Recently I wrote about having had two skin lesions on my face biopsied with the resultant diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma. It turns out that I am fortunate that my Dermatology office has a specialist in Mohs surgery on their staff; I’m told that otherwise I would have to go to Yale — which is not at all handy.

When I went for my consultation I learned that there was a special waiting room for the Mohs patients complete with refreshments, water, coffee, — and I’m hoping there is a refrigerator, too, as we were advised to expect to stay there quite a while and to bring food. The one man in the waiting room had a huge bandage on his nose and was complaining about having been there for five hours already!

Mohs surgery is time consuming because the doctor whittles away at the lesion until they find no more cancer. This requires that each little bit of tissue removed be frozen, sectioned, stained, and studied microscopically until the edges are clear of cancer cells.

I was given four full pages of information telling me what to expect, what to do and not do, wound care, what pain medications not to take (some promote bleeding) and so forth. Upon re-reading I learned for the first time that most lesions require the removal of three layers!

All this is scheduled for Pearl Harbor Day – December 7 – please arrive by 7:45 AM!

I would appreciate your prayers  for me and my doctor. You are invited to start now.

IT IS NOW  DECEMBER 8 and my Mohs surgery was yesterday.  As you can see, I am functioning but my glasses sit tentatively on my nose above the surgical site which is bandaged just under my left eye.    I had been told some one should drive me to the office for the surgery as I’d be leaving with a big pressure bandage and might not be able to see around it.   Daughter Terry was kind enough to take me and we arrived about 7:30 AM, the first ones there.  The office soon filled up with various older persons with noticeable bandages on forehead, nose, cheek, etc.  There was a Keurig coffee machine and an assortment of muffins ready for us.  And a TV.  We also brought our own food because we had been told we could be there a long time and would get hungry.

After Doctor Eickhorst  decided she would work on only one of my two skin cancers during this visit,  the area was injected with an anesthetic which rendered the whole procedure totally painless.  My face was draped, the doctor masked and gloved, bright light shone from above, and doctor removed some tissue.   The nurses applied thick pressure bandages and I was sent back to the waiting room.    There was lively conversation with the other patients, all of whom were quite friendly.  We all were, after all, in the same boat.

After enough time had passed for my tissue specimen to be sectioned, stained, and studied microscopically (the surgeon is also a pathologist) I was called back and told that they needed to remove more tissue, as 80% of the edges of the first specimen were clear but all the cancer had not been removed.   Back to the chair, more anesthesia, more draping and lights and surgery, more pressure bandage, more waiting for the verdict.    This time I was told I could go home  but first came the stitching of the face wound  which took quite awhile.  When I asked how many stitches I had I was told I had a running stitch and not separate stitches.   I haven’t mentioned that photos were taken during this whole procedure for the record.   Another pressure bandage was applied,  and post surgical instructions given.   The bandage had to stay on for at least 24 hours at which point it could be removed, the site washed twice a day and Vaseline applied.  The surgical site should be covered and not be be allowed to grow a hard scab.   Any thing stressful that might cause bleeding was a no-no, including bending, stooping, straining at bowel movement, etc., as well as instructions on how to cope with bleeding and who to call if necessary.  Sleep with head elevated.  Tylenol was recommend for pain.

The first afternoon there was considerable face ache and throbbing and headache for which I took one Tylenol.  Applying a cold compress had been recommended but really wasn’t practical with the hugeness of the bandage.  That night I slept reasonably well all  propped up and did not need further pain medication.   The next day I started to gently pry away the adhesive strips and loosen  the bandage which was off by noon.

Here I am, rather bedraggled, somewhat swollen and bruised, with a wound about 1-1/2 inches long. But feeling pretty good. I had not been in the Mohs department of this Dermatology office before and on the whole not only found them to be competent but kind. An appointment is scheduled for December 14 for removal of stitches. God willing, I’ll be perky by then.