Healing

The white area under the eye is the grafted skin.  The graft was taken from the upper eyelid.

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Cancer Cells are GONE!

The day that I had dreaded for so long was finally here! MOHS surgery scheduled at 9am. I expected to be in the doctor’s office for most of the day and packed a bag. I packed my diet coke, ice, snack, iPad and charger…Ready to hydrate, read a book and listen to music.

My husband drove me to the doctor’s office. I kept trying to relax but felt so nervous! I kept trying to think happy thoughts but my mind kept going back to the unknown of the day ahead of me. I text my parents and asked that they say a prayer for me and the doctor. My Mom’s return text told me they loved me, would pray and let them know how I did at the end of the day. Knowing my parents were saying a prayer in my behalf helped to relax me somewhat.

The doctor came into the room and introduced himself to my husband and me. As he was looking at my face and my leg he explained what the steps would be, that a final outcome isn’t known until all areas were clear of cancer cells. He told me he was really concerned about the location on my eyelid but again, its step by step.

Lidocaine is something I have never like being injected into my skin! Some doctors seem to have a knack for keeping the burning and painful sensation to a minimum. This doctor was good but I have had much better injections in the past. The thigh area is not too bad when the lidocaine starts to go into the tissue. Very tolerable. But my eye is another story! The lower and upper eyelid is such a sensitive area! All the tricks were done but It hurts so bad until the numbness starts. Once the area is numb the next injection isn’t as bad.

My thigh had 1 large slice taken off. The eye lid had 1 slice taken off. The skin tissue was taken to the lab for pathology review. Each area had a pressure dressing applied to control bleeding and I think to keep me from looking at each area. 

The nurse came back into the room and announced the thigh was clear and would be sutured when everything was done. My eye still had cancer cells and the doctor would take another slice.

Another slice cut from my eyelid. I could hear the cutting through the tissue which I though was very odd. I held my body tense afraid I was going to feel pain. No pain.. all skin numb. Another pressure dressing and time to wait.

While waiting I feel calm. I listen to conversations from the other rooms. One man is having a lesion removed from his ear. A woman announces she is a ICU nurse. I think…so much for patient privacy laws.

The doctor and nurse come back into room and happily announce the eyelid is clear. I am so relieved and tell the doctor about my fears and concerns of the “what could have beens”. He tells me part of my eyelid is gone and he will do a graft from my upper eye lid.

I was starting to have sensation in my lower eyelid. He tells me he is going to try to suture without anymore lidocaine since it will increase my eye swelling. The first suture, he told me, I would some pressure. That was very understated! As soon as he started putting the needle into my skin my body came off the table. I held my head in one position but my body was moving. I was told he had 4 more to do that would feel that intense. I told him to use lidocaine, I didn’t care about the burn from the lidocaine or swelling but I didn’t want to feel that kind of pain!

Pressure dressings are applied to both areas, I am given my discharge instructions and walked to waiting room.  I still had my bag of goodies not using any of the items.  Randy asked if I had been given something because I was talking non stop.  Most have been the adrenaline!

I am thankful and grateful to everyone who expressed their concern thru prayers and well wishes!  All cancer cells in my eye lid are gone!  All cancer cells in my thigh are gone!

Nervous, anxious and afraid!

Tomorrow is the day I have MOHS surgery. The basal cell carcinoma that is below my right eye and on my upper thigh will be removed.

MOHS surgery is a slice by slice procedure. Each slice is reviewed under the microscope to see if all cancer cells are gone. If not, another slice is cut and cut until every edge is clear. When the process starts the doctor and I will not know how much skin or tissue will need to be removed. Not knowing the final outcome is not how I like to do things. I like clear-cut answers whenever possible. 

Most MOHS surgery incisions are closed the same day. The incision is sutured closed, bandaged and you are sent home to recover. If my eye/face requires a large incision or the cancer cells goes into my eyelid then the incision will be left open for a plastic surgeon to reconstruct.  A bulky bandage will be placed over my eye and wound and I will see the next doctor in a few days.  Not fun, going home with an open hole on ones face!

I mentally try to prepare myself for tomorrow! I feel like I am informed on what to expect. I have read many articles and viewed pictures with good and bad outcomes. I am as ready as I am going to be!  But yet, I am nervous, anxious and afraid! I will try to stay positive and hopeful!  

All positive energy, thoughts and prayers sent my way are very much appreciated!

Tomorrow…

Tomorrow, I return to work in the ER. I will work 3 days in a row, 12 hr shifts each day. The hard part will be when my alarm goes off at the early hour of 5am! And yes, I am looking forward to returning to work.

This past week has been very long and exhausting! A week full of pain and healing, emotionally and physically.  I am finally seeing progress to my healing skin. What was 2nd degree burned skin is now almost healed. Many of the red lesions are gone. Only a few scabbed areas remain.

