Last Friday (12/6) I went in for my first round of Mohs surgery to have the cancer cut from my face. The hope is that I’ll only have to go in once, but, depending on what comes back from the lab in the next few days, I may have to go in again this Friday for a second round of Mohs surgery.
Anyway, I am very impressed with the doctor and medical team that performed the procedure. Obviously, I don’t have any real way of evaluating these things because this is the first time I’ve had to exist in this realm, but they were reassuring and communicative and having an idea of what’s going to happen is better for me than not knowing.
That said, I didn’t actually know what to expect beyond the fact that it was going to be like when I went in for the initial biopsy. During the original biopsy my dermatologist took a thin layer of skin from my upper cheek/below my left eye. I had to wear a bandage for a few days and it bled a little while I slept some nights. But for the most part? No big deal. I didn’t even take Tylenol for it.
So I assumed that when I was told the procedure would be similar, the outcome would be similar.
As a heads up – know that some of what I’m going to be writing about is graphic, but I have turned it WAY down. I’m also going to provide a link for the pictures, but will not embed them in here. They are…gnarly. With the exception of my friends in the medical arena I have asked everybody who has seen them if they would like to see them before sending because your boy Ben is not looking his best.
Back to the procedure.
The good news was that I had the aforementioned medical folks on hand and I felt comfortable with them. I was also allowed to listen to music while the procedure was taking place. I was listening to RVIVR’s Breathe In and Change on Me because those songs are like light and adrenaline in my blood. In fact I was totally okay even when they were putting the grounding bracelet on my ankle.
Oh, the grounding bracelet? That’s because to cauterize the blood vessels they cut into they used some electric wizard wand to burn them all shut. This is a smell I won’t soon forget.
There was essentially no pain during the procedure itself (and since then I haven’t taken anything but Tylenol).
The only thing that was shocking to me was how much of my face they took with them. I guess that’s the necessary thing when you’re trying to get all the cancer, so I can’t really complain. But during the procedure when possible I took pictures of what was going on, when they were done, one of the assistants asked if I’d like a picture of the wound. I told her I would, but that I didn’t want to see it. So she snapped it and that was that. They bandaged me up, I walked into the waiting room to meet my ride home, and off we went.
It wasn’t until I took a picture of my bandaged face to text to friends that I saw the other pics. Uh. You guys. That was my face.
For the most part I’m doing okay right now. Physically, besides bandage positioning tapping against my lower eyelashes, I’m not hurting. I can’t do anything to exert any energy (though I’ve gone on walks the last two days).
The biggest challenges right now are (1) waiting to find out if I have to go in for round two on this Friday, (2) worrying that if I do have to go in for round two, I’ll have to go in for a round three, and (3) wondering just how in the hell the plastic surgeon is going to put things back together. In theory I should let go of the worry because it’s out of my hands, but that’s easier said than done.
I am so blessed to have great people around me to stop me from spinning out. Thank you for your texts and calls. You’re a fine lot of people and I am so glad you’re in my life. Extra special thanks to RVIVR, my dad and to Käri who have confronted some of the grossness that I haven’t even been able to stare down quite yet.
As I mentioned before—please wear your sunscreen and take care of yourself. The world is a richer place for you being in it and I look forward to seeing you at some point down the road.
Love Yr Pal,