in 1994. Which I don’t, because I never knew they were there. Stitches you are unaware of until after they’ve dissolved don’t count. The six have to be removed in a week or 10 days time, and they should have the lab results back by then. I’ll post whatever they tell me, but I asked the doc what chances he thought I had of having to have further surgery for skin cancer and he said, “almost none.” So that’s a good thing. I’m counting having to have the stitches removed as ick number 7.

When he was all done, he showed me where he thought the scar line would be, and how it should heal. I said, “I should worry if….” and he said, “If it bleeds profusely, gets red streaks around the wound or gets hot to the touch.” He showed me how the Novocain blanches the skin, which is really odd, and told me he had to give me lots more than he usually gives people because I felt the cutting. I asked if it would hurt when the numbing wore off, and he said not anymore than what acetaminophen or ibuprofen over the counter pain relievers could handle. He offered to give me samples of Darvocet, but I thought that was silly. (DUH! Always take the drugs! LOL)

I’m going to mix myself up a big Bloody Mary with some of the wasabi I got in the mail today for an article I’m working on for Fitfare. Who needs meds when you can have booze?

Soundtrack: O.A.R’s “Love and Memories”, please check them out if you’ve never heard of them, they rock!


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