To my fellow coworkers it is alright to ask me; how I am, what has been done and why! I decided to be open and not remain private about this skin cancer journey I am traveling. I hope my situation will help someone else make better decisions in their life regarding tanning and possible skin cancer!

To those who expressed positive thoughts, concerns and prayers …THANK YOU!

Incubation Time!

Today, I start my PDT ( photodynamic therapy) for my many actinic keratosis, pre basal cell and superficial basal cells.  I goggled ( yes, I am the queen of googling) treatments for skin cancer I kept seeing the words, light therapy and photo therapy.  I continued goggling and reading trying to learn as much information as I could to help make an informed decision.
A few dermatology visits ago, I spoke with my dermatologist regarding my being a candidate for this treatment.  He and I spoke of the pros and cons.  Biggest con…I must hibernate indoors with minimal light for 72 hrs.  Biggest pro….no cutting!  I can live with both!!!!  So appointment scheduled!!
I arrive at 8am sharp!  Bag of goodies, entertainment( iPhone, iPad, charger) and wide brimmed hat & extra clothing in hand.  I feel more relaxed then nervous.  The nervousness is because, I never having this treatment, am not sure what my healing time will entail.  Relaxed because today is another step and another day towards treatment & recovery.
The nurse and I decide which areas of my body will be treated today.  At first I was going to treat just my chest and treat other areas in future.  But further thoughts made me decide to treat chest, arms, and legs in one visit.
The cream Metvixia, is applied to all the many red spots.  Laughing I tell the nurse, that isn’t the cream I had read about, but will goggle later to learn about it.  Next Glad Wrap is placed over each area to help with the incubation period.
2 1/2 hrs to incubate!  That’s why I came prepared with my bag of stuff!  I am in a plain room.  No windows!  One large recliner placed in the middle of floor.  Too far from the electric outlet for my charger to reach.  So here I am in my flimsy hospital gown, plastic wrap clinging to my skin pushing the heavy chair closer to the wall.
Sitting and waiting isn’t easy to do!  Even though I have my entertainment I am antsy!  Been to the bathroom already.  Walking the long hallway, plastic wrap crinkling, gown flapping and me trying to stay covered!

Nurse has come to room 3 times already to see how I am coping.  All plastic intact covering the appropriate skin areas.  Small tingling on some of the red areas but hardly noticeable.  The red areas are becoming redder which is to be expected.

One more hour to incubate then ” It’s Light Time”!!!!

Maybe….

Maybe the lump that proved to be the dreaded basal cell cancer is now removed!  I hope so!  Today, the incision was reopened and more tissue removed by my dermatologist.  The prior 1 inch incision is now 4 inches in length.  More sutures, inside and on the outside to be removed in 10 days. Yes, I can remove them.  I am trusted by the doctor to know how to clip the threads and pull them out. But not too early not wanting the incision to re-open  Another biopsy will be done on the tissue that was removed to be sure all edges are free and clear of any cancer cells.  The phone call with the results will be in 1 week.
Lidocaine is such a wonderful drug!  I hate the intense  burning sensation as the medicine is injected slowly thru my skin.  Once the lidocaine has starting working, skin numb, I relax and breath!  I can’t imagine having my skin cut with out the skin being numb! 

Lidocaine, numbness, cutting, stitching and dressing…  Another day, another lump gone!  Maybe!

Always!

Today, I look ahead!  This week, I take care of another mass of cancer cells that seem to like my R thigh. 

Tuesday, I have my leg incision reopened and made larger.  I hope the damn cancer cells are removed this time! I do not care what this incision looks like!  It can be large!  It can leave an indentation on my upper R thigh!  I just want this lump gone!  No more cancer cells lurking threatening to grow larger or move on to other areas of my body!

Does it sound like I am angry?  I am pissed off!  I do not like the feeling of the needle piercing my skin to inject the lidocaine.  Yes, it will go numb and I will not feel the cutting or scraping but I know I will feel pain as soon as the lidocaine wears off.  Lidocaine burns!  Some areas of my body burn more than others but it burns regardless of the location.  I always expect the worse and brace my body for the entense burning!

Luckily my doctor is compassionate regarding how I am reacting or feel as he injects the lidocaine.  He continually asks, am I doing ok?  “Don’t hold your breath.  It will be over   soon”.

I engage in a conversation with the doctor and nurse.  I know the conversation is to try and keep my mind off what he is doing to my leg. I am saying words but I am very well aware of what is going on in the room.  Injections, numbness, pressure from blade cutting thru my skin, plastic cup that holds a small piece of my skin for biopsy, doctor saying it went well, nurse applying pressure to stop the bleeding, explaining again that I bleed, nurse applies a dressing, and I am given instructions on care and signs of infection.  

 Always pain!  Always hurt!  Always tears!