Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Face Lift for Joe

Back when we were young, going to the pool or beach, wandering around shirtless was never an issue. We all seemed to worship the sun, or for us guys the girls in bikinis. Well, I was one of those guys which is really bad cause I’m the fair haired, blue eyed poster child for sun block. As a result over the past 15 years I’ve had multiple skin cancers removed from my face, neck, arms and back, including the removal of the top of my right ear. (it was reconstructed with skin from behind my ear and now you can’t even tell.)

I have so many I have check-ups with the Dermatologist every 6 months. Well this last trip turned up a doozy. A big one on the end of my nose. A biopsy was done and it was positive for Basal Cell Carcinoma. If you’re gonna get cancer that’s probably the one to get. It doesn’t metastasize, grows slowly and isn’t life threatening, but it still must be removed.

This is actually the second spot I’ve gotten on my nose. The first was in 1993 on the bridge of my nose. I was still in the Navy using military hospitals and such. The removal was performed by doctors in training resulting in quite a scar on my nose. It’s like they just cut a chunk out and left it. Oh well, I got used to it, what was I gonna do..

So I met with my surgeon today to discuss how much of my nose must be removed and the reconstruction options. He’s an Emory Grad with years of experience performing these procedures. He did over 1,400 facial reconstructions last year and was beaming self-confidence. I really, really liked him.

Here’s how the surgery works. I go in, get some Valium, get happy, then have a bunch of needles stuck into my nose to numb it. (I can tell you now from prior experience that is very painful.) After it is numbed, he whacks off a slice and it is immediately taken to a lab next door to see if all the cancer is removed. If it is, we’re done. If not, he repeats the process. So the bottom line is we won’t know how much of my nose will have to be removed until the surgery itself.

He did give me 2 scenarios though, and since I have such a small nose to begin with there really are only 2 for me:

Best Case: He would just have to remove a small amount of flesh to get all the cancer. This would allow him to reconstruct the site with tissue from around the nose. (I never have best case, and I could tell by his demeanor today he didn’t think I’d have best case either.)

Worst Case: The site would be too large to reconstruct with local tissue. In this instance he would perform something called a Forehead Plecosometing or other. Basically taking tissue from my forehead and connecting to the end of my nose for reconstruction. Don’t ask me for details, cause I don’t completely understand. He’s done many of these and was confident my reconstruction would be a success. This procedure takes longer to perform, requires a follow-up procedure, will leave me with black eyes, a huge bandage on my face for weeks and I can’t work out for about a month. Real bummer there.

In addition to this, he also told me either way he’d fix the damage done by the Navy doctors 15 years ago. I told you I really liked this guy.

So, there it is. In about three weeks I get to have this lovely experience and look like Frankenstein for a while. But it’s for the best. I’ll make sure to post pictures so everyone can enjoy the TRANSFORMATION!!

Now, even with this setback, I have no intention of giving up on Curahee in October. I may not be able to do the hill as fast as I’d like, but I’m going to do it. And anyone out there is welcome to join me. Well,,,,,maybe not Michael Jackson or Marilyn Manson,,,,that’d be kinda creepy.

All for now. G’nite.


Steph Bachman said...

Is he going to move your nose all the way around to your forehead like they did for Beck Weathers?

Maybe you can do your core work or pilates while you heal. I detest both but maybe they are better than nothing.

Steph Bachman said...

Ack - just read about the blood pressure spiking from Paul's blog. Maybe no core/pilates either. Maybe you can take the kids for walks - it's neat to watch them scamper around discovering things. At least until they poop out and you have to carry them. ; )

jkrunning said...

Good luck to you. I'm glad your getting the Navy's work fixed at the same time.